13 July 2016

For once, I’ll take up my pen and address you, dearest HELLFEST fans! First of all, to thank you all for your support and your admirable behaviour during these 4 days in Clisson’s hell!

This 11th edition will go down in history for its most peaceful and good-natured atmosphere!

We were worried of having to relive an arduous edition when the weather conditions started to deteriorate a few days before the festival. All of our staff (volunteers, employees and partners) have had to strive to open the gates of hell in the best circumstances possible. I am very grateful to them for their commitment and their unswerving motivation! Thanks to them, we were able to get a dozen of buses out of the mud just a few hours away from the event’s opening! To you, volunteers, employees and partners, this festival and its success are just as much yours! THANK YOU ALL!

We hope that you have enjoyed the improvements brought to the festival this year. We had promised you significant improvement regarding the downsides you had brought to our attention last year and we have made our best to meet your expectations.

Some will say we overdo it, and that all this scenery is not necessary. I stand by my idea that a festival feeds off all sorts of incidents to become a global experience and not just a succession of concerts! The scenography, the atmosphere, the encounters are all elements which help make the festival a unique event! Should we be ashamed of it? Should we reject the festival’s popular success? I don’t think so. Our doors are open to everyone, whatever the age, appearance or social class! Our festival is not intended to become sectarian, or be reserved to the elite or strict “connoisseurs”. It is intended to put a spotlight on these cultures that are too often prejudiced or ignored by the media. That is why I am proud to have been able to share with you a different perspective of my passion, with the help of some 4000 volunteers and employees. This perspective has led the festival to receive the “best major French festival” award 2 years in a row!

Many of you are now wondering: is the Hellfest victim of its own success? I have given much attention to your various opinions on the social media, webzines, forums and such… I have spent hours trying to best understand some of your reactions – because there is nothing more important than to keep pace with you and pay attention to your needs. I have often chanted the phrase “By fans for the fans” as a spiritual leitmotif, and the reason I am writing to you right now is to show you that this event I am so lucky to organize is not going to lose sight of that!

Rumor has it that more than 10 000 more tickets were sold, compared with the last edition. Let me put an end to the speculations here. Last year, the festival was sold out with 50 000 attendants per day, plus the volunteers, the partners, the media and the guests. That’s a total of 57 000 people in 2015. This year, the festival has not welcomed 57 000 but 60 000 people, so that’s 3000 more tickets sold. And yet, a general feeling of overcrowdedness emerges from your reactions.

The audience has changed since the creation of the festival, and so do habits! The festival site was built around 6 stages with different themes in order to welcome the bigger as well as the smaller bands. We will not change anything about that, the festival will continue to ferret out all sorts of artists, popular or not, unexpected or classic. The Hellfest will not be a showcase of bestselling artists. However, one cannot ignore the growing popularity of the festival, and the areas in front of the 2 Main Stages will have to be consequently readjusted. We had never witnessed such forceful enthusiasm during shows like Rammstein’s, Black Sabbath’s or Gojira’s, to the detriment of the other stages when different bands were playing at the same time as these popular artists. We organizers will have to adapt.

There were also some shortcomings we were not prepared for – the excessive wait at the cathedral and at the Cashless banks got on a lot of festivalgoers’ nerves. It’s hard for us to explain this new phenomenon. It is quite unlikely that the mere 3000 additional attendants provoked such complications. Could this be similar to the recent gas shortage problem in France, where lines of road users queuing up in front of the gas stations attracted more and more clients? It seems plausible, given the improvement of the situation on Saturday. Whatever the cause, this new information will have to be analysed and we will try to remedy to the problem next year by adding more Cashless stands and more pat-down lines.

Organizing a festival this big is no easy task, but from our point of view, challenging ourselves is essential. That is what binds us to you, festivalgoers; that is what has given this festival its very soul. Make no mistake, we are all affected and motivated, and we want to better anything that can be. Our association does not aim at making profit off your back, each euro earned is a euro that is reinvested in the organisation of the next edition, which you might have seen with the development of the Warzone this year. Rest assured, your feedback about the festival this year will be taken into account and will lead to considerable improvements in 2017!

Our motivation to make you live an unforgettable week-end is very much alive, and the 2017 edition will hold many more surprises. I look forward to seeing you on the 16, 17 and 18 June 2017; let Clisson become once more the capital of Rock! Meanwhile, I wish you a nice summer and don’t forget to support other events like the Motocultor, Xtrem fest, Sylak, Ragnard Rock, Mfest, Fall of Summer festivals and so many more which are dedicated to our common passion! They need your support more than ever!

See you next year Hellbangers!

Ben Barbaud – #hellfest