Lovebox then. Not sure how I got hoodwinked into this one, but I was, the missus was keen and so we set off on Saturday afternoon in the unwavering sunshine. I’d not been to anything like this since the Phoenix Festival in 1996, and I can barely remember that because ageing hippies kept putting drugs in my face. All I really remember is sitting on the coach home for half a day, covered in mud and feeling thoroughly miserable. Luckily this mini-festival was pretty much on my doorstep and we only had a one-day ticket, so after a 15 minute wander we were at the gate, a bizarre cattle grid wherein guestlist types had a choice of six heavily staffed entrances and the rest of the hoi polloi (ie me and my better ‘alf) had to crowd round a thin strip with no idea what was in store for us.
Turned out a thorough search was in order, I fully expected to be asked to bend over. I had to sump a bottle of wine before going in because I was obviously going to smash people over the head with it rather than drink it. I had a fucking wrench in my bag which they didn’t notice, but still the bottle had to go. Bastards.
The minute we got in, a tropical rainstorm appeared from nowhere and we got fucking soaked. Braving it rather than allowing ourselves to be washed out, we were immediately seized upon by a Christian Aid git. Our spirits weren’t dampened as yet so rather than tell him where to stick his petition regarding carbon emissions, we signed it, chuckled about the torrential downpour as our toes instantly developed trenchfoot and then bid him farewell. Drenched and past caring, the only solution was to follow the obvious plan. Food. Beer. Smokes.
Always well-prepared, the lady had pre-rolled some beauties so all we had to do was grab some noodles with tempura vegetables, deep fried to a mush but just edible and then queue at the bar. Because everyone was hiding on the dodgems I got served almost instantly. Splendid. Two cans of redstripe – I wagered they’d be charging a good £2.50 for it, pub prices for a can – fair enough. £3.20 though. £3 fucking 20p for a can of red stripe. BASTARDS. That’s the price you pay for a pint in the kinds of pubs I avoid, the way I’d avoid syphilis or gonhorrhea – by not fucking entering. Still. It was a necessity so I purchased and consumed. And in the end I’d spent £32 on ten cans of lager like the alcoholic twat I truly and horribly am.
It was still raining so we decided to wander around and absorb out surroundings. There was the dance tent – apparently done up like an interior in Doctor Strangelove. Peeking through the crowds, I can confirm the walls were white. Beyond that there were so many heaving bodies that it really wasn’t worth investigating. Especially seeing as the music sounded like this: WOOOOP WOOOP WOOOP WARGH WARGH WARGH twat twat twat twat twattwattwattwattwattwattwattwat WOOP WOOOOP WARGH WARGH.
The fairground looked fun, but given the rain we weren’t sure we fancied our chances, slipping off a lubed high speed ferris wheel and landing in a splat of limbs in Walthamstow didn’t seem worth the risk. So what else was there to do? The day was about music, supposedly, so we checked out the other stages. First, the Clash stage was the indiest of the stages, except that these days indie tends to mean electro and middle of the road rock. Looking at the crowd, 16 year olds in trilbys and 39 year old women dressed as Lily the fucking Allen, it wasn’t worth hanging about to see who was on. So over to the main stage we went and en route the sun came out. Hallelujah. In fact, it came out so strongly that we almost went from drowned to burned to a cinder. God bless British Summertime.
En route to the main acts, we noticed the set of a burned out building with a big crowd around the front entrance. Turns out this was some kind of fake New York 70s club, with lots of people in fancy dress having a dance inside. By mid-afternoon the queue for this attraction actually cut the festival site in two. The queue was longer than the one for the female toilets.
Speaking of the female toilets – surely we can develop some new system whereby ladies don’t all need a separate cubicle? it ruins things for everyone. Moody boyfriends waiting for ladies to queue, the bladders of their other halves pushed to breaking point. We either need some kind of technology that can be attached to a wanny discreetly and store their effluents, or they need to stop being prudes and whip out their urethras in a communal manner. I don’t particularly enjoy the urinal experience, but it beats queuing – so come on ladies, grab a slice of the unified urination movement and save us all some time. In the event, the ladies ended up using the boys’ cubicles, which meant after a few beers I found myself pissing into a plastic latrine whilst a hundred women stood around chatting. If I were a damaged man it would have been nothing short of erotic.
And so to the main stage. Groove Armada were running the event and, being easy-listening techno types, they’d selected acts that they felt would rock the field but in a style befitting their tastes. They failed miserably. Despite the beatbox champion who played compere and who was actually really great, the rest was a letdown.
First up, the Junior Boys made me feel I was trapped in an 80s elevator and having my brain fiddled with by a vocoder. Truly awful, po-faced rubbish.
Then followed Patrick Wolf, a young man I’d despised but who turned things around here by actually having decent tunes and making a complete and utter twat of himself. I laughed quite hard.
After this, the Presets arrived to bore the masses. Beyond tedious. It was like being stuck in your car in GTA Vice City with a stuck radio, repeatedly driving into a brick wall. Interminable.
New Young Pony Club in the Clash tent lifted spirits. The tent was packed with the population of Hoxton but all the same this was a good set, we found a spot where you could sneak out to have a slash beside a van and all was well.
Wobbly by now, we made one last jaunt over to the main stage and caught most of Blondie, singing along to Tide Is High as we doddered home. Deborah Harry looked whacked out by the way, poor old cow. Imagine having to jump about on varicose veins in the evening at that age. She should’ve at least been given a comfy chair and a cup of tea.
Not a bad day all in all, but wet and overpopulated by 80s synths – not always a bad thing unless dropped into the hands of the Presets or the Junior Boys.
Highlight of the day, for me, was getting home, drying off and sticking on Lucio Fulci’s House By The Cemetery without a single member of public in sight. I don’t think I’m leaving the house ever again unless absolutely necessary.