Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why go to a festival?

My answer in a general sense is "How could I possibly know what motivates you?", which is another rhetorical question, but this kind of approach gets nothing practical done and we all know it!

If that were not true there simply could not be the festivals there are as they would not attract sufficient support to be viable. The deviations from normality are certainly newsworthy but this is simply because they are so unusual. If you want a statistically safe weekend away this is it: choose a festival of your choice, avoid drugs, and travel by train for as much of the journey as possible.

You might even want to listen to the music, enjoy a weekend away camping (possibly in a sea of mud) and partake of the other myriad delights on offer. On the other hand you might be one of the very few who simply see it as a chance to steal from others. Petty theft is the most common crime committed against others at festivals and much of it is easily avoidable but another problem was not the best start to my weekend. When I put my tent up on Thursday afternoon the pole supporting the porch split at a joint so even the tent wasn't worth thieving. It survived the weekend without further problems and maybe this further reduced the likelihood of depredation!
Just in case any of my former Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition groups are reading this:
Yes, I had checked it fully before I left home and I had even had a pole splint (that I needed as it happened) and lots of spare pegs (that I lent to my neighbours)!
Far too much is made of the downsides and if someone really wanted to steal my manky, old (now only xenobiotically warmed) sleeping bag and some T-shirts, that are only one wash removed from becoming the next floor cloth, there is nothing much I could do about that. As you might predict, I still have them all...

Festivals are in fact very appealing for other reasons too - the variety on offer, the other-worldly aspects and the surprise factor being only three amongst many. Festivals also highlight both the contrast and the unpredictability of live performance because things, technical or otherwise, will go wrong from time to time. My experience suggests that, at Latitude at least, the audience is most tolerant of this sort of inevitability.

Beth Orton, playing on the Obelisk Stage on Friday afternoon, had an acoustic guitar with a mind of its own... it simply would not stay in tune from one song to the next! She wasn't exactly to everyone's liking anyway but her handling of the situation was exemplary and, never one to mince words in her lyrics, her ad lib was no exception and certainly not in the use of expletives!

Her set was followed by British Sea Power (who I have already mentioned) but there is also the time and place for an act whose music is just joyful Technicolor abandon.

The Go! Team is a band that is even more improbable in reality than it was in its conception. It started as Ian Parton's kitchen-table project - just using samples from here, there and everywhere - but then anything can happen...

Two albums later here is Go! Team very much live. Yes it does routinely use two drummers, from any of the four normally cited, but in this live set every band member took a turn on drums!
And Ninja wore stripy leg-warmers in July, which is surely just what a real festival is about?

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