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Why Paul Oakenfold Sucks

Let's get one thing clear - Oakie himself doesn't suck. In fact, he's rather good, and may even deserve the reputation he has. The Paul Oakenfold gig in Wellington sucks. Read on and I'll explain...

10 Nov 2000

Let's get one thing clear - Oakie himself doesn't suck. In fact, he's rather good, and may even deserve the reputation he has. The Paul Oakenfold gig in Wellington sucks. Read on and I'll explain...

First the facts: Paul Oakenfold is on in Wellington on November 10th, along with support DJs Tiesto (of Holland, a reasonably well-known name in trance), Australian DJ Mark James, Luke da Spook and Auntie S, the latter two from Auckland. It's happening at the Queen's Wharf Events Centre, a barn of a place if there ever was one, ideal for large rock acts. Which, incidentally, you are not allowed to smoke or drink in. Fact: The gig (I'm loathe to honour it with the word party) costs $73. The promoter of the event is JSG Event Management - an Auckland guy who I am led to believe has been a rock promoter.

Now the interpretation:

The Paul Oakenfold gig sucks for several reasons.

Seventy-three bucks is big moolah for one night for most people. Hell, I think I saw the full Pink Floyd show in Auckland for less than that (in 1989, admittedly). But compare this gig to what you get for, say, the Big Day Out. Or better still, The Gathering. The pre-October G price is $130 for FOUR DAYS and who-knows-how-many DJs, live acts, bands and performers of all descriptions. Including one or two internationals.

Even better - on the next night is Hullaballoo - six zones, eighteen DJs and live acts, in a literal "underground" location. Superb environment. I know for a fact the promoter of this party virtually jumped through flaming hoops to get this party off the ground with the City Council. And all for only $20 in advance! Now THAT is quality. You never know, one or two of the DJs there might give Oakie a run for his money. And yes, we know Oakie charges a lot of money to grace us with his presence. A LOT of money. But not so much that the event needs to be $73. Not if the promoter knows the local scene and has experience with dance parties.

Why are they charging more than twice the price of even the most expensive dance events in Wellington for less than many $20 parties offer?

Money.

Businessmen smell it, like shit on their shoes and decide to get a piece of the action.

Now there's another factor to consider here: In New Zealand we pay our DJs (and bands for that matter) atrociously. Ravers in general should expect to pay a little more to see good local DJs. I plan to return to this in part two. But let's move on...

Respect. Why did JSG not have the courtesy to have a local DJ or two in support? I could name half a dozen locals of various genres who are as good or better than the Aucklanders on the bill. By all means have the Aucklanders, we can do with seeing new blood. But not one local? That's a kick in the teeth to a large number of very talented Wellingtonians who've been working very hard pushing the scene for years.

Then there's class. Did you SEE those posters? Most hideous things since 1983's fashion sense. If that's any indication of the production values at the gig, you're being ripped off. And I'm sorry, shallow tho' it may be, the rave scene DOES take the look of the promotion into account. Good visual design (and sometimes appalling visual design!) has always been part of the culture. The Oakie posters are just plain naff.

Incidentally, it seems they've woken up to this fact, because a lot of new, better posters have appeared in the last few days before the gig. Which somehow reeks of desperation to me. You see, I've been told - and this is purely hearsay - the promoter needs to have 3000 people at the gig to break even. He should be worried. Even the largest shed raves in Wellington never topped more than 2000 people. Yeah, he might get the ignorant along. But the serious dance fan might think twice about going.

And there's reputation. What will Oakie say about New Zealand to booking agents and dance people back home? Kiwis do naff parties. What effect will this have on other promoters' efforts to acquire quality overseas talent? Who knows, and perhaps, who cares.

So why am I so opinionated about all this? I make it my policy not to run down other promoters or crews. And to be honest, it's very rare I'd have any reason to. The dance scene in Wellington, for all its many faults, is a bunch of people I genuinely like. The parties that most crews do are good parties, by and large. And the motivations of most promoters here are not only to do with money. For many crews, plans to make profit play no part in their thinking. They do it because they love it, because it's their passion and their life.

Let me name some of them, past and present: Eden, S-Ence, Obscure/Fun Poison, Roots Foundation, Mezzo Forte, Diskotek, Heloid, Grind, Hullabaloo, Jackin', Matrix Crew, Substream, U-Entity, FIRM FM, Radio Active. No doubt I've missed some. Not to mention the clubs and bars.

So I did think about whether I should hang myself in print like this. But I can't help it - my opinion remains:

To have an outsider come in and effectively try to make profit on all the years of work these people have put into developing dance culture in Wellington, giving them nothing in return, is plain insulting.

See you at Hullaballoo.