Tit Hall’s Status Leaving Others Chasing

OJ Watson investigates the truth behind Chase & Status’ booking at Tit Hall’s June Event.

2014 bastille Chase & Status Guillemots june event may balls May Week Music Queens' Tit Hall trinity hall

This week Trinity Hall announced, in my opinion, the most impressive headliner that the Cambridge May Week circuit has seen for the past 3 years in the form of Chase & Status. Like many others, I also wondered how on earth they booked them. Traditionally May Ball headliners are a mix of washed up one hit wonders, obscure indie bands and talented DJ sets. Certainly Bastille were a huge name last year, especially with their meteoric rise to fame that year, but Queens’ were celebrating a centenary and had the accompanying extra bit of wonga to splash around. So just how did Tit Hall achieve this?

Before I get onto this, I want to offer an explanation for my earlier claim of Chase & Status being the biggest headliner for the past 3 years – and yes that’s even bigger than Bastille. Firstly, it is actually NOT just a Chase & Status DJ set. They will be joined by their incredible  frontman  MC Rage. According to the june event committee, they will only be missing their drummer from the same line up that played to over 70,000 fans at this years Reading and Leeds Festival. A festival which also hosted Bastille, who were unable to attract the same size of crowds. Chase & Status also boast a degree of longevity, with 3 albums over 5 years that have been universally well received gifting them the ability to easily perform a varied and well rounded 2 hour set. The jury is still out on whether Bastille will endure, however Dan Smith has hinted that the second album will be significantly different with more hip-hop sounds. At the very least that will be interesting and will also save them from the the all too familiar problem that breakthrough artists have in struggling to market further albums that are just too similar to the the infamous first album (think Mumford and Sons).

MC Rage

MC Rage – Chase & Status’ formidable frontman

But back to Tit Hall. How did they achieve this? As mentioned earlier, Queens’ managed to bag Bastille, but with some serious extra funding. So how does a standard June event manage to pull this off? Trinity Hall manage to sell 2000 tickets making it the most attended event of May Week, and in the past have been viewed as an event that places more focus on securing talented musicians than on gastronomic decadence. This plus the 3am finish time will certainly allow their budget to stretch further, but far enough to book Chase & Status? Looking at their past headliners (Guillemots, Nero, King Charles), one feels that this year’s committee have really pulled something out the bag.

Tit Hall from the skies - can 2000 really fit in there?

Tit Hall from the skies – can 2000 really fit in there?

I spoke to the music officer for their June Event and asked him about how he went about booking Chase & Status. Apart from a former relationship with a PR agent, Chase & Status were booked as a result of honest hard work and simply shopping around. They also admitted that their PR contact would have been more than happy to have been contacted by other May Balls, and there was only a small indication of “mate’s rates” having a factor, and defnitely not so big an effect that other May Balls could not have made an offer. This was evident by the fact that Trinity attempted to outbid Trinity Hall for Chase & Status but it was too late (or Chase & Status are less greedy than Bastille, who happily jumped from event to event last year until they ended up at the biggest buyer in the form of Queens’).

Chase & Status at last year’s Lowlands Festival

So simple hard work and perhaps a bit of good luck have allowed Tit Hall to book Chase & Status. But if it was so simple, you wonder why other May Balls, with larger budgets, struggle to find equally big bands. It is often mentioned that a lot of bands have reservations of playing at Cambridge for fear of the effect it will have on their image. Alternatively some bands have prejudices against Cambridge – The Futureheads certainly enjoyed the odd “posh kid” joke at Pembroke May Ball 2010.

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So congratulations to Tit Hall. The gauntlet has certainly been thrown down, but maybe their efforts will kickstart other committees to dream big making 2014 May Week jampacked full of huge headliners.