I’m too old for this shit!
- Roger Murtaugh, 1987
After skimping on festivals last year, I forked out £150 for Reading, which I got back from yesterday. The first festival I went to, Leeds in 2002, cost £75. Yes, the price of a Carling Weekend ticket has risen by an average of 15 percent each year. Inflation in that period has been running at about 2.5 percent. Go figure.
Before it started there were fears that thanks to the flooding whole tracts of the site would be rendered uncampable. In the event, everything was fine, except for the tent I’d borrowed from home which turned out not to have any fucking poles. So I bought a shitty one for £20. We pitched up in the Brown campsite, which, despite the name, was green and dry, and we had loads of space. Not only that – in an unprecedented move by the weather at festival time, all three days were scorchers.
The conditions were good, but I hadn’t reckoned on feeling really old. The Reading Festival is the weekend after GCSE results for a reason. Probably. I think it’s safe to say 23 is above the median age. And it’s scary when there’s a popular music movement that you don’t get, namely new rave. It didn’t help that my feet were aching by the end of each day and I was struggling to stay keep my eyes open at 2am while kids were running by in a big mob, chanting “angry mob!”
Aah, middle class teenagers letting off steam. Bless. Unfortunately, things didn’t get as violent and rampage-y as last time. Security had been stepped right up (bizarrely, all the folk policing the campsites were Scottish) and they weren’t standing for any tomfoolery. Confiscations meant there were no epic games of Trolley Jousting we saw one lone trolley which had escaped the crackdown desperately seeking a challenger. Ben and I managed to get its unruly custodians singing Trolley Trolley, Trolley Trolley Trolley to lift their spirits. Deprived of their trolleys, the children resorted to standing in a circle, passing a hat around their heads, singing Pass The Parcel Round.
Speaking of starting chants, Bollocks has really come into its own since 2005. Get it right and everyone (well, the more immature – not me, folks) joins in, and a roar builds and spreads like a sonic Mexican Wave. Rather than being really lame like when a callow youth does it on his tod, it’s quite impressive.
The organisation of the festival has changed since last time too. Festival Republic have taken over from Mean Fiddler and it’s got really civilised. There’s gourmet food stalls like the fish and chip shop that sells minted mushy peas. They erected a barrier in the middle of the main stage audience to distribute water and there was hardly any crowd surfing. The bars have got environmentally conscious, offering a 10p refund on used beer cups (poor people spend most of the festival collecting them so it also helps redistribute wealth). There are also extra-curricular activities like a funfair (with dodgems!) and a silent disco wherein you get given headphones with two radio channels playing different things, so you can listen to one or the other or take the cans off and listen to a crowd singing a capella. That was quality.
What wasn’t quality was the mobile battery recharging facilities. There was a time when you could rock up to a big tent and hook your phone up to one of the many chargers. Now they’ve got a tiny stall where you have to queue for over an hour to hand over your battery. Twats.
Did anyone there/watching at home see that Kenyan flag? I can reveal the guys carrying it didn’t look Kenyan.
My music review tomorrow, with any luck.