b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Festivals » Popular | Search
This is a question Festivals

Mud, rubbish sex, food poisoning and the Quo replacing the headline act you've mortgaged your house to see. Tell us your experiences

Question from Chart Cat

(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 13:33)
Pages: Latest, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, ... 1

This question is now closed.

in which Phill Jupitus nearly steals my toy bee.
So, due to a combination of intense poverty, surprising lameness of friends ["what do you MEAN you 'don't want to go'???"] and having an incurable brain disease that made me [not to mention my supremely-worried and protective parents] wary of going more than an hour away from my local hospital I didn't pop my festival cherry until last year, at the creakingly old age of 22.

Did I get wasted and muddy at Glasto? Or spazzed out at Reading? How about writhing in metally hardcority at Download? No, in fact, I opted for the wonderfully genteel and astoundingly middle-class, theatre/comedy/poetry/literature/music festival Latitude. Nice mid-sized festival, still new enough for the arseholes not to have caught on, established enough to have a pretty damn good comedy lineup. Good place for me to cut my naive, crowd-fearing festival teeth.

So, it's Day 3 and there i was, in a happy post-smoke fuzz [i'm quite a lightweight] with some newly-met friends, happy and chilled out enough to get over my usual "shit-shit-you're-in-a-crowd-someone's-gonna-mug-you-someone's-gonna-mug-you" anxiety and blearily discussing 'current affairs' in the astoundingly confident, yet uninformed way that only drugged people can manage. I'm assertively stating my point about fuck-knows-what when, surrounded by a light cluster of hangers-on, a pork-pie-hatted, beponcho'ed and overwhelmingly fucked up rolypoly vision strolls slowly towards me.

I actually manage to finish my sentence before my eyes catch up to my mouth and i interrupt my friend's rebuttal with a casual "Phill Jupitus just walked past." I know that i want to jump up and ask him for an autograph, but somehow i'm not quite sure if i can be bothered. My bag IS all the way down on the floor, after all... We all double-take and confer to make sure. Yes. it absolutely is him. Definitely. and, by all that is stripey and wasted - is he off his TITS...

Digging around for my mascot and camera [i'm an ugly fatto, so take a small stuffed toy to act as a placeholder in photo-taking situations] I wander over to him, trying to work out a way to say "oh my god it's YOU! HI! Sign here and smile while i take a picture!!!" without seeming like a squealing fangirl.

Turns out that I didn't have to. He's already been caught by another fan, and is enthusiastically scrawling his name on a scrap of paper when he stops mid-signature, jawdrops and GRABS for my mascot. His name is BobTheBee.

"WOW!" he chortles, hugging him in delight. "WHO IS THIS???" he shakes the toy at me emphatically, then gently strokes it as if to apologise for the rough treatment.

"Uh, uh, it's my toy. His name's Bob. He's a bee" I wave my camera vaguely. "Can I take a picture?"
"Wooooooooowwwwww....." he gazes lovingly into Bob's button eyes, enthralled as if hit by Cupid's 'Toybestial' arrow. I slyly snap a picture from the shoulder in case he - or his considerably more together friend - refuse to let me take a proper one.

"Bobbbbbb..." he strokes the bee again, grinning to himself.
"Uh, Phill? Can I take a picture?" I wave the camera once more to illustrate.
"OF COURSE!!!" he beams, posting gleefully with the toy. I turn on the flash snap a second picture and as soon as it's done he snuggles up to the bee again. I smile grin, cos it's kinda cute: massive stripey man, tiny stripey bee; then reach to take Bob back.

He holds on.

"Um. can i have my bee?" I pull a little harder, not really wanting to enter into a tug of war with him, not with all these people watching, anyway. There's not really any way i'm going to go without him, i love my bee!

His big happy face contorts into heartbroken expression and he clings on for a moment longer, nuzzling up to Bob's none-too-clean fur. Finally, with a tender squeeze, he relinquishes the toy but not before yanking me into a bearhug, pressing my rather confused face into the fuzzy scratchiness of his newly-bought festival poncho.

"BYEEEEE BOB!" he calls, waving sadly, and for a stabbing moment i feel somewhat bad for breaking up what was surely destined to be a beautiful lifelong relationship between large funnyman and small stuffed bee. I mean, who am i to stand in the way of true love? Sure, it's an unconventional relationship, but with his money and fame, it's likely that Phill could show BobTheBee a much better and more glamorous life than i ever could. Could i really bear to live my life knowing i had destroyed what could have been something truly momentous?

I hesitate for a moment, but selfishness wins out. He's MY fucking bee. He's gonna STAY mine! I get Bob to wave a fond farewell to his brief but passionate love, steeling myself for the inevitable sobbing outburst that must surely follow his departure but before i've even turned to leave, he lets out a huge squeal of delight and launches himself joyously at someone else.

Someone who has a big, cool, minty, refreshing Cornetto.

Ah, how quickly love is forgotten....

As for Bob, he still has his memories, and a fucking fantastic photo to look back on:

Click for bigger (121 kb)

(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 17:49, 11 replies)
It was night time. I needed a wee
and I had a rumbly tummy, which meant a runny bottom was on its way. It was dark, I was covered in green face paint and glowing red devil horns, a gift acquired from some suspiciously young girls in the Green Fields.

I approached the Glastonbury Portaloo with trepidation, smelling its foul contents from some distance away. As I stepped inside, the stench became overwhelming so I transferred my torch to my mouth, held the door open with one hand to let some air into the cubicle and maintained my aim with the other.

Unfortunately, the unholy stink had activated my guts, and a full rectal purge was now underway. Cursing my weak constitution, I decided against all reason to peer into the bowl to see what I was up against. The sight that greeted my weary eyes was so appalling my mouth automatically formed an 'OMG' and lost its grip on the handle of my torch. It fell through the seat hole and into the fetid mire below, landing handle-first and upright and still very much switched on. I considered my options to retrieve it, but it was embedded deep in the funk and the shitwolves were howling at my bumdoor. I turned round to find that the lock was broken too.

Disappointed with the way things were turning out, I dropped my trousers and perched above the glowing seat, which now resembled a kind of ghoulish uplighter. As my sphincter yawned I released the first of many hot, wet and exceptionally stinky colon burps. Seconds later, the door swung open and I was blinded by light and deafened by screaming.

Somewhat unsettled by this development, I rose from my squat in a literal blind panic and tried desperately to wipe myself off, still suffering retina-burn when I heard the door open again.

Emerging into view was a large, half-naked bald man with eyes like dinner plates. "Fucking hell mate, what have you been eating" he uttered, swiftly followed by "My missus is tripping badly, she's just run back to our tent and swore that she just saw the devil himself shitting out evil demons"

I cleaned myself up and was persuaded to join them both for few cans of warm lager and a lovely "Camberwell Carrot" in an attempt to calm her down again.
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 10:02, 22 replies)
Broken heart, LSD, Hitch hiking. Sheds.Psycho lady. Kidnapping.
Okay long story short, i'd recntly split up with my girlfriend but we had tickets booked for the sunrise festival and decided we'd still both go with down there with our mates.

The first day or two wasn't good. Despite the festival being amazingly good, i was unhappy...
It was too much to take, she acted like a total stranger to me, she ignord me and the coldness was what hurt the most. I couldn't really enjoy myself at first. I had too much inner turmoil, and seeing her laughing and joking with other guys, was too much too take.

So i thought, sod her... I'll gobble some acid. And gobble some acid i truly did. Two sugar cubes of LSD and a tab later, i was high as a kite. The day was perfectly sunny, the bands were amazing and i seem to recall dancing like a maniac to some kind of live drum and bass performance, played on strings, drums, keyboard and double bass... Truly the best band i've ever seen, but to this day i have no fucking idea who they were.

The rest of the day was an obscure blur on my brain. Eat static and red wine, manic dancing, befriending a one eyed juggler; sitting wild eyed in a reggae tent and talking absolute shit to anybody that would listen, and generally just having an amazing time.

But then everything went wrong.

I spent the arse of end the main night in an LSD induced state of mental break down in my tent. The love of my life, we'd travelled the world together, lived together and shared a dream.... was ignoring me. It suddenly hurt again.

I can honestly say, i've never cried so much, uncontrollable sobbing, partially due to emotional struggle and mainly due to tha vast quantity of LSD in my system. My friend Libby found me, she was an absolute angel, she didnt even say anything to me, just stroked my head and hugged me. That at least sent me to sleep, to a land of delirious dreams and sun burned restlesness.

The next day. Presumably still high, obviously NOT thinking straight...
In a last ditch effort to win her heart, i decided that i would refuse my mates offer of a lift back from the festival today (Somerset to Merseyside) , instead i would try and woo her.

I thought she would love the fact that i'd stayed down south for her, hoping she would admire my recklessnes, maybe just maybe it would be alright...

But no.... She ignored me.

So here i was. Stuck in a festival that was pretty much over, stuck with my big fucking rucksack and tent and little bags of souveniers, in the baking heat and suddenly realising i'd lost my wallet. The girl i'd stayed for had bugered off, and slowly reality was kicking in.


The next three hours i spent looking for my wallet. But it was no use, it was gone. So i thought the next best option would be to hitch hike to glastonbury.
No problemo, a lovely hippy couple picked me up and drove me for thirty minutes and dropped me off in Glastonbury.

Great... I vaguely knew a couple who lived in the town, so i thought i'd pay them a visit and possibly use their phone and sort something out. I wandered to their house and saw a guy in their garden.

It turned out to be their landlord (who happened to live in a shed in the garden), who turned out to be a complete tosser. He didn't believe that i knew the people who lived there and that i should clear off. He didn't listen to my point that i knew the names of the occupants and that i simply wanted to abandon my bags for a few minutes, drink some water and rest up.

The cruel bastard didn't even give me any water.

At this point, i'd had enough. The sun was baking me. I was delirious and simply wanted my bed. Yet here i was on the other side of the country, trying to beg for water.

I wandered to the edge of town, knowing that if i headed for a few miles in one direction i would at least be on the right path for the motorway. Easy. Simple.

So i stuck out my thumb and patiently waited for a good samaritan to pick up this bedraggled northerner. My lift arrived in the form of a thirty odd year old woman in a converted ambulance, that looked like she lived in it.

'Where to?' , she asked.

'To the motorway, so i can hitch home, i've just come from the sunrise festival in Somerset'

'Okay no problem, clamber in, you'll have to get in through the back and sit in the front because the door on your side is broken'


So at least i was on the right track. Soon i would be home (hopefully).

The nice lady seemed quite chatty. Perhaps a little too chatty. Maybe it's nerves though. She doesn't know me. So why did she pick me up?

Why has she got the fucking heating on full blast on a burning hot day. Why is she talking to me about her friends in an overly-familiar way as though i'm supposed to know them.

Why is she looking at me like that. A kind of vietnam stare.

Why are we driving this way?

Yep, i'd been kidnapped. She totally ignored my request that i wanted to leave the vehicle. She was driving completely the wrong way. God knows where she was taking me. I was already too tired, too hot, and now very, very scared...

She drove me for many miles down lonely roads, even once laughing when she got lost and ended up reversing down a long arse country road, seemingly choosing directions at random.

I couldn't honestly do anything. I couldn't jump out the vehicle because my door was buggered and my bags were in the back, i couldn't wind down the window, i politely asked her to turn the cooling down, but she said she had to leave it on because the engine was overheating and still she was driving me the wrong way.

I asked her if i could get out.

'But you're in the middle of nowhere' was her reply.

She had a point. Nothing but obscure country roads and little towns, and i was without a map.

After maybe and hour and half, of her rabbiting on about her equally strange friends, she finally, finally dropped me off....

At the fucking festival. The same fucking festival i had left many hours ago.

I jumped out the van, thanked her (for not raping or killing me) and
collapsed on the grass for an hour or so, resting and trying to decipher if this was just some kind of strange dream. A lovely lady gave me a bottle of water (which probably saved my life) and then i had to hitch hike back to Glastonbury and try again.

This time hitchhiking back was a problem. Nobody wanted to pick me up. I was wild eyed, sweating, shaking and burned.

It took me at least another two hours to get a lift, and eventually i was back in fucking Glastonbury. It was getting dark and i was completely alone and didn't really fancy my chances of risking another psycho picking me up.

So i did what anybody would do in my circumstance. I walked back to the landlord guys house and waited for his shed light to go out and then i crept into the garden and fell asleep at the back behind a hedge.

The next morning i was awoken by furious swearing, an anger that i had never imagined. The landlord screamed at me to get off his property and never darken his soil with my lanky, northern ways. To hear him, you would have assumed i'd shat in his hat or something....


Anyway, i staggered back into town and decided that i would throw away one of my bags as it had become a burden. I was truly exhausted and simply wanted to get home now.

As i was rooting through my stuff, ready to sacrifice my tent, clothes and what-not, what did i find?

..... My bank card.

After all that fucking about, getting lost, getting shouted at, getting kidnapped and wandering around Somerset and Glastonbury in some dehydrated, drug induced fever...... begging for water and shelter.

I had my bank card all along.

Fuck socks.

Length. Longest day of my life.
(, Sun 7 Jun 2009, 14:24, 12 replies)
When you get off the train at Roskilde train station you walk under a little tunnel and join the queue to take one of the quaint looking yellow school buses to the festival grounds a couple of miles further down the road. Sean and I looked like a nice young gay couple, carrying our quite frankly fucking huge bag between us, Sean on one side holding one handle and me on the other. I put the bag down. It was heavy, fucking heavy, heavier than an elephant on a Guiness and Big Mac diet heavy.

“What the fuck have you got in here, mate?” I asked. “I don’t remember it being as heavy as this when I packed it last night.”

Sean stopped, stooped and unzipped the bag: “I put a few extra supplies in this morning.”

I thought on the train various lumps inside the bag were slightly beer-esque can in shape and density. I set about having a fucking pop at the prick for carting a shitload of beer all the way from London to Scandanavia – the home of fucking beer – when I looked down and saw what Sean had actually packed.

I was ever-so-slightly gobsmacked. “You fucking CUNT !!!” I said. “What the FUCK have you brought this stuff for – who are you, Oliva-fucking-Newton-John?”

You see, Sean had managed to cram about thirty cans of Slimfast strawberry shake on top of the camping stuff and few changes of cloths we’d brought. On the bus on the way to the Festival Sean explained he was planning to go the next four days without having a poo. Apparently the thought of shitting somewhere covered in vom, cum, period blood, and shit was a little off putting for him. I pointed out that our local’s bogs were usually like that most Saturday nights, but Sean was adamant. He was not, under any circumstances, going to be dropping any kids off at the pool for the duration. And he came up with the genius plan of surving on beer and Slimfast food replacement shakes so all he’d have to do was: “piss out everything I eat... you know... through me cock...”

Fast forward to day two. Sean’s already downed half his supply of shakes. He’s looking at me enviously as I make love to a bacon butty. I notice his stomach has started to swell up. His complexion looks a little bit, well, pink – like an oversized, sweaty, hairy boiled prawn. But, true to form, Sean has yet to have the urge to take a Richard the Third.

Fast forward to day three. Sean’s finished all his supply and we still have a day of music to go. He says stoically he’ll be ok without any sort of food for a day; he’ll get all his nourishment from hops and barley instead. Sean’s stomach has now bloated up considerably – he looks like Mr Greedy out of the Mr. Men. And his complexion is, well, fucking puce. I point out that surving on beer and Slimfast probably isn’t too good for the digestive system, being a bit of an entusiastic amature physician regarding certain parts of the human anatomy, I suggest Sean should: “Go and have a fucking big dump.” He shakes his head, says he’s alright, and fucks off to see another obscure South American thrash metal band.

Later that day while we’re fucking about, chatting up a few ladies, I decide to do the decent honorable matey thing – I turn to Sean while he’s busy letching and twat him firmly and squarly in his stomach and than run off hooting like a spider monkey. He goes pale. His guts start rumbling like Krakatoa, and he goes running off to find the nearest bogs. A few minutes later he returns, grabs me by the arm and drags me away from the young lady I’m trying my fucking hardest to make a little progress with.

“I can’t go unless you hold the door shut – there isn’t a lock on it,” he says, his stomach still growling. It sounds like a speedway event’s taking place in his colon.

“Oh, for fucks sake!” I say, as I follow him to the line of portaloos.

Sean dives inside, slams the door shut, and demands I remain outside and hold the door shut for him. Fucking muppet...

A sound like a brass band having violent sex with each other eminated from the portaloo as Sean’s colon opened up and a series of spectacular farts escaped his man-flange. I cringed and tried to ignore it. Then, after a while, there was one spectacular THUD - it was as if a motar had exploded, or a labourer had turned over a wheelbarrow full of bricks on a concrete path. It actually made me jump.

Spanky... SPANKY!!!” Came a weary and yet completely awed voice from inside the portaloo. I wondered for a brief moment if Sean had become delerious from his efforts and been visited by the shimmery, spectral vision of an angel (or possibly Jo Guest wearing nothing but nipple tassles, knowing Sean). Then Sean said something scary, something strange, something ultimately terrifying. Sean said: “Spanky, come and take a look at this...”

But I was intrugied, so I pushed open the door and had a look at the produce of Sean’s labours....

Fuck me....

All I can say is don’t mix beer, slimfast, and jumping up and down for three days without having anything to eat. The turd was HUGE, a massive, MASSIVE sticky gloopy, and roughly cannon ball shaped. It was the king of turds, other turds would’ve bowed down and worshipped this mighty monstrosity – only this one was peculiar, this one was strange beyond belief, this one was pink, bright fucking pink. And – oddly – it gave off the sickly sweet smell of strawberries. It looked like a massive fucking bon bon. And it just sat there, stuck in the pan – too big to fall through the hole. It was a defiant looking bugger.

I actually had to fight the urge to reach out and touch it...

Sean broke the spell, though – “Fuck me, that was hard fucking work,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow. “Was like being buggered by John Holmes, that was.... You fancy going and getting a burger? Don’t reckon I’ll need to shit for a month after that...”

And Sean stalked off on the hunt for food. I just stared...
(, Mon 8 Jun 2009, 12:15, 13 replies)
Only in England
I was at the Leeds Fest riots in 2005. The Foo Fighters had just headlined the mainstage, and we were making our way back to the campsite totally shattered looking forward to a good nights sleep. As we got to the campsite however, it looked like downtown Baghdad. There were huge fires all over the place, with the sound of gas cannisters blowing up every few minutes. People were knocking down telegraph poles, and destroying tents. As I walked back I spotted the biggest looking fire poking up from behind a hill over in orange camp. I decided that would be where the best view would be and where if anything really interesting was to happen, it would happen.

I seated myself at the top of the hill looking down on the most tribal primitive and yet awesome site I had ever seen. There in the clearing were hundreds of people running and dancing around a huge fire made of what was once the cider tent, carling tent and a telegraph pole. One guy was playing the drums using two tent poles and the upturned kettel drum bins while everyone danced around the fire with glowsticks. There were people juggling fire, practising poi, and generally having a really good time. A Carling truck that was nearby had been broken into and was in the process of being relieved of all its goods. It looked like the apocolypse had come.

And yet...there in the middle of all of this chaos, we rioting Brits had formed an orderly queue to pillage the Carling truck. Even in the middle of a riot we had formed a queue as one guy grabbed 24 pack after 24 pack, and offloaded them to the waiting 'soon to be' drunks
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 15:45, 10 replies)
Seeping with The Enemy
2007 - the year Glastonbury organisers got smart: in an effort to beat ticket touting, you had to pre-register with a photo a few months in advance of tickets going on sale.

Whilst preventing touts being able to buy up loads of tickets and sell them on at rates more hideously inflated than Piers Morgan's ego, it also made it more difficult for groups of friends* to buy tickets together.

*More specifically, my group of friends

Basically, you had to enter everyone's registration number separately to get tickets. My mate Jim (who we had stupidly put in charge of obtaining the tickets) somehow managed to only enter my number and then completed the online form, thinking he would be able to go through again and complete it for everyone else separately. The website was swamped. He never got back on.

The group of us were fairly angry with Jim (me less so than the others - I had a ticket, after all). We all tried again a few weeks later when some more tickets were released, but we were unsuccessful again.

I'd never been to Glasto before, and was pretty keen to go, so I set about looking for other friends who had tickets - there had to be someone, surely?

Upon further investigation, most of my mates from work, football and elsewhere who were interested in going Glasto had been similarly unsuccessful with obtaining tickets.

This eventually led to me agreeing to go to the festival with Maria and Suzy, two girls who at best could be described as "friends of friends of friends" (and at worst - and more accurately - could be described as "shrieking, whining fucktards").

I'd met them briefly at a gig earlier in the year, and had been particularly disturbed by their obsession with the band we had gone to see - The Enemy. Maria and Suzy had spent the entire gig clinging onto the front barrier for all their worth, screaming and shrieking all manner of obscene acts that they wished to perform upon the lead singer and drummer respectively (Tom and Liam, I remember being told - a quick Google search doesn't dispute this).

Anyway, fast-forwarding to mid-June, I find myself trapped in a car with said fuckwits, on our way to Somerset. I had imagined that, by this point, the girls' obsession with the Coventrian indie kids may have lessened somewhat - even if it was just to share the love they had to give amongst a few other acts.

Not a chance - they had both turned up in matching "Enemy" hoodies AND t-shirts, and - fuelled on cheap cider - were singing Enemy songs at the tops of their whiny voices. All this despite me having invoked driver's privilege on the stereo, removing any Enemy tracks from the in-car playlist halfway through the third playing of their debut single on the trip down.

Thankfully, when we set up the tents and checked out the playlist, it transpired that The Enemy would be playing on the Friday, therefore I would only have to listen to two days' worth of "I can't wait!" inanity before the gig.

Two days can be a really long time.

Eventually Friday dawned, and the girls were out of the tents at first light, down to the front of the Other stage, ready for their heroes.

I'd like to take this chance to say that I actually don't mind the Enemy's stuff - it's better than a lot of stuff around at the moment - but having it rammed down your throat every waking second does tend to grate after a while.

Anyway, I decided to leave the girls to it and wandered off, returning and catching the end of the set. I couldn't see the girls down at the front, but I was certain that at one point I heard them squeal in unison as one song came to an end.

When I eventually caught up with the girls later, Suzy was walking with a slight limp, but when questioned as to why, she refused to answer.

As the day - and indeed weekend - progressed, the limp got worse, but Suzy still refused to let on as to the cause. Until the last day, that is, when I was confronted by an image that will haunt me to my grave.

Awaking on the Sunday, we had realised that we still had a significant stash of cheap lager and cider with us, and - rather than carting it back to the car - we endeavoured to plough through it, resulting in the majority of the day being a bit blurry.

One moment really stands out in the memory though - towards the end of the evening, Suzy sidled up to me and said that she was a "bit worried" and that she had "something to show me".

We were camped quite close to the Pyramid stage, so we went back to the tents, leaving Maria 'saving our place' in the field.

Having dragged me into the tent, Suzy started wriggling out of her tights. By this point, my alcohol levels probably meant that my blood would only legally allowed to be served in 25ml shots, and all memories of quite how annoying this girl was were slipping out of my mind.

However, I instantly sobered up when she dropped her knickers, and I was confronted with a putrid scab-riddled pus-jungle. I'd like to say that I dealt with the situation in a sophisticated, mature manner, but unfortunately I allowed my natural reactions to get the better of me - the combination of dubious food, cheap alcohol and the sight before me hit home, and I spewed forth the contents of my stomach (namely numerous cans of warm Strongbow, a falafel wrap and an ice-cream).

As it later transpired, Liam from the Enemy had thrown his drumsticks into the crowd from the gig. Suzy had caught one, and then used it to demonstrate exactly what she wanted to do to him.

Apparently, numerous splinters from a bacteria-ridden drumstick can turn septic if left unchecked (and indeed unwashed) in a sweaty, muddy environment for 48 hours.

I'll never eat falafel again.
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 13:35, 8 replies)
Solid Snake goes to Glastonbury... **LONG STORY ALERT**
Can't take any credit for this one as it's not my story but an excellent tale all the same.....

wednesday 4pm: i'm sitting at home, in glastonbury, at the computer as per usual, and a friend phones me from inside the festival site.. 'alright mate, you in yet? we're all here chilling at our site, just cracked open some beers and on the cider'.. he knew i didn't have a ticket but i'd told him i'd be coming anyway. fuck knows how but i hadn't missed a glastonbury for 13 years, and i wasn't about to for lack of a ticket. it was tradition. i was resolute i was going to make the jump. my original plan was to dress like a ninja head to toe and attempt the feat with a grappling hook, leaving my bags and tent for friends to ferry in for me. at least that way if i did get caught, the gorillas...erm...security guards, may see the humour in the situation and laugh 'with' me as opposed 'at' me while they took turns using me as a human punchbag. i'd tried to acquire tickets but to no avail, (i'd spent the season snowboarding in france and money was abroad with no money when the first wave of tickets were released...by the time i returned to england, the 'locals tickets' reserved for residents of certain postcodes around the festival site had sold out), then tried to get work as i had done in the past but again, nothing came of it. this was my last option. however, after seeing the weather reports of torrential rain throughout the weekend i was having second thoughts. i'd attended enough muddy festivals to last a life time i saw no need to subject myself to another one if it was going to take so much effort. i echoed these thoughts the mate on the end of the phone and it dodn't take much encouragement from his end to make it painfully aware i was fooling myself in thinking no longer really gave a shit. of course i fucking did, summer for me never starts properly without the festival (as was apparant from last years festival break and shitty non summer like weather for the subsequent months!). 'ok man, i'm coming, i'll see you tomorrow'..

7pm: i'm eating my dinner getting restless. it was still sunny and there were tens of thousands of people already getting fucked in fields and here i was in my living room with a tv for company. i finish eating and pack what i can. i had envisioned an operation involving rope ladders, grappling hooks and a vast array of ninja equiptment, but alas, i suffer apathy like a disease, preperations wern't made and the closest i came to finding a grappling hook was a shoelace. my saving grace was the full goretex camo i'd bought years earlier at a discount rate from an army surplus store in an extreme sports festival. the intention then was to have a pimp ass outfit for the eveing which was coupled with a new pair of bright white 'dunlop greenflash' hi tops and some of aviator glasses. most people probably thought i looked like a prick but i enjoyed myself nonetheless. tonight however, the military gear would finally see its intended use. i allowed myself one small rucksack for the entire festival, anything more cumbersome would impede my stealth. i managed two t shirts, one extra pair of jeans, a jumper, socks, boxers and 4 plastic bags i would wear over my socks once the festival got muddy (ninjas don't do wellies). i packed a bottle of water and four twixes for nourishment. now to choose my footwear...anything i took would inevitabley become sacrifice to the pilton mud...i settled on a pair of old nike air max's, surely a worthy choice for any modern day ninja. they would die a noble death.

11pm: i've decided my best route of attack is at the north of the site around about worthy farm. there are access roads leading in and out of the site, alot of traffic so i figure they wouldn't expect people to make the jump there and leave it slightly less fortified. a GPS system wouldn't go amiss at this point but the best i could do was use google and print out a map of pilton which i'd use to navigate the mile or two down from the village to the festival site. obviously i wouldn't be taking the roads so needed something to point me in the right direction as i crossed through fields and gardens in the middle of the night. i start hitching from the corner of a road 7 miles away from the site. a taxi wouldn't be too expensive but if i was going to do this properly, it had to be a pikey effort from the start.

11:45pm: i arrive in pilton and get dropped off at the village shop. i've worked as a steward in the past so know a few things about security and the layout of the site. i know for one that you need a villagers pass to enter the residential area that leads towards the site. i also know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of a 12 hour shift (security work 8 till 8 ) so an early morning entrance when security were more concerned with staying warm and awake than watching the bushes for stalking sas lookalikes, was ideal. this gave me plenty of time. i chanced my luck at one of the guarded roads under the pretence i was going to my girlfriends house on 'bakery road' and was picking up my ticket from there. predictably they were having none of it so i retreated back down the road, melted into the shadows and scaled the first of many fences to come.

12:15am: after making my way to the bottom of the road and finding a hidden dark spot i could use to gain my bearing and asess the direction i should head, i emrged and set forth along the road toward the site. this took me straight past the temporary police station where a policeman was standing outside and was alerted by my approach. i nodded to him and asked how his night was, as if my being there was as normal as his, and was glad for that moment i wasn't wearing full ninja costume. waterproof camouflage is one of the more common sites at a muddy festival, ninja warriors are not...that could quite possibly have set alarm bells ringing. after exchanging brief courtesies, i continued down the road and as i got round the bend decided to break into a hastey jog in case the policeman decided i actually did look a little suspect walking through the village in the dead of night towards the festival site with a rucksack and full camo outfit. i ended up running round a corner straight toward a female steward sitting in a deck chair. i gave her a quick wave and she returned only a baffled look. i ran straight past without looking back and didn't give her so much as a chance to question my destination. as i ran up the road and round the next bend i saw another two security guards walking in front on patrol. taking this as a sign the roads were not the best place to be, i darted into the undergrowth and made my way up an unused, overgrown trail through thick trees and head height nettles and brambles.

12:45am: the climb up the path had made me start to sweat, so reluctantly i shed some clothing which only added to the bulk of my rucksack. out came the map and i made a quick estimation of where i was and where i needed to be. there was a large house with an incredibly bright light shining from a source just out of site and i cautiously took this to be another guarded area. as i crept round the bushes i spotted two figures huddled inside luminous jackets sitting on deck chairs. they were in the forecourt to the building. a road toward the site ran paralell and there were open fields opposite. the entrance to this field was a good 100ft down the road and unfortunately, immediately opposite the entrance to the yard, in full view of the posted security. the only cover offered on aproach was a scrubby two foot high bank of grass and foliage. the entire area was bathed in that dirty white light, highlighting any movement i made above the height of the dividing scrub, like a shadow puppet against the high stone wall guarding my escape into the welcoming darkness of the field. i took off my bag, got down on the floor and started to edge my way forward along the road, staying flush to the cover paying heed to stay low as not to be seen. i reached the entrance to the yard with the gate to the field on the other side of the lane. i waited and watched the security as they muttered with each other between the odd radio crackle, faces buried in hi vis jackets, looking dispiritingly at the floor in front of them. for a good two minutes i watched then, staying as low as possible, sprang up, darted across the road and vaulted the gate, making as little sound as possible.

1:15am: i ran through the long grass behind a hedgerow silhouetted against an illuminated sky. at the end of the hedge only a small wire fence seperated two fields, and as i reached it, the 'big' fence came in to view. hundreds of metres away, a hugely defiant wall of silver stood strong before a vast open field with no cover to speak of. behind it i could see the lights of the festival site sprawled out like a city, and hear the murmer of a hundred thousand happily fucked up people. mounted on one of the many turrets jutting upward from behind the fence, a light that could only be likened to a second sun, turned night in to day, and made stepping out from my comfortable darkness a disconcerting yet necesary decision. about a kilometre away however, across open grass, the cover of trees almost reached the fence. i crept through the fence and started running down the field against another hedgerow, hoping my distance from the fence and camouflage against the bushes would keep me undetected. the shadow i cast on the hedge was like an unwelcome companion i couldn't rid myself of, until once again i was in shadow. infront of me, through the darkness, i could make out a feint sillhouette of a car parked up in the field. my approach grew more cautious and as i came closer i was suddenly blinded by a flashlight. caught off guard i covered my eyes with my sleeve, looked around and noticed i'd reached a garden just over a low stone wall. instictively, i changed direction, leaped over the wall, back into darkness and ran to the hedge which proved too solid to get through at this moment. instead i opted for some overgrown grass and thistles to skulk in (thank fuck people around here don't seem to worry about letting their gardens grow wild). after about 20 seconds, radio's were crackling and beams of light were flickering through the garden. i lay motionless as they scanned overhead, confident i was now invisible to anybody more than two feet from me. after a while they left and i could hear engines out on nearby roads, no doubt looking for a shadowy figure in the bushes. i stayed there for a good while weighing up my next move. the lights in the house were on, i didn't dare venture through the front, and back on to the roads, neither could i continue through the now apparantly guarded field. i went back to the hedge and found i could climb in. it was about 8 feet thick and dense as fuck but i noisily pushed my way through into another garden secluded from the field beyond, and with a bit of hedge hopping, i found my way into well kept garden with an exit that led back in to the field about 30 metres behind the car the security were now obviously posted in. the far end of the field, closer to the big fence, was my destination. the grass was a couple of feet long and and packed with thistles, and as not to be seen, i adopted the same position as earlier, and crawled slowly through the cover until i was at a great enough distance from the car, where i exchanged my crawl for a crouched jog.

2:00am: i hopped over a barbed wire fence on the far side of the field and crouched behind an open gate, in a hedge, and observed the situaton whilst eating two twixes and hydrating myself. the fence was once again illuminated but not as much so, and less than 100 metres from me. still not close enough but i could sit and watch the patrols and observe how frequently they passed, and the direction they came in. just to my left was another lane i'd need to cross to get to the next field and closer to the dense copse i was aiming for. i sat and waited for a good half hour. two security guards idly shuffled past my spot once while i waited, but aside from the landrovers every eight to ten minutes or so, it was relatively quiet. i knew the fence was too high to jump without aid. at this point the only chance i could see of scaling the thing would be to run out in front of one of the patroling landrovers jump on the bonnet, on to the roof and leap across grabbing the fence, hoping the seconds it took them to think 'what the fuck is this guy doing' would be enough for me to be on the roof and making my way over. i figured the fence to be a little over twice the height of the landrover and about a 4 foot horizontal gap from the roof, so the jump would be the easy part, getting on top of the thing before security caught me would be problematic. however, i knew this was a fucking stupid idea, so made a mental note to leave it to chance and see what fate presented.

2:30am: i clambered out of my hiding place and toward the entrance to the field. i looked down the lane from out of the hedge and there was another security guard posted by a building some 40 metres down. i waited for the right moment, then darted across the road to the closed gateway of the next field. i could hear voices coming from beneath a row of trees that ran down the middle of the field. i crawled under the gate and in to the shadows of the hedge row and lay down and watched once again. the voices got up and wandered off further down, so i took my chance and ran to the cover of the trees slipping from one to another, passing a couple of camping stools on my way, until i reached another stone wall which i quickly passed over back in to the safety of a welcome concealed garden.

2:45am: climbing over the next wall, i gingerly stepped down and found my footing slightly unstable. upon closer inspection i couldn't believe my luck. the festival site must be a good 10miles round, and out of all the places and gardens i could choose to make my entry from, i step over a wall, on to not one, but three ladders just lying on the floor waiting for me. the ninja gods were smiling on me that night, i'm certain of it. a renewed sense of confidence instilled, i stalked to the bottom of the overgrown garden to measure my situation. i could hear voices not far off so i moved with caution. just as i got to the bottom of the garden to look over the fence, back into another part of the tree lined field i just moved through, my good friend, darkness, turned round and bit me hard in the ass. in the dim light i didn't make out the piece of sheet metal sat hidden by the fence, that when stepped on, made so much noise, i might as well have shouted 'over here' at the top of my lungs. i ran back to the undergrowth and dived into a deep patch of leaves, grass and brambles, then lay still as alerted voices came close and shone torches in to the garden. radio's crackled, torches continued to shine then a few minutes later a landrover with a mounted floodlight sidled up to the fence and illuminated the whole place. i lay still in my cover and it drove off, voices got quieter...i waited a further 20 minutes until i moved out of my spot. i obviously couldn't make my entry here so i'd have to move the ladder to another spot, closer to the big fence and further from the security. attempting to move the ladder now would no doubt attract more attention, as the night was so calm it was impossible to move through such undergrowth, cracking branches underfoot without being heard, let alone untangle a metal ladder from brambles and move it around unseen whilst suspicions were high. leaving the ladder in place, i waded through waist high brambles toward the other end of the garden and once again asessed the situation. my movement must have been heard once again as more landrovers drove up to the fence and shone lights in to a part of the scrub i wasn't. a vast and well kept garden lay over a fence at this end, that ran down to a point that was only a good 50 metres or so from the big fence. that's where i had to get my newly acquired ladder. i moved back through the brambles with all the caution i could but it wasn't enough as the sound of movement brought radios and flashlights back to life. the security must now be posted just on the other side of the fence listening for me. i quickly re positioned myself in my previous hiding place and covered myself back over with brambles. i could hear on the radio, talk of 'somebody in the bushes' and security answered that they were just in and around the bushes looking for me now. beams of light scanned across my spot, more landrovers made passes and i lay in my spot decideding to eat another twix.

4:20am: i think i'd been lying still for over a full hour now. i could still hear the odd buzz of radio chatter but it had eased off. after a good half hour of footsteps rustling around my area and worried a guy with a torch was going to step right on top of me, they must have assumed after no more noise i'd moved on, but they were still close. then the winds started to pick up and i felt a drop of rain. a smile crept across my face as the rain became heavy and the wind grew restless. this was the exact cover i needed, and would mask the noise it'd make as i moved the ladder through the foliage. the security would also go and seek shelter under the trees, giving me some time and breathing space. i picked up the ladder, and retraced my path through the brambles over to the next garden. once i was over the fence on to the mown grass, movement was easy. i made my way to the far corner which would be the last cover i'd see until i went for the big one.

5:20am: i balanced, perched atop a wooden fence, watching the security guards, concealed by overhanging trees and creeping hedgerow. the ladder was positioned so, that a small portion rested, reaching just over the fence, in a way that when i jumped down, i'd be able to pull the ladder forth, and run, with a minimum amount of fucking about. it'd have to be one swift movement from the moment i jumped out of the hedge, to the moment i was in the festival site. there was no sound coming from the other side of the fence, so i figured i'd succesfully navigated my way to the worthy farm area which is off access to the general public. after more waiting and timing patrol passes, the right time came when security had strolled off up the field and the last landrover passed only a couple of minutes before. i jumped out, grabbed the ladder and ran towards the fence holding it above my head. security were approaching on their radios to call for back up. these guys were only there to keep a look out, it was the ones inside i had to steer clear of... the ladder went up and was almost a perfect height to the top of the fence. i climbed to the top, pulled the ladder up and dropped it down the other side just as the two security guards i had been watching and two i hadn't seen, got to the bottom. i gave them a cheeky wink and dropped down into the site. adrenaline high, i knew i didn't have long until i had to make myself hidden as i was in a part of the site i wasn't meant to be. i ran through what seemed to be a kind of orchard and down toward some buildings, through some gardens then jumped into a bush in a front garden by the side of a small road. only moments later the early morning peace was shattered as the site burst to life with the roar of engines and noise of two way radio's blaring. i covered myself with leaves and got comfortable. for a good half hour it seemed they were going nuts trying to find me. i could hear radio's only feet away asking if they had me yet, and hear the scuffle of people searching the area. i ate another twix and finished my water then waited for the heat to cool.

6:30am the area became peaceful once again and was a good a time as any to make a move. obviously everybody in the area would have been alerted of a bloke in a full camo suit, who'd made the jump, and as i still had to get past another security check point, i couldn't do so like this. i changed my clothes in the bush, swapping my camo garb for the loudest colours i had, then emerged adopting a drunken stagger, as if questioned for a wristband, i would reply with pissed nonsence and continue my stagger as if i was another festival fuck up who didn't know where or who he was. i 'stumbled' down the road toward the last checkpoint and could see tents at last...shuffling passed the security they were obviously too tired to give a shit who i was, and as i walked in to the site amongst the throng of people still doing there thing, i gave myself a big 'fuck yeah' for mission accomplished.

highlights of the festival, aside from playing real life 'metal gear solid' all wednesday night, were '!!!', 'fat freddies drop', 'mr scruff' and 'square pusher' who was so good i actually followed through (although that could be attributed to the dodgy diet and copious amounts of pear cider i'd consumed) and missed a good part of his set sorting it out.

it was fucking muddy though...
(, Sun 7 Jun 2009, 12:46, 7 replies)
Bloodstock '08
This is where i saw possibly the saddest thing I have ever seen.

A boy about 16, with soup in his hair and holding a sign saying, and I qoute:

"I will do anything for beer! (Except male sexual favours)"

And then written below in slightly shaky smaller writing :

"Or getting kicked in the nuts again"

Makes me glad I took enough booze with me so I didn't have to resort to that.
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 21:41, 4 replies)
I have nothing to add, having never been to a festival before.

My cat had a kitten last night though.

Which was a surprise.

She had another, but it was stillborn, hairless and freaky-shaped. :(
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 19:02, 5 replies)
Reading Festival, baked as a kite
Time, alcohol, marijuana and the similarly awesome experience of the past four years have dulled my ol’ noggin and I can’t remember which year this occurred at. I want to say 2006.

In what has become a tradition for me at Reading festival, I took some time on the first night to get completely lost around the campsites when I was pissed and befriend some randoms. If you’re there this year and some tall cunt in glasses called Matt sits with you and shoots the shit, give me a beer. Cheers.

Anyway, I sat with some randoms, none of whom I can now remember, and we drank and talked and listened to music and laughed, as you do at Reading. After some time a dreadlocked individual came bearing gifts – Marijuana Cookies, £2 each or £5 for three. He assured me that they were made with über-strong skunk.

“Bollocks,” thought I, handing him a fiver. Aided by beer munchies I devoured the lot and had half of someone else’s. Having said my goodbyes, I left about 30 minutes after this and figured, not feeling high at all, that I’d been conned. Ah well, I’ve lost a fiver on worse things. I met up with my mates and Iain revealed that he, too, had bought and eaten three cookies from this guy. Small world, thought I. “Fancy a burger,” slurred I.

So Iain and I, beers in hand, meandered off, pissed as farts. A glorious row of food vans were available to us and we happened to go before the first to get a burger and chips. Easy enough, no?

Now, the thing is with eating Mary J – it’s very different to a smoke. When you smoke it you get the hit pretty instantly. When you eat it, it takes about an hour or more but it hits about four times harder. Iain and I were unaware of this fact and were really only just starting our experience of illicit herbs – we were lightweights.

Iain attempted his order: “Alright mate. Can I get a… haha, sorry. Can I get a cheeseburger an- hahahaha, hahaha. Fuck, hahaha, sorry, can I get that and hahahahahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Between gales of laughter, tears streaming down his cheeks, he waved me on to take his place in the queue as he held his sides and struggled to stand through hysterical belly laughs. I was already laughing at this when it struck me.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Can you get me a cheeseburger with chips and HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

For a good few minutes the patient burger vendor attempted to retrieve this information from our drug-addled brains but every time we went to speak, nothing emerged but the laugh. It was the hardest I have ever laughed. Occasionally Iain would calm down and attempt to order for both of us before the sight of me creasing up would set him off again and vice versa.

Eventually we gave up and took a breather. We calmed down and went to the next vendor – no fucking way were we going back to the guy we’d just died in front of.

“Hi mate, I’d like a hot dog and a oh haha fuck hahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

We spent an hour making our way down every single food van with breathers in between. Every time we thought we’d conquered it, the laugh attacked again. Eventually it turned into “hi mat-HAHAHAHAHA, haha, hahahaha just forget it, hahahahaHAHAHAHA!”

When it wore off we each got a giant Yorkshire Pudding. It were mint.
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 1:37, 8 replies)
Silly Me
I frequently attend literary festivals where I can indulge my passion for books and reading and when I saw one advertised last year only half an hour on the train from London, I eagerly bought a ticket. On arrival, though, I was desperately disappointed to discover that there were no author talks, let alone the slightest hint of a bookshop. And when I asked a young man who he thought might succeed Doris Lessing as recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, he told me to "fuck off, weirdo", before adding "do you know what time Metallica are on?".

This year I played it safe and stuck to the Hay-on-Wye festival instead.

Oh, and I've reported the organisers of the so-called "Reading Festival" to trading standards.
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 12:18, 3 replies)
The sexy Danish girl in the portacabin handed me my key, directed me to my tent, and hoped I had a good festival. Gotta love the Danes. Great beer, good looking people, and they'd also come up with this idea at Roskilde this year where you paid a little extra on your ticket and they'd give you a tent - saved you having to cart one over to Scandinavia with you. AND they'd already set the fucker up, so once you found your tent in the rows and rows of identical black fuckers, you can chuck your gear inside and go over to the main festival sight to get pissed and do some high quality letching.

I ended up coming back that night on my own at about three am. My mates had either copped off, fallen asleep in a bush somewhere, or staggered back to their own tents a little earlier. I was happy. I was pissed as a newt on preium Danish lager. Of course I was happy.

After a fair bit of confusion I found my tent, clambered inside and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

As is the case at most festivals, I was woken early the next morning by some talentless cunt playing a guitar badly. I opened my eyes and saw hair. Lots of hair. Then I realised I had my arm clamped tightly round something. And then my rock hard morning glory started pulsing like a geiger counter near Chernobyl as my cock realised it was in close proximity to hot bare buttocks.

I was spooning this stranger.

Funny... I didn't remember getting lucky the previous evening...

Infact, any chances of that died in flames and a hail of bullets when I vomitted spectacularly down my t-shirt after one or two too many malibu chasers.

But this girl was - from behind at least - fucking lovely. Long gorgeous blonde hair. A smell of coconut shampoo. Fucking nice one. My hand stroked down her body - I couldn't remember getting any the night before, so I fancied a quick make-up shag for breakfast. She had nice soft skin, a firm tight torso. I breathed in the long locks and moved my hips so my cock nestled nicely in her arse crack. I reached up her stomach, trying to find her boobies so I could have a bit of a feel.

Then my sleep partner for the night stirred but didn't wake, she turned over onto her back.

And that's when my erection died instantly and I very nearly puked and shat myself at the same time.

Now that she was laying on her back I could see her face. And she had a very nice, very long, very dense, bushy blonde beard.

My sexy morning-after shag had somehow turned into a man. Fuck... Fuck? Shit, I hope not...

Trying to get out of a nylon tent with a muthafucker of a hangover while attempting not to make any noise isn't easy, I can tell you. But I managed - just. And then I found my own tent a few pitches down the row. My mate Sean was up outside his own tent and busy smoking.

He saw me: "Who didn't come home last night?" he said with a cheeky little grin. Then he realised I was very pale; something had disturbed me. Deeply disturbed me. "Fuck me, mate - we're in the country of the beautiful people and somehow you still manage to pull the ugliest looking bird in the fucking world, ehh?"

I nod. "Yeah... something like that..."

I saw the bloke I'd slept with later. Had a chat with him - thankfully he was too pissed to remember me, the fella that'd crawled into his tent late at night and hugged him while he slept.

His name was Darren and he was from Wolverhampton.
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 23:27, 5 replies)
A long time ago in a century far away...
If your parents were born in the 1930s and never quite "got" The Beatles or The Rolling Stones (because they were already pushing 30 by the time those bands hit the big time) then they were hardly prepared for the tastes and attitudes of their 1960s-born kids.

Being born in the 1960s was a weird journey on its own: cutting your pop teeth on the likes of Slade and T Rex, getting to big school when Mike Oldfield, Led Zep and Pink Floyd were the coolest things on the planet only to find within 2-3 years that this was a load of old shite and we should rush out and buy The Clash and Never Mind the Bollocks...

But formative experiences cut deep and when it was announced that Led Zeppelin were playing Knebworth in 1979 (I was 16), this seemed like the the gig you could not miss, despite a couple of years of punk creating a major cultural divide in the country: either you were for Led Zep or agin 'em. Or somewhere perched on the fence in the middle where you owned Pretty Vacant as a 7" single but still couldn't imagine anything better than the drums cutting in at *that bit* in Stairway to Heaven and the idea that you might even get to see this happen live.

Remember that I was 16.

Context: I was old enough to have a summer job from school holidays, I had saved up enough for a ticket and a train fare.

"Mum, can I go to a concert?"

"Well, I suppose so. Have you saved up enough?"

"Oh yeah. Easily enough."

"Where is this concert?"

"Somewhere called Knebworth. In England."

(Did I mention that I'm from Aberdeen?)

"Who else is going?"

"Hamish and Keith."

Hamish and Keith were nice boys, geeky in their own way and patently trustworthy - much like the teenage me I guess - so this was deemed to be acceptable.

"I suppose so then," she said and we were off.

In more recent years I have asked 30- and 40-something parents from Aberdeen, "Would you let your 16 year old go to, say, Glastonbury?" and they give me that 'don't be absurd, you're not a parent are you' look. A 16 year old? All the way to the south of England? To a rock festival? With drugs and things? Now? No Way At All.

Of course, back in the day my dear old mum had no way of knowing what Led Zep at Knebworth would be like. The last major public cultural event she had attended was either The Corries at His Majesty's Theatre, or Paint Your Wagon (starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood) at the Gaumont cinema.

But why was Knebworth such a big deal? Given the longevity of rock bands now, people kind of take for granted that careers go on for decades. Even when someone has died, you can still pick up their work on iTunes, or for free. Back in 1979, Led Zeppelin had been off the road for a couple of years; the band had endured a few disasters, punk had come along and this was all before the era of CDs or MP3s. If you want to read more, check out the Wikipedia entry...


They had formed in 1968, had enjoyed an unprecedented run of success but towards the late 1970s were they washed up? Would a couple of major festival shows in Hertfordshire be a triumphant comeback or a cultural embarrassment? Had punk killed them off? As far as I can remember, they hadn't played gigs in the UK at all for several years; Wikipedia says this has to do with tax exile status - a lot was hanging on the Knebworth shows and these were bound to be big: six figure crowds, crucial for the band...

Into this jamboree stepped three teenage laddies from Aberdeen who had absolutely no idea what they were doing.

The overnight train ride from Aberdeen to London was Enid Blytonesque in its quaintness: three go mad on the sleeper. Drink? Drugs? No - juice and Jacobs Club chocolate biscuits. As far as I recall none of us had been to London before and we had a vague idea that we got off at King's Cross then had to get another train to Stevenage. Internet? Didn't exist. Maps? Hadn't bought any. GPS? LOL. Mobiles? ROFL. We made the connection then got off the train in Stevenage and worked out which way to go by following the crowd, essentially like following a football crowd to the away stadium except these were hippies and we were looking for the grounds of a stately home.

Somewhere we must have stopped to buy lager although just a few as we didn't have heaps of money: cheapo Heineken when it came in bland grey cans. Somewhere in Stevenage I seem to remember two people having a 69er on a bench. I tried not to stare.

The campsite seemed miles although when I look it up on Google maps now it can't have been too much of a schlep. We camped (two tents I think) then settled down, waiting for the gates to open the next morning. Other campers wanted to liven things up by throwing stuff around and a big section of the campsite turned into a two-ended adversarial throwing contest, a bit like a medieval football match. All kinds of crap was being lobbed from one end to the other, mostly just to pass time. Do I remember burning tents? Is that a trick of distant memory? It was pretty chaotic but eventually we tried to get some sleep...

At this point I'll borrow from another account I found on the web:

"There was a huge build up of people outside the entrance on the eve of the concert. Twice they knocked the fence down and eventually a row of police with dogs and Land Rovers was needed on the park side of the fence to hold the tide until the arena staff arrived and they could be let in. Amazingly there were no accidents. It was impossible to visit the campsite that evening as the vast number of fans made it quite scary. At 3 a.m. we gave in and opened the turnstiles. Fans slipped through in the darkness and ran towards the front of the stage for an eighteen hour wait for Led Zeppelin."
Chryssie Lytton Cobold (one of the family that owns Knebworth House)

My own memory of the anarchy was that there seemed to be a lot of shouting, running and movement in the middle of the night; we got out of the tents and decided to go with the flow then promptly lost each other in the dark. After a bit of a wait and a bit of a crush, the entrance was opened, I was separated from my mates, and I was in a field of something like an estimated 210,000 people at Silly O'Clock wearing just a T-shirt and a light sports kagoule, clutching a four pack of Heineken and wondering, "What happens now?" The answer was, wait. Sleeping was hardly possible, I had no one to talk to, searching for my mates seemed impossible, so with the idiot stoicism of a 16 year old I settled down to the long interregnum between getting in (3-4am?) and the first act taking the stage in the early afternoon.

Chas & Dave.

Yes, Chas & Dave.

There were two gigs at Knebworth in August 1979 and we got tickets for the first, so the lineup went: Chas & Dave, Fairport Convention, The New Commander Cody Band, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes, Todd Rundgren, then the headliners.

I can honestly say that all these years later I remember precisely two things about the support acts. Firstly, there was a babe ten or twenty yards behind me dancing away for part of the day wearing a loose top and no bra. She held my attention better than some of the music. Secondly, this was 1979. In the previous couple of years both Saturday Night Fever and Grease had been massive movies and massive in the pop charts. In the middle of the evening, Todd Rundgren took the stage and introducing one song said, "Now we're gonna turn Knebworth into the world's biggest DISCO!!!" to the sound of 210,000 rock fans booing.

And then? Eventually? After the overnight train ride to London, the voyage to Stevenage, the barney at the camp site and getting in a good 18 hours before the main act took the stage, there were Led Zeppelin. And they were bloody good.

Set list for the 4 August show:

I remember Heartbreaker being the last tune, even now. I don't remember that they prefaced this with In The Evening (from their 'new' album), then Stairway to Heaven, Rock & Roll and Whole Lotta Love.

Some time later I found my tent again, found Hamish and Keith (after nearly 24 hours on my own) and we got a bit of kip before heading back to Stevenage, back to London, then back to Aberdeen. It was a long jaunt.

Nine or ten months later we'd left school and gone our separate ways to uni; we never really saw each other again. Do they read this website? I have my doubts. Also around 14 months after the Knebworth gigs, drummer John Bonham managed to drink himself to death one night, finishing off the Led Zep myth once and for all. He was 32.

No Quo, no mud, no rubbish sex. But that's the experience...
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 22:07, 4 replies)
NSDF again
There is always something a little strange about students, and something even stranger about drama students. Stranger still are the technical drama students.

Clad only in the cheapest black's Primark sell, a small workshop jangling on their belts as their steel toe clad feet tramp the corridors of Scarborough's finest educational and entertainment venues, these are the people who build and run the theatres the festival operates in. They arrive two days before any of the actors and leave long after in order to take the stages down and clean up all the residual detritus. Wielding large pieces of metal, shifting files upon piles of deck off one truck and in to venues, they make it all look pretty and sound like harps plucked by angels with only a t-shirt and a couple of venereal diseases as a reward. Oh, and they pay to do this.

So, the tech crew are the strangest of the stranger of the strange.

It's 2am. Everyone sensible is in bed. Not us though. We're in the venue attempting to turn it around. A late finish and problems with the lifting machinery mean we didn't get in to start it until 10. Normally, we can turn around any venue in under an hour providing you have the right team - this wasn't the right team. Tired, hungry and lacking in beer, the night has been full of petty squabbles. Voices have been raised, ajay's have clashed and the less said about where the scaffolding nearly went, the better.

Tea break comes. Along with the usual tea comes a special treat - Jaffa Cakes! Jaffa cakes hold a special reverence with the tech crew. They are the reward for a job well done, a bonding experience as each member shares their own secrets for how to be nibbled away to reveal only the smashing orangey bit. A couple of people toddle off to the toilet, then it's break over and back to work.

Crew is behaving much better, all problems are solved quickly and we finally get the venue set up the way it need's to be. The only thing I have noticed through the night is one of the girls was looking more and more uncomfortable as the night progressed. She had the figurative ants in her pants - constant fiddling, trying to get comfortable.

Everyone is kicked out, a couple of people slip off to the toilets again including aforementioned lady. Doing the final check of the building to make sure everyone is out, I spot an uneaten jaffa cake in the corridor. Bonus! Go to pick it up - ewwww, it's soggy. Some disgusting bastard has licked it and left it for me to find. Quickly throw it in the bin and leave.

Under the streetlights I noticed my fingers were a bit of an odd colour. Gave them a sniff. Slightly orangey, smell a bit of paint and something else... something a bit metallic. Lick fingers. Very metallic. Must be from my tools and the scaff - I've been handling metal poles all day. Then I noticed a small group of girls huddled slightly away, including Ms Uncomfortable, and just caught a snippet of their conversation as I walked by.

"... yeah, thanks for the pad. I don't know why I came on so early. Don't know how I've going to get all the crumbs out of my fanny though."

Look my at fingers. My red fingers. Shiiiiiiit.
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 14:53, 6 replies)
Tie your shoelaces TIGHT!
At Glastonbury '95 I was right at the front for Oasis and I was being crushed to death. At some point my right trainer was yanked off so I rammed my foot down and pushed my foot back in, it didnt feel right but I was more concerned about not dying under a sea of Oasis fans. When it was all over I staggered into the light of a beer tent and looked down. On my left foot I had my black Nike trainer as expected, but on my right foot I had a white adidas trainer, a LEFT white adidas trainer.

Early the next morning I wandered down to the stage to search for my missing trainer. There were dozens of lost shoes lined up at the front of the stage, even some complete pairs. I couldnt find my missing Nike so tried on some other shoes, none fitted as well on my right foot as the left adidas I had acquired. I spent the next 2 days wandering around with 2 left feet keeping an eye out for someone with 2 right feet.

I don't even like Oasis.
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 14:44, 4 replies)
Glastonbury 2005
The storm. The rain. The flooding.

Everything pailed in comparison upon seeing one man wade through waist deep water, find his tent and dissapear, followed by an excalibur-like rise from the deep, a crate of lager upon his head.

After that nothing got me down all weekend.

For those not there...

(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 14:33, 10 replies)
The Can Can

Many moons ago, when Reading Rock Festival was still good, I was in the crowd waiting as the band changed over. On stage was a lone technician fiddling with a bank of amps.

Then, out of the middle of the crowd someone threw a can at the tech.

It tumbled lazily over the heads of the crowd in a big arc and fell towards the lone technician. He glanced up.

The can was heading down towards him and was going to miss him by a gnats chuff. Just before it was about to hit the ground, the tech deftly backheeled it and it spun across the stage.

The crowd went wild.

They cheered, they clapped and then..........

buried the flash bastard under 10 000 cans.

(, Mon 8 Jun 2009, 3:39, 1 reply)
Longdrop toilets
Leeds Festival, a few years ago

friday morning, suffering an epic hangover and in need of a crap, I decide to brave the dreaded longdrops.

Open the door encountering the most foulest smells known to man-even the thought of it to this day makes me gag. so I drop my pants and about to park my arse (or hover) when suddenly...


I leapt up in fear and turned round to find a man literally poking his head out the hole wearing a snorkel and mask, I never ran so fast.

sometimes I wonder, why would anyone want to wade in excrement? or how the hell he actually managed to get in there?
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 23:40, 5 replies)
At a rainsoaked Leeds Festival years ago I saw a bloke pick up a couple of pints at a beer stall they had set up at the crest of a hill. The fella turned sharply in the sodden earth, took a resolute step forward, somehow managed to plant one foot on a discarded plastic plate, then the second foot on another discarded plate, then effectively and unintentionaly ski all the way down the hill until he landed in a crumpled and soggy heap at the bottom.

"WAAAA - HAAAAAAYYYY !!!" Came the cries from the assembled crowd.

The fella stood up and continued on his way without a word. And he managed, somehow, not to spill a single fucking drop of beer.

Now, that man's a hero in my book.
(, Tue 9 Jun 2009, 16:05, 3 replies)
In order to have the 'festival experience' without the 'festival cost'
I listened to a live CD of my favourite band while living in a refugee camp.
(, Sat 6 Jun 2009, 6:26, 4 replies)
Long time listener...
The first time I ever went to a festival was Reading, and I was 17 or thereabouts. I was supposed to be camping with my friends, but I got to the train station and saw some girls with tents, got chatting... and ended up staying with them. (And then I ended up spending half the weekend with a guy called Sharky. Which was great, because my name is George.)

But the story's not about that. I was walking down a walkway past a group of guys when they shout my name. Not knowing any of them from Adam, I was curious enough to ask them what was up. Turns uot they were shouting "jokes!". So I stand there, listening to their jokes, as everyone tries to outdo each other, which naturally leads to a long string of dead baby jokes. Eventually, they press me for a joke, but : fuck! my mind is blank. Can't think of a thing. So I demur, and others tell some jokes, and I rack my brains for something.

And then I remember it. The joke that Fanny tells to Mictlantecuhtli in The Invisibles. And eventually it comes back to me, but, well, I'm still a little shy. But it's coaxed out of me:

What's purple and stiff and makes women squeal?
Cot death babies!

And that goes down a treat. So well, in fact, that it seems to have been crowned the best of the lot. But it carries on, only now whenever someone new joins the circle, I am asked to repeat my joke. Eventually this becomes more and more frequent. The crowd has grown to above 50 people, at least. After a half-hour of this, I am getting increasingly bored, but, y'know, obviously enjoying the attention (and milking it by showing nothing but reluctance). Still, it'd been going on for a while, so I attempt to leave. They wouldn't let me. They joke is (apparently) too good.

So I just make a run for it. I get so far before anyone can respond, and soon am scampering away between the tents, nearly killing myself on guyropes. Still, I'm a pretty obvious target, so I play commando: ducking underneath the tents, trying to keep tabs on my pursuers. Eventually, I get away.

So this is a pretty good story, so when I am walking nearby with a friend of (an ex of) mine a few hours later, I make the mistake of telling them. And, maybe to test it, maybe just to be a dick, they decide to yell "GEORGE IS HERE!" Sod. So naturally the crowd notices me. And recaptures me. And it turns out that my disappearance was what was needed to elevate me from a boy with a decent joke into a prophet. The second coming of Jesus. "George". After I left, they continued searching. Then one of them got the idea that I was beneath the ground. So they'd started to dig for me with their bare hands. They showed me their muddy hands. Newcomers were perplexed, so I was asked to tell the joke again. By this point there were too many of them for me to escape: the crowd surrounded me about 3 thick in every direction. Eventually (after many tellings of the joke) we began to make a slow tour of Brown campsite. With increasing frequency, they would all shush, quiet down, and ask me to tell the joke. So I would and then they'd all get excited, and yell "COT DEATH BABIES!". They'd ask me questions, using "George" like it was a title. I just asked why they wouldn't let me go, what I had done to deserve this, would insist endlessly that I was nobody special, that I had just told a joke about a dead baby and a mother's grief. But that just egged them on further. Someone eventually put a candle in my hand, which I would hoist aloft while yelling "COT DEATH BABIES". The joke had lost all humour by this point: It was nothing more than a rallying call. Before I'd say it (which was approximately every 5 steps) everyone would shush, and crouch, leaving me the single man standing out of a crowd of around (by now) 200 people. And then I'd cry "COT DEATH BABIES!" and everyone would jump up and yell it with me and get excited and then we'd move on.

Some people didn't like my rule. One man jealous of the attention, threw a can of beer at my head. I wasn't too worried, because he missed: and fuck, I had 200 people around me to protect me. I had to specifically tell a few of my followers not to beat him up. Eventually a girl tried to get in on the action. She tried to declare herself "High Priestess". I went along with it as much as I could: I wanted to transfer this huge crowd onto her and escape. But she was too power hungry: the crowd would not accept her. I considered the power I had: Fuck, I had followers. I had a fucking cult, following me round, keeping me prisoner. But what could you ask for? They gave me some beer... I could only imagine getting some with a girl, 200 people surrounding the tent, begging for me to yell "COT DEATH BABIES!" I knew it couldn't last. Besides: I was only holding onto it by means of saying I hated it. I had power, but there was not a thing I could use it for.

(Oh, a bit after High Priestess, everything kinda dissolved. But I met a few of the guys who originally were involved at Santacon that year. The moment they saw me they dropped to their knees and cried "George!". I told them it was a time for Santa, and they kept telling me how weird it was to be drinking beer and talking to George like he was a normal person. Weirdly, they were also really apologetic)
(, Sun 7 Jun 2009, 4:47, 1 reply)
I attended an event in July of 2006 that would make most b3tan's blood turn to powder in horror.

It should have been ace. All the right boxes were ticked: Knebworth. The Who. Hottest day of the year. Best of all, it was not only free but I was being paid to go.

It was not ace.

This was no festival. It was a corporate trade show for the hedge fund industry, organised as a chance for everyone involved to come together, sell eachother their services and forge high-value-add synergistic relationships in a relaxed atmosphere of friendly co-opetition. The twist was the festival theme, the highlight being The Who playing later in the evening.

The day started well enough. Hundreds of monumentally overpaid hedge fund managers parked their Aston Martins on the lawn. Bankers and brokers left their Ferraris alongside. I, mere pond scum of a junior software vendor monkey, carefully attached crook-lock on my girlfriend's 15 year old Fiesta. We set up our company tent as the sun started to get hot and amused ourselves trying to flirt with the models in sundresses that the bigger companies had hired.

As the day wore on a growing sense of just what we were involved in was nagging at me. My inner 18 year old was in tears. Everything about the event makes me cringe. The refreshment stand in the field called the "Nine Bar". The Bentley dealer who'd turned up to raffle off a couple of cars for £1,000 a ticket. The old VW campers painted up in what appeared to be psychadelic patterns but on closer inspection turned out to be highly stylised logos of major banks. I was in danger of drowning in pure wank. I was getting sunburned at an event called, I can barely write this now, HedgeStock.

I did my job manning our stand. When 5pm rolled on I broke out the beers and got ready to watch The Who with my fortunately very cool colleagues. They played a brilliant, brilliant set that lasted well over two hours. It was loud, tight, we were pissed and right at the front, really getting into it and just loving watching an incredible band at a beautiful venue outside on a summer's evening. You can't beat it. Yet, when I turned around to take in the atmosphere, I was bought thudding back to earth. Here was a crowd of about a thousand people, with maybe twenty of us singing along and dancing like loons at the front. Everyone else, to a man, was either on the phone or emailing on their Blackberries. I saw one chap in a polo shirt and pressed chinos with a sunhat (bank logo'ed, of course) with his arms folded and a severe expression on his face, just standing there - during Baba O'Reilly!

Roger Daltrey summed it up perfectly about three songs in. Clearly underwhelmed by what must have been the worst crowd he has ever played in front of in his entire career - a crowd so bad it made the Jazz Oddessey audience look like whizzed up moshpit nutters - he shook his head sadly and said into the microphone in a bemused voice, "Who the fuck are you?"
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 15:57, 6 replies)
One time at the Leeds Festival years ago (when Pearl Jam headlined, fucked if I remember the year; can barely remember my own surname most of the time), I was stood round on bag guarding duty; essentially my mates had all fucked off in the pursuit of a) beer, b) a poo, c) a wee, d) food, or – and this was stretching it a bit on account of them all being uglier than a troop of chimpanzees who’d been involved in a particularly nasty car crash involving fire – e) some sweet hot snatch action.

I was getting pissed off. I’d been stood round for about half an hour looking like an Essex bird in Rumours on handbag guarding duty. (Ever tried looking mean and moody when you’re essentially guarding a few ruck sacks full of baby wipes, bottles of water, KP crisps, a shitload of those little tubs of ketcup we’d nicked from McDonalds to help flavour the utter shite food they sold, and a couple of packets of jammy dodgers?) Just not fucking possible...

To make matters worse the mighty Pearl Jam were about to come out on stage. There was an air of awed silence... And instead of twatting my way to the front to dance about like a spectacular twat, I’m stuck at the back, looking like a single parent guarding the broods gear as they fuck off and have some fun.

Then there’s a surge behind me as the guitar techs come out on stage and start twaning about with Jeff Aments bass. I get knocked clean off my feet by the big fucker behind me and land heavily on the bags. My head actually disappeared inside one of the open bags for a few seconds. Fuck me. I was pissed off. This man mountain reaches out an arm, apologies for inadvertently knocking a skinny streak of piss like myself off his feet like he was swatting a teeny tiny fly, and then he stops dead and looks scared. “You ok?” He says. I start mumbling something then he says: “You’ve hit you’re head, mate. You’re bleeding like FUCK!!!”

I reach up and feel a wetness caked in my hair, feel something sticky dribble down my forehead and over the bridge of my nose. There’s shitloads of claret pouring out of me. Oh, fucking MARVELLOUS!!! Then, a little of my blood reaches my lips and trickles inside. It’s not blood. It’s tomato sauce – several of the vast quantities of the pesky little containers packed inside the open ruck sack belonging to one of my mate’s have burst on impact and splattered me.

“You sure you’re ok, mate?” said the big fucker who’d accidentally knocked me off my feet.

Now, I was pissed off like a muthafucka on so many different levels. Don’t know why I did it, but I just snapped back: “Do I fucking look, OK? I’m bleeding like a cunt here!”

With that the big dude lifts me up and carts me off, another one of his mates (even bigger and harder looking than the first fella), comes and holds me up from the other side, he says: “Don’t worry about you’re bags. A few of our group’ll look after them. We need to get you over to St. John’s Ambulance. You look fucking awful, mate.”

I started to protest, to say I was ok, but it wasn’t any good. The two fellas literally carried me to the first aid tent. They explained what had happened to the old lady in the uniform; that I’d hit my head and was proabably concussed, and what with the blood they thought it best to get me here as quickly as possible.

“Thanks, lads,” I said. “You can leave me to it now. I’ll be fine from here,” I said, silently shitting myself.

“Nah, mate – wouldn’t dream of it. We’re gonna make sure you’re ok first.”

I was put onto an examination bench. Another St John’s Ambulance volunteer put on a pair of rubber gloves and started poking round on my scalp: “Does this hurt?” They said sternly.

“Erm... yes....?” I replied meekly, my two saviours standing just to one side, arms crossed, looking concerned. It was then I got a really good look at them. They looked like the two dudes out of Right Said Fred, only on more steroids and not at all camp. They were, to put it short, fucking hard. I gulped and felt a bit sick.

Then the ambulance person said: “Can’t find any wound.... hmmmm... funny....” then, slowly, they lifted a glove hand, smeared in red, to their nostrils and took a plaintiff sniff. After a short pause the kindly looking lady said: “This is tomato ketchup.”

I shrugged, “Is it? Erm.... Are you sure?”

The two lads, my saviours, the good samaritans, looked a bit confused. Then one of them said simply: “You fucking cunt,” and they left.

And I watched Pearl Jam from the very edge of the crowd, keeping one eye out for the hard looking lads, and another out for one of my chimp mates – so I could explain why I’d rather kill my own mother than go back and retreive our bags from where we’d left them.
(, Wed 10 Jun 2009, 12:21, 9 replies)
Good times!
Phoenix Festival, mid 90s.

This was the year that;

1. My mate got food poisoning (I told him the sausages were dodgy, would he listen?)

2. We camped near these guys who kept us entertained with the catch-phrase “Skin-up Graham” all weekend.

3. The bloke in the next tent had the “best dope known to mankind” (turned out it was a legal high).

4. One of the girls had her bag pinched out of their tent, turns out she was sensible and it only had clothes in, so I suggested she tried lost property to see if it had been ditched when the thieving little bastards realized they’d pinched nothing of value. She returned an hour later, big smile, holding the bag aloft in victory. It was short lived, they’d stolen all her knickers!

Random festival memories

A man naked except for a fur rug tied to his back with string, carrying a Stop Children Crossing Lollipop.

Going for a piss in the woods at Donington Monsters of Rock, to be greeted by a young lass dropping her strides and relieving herself in front of me. When I jokingly pointed out this was the gents area, she muttered something in German, at least I think it was German as she had a major bush going on.

My first smell of dope, down the front at Donington 1986, stood next to some Hells Angels, this was closely followed by my first smell of Hells Angels piss as one particularly hairy biker deposited a few litres of secondhand cider over the people in front of him. These lucky people even thanked him for the gift.

Not being allowed to take plastic bottles of beer in, so watching people trying to drink three litres of cheap bitter in double quick time, so as not to miss Warlock. I doubt they remembered much about them.

Being called to toilets to see the biggest turd in the history of the human race. The Guinness Book of Records would later be in attendance.

Talking to a lad who was going to be in trouble when he got home, his Mum had seen him on the TV coverage with “Cunt” written on his forehead in marker pen.

Listening to a bloke describing how he’d just gone down on a girl, this being the third night of the festival.

And finally…

It was at Donington Monsters of Rock in the late 80s where a group of my mates were camping over night. As was the way with this one day events, the camp site was a scene from hell, with wall to wall lager and vomit, which was one of the reasons I never stayed there over night. Anyway the story goes that Kev; a skinny thick bass player, long black greasy hair, skin of alabaster due to never seeing the sun and possessor of the dumbest monotone voice, actually manages to land a girlfriend and not only that gets her to come to the gig. After a few beers around the camp fire, she decides it's time to retire to the tent for some action, drags him off to much cheering from his mates. There is very little privacy to be had in a tent, especially when everyone you are camping with sneaks up and stands next to it. Noises ensue and then the GF's voice can be heard.
"Call me a bitch!"
"Eh?" (Imagine in the dumb monotone voice.)
"Go on, and a slut too."
"Because I like it when you talk dirty to me."
"Do I have to?"
"Yes, go on."
"Come on!"
"I can't, I don't like those words."
The silence is broken by one of his mates who shouts at the top of his voice,
She was not happy!
(, Tue 9 Jun 2009, 22:00, 1 reply)
Bearpookie reminds me
Glastonbury in the early and mid-nineties, whilst getting over the fence was still de riguer and it wasn't entirely populated by arseholes and mud ... the police had an interesting problem, they couldn't be seen to condone drug use but they didn't want to be seen as heavy-handed either, and were mostly after serious dealers. Cue some bright spark going "Lads, I've got an idea..."

two police transits. all the doors and windows open. Four cops with supersoakers. "Smoking a fat one there, sir? Oh, it seems to have gone out and, oddly, you're all wet now"

Work of genius. The facial expressions of pissed-off crusties realising there was exactly fuck all they could do was truly wonderful. Made my day the first time I saw it.
(, Mon 8 Jun 2009, 10:27, 3 replies)
Allow me to make your mind up
It was at Reading 2002 when I had my epiphany. Up to that point I had avoided festivals for years based on the misguided opinion that they were crap. So, for anyone still pondering whether or not to go this year, I will describe the moment when I realised just how wrong I had been.

The first day had been enjoyable enough but I’d spent a large part of it too drunk to properly enjoy Pulp, The Strokes and Mercury Rev, three of my favourite bands at the time. Heading to the food vans around lunchtime, I noticed some wag had cobbled together an unconvincing 'bomb' out of old aerosol cans, wires, an alarm clock and a fuckload of duct tape. It had been placed conspicuously at the base of one of the fire towers, complete with a sign which read 'BOMB', garnished with a comical arrow pointing down at the feeble contraption.

On the way back, my none-too-tasty burger was interrupted by sirens blaring. The shambling crowd unzipped in a wave, allowing a red jeep to speed past in the opposite direction to the mass-migration of unwashed rock nerds. As it zoomed by, a creature we now presume to be some kind of bearded proto-human pounced from behind a row of tents. He was covered in mud and dressed in a small t-shirt.

Only a t-shirt...

The curious being opened its gnarled mouth, producing a high-pitched scream and grabbed the trailer bar at the back of the moving jeep in order to be dragged along the slatted metal walkway at high speed. A thin layer of fabric on his upper body was all that separated him from a likely cheese-grater finale. Still wailing like a naked banshee, this interesting spectacle continued all the way to the fire tower amid a phalanx of rapidly-approaching ‘bomb squad’ vehicles.

As the jeep slowed down, the nutter sprang to his feet and span round to reveal an absence of frontal T-shirt, an abundance of bruised and bloodied genitals and a mad, frightening grin. With a final flourish and a hearty whoop, he skipped towards the 'bomb', snatched it up and dived into the nearest row of tents to the amusement and collective bewilderment of his audience.

That set us up nicely for the rest of the day.

I forget exactly which gigs we watched during the daytime, but it included a little-known new band called The Libertines, who drew a small crowd of about 50 people on one of the smaller stages. Pete Doherty looked reasonably healthy back then, as I recall. A bit later, a group came on stage to announce "This is the moment you have been waiting for; when we finish you may as well go home... we're THE HIVES". Then they actually backed up their astonishing arrogance with a performance to justify it. I was suitably impressed.

As we left the main stage, a paper cup fight broke out between the front and the back of the crowd; just two small groups tossing litter at each other, no big deal. By the time we returned from a much-needed piss against one of the boundary walls, this had escalated into a full-blown war. I will never forget the sight of *thousands* of half-filled paper cups of piss-weak lager (and lager-based piss) sailing over my head as I ran the gauntlet of no-man's land right through the middle of the conflict to be reunited with my mates. The missiles stopped as the bands returned to the stage, and a truce was declared as we all stood ready to watch the next acts.

Darkness fell and small fires fuelled by debris sprang up around us while Ash finished up their brilliant set. As we had time to kill before the headline acts, I happily entertained a cheeky handjob from my girlfriend with people milling all around us, too close to see what was going on right at their feet. I shot my bolt at about the same moment all the lights went out on the stage and around the arena, but I’m pretty sure the two events were not related. I quietly contemplated my shame while bathed in the glow of the fires and the food stalls, my eyes adjusting to the darkness left by the lack of fierce stage lighting.

The crowd grew impatient. It appeared to be some kind of technical problem, but just as the chants grew to a crescendo, a spotlight came on to expose a piano at one side of the stage, and Matt Bellamy of Muse sitting at its helm. A cheer went up but it was quelled in seconds as he started to play. I’d never heard of Muse at the time, but like everyone else, I was captivated immediately.

As far as I know, no videos exist of this particular performance, but to set the scene, I recommend you watch the first couple of minutes of this clip (from Glastonbury 2004) before/while you read the next bit. This is what it is like to see Muse at a festival.

The opening section of ‘New Born’ is a haunting piece of solo piano. It was surreal to see what only moments earlier had been a rowdy, drunken orgy giving its complete attention to one man, on what appeared to be an otherwise dark and empty stage. As the final note of the piano section rang out in eerie sustain, Matt leapt to his feet and dashed across the stage carrying his guitar, a spotlight chasing him to the other side. The stage lights pulsed anxiously, stirring the crowd to cheer him on as he shredded that brutal distortion guitar riff, a clear signal that it was all about to kick off. As he reached the climax of his guitar solo and hit the final chord, ALL the lights burst on like a supernova in sync with an explosion of fireworks to reveal the rest of the band. It remains the greatest opening to a set I’ve ever seen; everyone went absolutely cunting fuck-mental.

I was entranced in an instant, realising with shocking clarity exactly what I’d been missing for so long. Foo Fighters finished up an amazing night and cemented my opinion that music festivals, despite the food, the weather and the toilets, are something that everyone needs to experience. Don’t give it a second thought.
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 6:08, 7 replies)
Some people wonder
Why there aren't more small music festivals around the place in summer. My dad used to help organize one, so I know why.

They are an Unbelievable. Amount. Of. Work.

The festival he used to be involved with was just a small, local affair - held in a local park, 2000 person maximum capacity with headliners who had been reasonably big in 80s. The site was perhaps three acres on a good day.

It cost £60,000 - £70,000 to put on.

There is no way that ticket sales will cover this. So they had to get sponsorship. Major, major sponsorship. Normally around £50,000 worth. When you live in rural Suffolk, this is incredibly hard. It becomes even harder to keep it going year after year.

Then there are the artists to book - you have to work out touring schedules, costs, travel expenses, VIP reception (which, take it from me, is a MASSIVE part of the whole operation. When you're working at full stretch already and Geno Washington turns up with 20 extra people you're not prepared for, you can't afford to piss him off), security fencing, security guards, overnight security guards, helpers, ticket prices and sales, promotion... The whole lot. My dad used to be in charge of sponsorship and ticket sales and he said he did the work of five men.

Then there's the council to get past. The amount of red tape they can throw your way is simply unbelievable. They demanded £2000 for the use of the park for two days (they never have any charge for its use the rest of the year), then they demanded that after the festival we should hire a road roller to flatten out all the bumps they imagined we would leave, and then they demanded another £2000 for the on-site inspection.

Oh yes. The on-site inspection and permit to hold the festival in the first place. Which can only be granted, you've guessed it, on the day of the festival. If there's anything wrong, the festival is delayed (never mind the bands set up on stage and the several hundred punters queuing outside the gates - you have to fix it).

An example of this pedantry comes in the form of the toilet trouble we had one year. The park had some small toilets but not sufficient for 2000 people, so we had to hire portaloos. It turned out, ten minutes before we were due to open at noon, that the inspector wasn't happy with the step up to the loos. It was too far away from the cubicles themselves, and people would have to step over a whole six inches of air to get to them. So we got out the sledgehammers. Turned out the thing was stuck, but fifteen minutes were wasted finding that out. We had to close down that row of portaloos and make the others unisex - something that caused a hell of a lot of trouble later that day when people started getting a few beers inside them.

Then, of course, there are the artists. When you've been big in the 80s, you expect to be treated like you still are. And God help you if you don't give them what they want. As mentioned above, Geno Washington was a particular problem. He once stopped his set and spent twenty minutes arguing with the sound crew (who, of course, always set up their ENORMOUS tent in the most infuriatingly inconvenient place) about why he couldn't have more volume on the foldback speakers - the ones at the front of the stage that let him hear what he sounds like. The answer was that he was a deaf old bugger and the level he wanted was causing horrendous feedback. But, of course, he wouldn't take that. Not that we put it in those words.

Assuming you deal with all the other problems, you've still got to deal with the organising committee itself, no two members of which are on the same wavelength. A case in point was the man in charge of booking the bands: PC.

Normally he did well - we had The Commitments, Showaddywaddy, Osibisa, Edwin Starr, Geno Washington and so on. Showaddywaddy were awful, the Commitments were brilliant - especially from backstage and feet away from the lead singer. But occasionally, PC would go off on a tangent. Like the time he booked King Prawn.

Sleepy little towns in the heart of rural Suffolk do not deal well with a lead singer shouting "This one's for all the kids out there!" (there were none) before launching into a song apparently called "I wanna smoke some shit". That was certainly the chorus. Apparently he'd wanted "to shake people up a bit". Well done PC, well done.

Then there's the clearup afterwards. You never truly appreciate how messy people are until you clean up after a festival. It takes all day if you're lucky.

The festival stopped a few years ago due to lack of sponsorship. I still get people asking me why it stopped. I list everything I've listed above, but it never quite seems to sink in.

It was an enjoyable few years and I miss the festival, but I don't think it'll be back...
(, Thu 4 Jun 2009, 16:35, 10 replies)
Hot Water...
First B3ta story, please be gentle..

I'd always fancied attending these huge events, the appeal of getting the chance to see massive bands, soak up the atmosphere with thousands of other like-minded people, and I'd even risk the opportunity of tasting the wares of the greasy burger sellers.

The thought of hitch-hiking through back roads, using nothing but the dulled sound of huge PA systems as our only means of navigation, and the Ray Mears-esque technique of finding water by following the herds of backpackers, hooded partygoers and hippies wearing tie-dyed tights got the better of me when I suggested to the missus that I really fancied getting tickets to see a Festival.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and with the attitude of an excited puppy, the missus comes bounding into the front room, clutching some pieces of paper, screaming 'Suprise' - I got these for you, hope you like them!!

So there they were, my golden tickets, I rejoiced as I was about to bear witness to the popping of my festival cherry, thoughts of a day trip to Millets flooded my mind, and a massive order of the ever popular toiletries, noodles and other substances not seen on GMTV were swiftly purchased.

A couple more weeks later, stuffed in the back of my mates Fiat Panda like sardines, sandwiched between rucksacks and them wierd metal tins with the folding handles, we're heading down the motorway, tape player on full blast (did'nt have the luxury of an IPod or CD player) we eventually turn up to what seemed to be a colossal village, surrounded by security, queues of traffic, coaches, articulated lorries and people wearing the most bizarre outfits that appeared to have been concoted by a seriously tripping Gok Wan.

So we're parked up, we've queued up and the all too familiar booming of the music, sound checks and people with whistles and horns is making our ears tingle with excitement, we've got through the security checks, sniffer dogs and avoided the local scamps trying to trade us dodgy wristbands, when we get to some massive security gorilla covered in ID tags, who demands to see our tickets, and as a nice bloke as I am, I eagerly hand them over..

"Come with me sir" he bellows, and ushers me to some small tent in a corner...

I'm thinking "What the fuck?, I'm not carrying anything dodgy, it's all stuffed in the missus's bra - they'll NEVER search there"

Oh no, it was'nt drugs he was after - upon opening the tent, it dawned on me what was happening, as there in front of me was a small table, with a red hat on it, covering what looked like a cordless kettle.

It turns out that in her eagerness, the missus had treated me to tickets to see a 'Fez-Tefal' and I'd fallen victim to another pun.

Length? - About a year of lurking...
(, Tue 9 Jun 2009, 10:16, 6 replies)

This question is now closed.

Pages: Latest, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, ... 1