The quiet before the storm
In 15 days, 4 hours, 13 minutes and 25
seconds, 40,000 concertgoers will descend upon the small village of Pemberton
to party their brains out over three days and nights. But you would never guess
that talking to Live Nation organizer Shane Bourbonnais.
The Calgary-born, California-raised head
honcho of operations looks startlingly calm on this sunny July afternoon as he
strolls through his air-conditioned office in Pemberton’s industrial park. He
speaks honestly about the concert preparation, detailing ticket sales and stage
construction in an enthusiastic but mellow voice. His acute cool emulates
throughout the building: fashionably dressed employees work serenely at their
computers or talk to each other in an ever-so-civil manner.
And this relaxed atmosphere is just how
Bourbonnais likes it.
“In this business, if you are two weeks
away from an event and things are chaotic, you know you are in trouble. Here,”
he says waving his hand around the office, “things are under control. We are in
great shape for the festival.”
Assuring words from the man who holds the
fate of Pemberton in his hands.
Like the towns of Glastonbury in the United
Kingdom, Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee before it, the tiny
village of Pemberton is heading for a major change this summer with the arrival
of the highly anticipated Pemberton Music Festival.
Up until now, Pemberton’s economy has been
based almost solely on farming and tourism. This is a village where almost no
one locks their doors at night. This is a village where the Pemberton Barn
Dance – complete with cowboy hats and plastic cups of beer – used
to be the summer’s biggest event. And this is a village where the parking lots
still have hitching posts.
As the anticipated arrival of Coldplay,
Jay-Z et al. draws closer and Pemby prepares to cross that heavyweight line
from farming community to notorious multi-day festival host, residents are
preparing for the big shift. In the lull before the storm, families are buying
locally-discounted festival tickets, attending town hall meetings on traffic
flow and porta-potties, and stockpiling their cupboards with enough groceries
to get them through the week.
And as everyone holds their breath and
prepares to take the leap of faith between July 25 to 28, one big, fat question
hangs in the air: What becomes of small villages that play host to large
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