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When Bastille announced their return to South Africa last year for a string of gigs, many were confused by the unfamiliarity of the new company on the block facilitating the tour. But the people behind We Are Live are old hands at this game.
I sat down with We Are Live’s co-owner Craig Bright (ex Seed Experiences and Rocking The Daisies) to chat about his latest venture, how he decides which acts to book and the last minute chance of venue for Incubus in Cape Town.
Tecla Ciolfi: So let’s start at the beginning, who is We Are Live?
Craig Bright: It’s me and my business partner Wayne “Boards” Boardman. His father was the legendary country music singer Billy Forrest who was part of our music industry for years. Wayne is new to the industry, so he brings a fresh perspective. We’ve been chatting about doing something together for years now and finally the opportunity has presented itself and we haven’t looked back. He’s based in Joburg and is managing the backend stuff. He also brings a wealth of experience from the corporate incentive travel packages he does with his team building company. We tie these programmes into our international artists’ proposals, so for example with the Incubus tour in February, we are doing a Rhino Capture in the Pilanesberg. The “hands on” experience during a capture to dart, microchip, relocate or take DNA samples contributes to the conservation, and furthered protection, of these amazing creatures.
TC: The first band you brought down under the We Are Live banner was Bastille, followed by Texas. In 2018 you’ve announced Angus & Julia Stone, Incubus and now Morcheeba who are touring in April. It’s a really diverse bunch of artists and there doesn’t seem to be any continuity genre-wise.
CB: For sure, I’m personally a huge fan of all the artists we’re bringing out, but it also needs to make financial and business sense. In this industry you can’t keep going after the same wallet all the time, there is just so much going on and you can’t always bring out the same genre or style of music, your fans will eventually run out of money. I am also a huge fan of all different genres of music, it’s the festival that lives inside me I guess.
TC: You had a bit of a problem with the venue for Incubus in Cape Town, what makes Green Point Park a better choice than Grand Arena?
CB: The Grand Arena is great for some things and less so for others. At Green Point Park the stage is going to be much bigger, we’ll actually be able to fulfill their full tech rider which means you’ll get the full audio and visual experience and that’s key. They have 140 hanging lights on their tech rider and a huge circular LED screen, can you imagine?
Coming from a festival background that’s the kind of space I want to create, you’re going to feel like you’re at any major festival in the world. You are in control of the food stores and what they sell, the bars will have viewpoints to the stage, you are under the stars, you are not confined to a seat, rather you are arm in arm with your mates bellowing out your favourite tracks that you used to have on repeat in your cars and CD players at home.
For me an international tour is all about the fan and the artists’ experience – you want them both to experience each other in an unforgettable environment, so both have beautiful lasting memories. For a rock band you want to be outdoors so I’m really happy about both venue picks for Incubus.
I’m very excited about this one. There’s been an incredible response to the announcement and we are not holding back on anything!
TC: And you’ve brought down your fair share of artists over the years, especially when you were running Seed Experiences. Some people may not know that it’s not the first time around the block for the people behind We Are Live.
CB: That’s what people need to understand, this is my industry, I live it and breathe it. I’m constantly going to music conferences all over the world and I’m constantly learning myself – it’s something I’m very passionate about. I just want to create cool experiences and bring out relevant acts.
I also work with the same team that I worked with at Seed but I subcontract all of the jobs now instead of having permanent staff. I want to have the same team going from one gig to the next and I don’t want to do any shows from May to October, that’s when I do market research, travel and learn from the best festivals and productions in the world. This is also a time to grow my network and family in the music industry internationally.
For example, in 2013 I was at Sonar in Barcelona, I was watching Pet Shop Boys and standing next to me was a guy who introduced himself as Juan Arnu who is CEO of a party called Elrow, we ended up hanging out all night. Two days later my crew of sixteen strong were dancing on his stage at his party. The venue was an old Castle, it was magical. I’ve never been looked after better in my life. If you live your passion synchronicities happen, paths align. Myself and Juan are now partners in Elrow South Africa, I couldn’t be more honoured and privileged to be working with such an incredible family, together we will be making magic come 24th March at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town and The Shed in Johannesburg on the 17th March.Check out
For more about We Are Live visit their website.
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