I have always been a fan of Rock The Bells and until 2011, I started volunteering for them. After my first experience attending the show, I knew I would always be attending until the pull the final plug on it. Rock The Bells for me was the ultimate Hip-Hop lovers’ festival. If you truly loved hip-hop this was the festival to be at. What I loved most about RTB was the fact that when you went, you went to see a MINIMUM of 10 artists. Yes, that’s how amazing the line-up is… or was.
By now everyone should know that Rock The Bells was cancelled for DC and NYC this year due to ticket sales. Last year at Rock The Bells there was also a small issue with ticket sales for the NY/NJ show but they made enough to keep the show going, thank god. With a lineup of artists like DMX, Eve, Wu-Block, Slaughterhouse, 2 Chainz, Slick Rick, Ice Cube, Salt & Pepa, Nas (guest performance by Lauryn Hill), Future, Bone Thugs –N- Harmony, Ghostface & Raekwon, Common, and others despite the location it was still a huge success. In 2011 the line-up was just as spectacular but was held on Governor’s Island, basically right across the street from NYC (about a 5-10 minute FREE boat ride). In 2012 the location of the festival seemed to be the issue with ticket sales since it was at the PNC Theater location which is about an hour and 15 minute NJ Transit ride there (not counting the ride you have to take to get to the NJ Transit station). Also last year’s issue with ticket sales can be because the Made In America festival made its debut the same days. Was Rock The Bells date pushback to October due to Made In America this year? I’m not sure but it would make sense.
Although location definitely played a huge factor in ticket sale issues this year, I’m sure it had to do more with the lineup. After all, Bamboozle also did their festival at the same location 2 years ago and was successful so that location couldn’t have been much of the issue. This year’s lineup had some good artists on it as well but most of them brought up the question of “Why are they on the bill?” and “Who the hell is that?” Some artists on the bill are more for the younger crowd of hip-hop fans which in all honesty is kind of rare for Rock The Bells since they usually have a lot of Hip-Hop legends on their lineups and artists who were making music before some of these new artists knew how to spell their name. I personally can’t see fans of Black Hippy, A$AP Mob, Tyler The Creator, Flatbush Zombies, Smoke DZA, and Action Bronson paying $125 and up for tickets plus transportation, food, drinks and souvenirs . It’s hard to throw a show with so many new artists on a bill, especially in NYC when we probably have seen them perform 10 times already this year so far in our own backyard for $25 or even for free.
Could this Rock The Bells show have been an attempt to gain a younger crowd? Possibly. Did they fail at it? Most definitely. Can they fix this by next year? Of course. With some better marketing, better location, better sponsors and a better lineup… oh hell, just revamp the whole show and it can definitely be a success again. I am certainly rooting for Rock The Bells to win; after all they are the only festival I am remotely interested in and the only one who delivers 100% of what I look for in a show.