Rize and shine: Melvin Benn on the inaugural Rize Festival

Rize and shine: Melvin Benn on the inaugural Rize Festival

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn has spoken exclusively to Music Week about the inaugual Rize Festival, which kicks off today in Hylands Park, Chelmsford.

The two-day event, headlined by Liam Gallagher and Stereophonics, succeeds V Festival, which had been held at the site since 1996. Other performers include Bastille, James Bay, Rag'N'Bone Man, Plan B, Manic Street Preachers, Rita Ora, Craig David and Years & Years.

"We wanted to create something that, in this instance, was not necessarily that competitive to Reading & Leeds," said Benn. "The Chelmsford audience had become familiar with a particular style of line-up that we felt Liam and Stereophonics would satisfy and that's exactly what we've done. 

"We wanted it to be much more of a local festival. Rize is a national festival but its tickets will mainly be sold within a 100-mile radius. The essence behind it was to create something that would attract to an audience base within 75-100 miles of the festival itself and I think we've just about got it right."

This year's bill represents something of a return to V Festival's early years, when indie rock ruled the roost.

"We expect [to attract] what was more like the traditional V crowd than the more recent V crowd, when It had artists like Pink, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé,” remarked Benn. "They were incredible shows, but  [pop] wasn't where V started - V started with guitar bands."

Benn said ticket sales were "more or less" in line with expectations. 

"We were aiming for 30,000 and we will be plus or minus on each of the days, within a couple of thousand of that," he said. "We're averaging 30k across each day, one day's doing better than the other, I'm not going to tell you which one! But one day is doing better than the other and we're in good shape."

On whether Rize will go on to become an annual event, he added: "We'll see how this one goes and where we get to, but we generally don't launch anything with a view for it to be one-off, that's not really my style. We wouldn't be stupid and keep something going for the sake of it but my view is always long-term, it always has been."

Benn is also open-minded about a return to Stafford, which hosted V's northern leg in Weston Park from 1999 to 2017.

"It was on the agenda [for 2018] but it became more complicated to try and put the gig together when Liam couldn't play it, so we decided against it," he said, explaining that Gallagher was already booked for a headline gig at Manchester's Lancashire County Cricket Club on Saturday.

"[Weston Park] is a constant discussion between the shareholders and myself, and we're constantly thinking about it. It's on the agenda already for next year; we haven't confirmed anything but it's definitely on our agenda."

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