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Fields of Dire – Festival Season Begins

As RockNess kicks off the festival season this week, ELM offers an alternative view on the merits of mud and music.

‘Yes, yes, yes it’s the summer festival’ sang louche pop imp Edwyn Collins in 1994, ‘the truly detestable summer festival.’ What could he have had against this staple of British summertime? Who dares to suggest that standing in a field waiting for The Gossip to play that one they did a few years back (remember it? Aye you do!) might not be the very zenith of modern entertainment?

Oh yes, festivals are very popular, but so is rimming and most normal people don’t want to get involved in that either. Festivals are great ideas on paper.  Lots of bands you love, lots of bands you haven’t heard but would like to check out, like-minded people about you and glorious sunshine. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, a few things. The weather, for one, is never really a given. Even the slightest drop of rain is designed to turn the entire field into a raging sea of mud which will be walked into a stinking brown pulp. The mud gets everywhere. People pretend this is fun. It is not. If it was, we’d all belt down to the local farm on hot days with an iPod dock and a bottle of Evian and create our own mini-festival. Secondly, and often overlooked, is how truly freezing it can be. Really, proper, bone-chilling, hope-sapping cold. But hey, there’s always the music, right?

Well, yes and no. The thing is, there’s a reason normal gigs only last a couple of hours. It’s because any longer and one riff segues into another. Suddenly you lose all critical faculties. It’s why no-one watches entire sets at festivals, unless it’s the crowd-pleasing moron mash spread on top. I mean, if you actually want to see Fucking Kasabian, chances are your brain isn’t sophisticated enough to differentiate one noise from another.

An idea to consider is possibly just booking every act to come on and play their big hit, then fuck off again. We could rattle through it in a day, everyone could go home and sleep in their own beds…it’s a winner, surely? Ah, but then we’d be denied the camping experience.

Camping. Even the word is enough to spread involuntary spasms of horror shuddering through any sentient being. The idea is that we bond with our fellow revellers, but that’s based on the Christian and Communist belief that our fellow man (and woman) isn’t an utter flap, hammered on fizzy lager and bad drugs. What actually happens is, in a field which looks like the fall of Saigon, drunk, mud-encrusted people act in a bovine fashion – if cows were drunken arseholes – and annoy everyone else.

And call me old-fashioned if you will, but I do not derive a lot of pleasure from hearing a young lady skillessly banged by some espadrille-wearing gimlet in the tent next to me. This is often accompanied by the young lady’s BFF violently sobbing about how her friend’s new beau’s bezzie mate is a wash-out because he’s too drunk to play parlour games, as Jello Biafra once nearly sang.

But those people are young, and are to be excused. The older people are the ones who really deserve it, in their Hunter wellies and eating £8 venison burgers. You are in your 40s for God’s sake! Look at you! Just having a good time? Yeah? Well, so are joyriders and I want them slapped with a wet dishtowel too.

So it’s not for everyone, we can safely say. But for those about to rock, we salute you. It just wouldn’t be me!

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3 Responses

  1. “Fucking Kasabian”……hur hur

  2. I would attend a festival if it were Boutique, bespoke and I had a hotel room.

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