Hendrix puppet

Music Festivals and how to survive them…

An intimate appearance of your favourite band with just 130,000 other people…

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….

Hendrix puppet
Critics said Hendrix always was big-headed..

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…

  1. 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…
  2. 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”).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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


13 responses to “Music Festivals and how to survive them…”

  1. lpon45 Avatar

    I admire you for braving the elements – and the fans – to go to this. Give Tom Petty my best; let me know what you think of his set. Enjoy!

    As for me, I’m afraid if I went to Bonnaroo I’d spend more time being a mosquito buffet than enjoying the acts. My daughter and I may go to Lolapalooza in Chicago at some point, which has enough concrete and asphalt to lower the insect population.


    1. every record tells a story Avatar

      Being bitten by insects? Chance would be a fine thing. More likely to get frostbite in the UK….


  2. gamgee464 Avatar

    when i was a teenager, i went to the Inside Out Soul Festival three years in a row. Christian music festivals are the bomb. The toilets were a lot cleaner than normal, the people were the cool type of Christian (as in, they kept they personal judgements to themselves), and there was little to no alcohol, so the drunk frat boys shouting “you guys suck!” and the girls peeing on hedges are kept to a minimum. best part: no Tom Jones. 🙂


    1. every record tells a story Avatar

      The trouble is, the Devil has all the good music….


      1. gamgee464 Avatar

        tell that to Sufjan Stevens and U2; i think they would argue with you. 😉


    2. HipsterApproved.net Avatar

      You think U2 is ‘Christian music’?


      1. gamgee464 Avatar

        that depends on what you mean by “Christian music.” if you mean the separate, Christians-only kind of music that has it’s own festivals, record labels and fans, then no, U2 is not initiated into that. but if you simply mean “music made by Christians,” then yes. U2, Sufjan Stevens, Anberlin, Switchfoot, Flyleaf, along with 90% of country artists; they’re all Christians.


  3. 80smetalman Avatar

    I went to Bloodstock 2010 and pretty much followed your do’s and don’t’s. Some added food for thought:
    1. Bring plenty of your own food and drink so you don’t have to pay the venue’s extortionate prices. There are always bands you don’t want to see on the day so use that time to eat, drink and do other necessities.
    2. When getting a spot for the headliner on the day, go one or two acts before. That meant I had to endure Cannibal Corpse, (Sorry they didn’t impress me much) before seeing Twisted Sister, but it was definitely worth it.
    3. Be friendly, there’s a great opportunity to party with people who are like you but you’ve never met. It’s worth the experience.

    That’s all


    1. every record tells a story Avatar

      Good advice. Sometimes you have to sit through Cannibal Corpse to see the band you want to see…


  4. […] is the original post: Music Festivals and how to survive them… « Every record tells a story {June 17, 2012} « Group out to write the ultimate stag do advice 1x Isle of Wight […]


  5. mskatykins Avatar

    I’m going to the Heb Celt Festival this week – well, if you’re living on the Isle of Lewis, why not, eh? It’s on my doorstep. That means I can get pissed beforehand rather than paying a fiver for a beer and I can come home to pee in comfort, if needs be! 🙂


    1. every record tells a story Avatar

      Nice to have a festival on the doorstep. As long as you’re not the one clearing up afterwards…


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