Haters gonna hate: A guide to hating festival lineups

With festival announcements coming thick and fast, we’ve put together the ultimate all-purpose guide to hating on perfectly good festival bills.

All festival lineups suck; it’s the truth and you know it.

It might sound extreme but if you judge lineups based on the reactions they receive when they’re announced it must be true. Every time a lineup drops (or is slowly dripfed) the “fans” fight each other to be the first to chip in with the most cutting, least grammatically correct dismissal of the festival.

Genuine excitement has no place in the world of festival lineups but everyone needs to know just how much you hate the festival so here’s a foolproof guide to hating on festival lineups.

“I knew the rumours were too good to be true”

It’s vitally important for a committed festival lineup hater to prepare for the day of the announcement by setting themselves up for the inevitable disappointment. Make a list of every band you love. Focus intently on the list and convince yourself that all of those bands will be on the lineup. Believe every rumour; hell make up a few rumours of your own! These simple steps will help to ensure that your expectations are correctly tuned to the level of ‘completely unrealistic’ and that you’re primed for hate.

“I knew this would be crap”

The first and most important rule of lineup hating is that all festival lineups suck. There has never been an exception to this sacrosanct rule, there never will be and a true hater will not waver from this point under any circumstances. Ever. All bona fide festival lineup haters know bands should only ever be seen live in the pristine controlled environment that is The Headline Sideshow.

“I hate this festival lineup more than the lineup I hated last year”

Even though all festivals suck, they suck more now than they used to. Back in the good old days when you went so far as to tolerate festival lineups things were slightly better and you have the faded t-shirt featuring bands from the ‘90s no one’s heard of to prove it.

“Not as good as this festival I once went to in Eastern Europe”

Remember: As a lineup hater you are not bound by geography or economics. So one of your best weapons of hate is the illogical comparison to other festivals. Ignore any concerns about transport, ticket cost, or the number of days the festival actually runs for and flame away. This rule lets you compare every festival on equal terms. So a three-day event in New York curated by your favourite band and featuring an exclusive headline set from band that has reformed for the occasion is every bit the equal of a new festival held at a racecourse carpark in Australia.

“It’s just sell-out, mainstream rubbish for the masses!”

Think about it – if a band is commercially popular enough to headline a festival then they’re obviously far too commercial for your tastes. A headlining band will probably have songs that that bloke who bullied you in high school can sing along to and therefore you hate them.

Sometimes you might be tempted to waver on this rule as nostalgia rises and you remember how much you loved the headliner’s first album, but this is a sign of weakness. It’s important to remember that a band’s quality can be judged based entirely on the behaviour of its worst fan. (You may recognise this as the classic “Hitler was a vegan/painter/Christian argument”).

“Who are these bands anyway?”

How old are the bands? If the average age of the musicians on the bill is under 25 then you’re looking at a flash-in-the-pan list of overhyped one-hit wonders and triple j favourites. If it’s nearer to 30 then you can hate on the mid-career acts simply plodding along for the money. If it’s over 35, the bands are all washed up. If it’s over 40 then the lineup is fossilised and the festival is probably being held at a winery.

“Typical boring predictable”

The United Nations’ Festival Booking Charter prescribes that all lineups must represent the wealth of global music and not simply be a list of semi-popular bands from North America and The UK. Does the festival bill you hate include any minorities? Where’s the recognition of the great things going on in the Norwegian punk scene? Where are the tribal nomads with their startling new approach to rhythm? (Caution: this rule may not work when hating on the Womad lineup.)

“I could see half this lineup any weekend at my local”

Seriously why the hell would a festival bother booking any local bands? No one goes to see a local band at a festival when they can just as easily not go to see them when they play every week for a fiver at the local pub. If a lineup has too many (read: any) local bands on the lineup it’s a clear sign that the promoters are just trying to fill the bill with cheap fodder and that they’re just in it for the money.

“Way to support the local scene…”

Then again if a festival doesn’t put on many local bands the promoter is clearly a unpatriotic traitor with no love for Aussie music. A promoter who doesn’t book local bands is totally out of touch with what’s going on in ‘the scene’. This rule is also known as the “Why Isn’t My Band Playing?”

“Pity they didn’t come when they were decent”

If they were any bloody good they’d have toured by now, the only reason they’re finally coming is that they’ve milked the rest of the world dry and now us Aussie suckers are expected to be grateful to lap up the dregs. And besides they haven’t done anything decent is ages and they probably won’t play any of their decent stuff anyway.

“Recycled rubbish!”

Obviously you’d never go and do the same thing twice in a 12-month period. There are 8760 hours in a year and the thought you’d devote any more time than absolutely necessary to any one act is quite simply ridiculous. Your time can be used far more productively trolling festival lineups online.

“That’s not music! Where are the instruments?”

Attacking dance music is a classic trope of the lineup hating lexicon. You should really know the drill by now or you don’t deserve the title of “hater”. If this is somehow new to you just remember the simple chant: “Anyone can just press a button. DJs aren’t real musicians.” Repeat the chant with the same monotonous regularity of a computers preset bassline.

“What is this? Pitchfork fest?”

Hipster hating has become so trendy that that it’s practically the hippest thing you can possibly do. But don’t let that distract you from boarding the hate train. Bloody hipster bullshit is ruining everything and you’re on a saintly mission to warn the world about the danger – you just need to finish your Beatbox Kitchen burger first.

“Oi Soff coks! Where’s the fkn metal?!”

There is never enough metal. NEVER. \m/

Bonus tips: If the lineup is half decent

A festival lineup will never be good but on certain rare occasions it may be undeniably decent. This can be a tricky situation for the hater and you may be tempted to embrace the festival and stop complaining. Don’t do this it’s a sign of weakness and haters are never weak. When the lineup is decent you need to focus and find the weak link. Are all the bands touring with their classic lineups? Have their most recent releases really been all that good? And who is that opening act anyway? They probably suck.

If you’ve applied all the rules of hate and by some miracle the lineup holds up then it’s time to move onto stage two and reframe the issue. Start stressing out about the clashes between bands and the inevitable lack of sideshows. Delcare that the festival is far too expensive (it will always be too expensive.). And point out that the festival is probably a fire trap.

All lineups should be made up entirely of bands that everyone loves, that have never toured here and play setlists determined by you and you alone. It’s your right as a punter to expect it. A hater knows that a festival should be a special and have never happened anywhere else in the world. Otherwise what’s the point, it’s just a watered down version of something better that’s already happened somewhere else. To a hater a good festival lineup is a mythical beast and even if such a thing did exist it would be attended by other people: the one thing a lineup hater hates more than a lineup is the people who might like the lineup.