With the festival season now underway, even Every Record is throwing caution to the wind (and rain, not to mention probable hail, sleet and the odd plague of locusts) and taking a Grand Tour of The Isle of Wight Festival.
Of course, I realise I have pretty much tweaked the nose of providence by deciding to go camping. No Apache ever had a rain dance as effective as the one that involves putting on a rock festival.
A line up of headliners Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen isn’t too shabby, although critics might point out it would have been pretty good twenty years ago too. There are also worthy support acts including Elbow, Noel Gallagher, and Biffy Clyro.
The Isle of Wight was one of the first British festivals, and unlike others has yet to be gentrified to any great extent. For example they have yet to install a cattle grid to prevent people entering the field if they’re not wearing Hunter Wellies (yes that means you, Latitude)…
It’s worth reminding ourselves that outdoors gigs and festivals are a great way to see a whole heap of acts in a very short space of time, as long as you don’t mind the odd very minor discomfort or hazard.
These may include some or all of the following:
- Having bottles of undesirable liquids randomly thrown over you,
- Being packed like sardines in a muddy field whilst cold rain falls relentlessly down your neck for ten hours.
- Sound systems that struggle to penetrate anything stronger than a light breeze,
- Weak beer, usually of only one variety. Sometimes it is even served cold. But only if the weather is also very, very cold. Which is most of the time.
- Long queues. For everything.
- Extortionate prices. For everything.
- More rain. On everything. Especially (and mysteriously) the things you left in your otherwise dry tent.
- Stumbling across grown women peeing drunkenly in hedges late at night, Long treks through muddy fields whilst you try to remember whether your tent was in field 4 or field 14…
- An intimate view of the band (assuming your idea of intimate is seeing them from about a hundred and fifty yards on a big screen).
- Nowhere to sit down all day. Except in the champagne tent, which is mysteriously empty, despite selling M. et C. at only £50 a bottle…
- Hamburgers whose principal ingredient appears to be salmonella.
- Toilets that would have been rejected in that opening cess-pit scene of Slumdog Millionaire as being “too unrealistically dirty”.
- Massive crowds. Everywhere.
As I said, a great way to see lots of bands as long as you don’t mind minor discomfort….
Of course things have improved over the years. I actually saw a burger vendor using a food thermometer at IoW last year. For it’s designed purpose too, which was highly reassuring.
So here’s my brief cut out and keep guide to the Top Five Things Not To Do At A Music Festival…
- If there are a lot of bottles and drinks being thrown about in between acts, don’t put up an umbrella to protect yourself. Festival goers like a target, the bigger the better…
- Don’t need to go somewhere (beers, toilet) just before the headline act comes on, leaving your friends at the front to wait for you. Splitting up just as it gets dark whilst the main stage area begins to fill is generally a bad idea (see any episode of Scooby Doo for further explanation on the perils of “splitting up”).
- Don’t pick up and drink bottles of beer that other people have apparently dropped in the main stage area. It won’t be cold, it won’t be kept properly and most of all, it won’t be beer.
- Don’t put a padlock on your tent. It just makes it look like you have left your iPad in there, even if the most valuable article is just your bottle opener. Padlocks only work if a thief can’t cut the door open with a penknife. Or their bare hands. Which they can with a tent.
- Don’t forget that your bladder is not bullet-proof. Drinking copious quantities of beer may mean you spend more time in the (festering) toilets than at the front of the stage.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
It’s a great way to spend a weekend. You chat to all sorts of people, and have some great laughs. By way of example, the following exchange happened at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival, shortly after The Foo Fighters‘ set, when I went to a food stall opposite the tent where Tom Jones had apparently just performed.
The girl at the counter asked me if I had seen the set, to which I confessed I hadn’t – adding “to be honest, I couldn’t think of anything worse…”
The girl thought about this and ventured “What about rape? That’s worse.” Before I had a chance to respond, the guy behind her ventured: “Or being raped by Tom Jones?”
I had to admit they had a point…
This year’s Isle of Wight Festival is next weekend: 21-24 June 2012. Tickets still available. Tom Jones will not be appearing.
Record #58 – Jimi Hendrix – Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – live at The Isle of Wight Festival