DF Concerts

By The Drum, Administrator

July 4, 2003 | 7 min read

Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts andGeorge Kyle of Tennents

Once again the festival season is in full flow with Scotland’s premier music festival, T in the Park, taking centre stage next weekend. Katy Archer talks to the head honchos of the event, who take a stroll down memory lane as they celebrate the tenth anniversary of T in the Park.

T in the Park has become an institution in the Archer household, and no doubt many others, for the past ten years.

Normally, excitement builds as the ‘big weekend’ draws closer, the sun blazing, happy thoughts ensuing. On the day, however, the expectations of a fun-filled, sun-soaked weekend normally disappear as the dark clouds loom ominously and the pitter-patter of rain echos louder than the speakers on stage. The chosen sandals become battered old trainers and the light summer tops are rapidly replaced with fleeces and waterproofs.

Then one of two things normally happen – either the rain subsides and the entire weekend is basked in sunshine or, alternatively, the weekend becomes a very, very muddy experience. But, apart from meteorological mishaps occurring, two days are spent listening to a variety of bands in a field in Kinross, Perthshire, every year.

For the past ten years, nearly a million music fans have been faced with this clothing conundrum as they set out to enjoy Scotland’s premier festival. The partnership of Tennent’s Lager and DF Concerts has certainly paid dividends during this time – for Tennents they can bring their product to a younger audience, whilst for DF Concerts the desire to become the premier music promoter within Scotland has been realised.

The reason for the partnership was originally to give both companies area for growth, explains George Kyle, sponsorship manager for Tennent’s: “We had been doing a variety of sponsorship deals in the past with gigs such as Rod Stewart and Tina Turner, along with some local bands. But Tennent’s also wanted to bring the brand to a local audience and a younger audience.

“At the same time DF were hoping to expand and bring some sort of music festival to Scotland. So, the two companies got together and decided that by bringing together our brands we could bring a national focus onto our products.”

Kyle continues: “There had been a number of music festival events that had been proposed and had occurred previously but none of them had been as successful as the event that we brought together for the first year in Strathclyde Park.”

From that first festival, a wealth of musical talent has been brought into the country – along with a huge amount of beer being drunk too.

Kyle laughs: “I think in last year’s count there was 225,000 pints of lager drunk over the whole of the weekend.”

But Kyle is quick to point out that independent sellers bring in the beer sold and that there is no real conflict of interest.

For the managing director of DF Concerts, Geoff Ellis, the decision to move the festival from the Hamilton base of Strathclyde Country Park to the fields of Balado near Kinross has been the best decision made since the festival started.

He said: “I remember going up to the site to have a look at it when it first emerged that we would need to find another site. The site was great – the fields were nice and flat and you could imagine stages and people in it. It meant two things moving the festival; we could increase capacity, and we could get the festival onto a more national consciousness – instead of people perceiving it as a Glasgow festival.”

Kyle agrees with this: “There were numerous benefits by moving the festival away from Glasgow and the West Coast in general – the site is central in terms of getting there from throughout Scotland. The infrastructure is superb and the site is now maintained throughout the year by the farmer who owns the land.”

This year T in the Park is playing host to REM, Coldplay and The Proclaimers, all taking to the stage over the two days, and the organisers are aiming to give festival-goers the widest selection of music over the weekend.

For Kyle, the planning and staging of the festival is a year-long event – and the plans for the tenth anniversary mean that there will be a few special surprises along the way.

“The two companies have been working on the project for more than a year. We wanted to give something to our audience that they would really remember. I know that Geoff has been constantly thinking about it. When we first launched it was all about us trying to establish our music credentials and bring something different to Scotland. Now we have managed to do that, we can truly celebrate this festival as not only a Scottish festival, but as a UK-wide festival too.”

The organising of the festival means that there is no time for either of the two to rest on their laurels. ”We started working on this T in the Park last June,” a tired looking Ellis points out, “and the work will begin for the eleventh year around the 14 July.

“We may not have as much energy to put into it for the first month, but after that, I think that it will yet again be all systems go. The adrenaline has kicked in at the moment – it needs to with the number of things we are doing just now, but I think we will feel it on the Monday after the festival has ended.”

The branding of the festival has meant that the sponsorship deal, both men are keen to point out, is the longest and most successful within Scottish business. The partnership has also brought new avenues for investment. Says Kyle “We are doing a variety of things, including T in the Park, with DF presently. From our T in the Fringe festival, which launches soon after T in the Park finishes, to coincide with the Edinburgh Festival, it means that we are working with DF a lot of the time during the year. We are also working with them on our Triptych festival. The successful nature of our partnership has opened so many opportunities for both companies.”

Kyle believes that one of the secrets of their successful partnership is that the branding of the festival is not as prominent as other UK festivals. He explains: “Since we started T in the Park, there have been other festivals starting up, such as the Reading Festival, which is sponsored by Carling, and the Virgin Festivals. The one thing that our festival-goers probably notice compared to the other festivals is that we don’t ram Tennents down their throats. The branding is there, and is part of the festival as a whole, but it doesn’t take over.”

There have been a variety of highlights for the two men – both are undoubtedly proud of the audience acceptance of the festival, and their ability to stay out of trouble: “I love going out at the end of the festival onto the main stage and seeing all the faces singing along to the national anthem Flower of Scotland. Everything we go through to get to that point is worth it in the end,” says a proud-looking Ellis.


Below: Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts and Geoff Kyle of Tennent’s Lager.

Let’s get rocked: the clouds part and the sun shines as revellers get ready to party at T in the Park.


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