Festival season is upon us. Try and ignore it if you can, but alas it’s everywhere. We kick off with Glastonbury, and naturally this weekend we will be bombarded with images of wannabe hippies jumping around in mud, some with fluorescent paint smeared across their faces and shouting at the camera how “freakin’ awesome life is!”
I hate them all.
Perhaps I’m being harsh, and bitter. This is the first time in five years that I’m not going to a music festival, and there is a distinctive welly- boot shaped hole in my summer. I’m jealous of these prancing idiots on television…because they used to be me.
Some of the best and worst things have happened to me at music festivals (Reading, Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, T in the Park) and I’m fairly certain that these stories illustrate the entirety of the festival experience in all its muddy glory.
I started at Reading festival, like most London teenagers do, to celebrate the publication of the GCSE results. This was the year of 2007 (I’m sounding like an old smug hippy): the year that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were to stun us all and cement their claim to being one of the best bands in the world. As it turned out they were to stumble on drunk, play old songs no one knew and fight amongst themselves on stage. Reading bore witness to the hiatus and the disappointing anticlimax of the Chili’s reign. Kiedis, I have yet to forgive you, why? Other highlights of that year included being suffocated in a sea of “mosh” watching Bloc Party. Whenever I hear Bloc Party to this day I get shell-shock like flash backs that make me feel like I’m dying all over again; I ended up with a bruise on the face that day.
When Bloc Party ambled off the stage, unaware of the carnage their music could produce in these drunk teenagers, I was ready to force my way out of the crowd and find a patch of grass, maybe curl up in the foetal position and cry it out. The next band was some unknown band to me that I didn’t care about, I just wanted to leave. Unfortunately the Gods of Reading had other plans and decided to make everyone in that crowd made of concrete, immovable. Then the band came on, and I was still stuck in the mosh pit, (there’s normally an interval of about 45 minutes between each band, so this just goes to show how unsuccessful my attempt at escape was). I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to watch this band. The band was Arcade Fire. They are now my favourite band.
That’s one of the beautiful things about festivals, just keep walking and you’ll find a new band to sample. You’ve paid a lot of money and you get a massive choice. There are fans of these bands who would pay that amount of money to see them by themselves at an arena, where as you get about 30 bands for the price of one (albeit a very expensive one). When I gave Arcade Fire “a try” (not through choice), I was blown away. Watching them was like a religious experience, appropriate with their current “Neon Bible” album release. I’ve never seen them since; I love them but they’re annoyingly elusive little buggers.
Reading’s a special festival when it attracts these sorts of bands (Arcade Fire LOVES Reading). Other times it’s terrifying. Sunday night in 2008 was reminiscent of the scene in The Goblet of Fire when the Death Eaters attack the Quidditch World Cup (a nerdy comparison I know). 2008 was the year of the mighty Killers…who I managed to miss. I made the stupid mistake of going to see Bloc Party again, and being smothered by a guy dressed as Scooby-doo is not part of a fun festival experience. This time I managed to escape, losing my jumper in the process. I stood at the back of the field waiting for friends to find me and I managed to attract a crowd of (very burly) men who came and danced around me chanting tribally; when I moved a muscle they screamed gleefully “we’ve got a live one!” and proceeded to try and lead me to supposedly their tent or possibly man-cave. Luckily at that moment my friends found me (though they took their bloody time!)
My experiences at Reading were the start of my love affair with music festivals. Glastonbury is the kind of place you can go to without even seeing any of the music and have a beautiful time: it’s like hippy Disney land. T in the park was so rainy I think I gained two stone merely from coming home water-logged like a sponge. T in the Park was annoying in that sense; one of the most fun things at festivals is the clothes that you wear; style magazines are full of articles on festival fashion at the moment. I had planned an outfit for every day (girlishly embarrassing I know) but had to wear the same waterproof coat every day. I looked FABULOUS but no one could tell!
So as the first images of Glastonbury come out tonight I’ll be watching with unspeakable envy, and next year I will definitely be attempting to build up on the stories that I already have. <insert festival name here>2012, HERE I COME!
Written by Catherine, Glasgow Uni