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Was The Town a failure? An analysis of the backlash on São Paulo’s new festival

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Full of performances, music, art, rain and problems, the brand new music festival was born. The Town happened in the beginning of the month, between September 2nd, 3rd, 7th , 9th, e 10th. From the same creators of Rock in Rio, the music festival arrived in São Paulo with the idea to represent the biggest city of Latin America in a “Cidade da Música” (Music City). With six different stages, each one representing a different style of music and proposal, the festival welcomed more than 500 thousand people in the five days of the event.

The racetrack, where the Brazilian Grand Prix of Formula One happens, was the place chosen for the event. Lollapalooza, another music festival, has been based there since 2012. However, The Town was born bigger, and a couple of changes were made to adapt the place into a festival location. The natural inclination, used as a way to get more stage visibility in the other event, suffered substantial chances and after some work, the main stage area got totally plain. According to the festival organization, it was planned to make the experience more comfortable for the public. 

Public Experience

During fives days of performances with names like Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Post Malone, The Chainsmokers, Foo Fighters, Le-Yo, Ney Matogrosso, Ludmilla, Luisa Sonza, Joss Stone, Jão and a lot of more incredibles artists, the spectators could enjoy good music and watch their favorite artists. But, are giant names in the music industry enough to please the public?

Even selling out all five days, for the reason of great artists’ names, being Bruno Mars the one who sold faster, in less than one hour, the public wanted to enjoy more than just concerts. The structure matters. For these reasons there was a roller coaster, ferris wheel and zipline, like in Rock in Rio, just for people to enjoy the festival environment. All of this needed to support an enormous public that wants to try on all these activities and guarantee that the experience turns out as good as possible for most people. That was only one of the challenges to bring this festival to life.  

The event structure is essential to guarantee a great public experience. It all starts with transport. On all days, for the first time, all the subways and trains stations worked 24 hours. Beside it, a no-stop bus line was created, only for the festival, going out from seven different places around the city just to make the access to the event easier. After arriving at The Town entrance, the problems changed. 

It all started with endless lines to enter the festival, for better security everybody was being patdown, which ended up with longer times on lines.  The first day of the history of The Town was a mess, even water ran out. Under rain and with the floor full of mud, it was clear that for the next days there were a lot of things that should be improved. Among these things were: big lines in the toilet all the time, problems with the circulation among stages, small screens in the stages structure and a programmation that put amazing concerts in a very close time to  the headline, which let presentations with just a few people in the audience. For the next days some problems were solved, such as the water one, but structure problems couldn’t be fixed that easily.

“Giant events are based on public surveys done after it ends”. Ethel Pereira, events organization teacher in Cásper Líbero, says that in a festival mistakes will happen and they need to learn with them to improve for the next edition. For her, events are a type of media, a way to communicate using all five senses, a situation that puts the public inside an experience. The public knows what to expect, for that reason there are no give ups, everybody stays there to feel all the feelings, to realize all five senses.

According to the teacher, to improve the public experience, not only a good line-up is enough. Being able to make choices, decide what they are gonna do and where they gonna be is now a way to think about when idealizing this type of event, it is called “choosing architecture”. “Besides thinking in the collective part, they need to understand the individual too”, a way to turn it into reality is to think in playables situations, giving power to people to choose their experiences.

“The perfect event doesn’t exist”, concludes Ethel. It is all about each person’s experience, their own tastes and how they make their choices. The festival is responsible to guarantee a good structure to turn it into a better experience for most people as possible. This edition’s mistakes will ensure that for the next The Town water won’t be a problem, the stages will have a better localization and the people’s circulation will turn out easier.   

The Town in numbers

Looking only at the numbers, analyzing data, taking all the public experience out, the festival was a huge success. The Town had 235 hours of music listened by 500 thousand people who stepped into the racetrack. 220 activations organized by 30 different brands, sharing with the public all different experiences.

 In the official store more than 100 thousand products were sold until the last saturday of the festival, September 9th. The event app was installed in 300 thousand cell phones and the The Town social media got 270 thousand more followers. Only on X, the new Twitter, the name “The Town” was a trending topic for 146 hours.

Talking about recycling, 10 tons of garbage were saved only in cups. In four days of the festival they sold more than 460 thousand recyclable cups.

Only for the economy of São Paulo, the festival had an impact of R$1,7 billion. In the hotels at the city, the capacity got at 85%, a number 25,5% higher than the same period of the last year, according to the Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Hotéis do Estado de São Paulo (Abih-SP). Besides it, around 20 thousand job opportunities were created. 

 “Organizing the first edition of an event isn’t easy, you are totally blind”. Ethel Pereira sees The Town as a success, besides all the problems, which she says that should be taken as learnings for the next one, the new São Paulo festival can be considered a huge triumph. It was a new format, a new space organization, different public politics and new sponsors, everything combined together to turn out selling all the tickets on five days of the event.  

If you didn’t enjoy The Town in it’s first year, you don’t need to horry. Roberto Medina, the owner of Rock in Rio brand, has already confirmed the next edition in 2025, counting with Heineken as the main sponsor.  


The article above was edited by Ana Beatriz Aith.

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Bruna Beluco

Casper Libero '26

A journalism student, who likes Formula 1,sports, music and politics, writing about life!