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Sunday, 26 July 2015

The veteran curmudgeon guide to festivals.

(A light hearted consideration of what has went wrong)

1) Gazebo glampers aka Your land is our land.

Half an hour after putting the tent up
and this monstrosity appears.
That, the blue one, a small one, a gazebo out of sight and more
space sectioned off for three adults and two kids.
Begone roughing it.
The modern festival goer requires a home from home apparently.
Or a bigger home from home.
No longer will a single sleeping bag and tent suffice.
Downsizing and embracing minimalism has went out of fashion.
This is the era of land occupation.
Today Glastonbury, T in the Park, Wickerman and tomorrow we annex Poland.
Modern day festival goers are now the lord's and ladies of all they see as first arrivals stake a claim and section off space to meet their requirements using marquee sized dome tents with multiple compartments, a gazebo, another tent for storage, yet another one for the kids, a second gazebo, strategically placed windbreakers and enough crime scene tape to stretch to the moon and back.
Why take an inch when a mile is on offer is the motto.
The bare minimum for two adults and one child works out at about an acre per person.

It's rumoured that they found Lady Haversham in an unused wing of an abandoned cavernous tent at the Bestival site.
The poor woman hadn't been seen by anyone in two years and was surviving on dust motes.

With the tiny house movement gaining traction globally and a family of five imaginatively managing to live in a shoebox it seems it's left to festival attendees to buck the trend and supersize their accommodation as much as possible.
Gone are the days of one sleeping bag and a two man tent shared between six drunken students.
Unless you have a reading room, a conservatory and guest room in your tent then you aren't doing it right.

We (old folk) used to look at tents laid out in front of us as we crested the hill and considered that a thousand laid out before us would approximately mean three thousand people in the camp site.
Now it's the opposite with a thousand tents being occupied by a hundred.

All well and good as who doesn't like some room to swing their cat?
Unless of course you aren't arriving within the first hour and are left arguing over a postage stamp sized plot of land in the outskirts of shanty town.
Then it's pish.

2) Babyshambles

Kids at festivals enjoying new experiences with their parents are great.
Lord of the flies packs roaming around are not.
Tarquin is not being impish when he and Annabelle play steal the tent pegs.
Eight year old Lucinda wandering around the campsite looking for mummy at 3am is not cute.
A festival is not a Club 4-10 holiday and there is no prize for how many - no questions asked - single Wellington boots can be collected over the weekend.
A festival is not a giant al fresco crèche for parents who think it's character building to abandon their little darlings for twenty hours out of twenty four, and no the dance tent doesn't have a place to leave your pram you sad excuse for an adult.

3) You had to - sort of - be there.

Non festival attendees attending festivals.
Hundreds spent on tickets, hundreds spent on tents and camping equipment, thousands spent on booze, hundreds spent on food.
Festival entertainment participated in?

A weekend of sitting on a folding chair in a gazebo getting pissed and playing shit music at full volume while 'avin it large' is the goal and they've unlocked every master level at doing it.
If they leave the campsite they will lose all credibility with their mates.
Everything they need for a good time is right there.
A crate of Buckfast, the complete set of 'bonkers' downloaded onto the iPod, top quality speakers purchased in poundland and some Lambrini and glow sticks for the kids.
And if you are camped anywhere close enough to hear them then the drunken debate at 3am about how Clarkson leaving Top Gear is a sign of the decline of Western civilization will no doubt be enlightening.

They could get six months all inclusive in Greece for what they shell out for their non participation, but the Greeks have suffered enough so don't tell them.

4) Captive audience capitalism.

Once you enter a festival site the law of supply and demand is all that matters.
Those disposable ponchos at five for a quid you seen last week and didn't bother with will be a fiver for one at the hint of a single raindrop.
A bank of clouds on the horizon can start the prices rising.
A bacon roll can cost the same as a three course meal in a cafe.
You want a coffee?
You can't afford a coffee.
It's something to aspire to.
If one-upmanship is your thing then lounging around with a stall bought coffee will draw admiring glances from other festival punters.
Buy a Grande and they will think you are the headliner.
Grown men have been known to weep at the cost of a pint of Carlsberg.
The phrase 'crying into your beer' was coined at a festival.
You can buy a festival cash converter app for mobile phones now.
You type in what you want to buy, how much it normally costs and then choose the festival you are at and it will supply you with the approximate 500% mark up final figure.

Whoever thought of putting cash machines in festival arenas is a genius too.
It’s funny how they are usually sitting between the on-site bars and the token kiosks that the cashless on-site bars take.
That’s purely coincidental obviously.
And as the tokens are a quid each everything has to be rounded up doesn't it?
Bloody genius and I truly do wish I was on a cut of the profits.
Even though the system boils my blood.
The sign saying drink responsibly next to the other stating the tokens are non refundable is a bit of an oxymoron, but the latter is in a smaller font and most people fail to notice it.
Post festival the paper tokens are only usually good for one thing, and that's breaking the washing machine when you forget to take them out of the pocket of your muddied forty quid Tibetan lounge pants you bought and will never wear again.

5) It's all about the music maaaaaaan.

It's not.

If there are no jugglers, clowns, people dressed as penguins, theatre, art installations that boggle the mind, comedians, poets, dancers, cinema and eccentrics on and off stages and it's just music then it's a gig outside and not really a festival.
How to tell if you have been to a real festival is to ask yourself if you seen something, or experienced something, that you never even knew existed and it in some way enriched your life and if the answer is yes then you get the badge.
If all that happened was that you seen some bands then you aren't trying hard enough, or it's not a real festival.
A hundred bands over three days in a field is not a festival.
Stop fuckin' calling them that.

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