Florida holds its fair share of festivals, including everything from the long-running Ultra Music Festival to the many events that take place at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. In Tampa, a multigenre music festival debuted in 2014 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The Big Guava Music Festival attempted to give east coast music lovers a Coachella or Bonnaroo equivalent, and its first year achieved many lofty goals. However, the event met some inclement weather its first day, and attendance numbers suffered as a result.
Luckily, event organizer Live Nation announced last year that Big Guava would return for a second go-around. Scaled back from a three-day festival to a two-day festival, this next iteration of Big Guava maintains many of the key features that shaped its identity: diverse and compelling musical talent, a crop of thrill rides and attractions, and a bevy of food trucks and craft beer selections. Set to take place on May 8-9, 2015, Big Guava year two aims to improve for its sophomore outing. EDM.com picked five notable ways the festival looks to improve next week, ranging from the addition of electronic music acts to the creation of pit tickets. Read the five ways Big Guava looks to improve below:
1. EDM Added to the Lineup
Big Guava represented nearly every genre its first year, assembling a lineup full of rock, indie, hip-hop, and alternative musicians. However, the first year's lineup sorely lacked in one area: EDM. This year, Big Guava made up for previously skipping the genre by adding a sizable list of some of the best electronic producers working today. Pretty Lights headlines the first night for what we hope will be a live set with his band, and electronic/indie fusion performer Robert Delong opens up the Nectar Stage. On day two, post-dubstep crooner James Blake and nu-disco duo Classixx take up the electronic music mantle.
2. Two Days: Tighter Focus
When Big Guava announced this year's event would shorten event from three to two days, some attendees were skeptical. Big Guava quickly addressed concerns with a series of announcements: a hefty lineup reveal, formidable artist additions, and less expensive tickets. Live Nation took a big risk in organizing a three-day festival for its first year, and the event promoter likely realized scaling things back to two days would help foster its longevity for future years. Big Guava is still in its infancy, and needs time to form a reputation. A two-day event with an inexpensive ticket is an easy decision music lovers not only across Florida but around the United States.
3. Dedicated Pit Tickets
One of Big Guava's biggest mistakes during its first year came in the form of the pit system. At the Big Guava Stage, which is located at the Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on the Fairgrounds, a pit area sits in front of the stage. Attendees were free to enter and exit the pit as they pleased for any acts that were not headliners. Pit access for headliner acts required a special wristband given out at a separate booth on the festival grounds, a fact unknown to many of the attendees hoping to get into the pit for performers such as Outkast and Vampire Weekend.
This year, Big Guava sold a limited amount of pit access tickets to improve the logistics of the pit area. Fans responded happily, quickly buying pit tickets to the point of total sell out weeks before the festival. With this system, the pit becomes an area for the diehard music fans. The new system also removes the confusion from the previous system, and improves attendee satisfaction by clearly outlining how to gain pit access and removing potential red herrings.
4. More Overlapping Set Times
Another perplexing aspect of the first Big Guava stemmed from its schedule. Despite the festival having four stages, only two stages featured performances at a time. The same two stages would always conflict, forcing attendees to constantly move from stage to stage. The design of this schedule benefits vendors, but tires the attendee really quickly. This year, the schedule overlaps as much as three to four performances at a time, much like other festivals do with their schedules. While these overlaps create potential conflicts, they minimize excessive movement and split up crowd sizes so that one stage does not receive an overwhelming crowd. Big Guava aims to give attendees comfort, and this new schedule design gives festival-goers room to relax and breathe.
5. Lower-Priced Tickets
Festivals run a dime a dozen these days, and regional festivals such as Big Guava offer a nice alternative to the often costly festivals across the country. The abbreviated days call for cheaper festival passes, and the price this year stands as one of the most competitive deals around. For $115 to $135, you get a lineup of such artists as The Strokes, Hozier, Pixies, Passion Pit, Run The Jewels, Banks, amd more, unlimited access to thrill rides, four stages that range from the massive amphitheatre to the air-conditioned Nectar Stage, and water refill stations. It's not every day such immense talent and top-tier production hits a massive event in Florida, and the inexpensive tickets only sweeten the already delectable deal.
Big Guava hits the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on May 8-9. Tickets can still be purchased at the Live Nation website. Watch a video recap of Big Guava 2014 below: