Monday, 6 July 2009


It’s not often on a Saturday afternoon when I get water, beer, cider, toilet roll and vanilla ice-cream thrown at me on a location other than Millwall or Leeds. But when you’re at a festival you’ve got to expect a bit of that, and just be grateful it wasn’t anything worse that landed on you. I managed to get half-price tickets for Wireless Festival through Barclaycard, so it cost just £28.63 for the day, which was an absolute bargain. I’d probably be willing to pay something like that just to see The Streets, so the fact that Basement Jaxx and Dizzee Rascal were thrown in too was a bonus really.

But the great thing about festivals is that as well as seeing the high-profile bands which get people to buy tickets in the first place, you can see bands that you know nothing about but actually end up quite liking them. When I went to see Coldplay and Snow Patrol recently, both support bands were great - Jon Hopkins and Fanfarlo - and I’ve since seen the former at a gig of his own. So I was delighted to see the Phenemenal Handclap Band (what an awesome name!), Delphic, Digitalism and Saint Etienne, as well as trance DJ Paul Oakenfold. Stand out act there was Digitalism, who pulled off an awesome set.

Eight bands in eight hours wasn’t bad, but because I wanted to get my money’s worth, I had some lunch before it kicked off at 1pm, but then suddenly realised during The Streets at about 6:30pm that I hadn’t had dinner - but there was no chance of getting that before 10pm as I had to get back to the main stage for Dizzee and then stay there to get a better position for Jaxx. And once I was there, the only water I could get was right at the front, and when I looked at it, I saw little bits of grass inside which made it less than desirable. But I drank it because there was nothing else, and I’m still here to tell the tale...

I went with my friend Adam but was surprised to recognise nobody else there (apart from my work colleague Lisa), as I often do at these sorts of things. Ah well, maybe I would have known more people if it was in Sheffield! But the beauty of gigs, and especially festivals, is that the majority of people are there for the same reason - to get immersed into the music because they love it. As a result of this, you can meet loads of new people and never find out their name - but nobody cares because you know they like Mike Skinner! It’s a bit like that fact that I’ve sat in the same seat watching Southend United at Roots Hall for well over five years, but haven’t got a clue what the names are of those sitting around me. I suppose it’s nice that everybody is there for the same purpose, as you’re like a community. OK, let’s stop the poetics now...

I also found on Saturday that being 6”5’ makes you a prime target for beer bottles (plastic, fortunately), so you have to be on the constant lookout for airborne missiles. I have been advised that this is unlikely to change at Reading Festival next month, so I should buy that hard hat I’ve always wanted - or I could just put up with it... At least my height led to around a large number of people asking if they could have their picture taken with me, which is a definite advantage. I was wondering whether they’d ever seen someone my height before?! At least in Sheffield I know three people taller than me. But I suppose the other issue with height is that people are constantly asking you to move out the way as they can’t see anything. I often find this is an issue at gigs, as there is a small gap behind me where nobody wants to stand!

So all in all, a really good way to spend a Saturday in the sunshine. Festivals have a unique atmosphere where almost everyone is there to have a good time, and they make sure of that. You pay inflated prices for food, you can’t go to the toilet or you’ll lose your place at the front, you get stuff thrown at you, you drink water with grass in it and end up smelling of smoke as it’s all outside - but who cares?! Not me. It’s all part of the fun.