Aside from Reading & Leeds, very few festivals have managed to target the younger fans effectively. With ticket prices rising and festivals always looking to outdo one another on their line-ups, many younger punters have found themselves priced out of many music events all over the country, leading promoters to rely more on older bands to appeal to the later generations. But Festival Republic, the promoters behind Reading & Leeds, Download, Wireless, Latitude and many more, have clearly spotted this gaping hole in the market and set out to create a small, cheap alternative to the bigger brands with Community Festival. Starting in 2017, Community Festival pitched itself as the Ryan Air of festivals. A no-frills experience that removed many of the added extras of today's bigger events with a stripped-back approach that could be reflected in the day's ticket price. Community is a one-day event in London's Finsbury Park with a door price of just £40. There is no camping, no parking and no additional attractions aside from the two stages of bands confined within a very small space on the site. So while bolder events usually have the issue of packing in so much it would be impossible to see it all, Community has the opposite appeal, where seeing everything on show is pretty much a breeze.
At its heart, Community Festival is looking to attract the young indie crowd. With a line-up that boasted the likes of The Kooks, Blossoms, Don Broco, and The Amazons, it was very assured of the market and audience it wanted to attract. And with such a small entrance fee, many were treating the festival as a quiet and enjoyable day at the park rather than anything more outlandish. After being greeted by the intense airport-style security to enter the field, the left side of the entrance was flanked with what we can only call the Instragram wall. The festival's logo and font plastered multiple times across this enormous and encroaching temporary barrier became the hub for young teens to snap themselves entering the event, almost doing the promotional work of the event holders for them. But with Finsbury Park being one of the capital's less spacious outdoor areas, there really was not much in the way of space in order to pack in the 35,000 people that turned up this year. So while it seemed cute and quaint to begin with, it took less than only a couple of hours before the whole space was filled with glitter-covered youngsters all waiting for the day to unfold.
The main thing that you experience at Community is actually what its title suggests. With nothing but the live acts to keep you entertained for the entire day, means that the odd dip in interest from what is happening on stage can lead to plenty of social endeavours. Whereas most festivals you will see crowds of people surging to get through to see a band, most of the audience spent the day lying down while enjoying the sounds. This refined and laid-back approach became the most prevalent attitude from almost everyone there. Obviously the beating heat of the weekend meant that many couldn't stand on their feet for long, it was refreshing to visit a festival where enjoying yourself came with next to no pressure. You could simply sit down with your mates, enjoy some quality music, and if you ever happened to want to visit the other stage, it would be less than a minute before you got there.
I have to say that while my usual experience of festivals usually involves running between sites to catch as many artists as I can. It felt oddly enjoyable to just sit back and let the vibe and atmosphere of the day wash over me instead. Community has this extremely relaxed appeal to it that not too many other festivals could claim. It may not be the non-stop whirl of fun and entertainment that most promoters look to achieve, but instead understands that this is a budget-built day-out for people than can rarely afford to visit many festivals in a given year. It takes all the major aspects of a festival, and compresses it down into a smooth-running, easy-going day that still allows music fans a chance to see some of their favourite acts. It may only be in its third year, but it is clear that Community has a winning formula on its hands and could well see itself growing into one of the capital's biggest one-day events in the year's ahead.