All 26 entries tagged Festival

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March 29, 2011

How to ruin a brilliant idea

Or: Why you should think it through

The Camden Crawl is an ace idea. Yes, it’s one of those two-day arts and music festivals lots of places have, where lots of different venues put on lots of different shows. But what it does differently is get one of the core components of a festival right: you pay once, £40 for a day ticket, and you see as much as you want. It takes all the pressure off, you feel like you’re part of a proper festival and not an unconnected series of events. Bloody brilliant.

Now one thing about it is, it runs a whole bunch of varied arty fringe stuff during the day. Theatre, comedy, dance, quizzes, all that stuff. But come 7pm this ends and the focus shifts over to music, and it’s also when the big-names acts are on. That’s fine, it’s a system that works, and in isolation it’s brilliant.

But someone spotted a gap in the market, and so this year The Comedy Crawl launches. It offers a whole bunch of brilliant comedy in the same area over seven venues from 7pm until midnight for a one-off fee. £20 gets you 5 hours of comedy, rather than the 2 hours you’d get for the same money from Jongleurs. And you can pick and choose your gigs. Again, in isolation, this is bloody brilliant.

The problem is, they’re two different events. Now were they competing events, that would make sense. But they’re quite hapilly cross-promoting each other and seem pretty friendly. Still, no problem, one can choose from an evening of great comedy, or a more expensive full day of great comedy and music.

Well maybe I just want the moon on a stick.

But I don’t live in London, and while it’s not far away, the money and time cost of the journey mean I want to get the most of out any trip. And as you probably know, I like me some comedy. I’d love to spend all day hanging around Camden watching live comedy in loads of different places. That’d be brilliant. It’d be like Edinburgh except a bit more conceited and a lot less expensive.

The problem is, to do that, it looks like I have to buy myself a Camden Crawl ticket, spend the day watching their comedy, then buy myself a Comedy Crawl ticket, and spend the evening watching their comedy, while basically throwing away the whole latter half of the Camden Crawl ticket. And that’s being optimistic, as with all the ‘big names’ of music on later in the evening, I’m sure a lot more than half the ticket price goes towards paying acts on during the night rather than their less famous friends on during the day.

I’d happily pay the full Camden Crawl ticket price, not see any bands, and just watch comedy all day. But I resent the idea that I’d have to pay £20 more than everyone else just to do that.

And it’s basically put me off going to either. By trying to do something extra for comedy fans, they’ve basically ruined it for comedy fans.

My solution? I’d have stuck a fiver on the Comedy Crawl ticket price and given that to the Camden Crawl folk in exchange for a Comedy Crawl wristband granting access to any Camden Crawl venue prior to 7pm. Then maybe have the Camden Crawl folk offer a combined ticket at a £5 premium over their price that gives access to the Comedy Crawl venues too.

Basically, I’d have thought it through from the perspective of someone who likes live comedy more than live music. But then I suppose there aren’t that many of them in and around Camden with it’s six million comedy clubs are there?


September 02, 2010

On festival behaviour

A Saturday afternoon in July, the Obelisk Arena, Latitude Festival’s main stage. Frank Turner is belting out one hell of a set, and about halfway through two teenage girls come barging through the crowd. Now I’m a grouchy enough human being that I’m not beyond getting annoyed at that sort of behavior in some circumstances. But these weren’t two drunken louts trying to elbow their way to a better view when the band start playing a single that they know the words two. Rather, two girls, likely at their first festival, dancing around and yelling out the words to Back in the Day (a fairly obscure track by any measure) like it could very well be their last. They were having the time of their lives and you just can’t resent that.

Except apparently, you can. About five minutes later a middle-aged woman in front of us turns around and with a look of barely concealed disgust, tells them to stop bumping in to her.

It’s this odd phenomenon at festivals: get to the barrier early in the day to have the best spot for the headliner later on. Sure, it happens at all gigs – support acts are forever playing to often disinterested fans of the headlining band. But it’s kind of accepted. The vast majority of people at your regular gig haven’t paid to see the support. Festivals are different though. The numbers are inverted. The majority of people watching a band at any one time will be there to watch that band. They’ll range from dedicated fans to those who just turned up as they liked the name or the description in the programme. But they’re all interested in watching the band. The super-hardcore fans of the headline act, that get there six hours early to get a great spot, are in the minority.

I’ve been a part of that minority twice. At my very first festival, Guildford Festival 2001, I stood at the barrier for about four hours to see James headline. And at my first Glastonbury in 2003 I spent about seven hours at the Pyramid stage to get a good spot for REM. But in both those circumstances, I got in to the spirit of things. I jived along with some 50-somethings to The Saw Doctors at Guildford and at Glastonbury I rocked out to Suede and Mogwai, and tapped my feet and applauded politely for David Gray. Because it’s polite to the bands on stage, but frankly, it’s also more fun.

So back to Frank Turner, an ex-hardcore-punk frontman, singing a song about how punk rock changed his life, and how the ethos behind it is “in the words of every song I sing” and a woman is complaining about getting jostled by people having fun. This isn’t incidentally, an age thing. Also next to me and getting caught up in all this is another older woman with her young daughter, and they’re bouncing around shouting all the words at each other. They don’t care.

But that girl that got told off, she had wisdom and a sense of mischief beyond her years. As the set grew to a close, Frank got everyone singing along to Photosynthesis, and in a stroke of brilliance the girl simply leans forwards and yells the words in to the woman’s ear: “And I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up, and most of all, I will not grow up.”

Beautiful.

She made the point of this who piece far more clearly and succinctly than I have in all my ramblings, but my point is, that if you find yourself at a festival waiting through bands you don’t know to get a good spot for one you do, get in to the spirit of things. Enjoy it.

The girls left the crowd after Frank Turner, and I lost track of the woman when the whole crowd started heaving to and fro when James, the next band on, bought out the festival anthems. After that I left to go watch something in the Caberet tent, so I never got to see how that lady reacted to the mini-riot that Crystal Castles started in the crowd. I’m not sure she’d have lasted through to Belle and Sebastian.


June 24, 2009

Off to Glastonbury

Right, I’m off to Glastonbury, well, today I guess. I’ll be updating via Twitter on that side bar over there JUST LIKE I DID LAST YEAR before every other Tom and Mary started tweeting. I can’t follow Twitter from my phone though, it’s so old. So if you have something pressing to say @deanlove just text me directly.


June 23, 2009

Glastonbury Caberet Tent Preview

Cabaret Tent Preview

Wanted to write this once the full line-up was out, but it’s Monday night and we still only have the ‘highlights’ from the Guardian Guide, so I’m going to have to write it off of that. Full listings will be in the programme but do drop by the tent every morning and check the chalk-boards outside for up-to-date times and any changes, as it tends to be pretty fluid.

Friday:

Early Edition – Marcus Brigstocke, Andre Vincent, Phill Jupitus and Carrie Quinlan. They generally talk about current affairs, but with this being Glastonbury there’s a good chance they’ll be talking about the festival instead, given most of us are cut-off from newspapers and TV for five days. Could be a lot of fun, definitely recommend this.

_Attila the Stockbroker _ – Lefty poet and singer/songwriter. He’s good but can be a bit heavy on the rhetoric and full of himself sometimes. Still worth checking out though. Don’t be put off by the word ‘poet’ – he’s genuinely funny with it.

Steve Gribbin – Ace musical comic. Also quite left wing but in a sillier way.

Robert Llewellyn – Yeah, Kryton off of Red Dwarf. Haven’t seen his stand-up though.

Ed Byrne – Funny Irish man. You’ve probably seen him on TV at some point. Very funny guy, straight-forward stand-up.

Rhythm Wave – Dancers. Not funny at all but very impressive.

Simon Munnery – Avant-garde comic, very random and clever stuff. If you’re already drunk at this point you probably won’t get the jokes, but if you’re still with it he will make you feel very clever.

Jeff Green – Again, a very funny, straight-forward joke teller.

Andre Vincent – Crazy stories and such. Not seen him much recently but he’s generally worth a punt.

Andrew Lawrence – A personal favourite. Dark, disturbing stories and songs.

Tom Stade – Funny Canadian man – again, haven’t seen him in a few years now.

Full Mooners – Andrew Maxwell presenting a bunch of comics while wearing a cape and howling at the moon. The idea of Full Mooners is that anything goes, it’s meant to be shocking and crazy and such. Well worth seeing.

Saturday
Aisle 16 – A ‘Poetry Boy Band’. If you think you don’t like poetry, check these guys out. They might change your mind.

Kevin Eldon – Character comedy from the actor Kevin Eldon. You might remember him from the old Lee and Herring shows (or even the recent Stewart Lee show, or Bill Bailey’s last DVD)

Jeremy Hardy – Clever comedy from a Radio 4 stalwart.

Mitch Benn – The king of musical comedy, a Glasto institution, he’s been doing this so long he practically has a set of stories just about Glastonbury to go with the very funny songs.

4 Poofs and a Piano – Jonathan Ross’s house band, they’re actually very good and very funny and worth seeing.

Arthur Smith – A true legend of comedy. Last year he came on and just did Leonard Cohen songs in between telling jokes.

We Are Klang! – I love these guys. The best sketch comedy out there, bar-none. They will have you pissing yourself and singing about a council estate. And they clash with the Boss. Damn.

Phil Kay – A total nutter. Go see him and you’ll get one of two things: an utter shambles that just falls apart, or the best thing you’ll see all weekend.

Phil Nichol – “I’m the only gay eskimo….”. He also does jokes and stories. Very very good.

Brendon Burns – You probably heard the story. Years ago he gave out free magic mushrooms to the whole tent to get a thousand people high in order to prove the existance of god and forgive his ex-girlfriend. These days he tends to mostly stick to doing stand-up instead, and is bloody good at it.

Sunday

Murray Lachlan Young – A very funny poet. Again, you might think you won’t like it. But you will.

John Otway – fuck yeah! We thought he wasn’t going to be on, and it looks like just one show this year (instead of the usual 6 or so, unless he’s doing the outdoor circus stage too). Rock and Roll’s most successful failure, a two-hit wonder that refuses to get old. Watch it. Serious. Watch it.

Robin Ince – Terrific clever stand-up from one of the best acts on the circuit. Shouldn’t be missed.

Get Up Stand Up – I believe they have political activist and comic Mark Thomas (who should not be missed) and Ivan Brakenbury, who’ll be bringing his hospital radio show to Glastonbury. He is also awesome and great for music lovers.

Josie Long – Funny, witty, oddball – and the sweetest act you’ll see all festival. You’ll laugh, then you’ll want to be her friend.

Ian Cognito – The polar opposite – Rude, offensive, shocking but equally brilliant.

Glenn Wool – Brilliant Canadian story-teller.

Spymonkey – Apparently they’re some physical theatre group. I don’t know them, but wanted to moan that the Cabaret Tent isn’t being closed by either Woody Bop Muddy or Phil Nichol by the looks of this. I want to throw rice at someone at the end of Glastonbury or at least sing about gay eskimos…

Also look out for:
Ben Goldacre @ Speakers Forum. He writes the Bad Science column for The Guardian and is amusing as he is enlightening.

Steve Frost Improv Allstars @ Theatre Tent – Phil Jupitus and others make up funny sketches from scenarios suggested by the audience. You’ll be amazed by the speed of their wit.


July 06, 2008

Glastonbury Part 1 & last word on Jay Z

I’m not doing a big Glasto diary this year, partly because only about two people read all 9000 words of the last one (and one of them was with me for half of it) and partly as there are less weird and interesting anecdotes from this year (although I rescued a drunk lost girl and was shamelessly flirted with by one of the Greenpeace chuggers) so it’d be a bit dry. So I’m going to write a few pieces on different aspects of the festival.

First, my Glasto ‘to do’ list – the things I managed this year, and the things I still have to cross out:

Done in 2008:
Never eat from the same food stall twice: This doesn’t include drinks of course – couldn’t manage without a daily milkshake and Brothers Cider. Managed the food fairly easily this year, had some interesting things like Ostrich Steak and Buffalo Burger, some unwise things like curry nachos (lovely at the time, not so good the following morning…) and some very nice ice cream. I hugely suggest doing this, there’s so many food stalls at Glasto and they do really nice stuff, it pays to experiment. The only downside was it took me until the last night to find some vegetable Tempura which was everywhere last year. Deep fried vegetables. It’s like the slightly healthier Japanese kebab.

Buy a hat: I have a nice new hat

Still to do:
Watch the sunrise at the stone circle: Need someone else crazy enough to stay up. Although all reports say it was a bit muted up there this year.

Have a shower: I nearly did this year when I walked past on the Thursday afternoon (after a boiling hot day) and saw there was barely any queue, but realised I didn’t have my towel with me. And then every time I wondered past after then the queue was massive.

Find the stone dragon: Seriously. There’s a stone dragon somewhere.

Perform: One day I will tell jokes to people on stage at Glastonbury.

Get naked: Not really.

Now: Jay Z
I only caught 10 minutes of it myself, as I was curious as to how many people turned up. It wasn’t near as busy as it was for McCartney a few years back but there were plenty there (probably than for Leonard Cohen, you nutters).
Anyways, watch the first 30 seconds of this video interview with Michael Eavis (the rest is worth watching as Eavis is totally pissed).

“We didn’t have a traditional headliner… they were all out doing something else.”

That’s the most important thing you’ll hear. Because the reason people were upset with Jay Z headlining was because they assumed that he was chosen in favour of REM or Radiohead or Prince or Coldplay when the truth is, they couldn’t play anyway. There was never a big-name rock headliner in the running. Had we not had Jay Z we’d have got The Arcade Fire or Doves or Keane or some other such band.

Obviously some people would prefer them but they’re not really world-famous acts. The collective media response would likely have been a shrug rather than a furore and they’d probably have sold even fewer tickets. Instead Eavis took the risk of booking a mega-star outside the traditional Glasto-genre rather than a marginal act that does fit (oh and there’s been plenty of hip-hop on the Jazz World stage for years so that “doesn’t belong at Glasto” stuff is bollocks).

People reacted against the idea of Jay Z as they felt Jay Z was usurping a slot for someone they’d rather see. That he was stealing the budget that would otherwise be spent on a mega-famous rock act. He wasn’t. There was no alternative. So even though I wondered off after ten minutes to go watch Jim Bob at the Leftfield, anyone criticising Jay Z being there is just daft.


February 04, 2008

Glasto Changes

The rumours have been going around a while about Lost Vagueness pulling out of Glastonbury this year after a bust-up between LV chief blokey and Eavis last year. Frankly it’s for the best I think – most of it wasn’t even up on the thursday, let alone wednesday last year, leaving those pre-festival nights a little quieter than normal (in fact pretty much nothing was happening Wednesday night at all) and during the main weekend it was so horribly busy of a night you could barely breath. It’s apparently going to be replaced by “No-mans land” run by a collective. What’s funny are the other changes mentioned on efestivals:

We understand that other changes around the site may include the circus/big top relocating to where Trash City was located in 2007, as Trash City will be moving to the corner of the site where the Tipi Field was, next to the Lost Vagueness area, making for a bigger late night party area. We also believe that the Tipi Field could move to the Stone Circle area

I am going to get so lost.

Headliner rumours seem interesting too. Jay Z is confirmed for the Saturday, so that’s at least one night going to be spent in the Caberet Tent. Rumours of Leonard Cohen for Sunday night would be awesome but right now he seems to be this year’s Prince – a pie in the sky dream. The Verve are rumoured for Friday which is pretty meh… REM seem to have dropped of the rumours list somewhat.
That all said, I have a strange relationship with headline acts at Glasto. See to get a good view you need head down the front quite early, probably having to watch one or more bands you don’t care about first and thus wasting time. While the view from the back is fairly poor, and you’d get better on TV. But if it’s a band you like you sort of have to go and see them, but I have to admit I’d much rather go see a band I like at a gig than headline Glastonbury. This doesn’t apply to everyone playing of course, for all but the last couple of bands on the bill it’s easy to get down the front. So when bands I don’t care for headline, I feel better, as I don’t feel I’m missing out!

Yes, I am a bit weird.


September 28, 2007

Why I Hate The Olympics

If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a sports fan, so the Olympics is of practically zero interest to me: I won’t watch it on TV, I won’t go to London to see something live, all it will do is keep me out of London for two weeks wherever possible. But I’m not bitter or angry about it for that reason. I’m not one of those people that goes “They’re spending my taxes on something I don’t want! How dare they!”, even if I did get increasingly pissed off by the (predominatly London-based) media’s overwhelmingly positive attitude towards London’s bid in comparison to thier universal derision of Manchester’s.

You see, even though I don’t care about sport, it’s a big thing for a lot of people, and this is a chance for us to host the biggest sporting event in the world, featuring the top athletes at the peak of thier careers gathered together for an amazing event. It’s a big, impressive, and worthwhile thing. Afterall, sport is one of the pillars of our society: the sports and the arts account for the majority of our recreational activity, and have done since Roman times and earlier.

Some of you may see where this is going.

Because the Arts are another pillar of our society, so you have to wonder, what’s the Arts-world equivalent of the Olympics, what’s that big event that brings people of together from all over the world to celebrate it. Well for a start it’s not a moving event, it’s stuck in one place. So we can’t bid to get it over here then? Well actually, it already is. The biggest Arts festival in the world is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sounds like marketing gumpf, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but let it sink in for a second the biggest arts festival in the world – and that’s not even including the Book Festival, Film Festival and International Festival that all overlap it.

But here’s the problem. Every year, ticket prices for Fringe shows go up. Every year, accommodation costs for people that want to stay there rise, as landlords rent thier properties out for 3-5 times the normal rate. The performers arn’t getting rich either. Most make a loss as the venue charge increasingly higher sums of money to rent increasingly delapidated performance rooms to people wanting to put on a show. Slowly but surely attending the festival, either as a punter or a performer, is being priced out of the range of more and more people every year. Meanwhile the goverment spend nearly half a million quid on an Olympics logo while doing nothing for the Fringe.

The Olympics are costing us 2 billion pounds. And that’s the conservative estimate. Figures of closer to 9 billion are what many are claiming to be the true cost. And for that we get something that will only be used for two weeks ever. Sure, it’ll include redevelopment work that will benefit people in the area and there’ll be a load of new sporting venues that will sit empty until being sold off after the event but still.
Imagine what even one billion invested in Edinburgh for the benefit of the festivals would bring. Better transport links, more accommodation, purpose build venues, renovation of existing venues. And while some of this would serve a lesser purpose 11 months of the year, at least it’ll be used on an annual basis, and for twice as long as the Olympic stuff to boot.

And that’s why I really hate the Olympics at the moment, because we’re pissing billions up against the wall to get the biggest sporting event in the world in our country just one time, while we already have the biggest arts event in the country every single year, and we’re losing it and doing nothing about it. It makes me feel ill, to be honest. Lets make the most of what we have before we go looking for something else eh?


August 22, 2007

More Reviews

Four more reviews up at FringeBlogs

Once I’ve written up the other fifteen or so reviews I’ll try and get a general edinburghy bloggy-blog up on here!


August 20, 2007

Random Edinburgh Statistics

Number of shows on the “To See” List: 40
Number of shows actually seen: 31
Number of shows from the “To See” List seen: 26
Number of random shows seen: 5
Number of shows missed out on: 14
Number of shows I actually care about missing: 3
Number of shows missed due to idiocy: 1
Number of shows I didn’t pay for: 4

Hours of Mark Watson’s 24-hour show watched: 13
Hours of shows watched: 50
Hours of sleep attained: too few

Number of pretty girls I chatted with randomly but failed to do anything about: 3
Number of annoyingly happy couples: 12 million
Number of Lauren Laverne sightings: 0 :(

Might do a more in depth blog later on, in the meantime, am still posting reviews at FringeBlogs


August 02, 2007

The Weather Will Always Get You: A Glastonbury 2007 Retrospective – Part 2

And I’ve just discovered Warwick Blogs has a character limit of 32000 characters, so my 38466 are too many, so I’ve had to split it into two! Two blogs for the price of one, so start with Part 1 down there…

Friday
I wake to the sound of rain hitting my tent. I have mixed views on rain hitting my tent. On the one hand the evil part of me likes it, as it means I’m in a tent and dry and other people aren’t and are getting wet, but with it only being a canvas sheet between you and the rain it’s so much more entertaining than watching people in a storm through your bedroom window. The downside of course is that rain means mud, and that I’d quite like to go out and see some bands, preferably with no rain. So I hang around a bit as there’s nothing I really want to see in the early hours and head out just after midday, get some food and head over to the cabaret tent, where I tend to live when there’s nothing else I want to see. My plan of waiting for the rain to stop was foiled by me ending up getting caught in a rather nasty shower on the way there, just proving that you can’t fight Miss Weather. Early afternoon there can of course only mean one thing: Atilla The Stockbroker followed by John Otway. Performance poet/ lefty singer-songwriter Atilla is doing his mix of poetry and songs and is as equally amusing, angry and slightly egotistical as ever. Otway is pop’s most successful failure, a man who has built a career on his lack of hit records, and is what I’d call a comedic musician, as opposed to a musical comedian. He has, unfortunately, been abandoned by his guitarist, who has joined another band, and despite the joke of replacing him ‘with a fuzz pedal’ being funny at first it quickly becomes tired and takes a lot away from his set that there’s no-one that can actually play the guitar solos in his ‘hits’ and thus it veers far more to the comedy side of the bizarre comedy/music hybrid act he normally offers. It basically means he has to stop playing the actually melody of the song to dick about and do something silly, so the whole thing seems very disjointed. I do miss the days of him performing with a full on band, it was far more of spectacle. Finally I stick around for an unbilled performance by Simon Munnery, who is great, and heckled into doing some of his Sherlock Holmes stuff by members of the audience, much to the confusion of most of the rest of them.
After these I go a-wondering and am disappointed to discover the Brothers Bar have been forced to stop selling pear cider by the bottle, apparently because it encourages irresponsible drinking. Yes kids, you heard that: apparently some people were getting drunk! At a music festival! I can sort of see the point but the problem is the site is miles across and in this weather it takes an hour to get from one end to the other, and there’s only one Brothers Bar on the entire site. Rumours surfaced after the fact that Carlsberg, being angry at how popular the pear cider was compared to the ‘beer’ they were selling in the other tents, complained to the council. On a personal note, I’ve been enjoying pear cider at the festival since 2004, but its popularity soared this year: despite a bigger bar the queues were far longer – Mangers clearly have a lot to answer for!
Eventually I end up back at the cabaret tent, where Radio 4 are doing their glasto cabaret thing. Normally they just record bits and pieces and air it in the weeks that follow, but this time around they appear to have opted to put four comics on stage who aren’t actually playing the cabaret tent at any other point in the weekend, and recording that. Bit weird really. Still it features the likes of Ed Byrne and Sean Hughes so it’s pretty fun. The next thing is the weird thing they have on in there every year with people playing weird instruments as percussion and dancing. Normally I find this ruins the pace of the comedy but this year it’s the just break I need to go and get another pint of pear cider, before making it back to see Nina Conti, who’s act really hasn’t changed much in the past two years, except the ending is even more disturbing now and the whole set even more self-referential. I guess the only way you can do ventriloquism and be taken seriously as a comic is to pick apart the nature of the act itself within the act, which she does brilliantly. She’s followed by smug US magician Paul Nathan, who brilliantly does the old “I’m going to get someone up from the crowd to help with the trick and make sure I’m not doing anything sneaky” thing, which backfires wonderfully when said audience member spots how he does the trick. By this point I’ve been joined by Pete in readiness for the next act, which is either Barry Cryer or Robin Ince depending on if you believe the program or The Guardian guide thing. Either is good, but it turns out to be Cryer. Interestingly enough Robin Ince doesn’t appear to be performing at the festival at all so god knows where they got that mis-print from. After this there’s interesting juggling performance: clearly this guy’s shtick is that he mucks up occasionally to make it seem difficult, but he seems to be arsing it up more often than he intended, so it’s all a bit weird.
I then head over to the Leftfield tent to catch ex-Carter USM front-man Jim Bob. I know it’s starting earlier than it says in the programme, but can’t remember by exactly how much. I get there in the middle of a song, Glam Rock Cops I think. I don’t appear to have missed much. The set is pitched brilliantly, as we’re treated to a mixture of Carter hits and later Jim Bob singles. The only non-hit we get is a slightly more political version of “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” that you probably sang at school. The crowd is sort of weird. Note that by this time the headliners are on at the main stages, so the crowd isn’t big, a few hundred at most. But every single person there knows every single word to every single song and the atmosphere is phenomenal. The set ends with a big sing-along to Sheriff Fatman, and an ovation that lasts long enough that you wonder if there might be an encore, since we only got a half hour set. But no, he has to make way another band (Neck I think) and so most people just bugger off. I really have no idea why he wasn’t playing a longer set but there you go. (Digression: that paragraph was a right pain to write as how do you refer to our artist in the text? “Jim” seems all too casual, “Bob” too weird, and Morrison too obscure….).
Back, inevitably, to the comedy tent. Phil Nichol is on and certainly hasn’t lost it since his Perrier win. He also gets heckled into playing “I’m the Only Gay Eskimo”. Meet back up with Merinne and catch Nick Wilty who’s always ace, followed by some late night misogyny from Jim Jeffries who is as brilliant as ever. After which we end up meeting Merinne’s ex, where she tries unsuccessfully to get us to do salsa. We end up at the stones for a while, before tiredness and a desire not to be a third wheel combine and I head off back to my tent for an ‘early’ night.

Saturday
I wake up to The Pipettes. Not in a naughty way, alas, but I can hear them performing on the Pyramid stage while I get dressed. They are actually quite good, and I was going to wonder down and watch them, but then it started raining so I decided to hang around a little longer.
Eventually head down to the Cabaret tent, to catch Atilla and Otway again. This time Atilla is with his band, and so we get various strange bits of medieval folk rock involving bass recorders amongst the politicising. Meet up with Pete in there to introduce him to the joys of Otway who is still as infectiously joyful as usual, and also treats us to a somersault of the top of a step-ladder during You Ain’t See Nothing Yet, despite having buggered his back up the previous day. We stick around to see Nina Conti do pretty much the same set as yesterday, before Simon Munnery does a completely different one. Alas I have to leave part way through to try and catch Ed Harcourt on the new Park stage. I get pretty lost on the way there (having walked past it once on the Wednesday hasn’t really fixed it in my mental Glasto-map), and when I finally find The Park, and find a stage, he isn’t on it. I wonder what’s going on, for about five minutes, before realising there’s another stage around the corner. Missed about 15 minutes of the set annoyingly. It sounds weird. I don’t know if Harcourt is experimenting with a new live sound but even Apple of My Eye sounded somehow different. Building a Swamp was the only thing that sounded right but I’d just moved to a different spot before he closed with that, so maybe it was just the sound where I was stood. There was also a strange bit where Harcourt taught the audience to sing along the chorus of Born In The 70s (“Born in the 70s/We don’t really give a fuck about you”), before then just playing the chorus through twice and not the rest of the song. Very odd. I pick up a Cuban burger from the stall there for lunch. It tastes of spicey pork and communism.
So it’s back to the cabaret tent to meet up with Merinne and catch Marcus Brigstocke, who is great although nothing particularly different to normal. He’s followed by Phil Kay, who mostly just jumps into the crowd and plays a 15-minute improvised song about very little in particular. It was pretty funny at the time, but probably one of those things that only works in a tent with a crowd that is mostly high. He also leads the crowd in a sing-along of Cum By Ya, clearly material stolen from my friend Tom Hughes, who did the same thing not months earlier! Lastly it’s Mitch Benn, who is clearly very at home on the Glastonbury stage, who mocks the crowd for moaning about the mud “If you weren’t here in 2005 you won’t understand – this isn’t mud, it’s just a bit of loose topsoil”. He also gets heckled into doing Crap Shag for an encore, which is always fun. Comics generally seem to have a more relaxed attitude towards mixing up their sets and doing new stuff at Glastonbury than elsewhere (as with Phil Nichol and Gay Eskimo).

We have a little wonder after this and end up watching some stuff in an open mic tent, where one guy does a bunch of Tom Lehrer covers, which is interesting. After this I wonder through the Jazz World stage where there appears to be a band playing the theme tune to Cannon Fodder. Except now it’s an anti-war song. Rather than “War! Has never been so much fun” it retains the tune and the “War!” bit, but with some anti-war rambling in the middle. It’s defiantly the Cannon Fodder tune though, which is just weird.

Grab some pear cider and then head over to the theatre tent to see One Man Star Wars which Anna talks about in detail. Basically it’s all 3 good Star Wars films in one hour by one person. I’ll add that I’m probably not the ideal audience since I haven’t even seen Return of the Jedi. But the tent does offer seats with backs. It’s an interesting experience, especially when some rock group start up in earshot on the stage outside: “And then, there was an almighty noise in the background”. Performer Charles Ross looks momentarily thrown before shrugging and saying “Well this is Glastonbury I suppose!”. Also, after he’s done with Empire Strikes Back, a lot of people leave. Presumably as they need to go and watch the headliners who’ll be on the main stages soon. “But there’s three films!” says Ross, while looking slightly amused. It was a fun show though, even if my lack of familiarity with the films meant it was just a man running around a stage making light-sabre noises for a lot of it!

Then head outside to watch Atilla and Otway on the big outdoor Fire Stage in the hope that Otway borrows a band for this gig. He doesn’t. While watching Atilla a pretty girl dances up to me and starts a conversation. On her tight-fitting t-shirt (covering her very sizable breasts) are the words “Live Life For Love”. I fail utterly to make a clever quip about my name (and I did have ID on me…) and she ends up wondering off. Useless. Otway does, however, get Atilla up on stage to do a few songs with him, including Two Little Boys, which is cool.

Head back to end the night’s entertainments with Glenn Wool and Brendon Burns at the cabaret tent. Burns’ gig is weird. It’s being filmed for the film Paul Provenza is making, but in previous years at Glastonbury Burns has climbed the pole in the centre of the tent, given the entire audience mushrooms and tried to prove the existence of god. All at the same time. This year “I’m going to try something different. I’m going to do some stand-up comedy”. He gets heckled a little bit before coming to the realisation that he’s set the bar too high and there’s no way he can live up to previous appearances at Glasto. He still delivers a strong set though. MC Craig Campbell closes the gig and lets us know about a ‘secret’ gig Bill Bailey is playing in the tent tomorrow afternoon, which is handy as it’ll be a bit more accessible than the massive outdoor gig Sunday night, at least in this weather.

Myself and Pete then head off in search of adventure, but make the mistake of heading to Lost Vagueness, which is pure hell on earth. The stewards are operating a ‘one way’ system, only using one entrance into the area. It quickly becomes clear why. The place is absolutely rammed and there’s little you can do except follow the crowd around and out the entrance at the other side. We’d later discover this was down to Madness just finishing and Fatboy Slim or some other such famous DJ playing a ‘set’ in the big tent there. Amusingly one guy gets somewhat upset at how slowly the crowd is moving and attempts to push things along by punching me in the back. Unfortunately for him, I’m wearing a small rucksack. And in the outside of that rucksack is a hardback copy of John Otway’s autobiography “Cor Baby That’s Really Me”. He hurts his hand and lets out an audible scream. I’m amused. Once we finally escape this whole harrow experience, after paying stupid money for a bottle of water to avoid collapsing, we decide it’s better to head back to camp.

Sunday
Ahh, the final day of the fest. Have an even later start than normal due to general exhaustion, it’s straight to the cabaret tent where Merinne already is with a nice spot at the front for me ready for Bill Bailey. I pick up a cone of frozen yoghurt on the way. It may sound like an odd choice for breakfast, but loads of people eat yoghurt for breakfast so it seems pretty normal to me. I also get a smoothie which is mixed by a contraption linked to a bicycle which a guy has to pedal. Andy Parsons is on at the tent and… well I like Andy Parsons. Lots. But the reaction he gets in a tent full of people waiting for Bill Bailey is astounding, and frankly far more than anyone deserves. As Pete points out to me: “wouldn’t you just love to play that gig”. He only has to make a vaguely left-wing comment to get a round of applause. It’s lovely but at the same time faintly disturbing. The Bailey gig is equally odd. If you’ve seen Bailey perform you’ll know he tends to play snippets of popular songs to illustrate a point, but what doesn’t normally happen is that everyone in the crowd starts singing along so he feel compelled to keep playing and we get a lovely sing-along. It’s not funny but it is bloody odd! Cool though. Bailey does two encores (one down on the three he did back in 2003!) and we leave with the majority of other punters, and you have to pity the next act on. We (myself, Pete and Merinne) end up watching some random band on the Jazz World stage, mostly as it’s near cider. Through the eyes of Pete I get an interesting insight into how much harder it is to be a beer drinker at the festival. While cider of all varieties seems to never run out, by Sunday ever bar seemed to be out of any sort of beer, with even the real ale bar running out of ale! Not something that I, as a cider and spirits drinker, have ever noticed. My advice to other beer drinkers: learn to love cider or bring lots with you. Said random band are wearing masks and we briefly speculate on the question that, if they were to remove those masks and show themselves to be a popular well-known group, what the funniest group would be. I don’t think you can beat the Beatles, to be honest.
Myself and Merinne wonder back over the cabaret tent to catch Mitch Benn’s second set of the festival, passing the Oxfam clothes store, which I notice for the first time contains a section labelled “Indian Clothes”. Implying, of course, that the rest of the shop is for “Non-Indian Clothes” in some strange example of charity-clothing apartheid. Mitch asks “who saw me yesterday”, got a limited response and jokes “same old shit then”. We boo. Fortunately he mixes stuff up a bit, including an apology about his claim yesterday that the mud wasn’t that bad, and acknowledging that after the deluge the previous night, it really is. Someone heckles him into playing Scary Weirdos, and he jokes a little about how the crowd know more of his material than he does, before finally going to start the song: “…shit I can’t remember the first line” Merinne: “Early in the morning!” Mitch: “Oh… fucking hell”. Someone also points out to him that he should really play A Minutes Noise (his John Peel tribute) which he seems quite thankful for the suggestion as he’d forgotten about it. He also plays for a fair bit longer than scheduled in the program, which is nice.
I then head over to meet up with Pete at the Leftfield and catch some Billy Bragg. Seeing Billy Bragg play the Leftfield on a Sunday night at Glastonbury is something I’ve always meant to get around to doing and never have, as I’m normally too drunk to be arsed moving from the cabaret tent by then. The first half an hour was a tad dull, mostly promoting a charity for teaching prisoners the guitar, and Phil Jupitus doing a DJ set (is it really a DJ set if you only play three record and dance a bit?). When Bragg comes on it’s ace though, opening with To Have and to Have Not, and plays a load of the classics such as Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards and Sexuality, often with a few words changed around (“I drive a…fucking great 24-foot high monster thing, only way to get off the site!” – made me think of Chris TT’s Preaching to the Converted). He closes with a big sing along to A New England, There Is Power In A Union and then gets everyone up on stage for a rendition of Garageland in tribute to Joe Strummer.
I get a text from Merinne that she’s already over at the cabaret tent, having given up on the Bootleg Beatles due to the fact that it’s now raining quite hard. I pick us up a few drinks and join her in time to catch to last half of the brilliant Matt Kirshen, who has apparently been there three days on ‘reserve’ for any acts that don’t make it, and is finally getting a spot. He’s followed by Ian Cognito. Merinne tells me she recognises the name, and asks what he’s like “He’s quite dark” I say, just as he walks on stage with his hands and face covered in brown mud, which we find somewhat amusing. He does a great set, brilliantly not playing any songs or even mentioning the guitar he carried on stage and back off with him.
By the end of his set the tent is packed, and not just because it’s raining outside. Regular late night MC Craig Cambell (who early in the night broke into a bizarre rant about Madeline McCann’s parents, not bizarre because of the content, just that it wasn’t funny, and wasn’t mean to be – still, if I’d been MCing for five hours every night the past three days I’d be a little frayed by the end) points out that from the look of the people in the tent we knew what was coming next. “RICE!!!!” we all shout at him. If you’ve never seen Woody Bop Muddy’s Record Graveyard you can’t possibly understand the appeal. But fairly drunk on the last night in Glastonbury it’s brilliant. He walks on stage singing a song about rice, while throwing rice at the crowd, some landing in our drinks! He then proceeds to play records and smash or save them based on a crowd vote, while throwing lots of rice around, dancing with the Cuddly Flufkins (“We’re the Cuddly Fluffkins, Cuddlin’s what we do//One of these days a Fluffkin, is gonna cuddle you”) and singing about an abattoir (“Abattoir, Abattoir, where animals go to DIE!”). It’s brilliant.
After we head out into the rain, unsure of exactly what to do. For the second time that weekend we contemplate engaging in mud-wrestling, and in retrospect then would have been the wisest time to do it, the rain providing a handy shower afterwards. But somehow sensible-ness wins the day and instead we head back tent-wards. We sort of consider going to rave at the all day breakfast stall right by my tent since it’s undercover but in the end we just take shelter under a random gazebo, have a nice chat reflecting on the weekend, and head back tent-wards.

At this point I’m quite happy it’s raining, and it keeps raining all night, and I’m still happy. Why? Because surely if it rains all night, it’ll have stopped by the morning. In the words of Brendon Burns: “Y’Reckon?”.

Monday
Hell, pure hell. As you have likely guessed, it didn’t stop raining. Hence the volume of rain that night was around the same as the ‘great flood of 2005’. I pack up, in the rain and start the trudge towards the coach station. I think I take a wrong turn at one point, and also end up wading through a puddle (well, more like a lake to be honest) that is literally knee height. Between the splashes my trousers are literally soaked up to my crotch by the time I get there, just fifteen minutes late. The coaches are of course running very late so it’s no big deal after the initial panic. Organisation at the coach station is a nightmare – mostly coming from the fact that in addition to the National Express coaches and the coaches back to the train station, there are all the coach ticket packages this year, but the park itself is no bigger. Add in the nightmare of the flooded roads around the area and it’s amazing my coach is only an hour late. Merinne had to wait four hours for hers which I dare not even think about. Reports of people waiting eight or even twelve hours for coaches, with the Red Cross literally declaring it a state of emergency and bringing in aid! The one positive is once I’ve put my waterproof in the black bags provided my jacket is actually fairly dry, so I’m able to remove my ringing wet trousers and just cover myself with my jacket. Wolverhampton not being a very popular destination the coach isn’t even half full so I have a full double seat in which to accomplish this manoeuvre. The coach stops at a service station at one point which would normally annoy me: Glastonbury to Wolverhampton isn’t a long enough journey to legally require a break, but Glastonbury to wherever-the-final-destination-of-the-coach-is is, and Wolverhampton is over the half way point. Fortunately this time it allows me to get my other vaguely dry trousers and shoes from my backpack in the hold making the rest of the journey ten times more pleasurable. Brilliantly when I got to the coach station my Dad was right there to pick me up, and so ended another Glastonbury. Unsurprisingly, once home I decided to have a shower, rather than try and get to Leamington Spa for The Reckless Moment!

That last day, post festival, was just pure hell, truly one of the worst days of my life. But that can’t spoil the five days before were of course brilliant. Glastonbury is weird in that it’s many different things. In good weather it’s just a wonderful holiday. In bad weather, it’s what you might call ‘an experience’. It’s more like surviving a gruelling adventure holiday, and something to tell the grand-kids about. Honestly I prefer the fun of a warm one to the kudos factor of a wet one, although as I finally finish writing this on August 1st (leave off, it’s bloody long!) I’m still wearing that wristband. Mostly as it’s refusing to slide off no matter how wet it gets this year.

So Glastonbury then. Great fun, great experience, looking forward to my fifth one next year. But surely we’re due a warm one this time? Please?


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