BY PETER SWART
The road to this year’s Ever After Music Festival has been an unexpectedly bumpy one for organizers.
The most recent bump was the sexual assault allegations surrounding Datsik, who was scheduled to headline the festival, which lead to some frantic rearranging of the schedule.
While this shook up the event and made fans scour the internet to see what the festival organizers would do to compensate for the loss of a headliner, it’s nothing compared to the news from earlier in the year.
The festival was given a very strict set of rules by Kitchener city council in order to get a noise exemption for the Kitchener-based event.
Fans are still trying to figure out what the organizers have planned.
“I’m fine with Excision being the only headliner on Sunday, but is he really going to have to finish his set by nine?” asked Kitchener resident Jaydon Talbot.
Talbot is a huge fan of electronic dance music and the festival in particular. He’s attended Ever After for the past three years, only missing its debut in 2015.
“The reason I keep coming back every year is because it keeps getting better, from the lineup to the atmosphere,” said Talbot, “but if the festival has to follow the new rules for good then it kind of feels like it’s just downhill from here.”
Gabriel Mattacchione, the festival’s president, has responded to fans’ concerns many times and has stuck to his stance. He will not allow the city to compromise the fans’ experience.
The noise exemption was changed this year after over 100 noise complaints were made during last year’s festival. This resulted in the noise level being dropped from an allowed level of 60 decibels (dBA) to 55 dBA which is comparable to a calm residential neighbourhood.
Mattacchione had already planned on reducing the noise carried outside of the venue before the noise exemption was altered by bringing in a new sound system.
“The new technology is made by a well-known company called PK Sound,” he said. “This new tech allows us to manually change the direction of the sound and focus the direction solely on the venue in real time while the event is going on.”
Kitchener’s city council has also decided that in order for the event to go on as planned the event must end by 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 10. Mattacchione has reassured fans who are upset by the end time, saying he will not let the council ruin their experience.“Simply put, I plan on not ending the programming at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening,” he said.
Knowing that the president of the festival is so determined to not compromise the experience of the event has certainly put some fans’ minds at ease.
“Matt Mattacchione has become sort of a hero to me,” said Talbot. “He is sticking to his guns and he’s trying to live up to the expectations that we as fans have for the festival and it’s working so far.”
Some council members even disagree with the end time of 9 p.m., including Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock who believes that the end time is a little unreasonable.
“The decision was not unanimous, the council as a whole did not support the 9 p.m. end time but the majority did,” she said, “I didn’t (support it), I thought it should go longer.”
While some people believe that the rules being imposed on the festival show discrimination toward the music type, Galloway-Sealock believes it has more to do with the genre’s tendency to be louder than others.
“I don’t think the type of music is being singled out but I believe because of the nature of the music and the bass that is used within this music it creates louder sound and more vibration,” she said.
Mattacchione disagrees, believing if Ever After programmed any other type of music they would not be given rules such as these regardless of complaints.
“It disturbs me that no other event has been put under these regulations due to complaints in the past, nor do I think they will in the future,” he said. “Unless they start to program electronic music of course.”
Heading into this year’s event, Mattacchione is keeping his mind open about moving the festival if Kitchener continues to make it difficult to use Bingemans as a venue no matter how much he loves the park.
“Bingemans is, in my opinion, the best venue to throw an amazing festival, from the waterpark to camping, my team calls it the unicorn venue,” he said. “That being said, things are much easier to do in other regions and it’s something we will have to evaluate at the end of the year.”
Galloway-Sealock recognizes that the festival is a large economic benefit to the city and understands that their decision to impose these regulations could be the reason Ever After packs up and moves.
“We definitely have the ability to impact what they do in the future,” she said.