I’ve been raving for twenty years now, and I’m still alive?
Festageddon 2016 returns from Hungary; I stick to Blighty this time and take a couple trips back in time.
#8.5 Gatecrasher Reunion, Sheffield (GB)
Eddie Halliwell, Tall Pall, Seb Fontaine, Scott Bond, John Kelly, Airwave, James Alexander, M.I.K.E. Push
Security work again and it’s a 10 hour rave at Area Sheffield, a rebirth of a seminal Sheffield club night that burnt down in 2007. Between this and my experience of working bar at Haçienda Classical, I’m increasingly thinking one of my biggest regrets in life is being born too early to experience the Second Summer of Love. I saw some champion gurning and had a nice time talking to most of the DJs (there’s always one tossrocket or two, but the majority were sound as anything), but I’ve never felt as young as when a girl told me it was the first rave she’d been in for ten years — ten years ago I was just finishing primary school.
#9 Manchester Pride’s The Big Weekend, Manchester (GB)
Proms in the Park, The Magpies, Finlay Leslie, Sofia B, Me and Deboe, Kyle Finn, Tuscan Sun, Soraya Vivian, Luke Primmer, Sage Francis, B. Dolan
All joking (and gimp masks) aside, I heard one of the other security talking about something that’d happened at the end of her last shift. A pair of women had come up to her to thank her and the rest of security for everything, saying it was their 50th anniversary and they’d never felt so well looked-after and safe. The security told them she’d see them next year then, which is when one of the women leant in and quietly said that her wife had cancer. Everyone hearing the story was quiet for a moment, and it struck me just how much this event will have meant to some of the people at it. It’s nice that I got to be a part of that.
#10 Festival № 6, Portmeirion (GB)
Kaiser Chiefs, Bastille, Roots Manuva, Bellatrix, Rory Butler, Johnny Vegas, John Bramwell, Super Furry Animals, Echo & the Bunnymen, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
We made BBC News for how Pete Tong it all went — apparently some genius put the punter car park on a flood plain and then we caught the tailend of a hurricane. My 12 hour shifts become 20+ hour shifts, half the security got moved from the festival site to the car park to protect the stewards and things all got a bit muddy.
Blitz spirit aside, it was a bit miserable by the end of things.
On the brighter side, I happened to run into two of the lads from Sziget:
#11 Bestival, Isle of Wight (GB)
Xockha, Strong Asian Mothers, Espa, All This Noise, Tiggs Da Author, Girli, The Greasy Slicks, Full Nelson, Roosevelt, Lxury, Karma Kid, Joe Goddard, Artwork, Damien “Jr Gong” Marley, Skepta, Major Lazer, Creeper, The Japanese House, Fatherson, Jaws, Royce Wood Jr, Haelos, Subgiant, Mant, Ashworth, Moxie, Romare, Bodhi, Axel Boman, Vant, Hinds, PC Music All Stars, Danny L Harle, Coco, Too Many T’s, BITR8, Annie Nightingale, Ed Solo, Rob Da Bank + SGT Pokes, Goldie, Amy Becker
I thought I was done after Festival № 6, but ended up in the Isle of Wight on a gig planned three hours into drinking the night before. If I was a man possessive of more forethought than I clearly am, I would have given these Festageddon articles subtitles. Part I would get “The Come Up”, Part II “The Plateau” or “The Peak”. Part III? “The Comedown”. This was where I realised that 11 festivals is precisely the tipping point when they stop being fun. I’m sure the type of crowd present didn’t help matters — if I had to deal with one more pilled-up under-16 who thought he was hard because he listened to grime and dressed like a 90s drug dealer I was going to start breaking legs.
I did my shifts, barely touched the arena outside of them and left as soon as possible without a glance back. I was set to spend the night in Portsmouth Harbour train station before setting off to Peterborough (by way of King’s Cross) to arrive for 9am driving course, but a gang of increasingly belligerent homeless guys milling about put paid to that idea. Even if they didn’t stab or sodomise me whilst I slept, they’d keep me up all night yelling at the trains for being sluts. The conductor was empathetic to my cause and let me be, and after trying to get from Waterloo to King’s Cross by bus—I’m not sure what happened to that Night Tube I’d heard so much about—and discovering that London buses don’t accept change, a TfL woman paid for my fare (mere moments after I told her I hated the city) and I shacked up in a corner of St Pancras for the night.
After my course I went home and lay in a real bed for the first time in around three months. It was a special moment: