Late Monday night, Dave Maynard of Frank Productions issued the official announcement about the lineup for Freakfest 2007, the Halloween gathering on State Street that will be held on Saturday, October 27. Though this marks the second year that the party will be gated and ticketed in an effort to preempt the disturbances that marred the event from 2002 through 2005, it's the first for Frank.
The national concert promoter is working with the city to create a concert festival-style atmosphere for the revelry, the latter hoping to gradually reduce policing costs while avoiding liability as an official sponsor.
Frank Productions, meanwhile, is looking to take an event infamous for its drunken carousing and make it into something known better for its music and other organized fun. This isn't something that will happen overnight, much over the course of a single year. Most of the acts announced on Monday had already been made public in online concert listings and by the performers themselves, and reaction to the lineup has been mixed.
"We're trying to make sure there's something for everyone to enjoy," says Maynard in response to criticisms. "Everybody might not enjoy all of the acts that are playing, but there should be something for everyone." The Daily Page spoke with him about the promoter's perspective on planning this year's party. This interview follows.
The Daily Page: How is your approach to organizing Freakfest going to improve upon the former pattern of trouble at the revelry on State Street?
There wasn't really anything to do during those years. My understanding, having only lived in Madison for the past four years, was that it used to be more organized, including a stage with a costume contests and bands playing. When people stopped taking ownership of the event, it just turned into a free for all. People still went down to State Street to see each others costumes and party, but there wasn't really any focus. It was just, "Let's get wasted and go down to State Street."
Our goal is that we're giving people something to do. They can still come down and walk around the street, but there's also something to do.
How much of an undertaking was setting up the event?
Maynard: It's a pretty major commitment for us. We hired an in-house production person, which is the first time we had somebody in house for quite some time. He has been actively involved with working with several of the city agencies, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and happy.
From our end, it's basically an all-office effort. We've got people working on media and marketing, I've been dealing with booking, it's been crazy. We're very excited to be a part of it, and we're looking forward to continuing in the future.
Do you think you'll improve on last year's figure of 30,000 or so tickets sold?
We've got a capacity in that space. From my understanding in talking with the city and police, this capacity is 50,000 and that's as far was we can go at this point with the current setup.
Our goal is not necessarily to increase the number of people showing up, it's to give everybody something to do. Everything is all budgeted out, and we're trying to make sure the event can pay for itself.
What are you telling the bands to expect when it comes to the atmosphere at the party?
I went in thinking that everybody had heard about the party from watching the news in previous years, but talking to the bands, all I've gotten is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. The local bands obviously know how exciting it is to be in front of potentially that many people. It's all good for them. With the national acts, they're looking forward to coming in and performing. I didn't have to do a really hard sales job, especially since last year went pretty smoothly. Now, we're just moving ahead and trying to have it go smoothly this year.
How does the online ticketing work?
There's the $1.50 convenience charge. If you buy it online more than ten days out from the event [through Tuesday, October 16], the tickets will get mailed to you. If it's less than ten days out, the tickets will be on will call. The pickup location will be printed at the ticket, and will likely be at the Lake Street gate.
What do you hope people will think of the lineup?
I went into it trying to get a little something of everything. It's impossible to please everyone, but I'm hoping as people look at the full picture of all the artists and the various activities we have going on, they'll be able to feel the excitement. Nobody has to like everything, but there should be something in the State Street area during this party for everybody to enjoy.
Tickets for Freakfest 2007 go on sale on Friday, Oct. 5, online and at numerous locations around town, including the University Bookstore, Ragstock, B-Side Records, Knucklheads, Mallat's Pharmacy, Strictly Discs, the State Street Cash Mart, the Colisum box office, and any location marked by a poster for the party.