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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, 12:33)
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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, 5:08, closed)
ah, random nudety :)
This is at Download. Devildriver, it was 07 or 08- the biggest circle pit ever! There's videos on youtube if you have a spare couple of minutes. It was like the size of a football pitch and I remember running round the circumfrance like a maniac and being stopped dead in my tracks at the site of a guy randomly 100% stark bollock naked standing on the outside! It was one of the strangest sights I've ever seen!
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 5:26, closed)
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 7:54, closed)
That's the one!
I was at the Trivium one too! Not for long though, got too far forward and couldn't handle the surges :( but I did get to crowdsurf out, which was cool!
(, Sat 6 Jun 2009, 4:51, closed)
That makes me want to cry
I just failed to get Muse tickets.

Best live band I've ever seen, absolutely adore them. Ah well. I'll just go and prostitute myself.

(IMO, Origin Of Symmetry is the best album)
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 8:27, closed)
I was there!
Absolutely quality set was Muse, one of the best I've ever seen. Nice tell. *Cleek*
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 8:30, closed)
As someone who...
Has seen Muse live (twice) I concur.
(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 11:09, closed)
Man, I want to go to a festival now

Nicely written mate.

(, Fri 5 Jun 2009, 15:13, closed)

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