Festageddon 2016

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~5,400 words

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Last modified: July 27th, 12,016 HE

Part I

I like Big Nights Out (you know I do), but festivals – the national Big Weekends Out – are a disaster for me. I’ve never had a good experience, be it during the one day I spent at V Festival 2000 (highlight: Foo Fighters), a weekend at Reading 2006 (highlight: Larrikin Love) or something called Electric Gardens (highlight: fuck knows). I hate camping, Carling, straw hats and about 90 percent of the music on offer.

I had recently breached two decades of life on this Earth when I realised: I’ve never been to a festival before. I’d always been aware of them, from the Sixth Form crews who went to Leeds yearly (considering the acts were the same and they were about equidistant from home, I presume Reading lost out because it wasn’t edgy enough) to the girl at uni with almost a decade’s worth of Glasto wristbands adorning her arm, but only ever as a curiosity.

However, with myself surely approaching the age where festivalgoing begins to look less acceptable, I thought it was time. One barren summer arrived to fuel my enthusiasm and before long I had come up with a rough plan. I wouldn’t just go to a festival, or perhaps two. I would go to ten. It would be a veritable Festageddon.

I don’t know why I do these things to myself.

Sound City, Liverpool (GB)

Derek Kaye, Âme, Mano Le Tough, Floating Points, Mount Kimbie, DJ Koze, Leftfield, Makes No Sense, Jemmy, Gerd Janson, Henrik Schwarz, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Hot Chip, 2manydjs

My first festival (non-camping), as well as my first shift working for a local security firm. I got given front of house for the Baltic Warehouse stage both days and apart from having a Scouser threatening to stab me on my second day at work, it was jolly good fun.

Parklife, Manchester (GB)

Vague bassy noise

My patch, ft. the bastard tout we couldn't get rid of
My patch, ft. the bastard tout we couldn't get rid of

Security again, this time on the perimeter which got in the way somewhat of hearing the music. Still counting it though.

Secret Solstice, Reykjavík (IS)

Jack Magnet, Lady Leshurr, Kelela, Goldie, Úlfur Úlfur, Action Bronson, Landsleikur, Högni Egilsson, Agent Fresco, Kerri Chandler, Roísin Murphy, General Levy, Of Monsters and Men

Bizarre

Bizarre

Secret Solstice was the catalyst for my interest in festivals. After hearing about it through on article on their Into the Glacier side-party, I searched on the Secret Solstice website until I found the Get Involved link. The wheels began to turn.

And so I found myself in a newly-bought tent in a field in Reykjavík, not really sure what I was doing but certain it was going to be a good time. I stumbled bleary-eyed through the campsite, unsure what the protocol here was. If I was on my own, how far away from other people was considered polite? How could I best avoid a repeat of Gold DofE, where my tent flooded because we’d set it up the wrong way round on an incline? Why had I chosen my first experience to be in bloody Iceland?

This all washed away when the girl next to where I’d decided to pitch asked if I was from the Couchsurfing group. I had no idea what she was on about, but she explained there was a group of them who’d been in touch for a little while and planned to camp together, and invited me to join them. Things were starting off promisingly.

The group was cool. Two Germans, a girl who’d come all the way from Portland and two Canadians: one quiet and the other interesting. Within five minutes he’d offered me a bowl and taught me more about poi and flow control toys than I would have ever thought necessary. He was also off his nut over the announcement that Sister Sledge would be the first night’s secret headliners, which was an enthusiasm I struggled to mimic.

Party hard
Party hard

After initially waking up at 02:00 and bricking it at the thought that I'd slept through until 14:00 ([96 hrs of continuous sunlight](https://thetab.com/uk/2016/06/27/summer-solstice-like-rave-96-hours-continuous-sunlight-4582)'ll do that to you), I got up at the more reasonable time of 11:00 and got ready for my first shift as a Production Runner. The info booklet described the job as you'll have all sorts of tasks and never be bored, so I had no idea what to expect. Waiting around for instructions I talked to the other volunteers --- a lot of litterpickers and the one other Production Runner! We eventually got told what we were to do: man the info stall and lost & found that had been set up in response to issues the day before. Easy work, and we even found time to marry a couple (which I later worried might have been legally binding due to my ULC ordination, but apparently [they're fine](https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/11940/does-the-icelandic-government-recognise-ulc-officiated-marriages)).

We were right in the arena, by the main stage, so we had a great view of the acts. Jack Magnet did some really interesting Indian-inspired things and Lady Leshurr was great even when pretending Reykjavík was the best place she’d ever performed. Kelela was putting me to sleep so I took my break to go see Goldie and Úlfur Úlfur did an excellent rocky set. Action Bronson was a strange one, coming on as he did to the sounds of toilets flushing and having the most antagonistic crowd chat I’d seen.

I just want you to fucking move your fucking ass. I want you to dance for me.

Action Bronson

That night I went clubbing with the other Production Runner and her Italian pals and spent £7.40 on a pint. Leaving the club at 3am and walking into the cold, stark realities of a perfectly well-lit city street was just as jarring as it is when you do it at 6am back home.

For our second shift, we waited with bated breath to find out what we were doing — we’d heard of Production Runners having to litter pick and didn’t really fancy it. Instead, we were sent off to the Secret Lagoon side party where Kerri Chandler put on a 3 hr set to 150 or so people at Gamla Lagun and we did practically nothing. It was great. When I mentioned to some guests that my plan was to get as drunk as possible between the end of my shift at 18:00 and the start of Die Antwoord at 18:45, they gave me a bunch of their VIP free drink tokens. Festivallers are so friendly.

Noice
Noice

We got back to find that Die Antwoord were delayed by ATCs not turning up for work (very Iceland). I hooked up with the Portlander when I got back to the campsite and we went to see Roísin Murphy, who seemed to be trying to channel Lady Gaga with all her mad costumes. She got through about three a song, there didn’t seem to be any sort of connection between getup and song and by the end of it she was wearing a backwards hi-vis jacket, massive billowing dress and a slice of pizza on her head. This was all after she’d been in and out of the massive vagina costume for no reason.

After, we joined an Aussie we’d been camping by and went to see General Levy, whose entire schtick was getting pop songs and making the lyrics about weed (case in point: Herb, Herb, Herb). Along with that, his DJ rewound about a minute into every song. Before long we were sick of it and went to go see Of Monsters and Men, which is something you definitely want to do in Iceland. They’re about their only big musicians that aren’t Björk and the Icelanders go nuts.

Barren, wet and cold --- Iceland is basically just a big Lincolnshire
Barren, wet and cold --- Iceland is basically just a big Lincolnshire

Portland and I waited in the queue for Die Antwoord, now moved to the smallest-capacity venue at the festival, drinking schnapps and getting fed up until we realised that the venue was full and the queue only moving when people left. We cut our losses and went back.

I packed my tent in the rain at 4am because I thought booking a 7am flight was a good idea. At the airport I ran into another girl from the festival, whose festival beau had been milling about the hostel off his face when I left. Yeah, he was weird, she summarised. He fit right in.

Extrav Week, Lancaster (GB)

Barely Legal, Laurie Marriott and Josh:Lee, Atomic Brass, Soundslave, The Calls, Lake Komo, Rews, The Lottery Winners, Alex Hardman, Marco Tamimi Music, Joseph Gardiner, The Escapades, Jack Culpan, Nafrob, Rek:Law, Mat.Tü, Mike Sutton, DubRocca

Grizedale was a bit busy

Grizedale was a bit busy

Not really a full festival, but I did three days of security for Lancaster University’s end-of-year Extrav Week. Saw some music. Was good.

T in the Park, Scotland (GB)

Disclosure, Oh Wonder, Jamie xx, Tinie Tempah, Major Lazer, Diplo

t2

British festival season in a nutshell

Volunteering as a Gate Steward meant standing on the gates for eight hours scanning tickets and little else. Thank God, then, that the Scots are excellent craic and were all pretty jovial even after the trek it took them to get to the festival. Time largely flew and left plenty for the festival itself.

He really is a really good DJ

He really is a really good DJ

I started off with a squad from the staff campsite, including the girl who’d driven me up from Carlisle and some people she’d volunteered with the year before, but as our music tastes diverged I ended up with a couple from uni (one of whom is the sister of half of Mat.Tü, who is a really good DJ).

Oh God, it's DofE all over again

Oh God, it’s DofE all over again

After some intermittent torrential rain on the Saturday, which flooded the campsite, the site remained a state for the duration of the festival. The arena floor was covered in a 6in thick mud soup, with occasional deeper holes that you could see festivalgoers disappear down into as you surveyed the scene. Spirits remained undampened, although I was silently massively grateful that I’d decided to do Extrav Week rather than working security at Glastonbury this year.

So I split my time between mindlessly scanning tickets and out-of-my-mindly third-wheeling my way through life, realising just how unprepared I was for festivalling (waterproofs? Don’t know why I’d need them) and getting repeatedly bailed out by my Carlislian ride, who never failed to produce exactly what I was whinging about not having at any given moment.

Weirdos

Weirdos

I ended the festival with Diplo, immediately after Major Lazer, and thought him to be a bit like a kid who has just discovered bass. Maybe that was just the sound system. A night spent emergency crashing on a spare bed in Carlisle later and I was on my way home for the first time all summer.

Photo by author

Part II

You need to calm down.

a friend

I once again venture out of the UK, this time to the far reaches of Central Europe. I also find myself somewhere far more bizarre and alien: Southern England. I’m starting to feel the strain. I can rest when I’m dead.

Latitude, Suffolk (GB)

The Maccabees, New Order, M83, The Lumineers, Laura Mvula, Slaves, Grimes, David Rodigan, Al Murray, Bill Bailey, Piff the Magic Dragon, Chortle Student Comedy Awards, MC Phil Wang, Nick Helm, Hofesh Shechter Company, Mark Kermode, London International Animation Festival

Everyone in my squad was under 20 and I felt old for a change
Everyone in my squad was under 20 and I felt old for a change

I’d been in the staff campsite for less than an hour when I overheard a nearby group excitedly discussing plans to share their books after they had finished reading them. Having come from T in the Park with but a day in-between, where the only things people talked about sharing was pills, this was a bit of a shock. As time went by, I jotted down overheard comments on my phone and eventually compiled them into an article for Murmur. Suffice it to say, the crowd were very, very South England.

As for what I was doing, I’d got a gig volunteering with Hotbox Events as part of the CATs, HATs & Pixies team — stewards in all but name. In the case of the Pixies, they had to dress in all manner of glitter and fairy wings whilst on shift. Any guesses which shifts were at the bottom of my list of preferences?

Didn't stop the nights from getting messy though
Didn't stop the nights from getting messy though

I ended up with one of my first three choices, an Arena shift. Turns out Arena shift here meant arena toilet stewarding, but thankfully we weren’t close enough to smell anything and could hear the performances pretty well. We were largely there to remind the punters which toilet they’d been using for their entire lives, so no surprises when we didn’t have to do an awful lot.

The first shift was besides the Comedy Tent for the Chortle Student Comedy Awards, which from experience of student comedy I’d feared would be a special kind of Hell but was actually quite funny. Some of the comedians had clearly just decided who their favourite stand-up was and did little but emulate them, but one guy came on as Jasper LaPlage, Head of Product Development at Google and delivered a pitch-perfect parody pitch for Google Magnify, otherwise known as a magnifying glass. The highlight was definitely the line one of our ethos’ at Google — we have many ethi — is fear is the enemy of progress.

I also wore a t-shirt and no sun cream for one of the hottest weeks of summer
I also wore a t-shirt and no sun cream for one of the hottest weeks of summer

Other than that, I had time to see tHE bAD, a weird dance performance by the Hofesh Schechter Company, a bunch of indistinguishable indie bands (The Maccabees, The Lumineers) and Mark Kermode, who delivered a great conversation about film criticism and also holds the distinguishment of being the only act I’ve ever seen who took time to thank the security after his show. Slaves were fantastic — and one of my freshers tore up the stage — and Grimes was okay, although her ditzy, kooky persona grated when she started playing the wrong track by mistake and laughed it off. A little bit of professionalism to go with your massive pay cheque is all I ask.

We finished with the final night’s late shift, meaning we were positioned around the toilets in the now-closed arena. Taking full advantage of this lack of work and my recent promotion to break-allocating Team Leader, we enjoyed plentiful time off to go and see New Order. Some went to Of Monsters and Men instead, but I reasoned there was no chance they would be able to live up to seeing them in Iceland. Plus, I think I had New Order confused with New Atlantic and so was excited to hear I Know. As it got colder, we sought refuge in the Film & Music Tent and saw some increasingly bizarre—albeit interesting—short films courtesy of the London International Animation Festival’s Into the Dark. Chaud Lapin in particular baffled the venue security.

Bluedot, Jodrell Bank Observatory (GB)

Algorave, Underworld, 65daysofstatic

I saw plenty of Brian Eno's light installation tho

I saw plenty of Brian Eno’s light installation though

Another security job, meaning sixteen-hour shifts manning the campsite gates and checking wristbands. By the second day, the word wristband had ceased to make sense to me, which is something I’ve had happen before with written words, but never spoken. Other than that, I managed a couple brief forays into the arena specifically to watch an algorave performance — easily the geekiest thing at an already very geeky festival — and coincidentally catching Underworld and 65daysofstatic, the latter of whom attempted some of the weakest stick it to the man crowd riling at the end with a vague posture that politics is bad right now guys, and something about praying to a sun god for water. I don’t know, the guy was no Efrim Menuck.

Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park (GB)

Rudimental, The Lancashire Hotpots, The Sherlocks

We got quite a haul the day we left from raiding abandoned tents

We got quite a haul the day we left from raiding abandoned tents

The highlight of my security company’s calendar, and another case of lengthy shifts and little free time. Me and another guy took the time to see Rudimental though, and bopped in the audience with SIA licenses in our pockets feeling every bit like Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock. Other than that, I caught a bit of some band called the Sherlocks, as well as the entirety of the Lancashire Hotpot’s set as, through some sort of acoustical trickery, they were the only act that came through loud and clear to my position in the posh campsites.

I also learnt, through copious free food from the pizza van next to that position, that Geordies are like good Scousers — same funny accents, but absolutely lovely.

Sziget, Budapest (HU)

(deep breath) Die Antwoord, The Chemical Brothers, Rihanna, Martinez Brothers, Marchello, Architects of Air, Oz Corporation, Andras Bader, Duel, Quimby, Système Paprika, Hardwell, Berlinesque Cabaret, DJ BRNY, DJ Mada, Naga, Peter Bernath, Murmuyo, Transe Express, Andrew Bába, Brincadeira, Teatre Gry i Ludzie, Hallot Pénz, Malasañers, Luca Czerző, Years & Years, Sarruga, DJ Scratchy, Félix Lajkó (feat Óperentzia), Ikebana, DJ Salazar, Dillon Francis, Carnage, Dublic, MÄDLỊCK, Turai Tradition and Youth Dance Company

This was the biggie of August, and I hadn’t had it fully planned until a week before. I balked when I booked a flight only a month before a trip once — now I was leaving it until five days before. I took a little longer than expected to get there from the airport after realising, moments before stepping onto my shuttle, that I had taken the wrong bag from the baggage carousel (it was the exact same make as mine, but with a front pocket full of condoms rather than my passport). After chasing my bag all over Liszt Ferenc Airport for an hour I was ready and made my way to the festival site, where I came in at the wrong entrance and missed out on the meetup drinks for the rest of the volunteers in our group.

Me and the reason I started speaking like a Valley Girl all festival
Me and the reason I started speaking like a Valley Girl all festival

The next day, I sat in the volunteer centre waiting for the contract signing at 18:00 and reading all of The Martian in one sitting (verdict: basically this, and amazing for it). Afterwards, a group of us went to the nearby supermarket for alcohol. During the festival, the local Auchen becomes something of its own stage as hundreds of people perpetually mill around in the car park drinking and playing music at all hours of the day. When in Rome, so we joined straight in and drank the night away.

It was the first day of the festival and I finally found out what my job would be: passport stamping. At Sziget, the programmes are both free — a surprise after everywhere else selling rip-offy £10 programmes — and designed like novelty passports, complete with burgundy EU covers and a page for stamps. For going to a number of different smaller performances and getting stamps, the punters could then hand their passports in for a Sziget prize. After my first shift on the Luminarium, I asked my mentor to give me whatever other shifts there that he could. It was under a roof, had people to talk to, had nice chill music constantly and wasn’t as much of a trek as somewhere like the beach. Why else, he asked? When I said the girl checking capacity was cute, he instantly agreed to give me them all. That’s our Mishi.

Suntime funtime
Suntime funtime

The first day was the most important since it was when Die Antwoord were playing. Having narrowly missed them in Iceland back at the start of summer I had decided that missing them here, three months and about 3,000 km later, would be a sign that maybe it was just not going to happen. Thankfully, I got luckier in Hungary and got most of the way to the front for an amazing show. Now I just need to see where I can catch them next.

Cute
Cute

On day two, I had my sole non-Luminarium shift at the Magic Mirror, or gay stage (also inexplicably the stand-up comedy venue). Great, I thought, that’s guaranteed to be some great tunes and interesting sights. Or not, as the stage didn’t open that day until 23:00, long after I was gone. I did get a great stamp though, and seeing lads double-take when they saw that I’d just stamped their passport with two Mars symbols bumming never got old. There was also a naked guy who ran down the path trying to hug passers-by as his friends chased and tried futilely to wrap him in a towel. On the way back to the campsite later that night, a group of old guys in suits playing slow, mournful violin music sauntered past. The weirdest part is that they didn’t even seem out of place.

Sziget is weird
Sziget is weird

A couple shifts at the Luminarium later and the tent was starting to pong a bit, but it was still fun. After a couple nights out at the Unicum bar, fobbing off the assembled worldwide DJ talent on offer for some bogstandard Budapest club DJs, we moved on to the Jack Daniel’s Beard Bar which played absolutely filthy drum and bass 24 hours a day and was amazing. I kept getting delayed on my way to shifts by the increasingly bizarre street performances and the crowds that milled about them, from an intense drumming performance to three huge bicycle-powered wireframe dinosaurs and a great big steampunk car covered in trumpet-playing fish people.

On one of the later nights we ended up in Magic Mirror, and it was amazing. One of the English lads in the squad was hilariously uncomfortable and the music was amazing (I think). There were also no end of interesting sights:

He wouldn't let me onto the podium though, the rascal
He wouldn't let me onto the podium though, the rascal

In my infinite wisdom, I ended up hanging out with a bunch of Russians, the awkward English lad and some dickhead Belgians until 7am, with my shift starting at 12. I powered through my shift — no-one can tell if you’re napping if you wear sunglasses — and took a quick hourlong disco nap before the big end show. Hardwell wasn’t an amazing DJ, but it was made up for with the sheer spectacle — fireworks, flame shooters, thousands of waving glowsticks. After that it was back to Magic Mirror to see off the festival.

A bunch of the squad and I stayed over at one of the Hungarian girls’ flat for the night, so we took the opportunity to meet up with our mentor and some of the others for one last piss-up. I’m there for another night and we climb to the top of Gellért Hill for a nice snap. Less nice is how hot and sticky it is, and how hot and sweaty we end up.

Beautiful blue Danube
Beautiful blue Danube

One late-night flight back to Blighty, and an even-later drive back home, and I’m done. Done, and still in full possession of my prize souvenir, which I’m frankly amazed made it through the airport. The check-in lady even asked if I’d nicked it, which makes this probably the only time I’ll ever get to say I didn’t steal sheeeit in an airport.

Next year I move up to the main stage
Next year I move up to the main stage

Photo by author

Part III

I’ve been raving for twenty years now, and I’m still alive?

A guy at Gatecrasher Reunion

I stick to Blighty this time and take a couple trips back in time. It’s almost over.

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.

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

believe
Time to dance

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.

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

It's the first festival to take place in Silent Hill

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:

fest4
#squad

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

Pretty tho
Pretty tho

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.

The island too
The island too

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:

14249834_10206970013029506_8942379093914669796_o
Bliss

Installation by IOU Studio, photo by author

Part IV

We ate quite well but eating all the food groups again is such a nice thing.

I’m done. Festageddon 2016 is done.

Moondance Festival, London (GB)

Owen James & T Chung, Timez, Lady T, Liam D, Bobby & Steve, Major Movements

Another last-minute one, with my press pass being issued only a couple days before the event. I rushed down to London straight from a house party the night before, bottle of gin still in my bag. Alas, my intended +1 (and house-haver, where I’d planned to drop my bag off) had been out the night before too and didn’t wake up until 15:30, with press accreditation closing at 16:00. After a couple hours in Stratford International franctically messaging every groupchat and person I thought might live in London for somewhere to leave the bag, I eventually came to the realisation that I was flying solo, and that I had a couple hours to polish off as much of the gin as I could before I went in. Which turned out to be quite a lot.

And the press tent had a free crate of Red Stripe going.

And when I eventually left and found myself at the +1’s house in Hackney (after a 2-hour journey I remember none of), we cracked open a bottle of prosecco.

It was a messy night.

Gravity Fields, Grantham (GB)

IOU Theatre, Ponten Pie

After the summer of unbridled hedonism that had just been (perhaps epitomised by that last story), I thought I’d end with something more dignified and low-key: a family-aimed science festival to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Isaac Newton’s annus mirabilis.

So I found myself first stewarding at a sculptural sound installation called Speaking Tubes, where a comment in the children’s feedback book made me wonder if we should just ban everyone from the internet until they’re 16 for the future’s sake:

harambe

Followed by stewarding at a peculiar and secretive piece called ÂRTICA, described as a non-conventional show, without text, where the theatrical experience becomes a sensitive adventure and hosted in a building kept at 6 °C for reasons I’m not entirely sure about. It was certainly intriguing — I want to describe it, but I’m not sure I’d know where to start. Go check it out if you see it near you.

In Numbers

Festivals Attended13
Companies Worked For7
Money on July 1st-£277.62
Money on September 30th-£374.03
Acts Seen189, across 187 distinct artists, 148 of which I'd never heard of before
Countries Visited3--4, depending on whether Scotland is still in the UK by the time you read this
This whole map'll be green one of these days
This whole map'll be green one of these days
map2 map3

Awards

Most Best FestivalSziget
Least Best FestivalBestival
Best FoodBestival
Worst FoodT in the Park
Best-Seeming Company to Work For, Determined Solely By Cuteness of StewardsOxfam
Best souvenirMy sign from Sziget:
Next year I move up to the main stage
Mine
Best WeatherTie: Latitude or Sziget
Worst WeatherTie: T in the Park or Festival № 6
Most Gutted Missed Act[before Sziget] Die Antwoord at Secret Solstice
[after Sziget] Camo & Krooked at Bestival
Best CrowdLatitude
Worst CrowdSound City
Most Unfortunate Human Being I've Ever MetThis guy at Bestival that we ran into at 7am on the way back from our shift:
I wince every time I remember it
I wince every time I remember it

Next Year’s Plan

More festivals, more countries, more acts — and bring a GoPro. I’ve got an idea.