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10 Memorable Festival Moments

Just getting back to work after a great time at the Sziget festival last week… I have been going to music festivals for a long time now… around 24 years since my first one alone and plenty before that as a kid being dragged around by parents! Had the idea yesterday to pull together 10 memorable moments from past festivals... so here goes...Many of these were chemically enhanced, and somehow I feel the need to make the disclaimer that whiskey is the strongest thing you’ll find me taking these days!! No poker content and no business content other than to say I have set myself a 30,000 word challenge this week and feel extra motivated to sort a bunch of things out! In no particular order…

1) Confused Auditory Hallucinations At The Treworgy Tree Fair, 1989. Back story here was that a farmers son organized a massive festival in Cornwall while his dad was away… huge bands, great festival. A few stories from this one, including my mates getting their tent run over by a out of control mini, and a dog coming and pissing on the remains. My story involved some very strong acid. I needed to leave my tent to use the toilets, and was literally ‘stuck’ nearby unable to decide which one to go to for about 3 hours… anyway during that time Misty In Roots played some heavy dub in the valley floor below and I have this crazy memory of the bass notes literally bouncing around the valley… felt amazing, like those notes were living things flying around through the air.

2) Slowly Backwards Through The Exit, Reading Somewhere In The Late 1980’s I lived in Reading for many years, home of one of England’s best festivals. Getting in free used to be an annual challenge while at college, and making wristbands or smudging fake stamps worked for a while before Mean Fiddler took over and upped the security. One time myself and a friend came up with the idea that we would wait until a popular band finished, then walk slowly backwards through the exit… we confused a lot of people, though managed to get in for free once again!

3) M4 Fish Van To A Free Festival In Wiltshire, Late 1980’s Again… A scary memory this time, 10 or so people piling into a van owned by a fishmonger (a friend worked there) and going down a big motorway in search of a free festival. These were common at the time and organized by the traveler community… no cost, some great underground bands and so on… these morphed more and more into the ‘raves’ during the later 80’s and disappeared in the crackdown of the early 1990’s. Anyway, I was in the back with a bunch of others, smoking and drinking and having fun… the scary bit – all 3 people in the front, including the driver were tripping… well, I’m alive to tell the tale, haha.

4) Nowhere Else Parts #1 to #10… Various Times This could be several entries and describes those magical moments when I have genuinely felt a shiver in the spine and that kind of ‘wow’ happiness that comes from realizing there is nowhere else you would want to be. Having seen so many bands, this has to be an elite sub-group, many were of their time and not my taste any more. I’d include Primal Scream doing their Screamadelica set first time around, Doves (almost every time), Manics (Everything must go period), Radiohead, Loop (long gone), Rage Against The Machine one time, Blur, Embrace in a small tent… Spiritualized from Lazer Guided Melodies (1 note for the first 10 minutes!) through to recent times, Nick Turner's Space Ritual, Flaming Lips.... many many more!

5) Cabaret Tent, Glastonbury, Late 1990s Picking another one which is representative of a lot of smaller good times. Glastonbury is a massive festival, and in my mind the best by a long way. They have huge bands and also a whole lot of craziness, theater, art installations and comedy going on… So many happy memories in the circus / theatre fields! Bastard Son of Tommy Cooper, Record Heaven… all the old greats! This memory was of the MC one night. He got a huge marquee of people to laugh for no reason, then when the next person came in the entrance we all had to stop, go completely silent and look at them… hope they were not tripping!

6) Freak Brothers Festival 1993 (or maybe 1994) Birmingham Uni Have to add this one, as I helped organize it as joint ‘Chair Freak’, this was a society who put on a ton of events with 60’s / Psychedelic and alternative music… we had a decent turn out to the night club events and did trips to gigs / festivals etc too, all good fun. We did a festival one Summer with a few different rooms and an outside stage in the Mermaid Square. I played in my first band at the time and we did a set along with several other student bands, with a band called Astralasia (spin-off from the Magic Mushroom Band?) headlining. This was a success until around midnight, when downstairs in another venue a fight broke out – there was a deaf football championship the same day and they were having a party afterwards. Unfortunately one of them hit his head and promptly died, causing police etc to flood in and our event to be stopped in its tracks… shame of course, though I often wondered how this fight got started…

7) Fire! Two Memories In One, Glastonbury and Reading Reading 88ish again, burning all sorts of nasty plastic to keep warm after the bands. Someone had the idea of burning their socks… which quickly went viral. We must have parted 100 people from their socks that night, cold feet in the morning mind. Glastonbury in the early 1990’s was different, pissed, stoned and hungry – we had made some friends in the next tents who had said we were welcome to use their cooking device any time and just to help ourselves… except we did not know what we were doing. When a 3 meter long line of flames started coming towards our (and other) tents we realized the situation was probably a little serious – panic followed, though we managed to put it out before burning anyone else’s tents down!

8) Lost In Reading, Again Later 1980s Lots of early memories seemed to be caused by getting smashed in various ways. This one only really makes the cut because of the kicker 15 years later! For reasons known only to my younger self I had drunk 8 cans of cider before deciding to wander down to Reading Festival without a ticket or money… I got confused and lost and was eventually randomly found / rescued by a cute blonde lady who was a kind of a friend of friends. Anyway, night turned out great – lots of great people round a fire and I she let me sleep in her tent. Before this she told me ‘only if you promise not to molest me’, which, being a gentleman, I agreed not to do. Always been a fool when it comes to missing those signals… when we met 15 years down the line the (still very beautiful) lady in question told me off, she had meant the opposite and when I agreed to her request and feel asleep she was very angry, oops!

9) Thunderbolts And Lightning Very Very Frightening Me, 2004 or mabe 2005? These years all blur into one… Glastonbury is famous for its mud, though I have been on many non-muddy occasions and feel that journalists have changed the mud into a cliché these days… Thunder does not usually bother me, only this peel was literally 20 meters over my head and woke me up with a shout and a jump… never seen rain like that and a bunch of tents were completely underwater that year. When I think back the invention of those folding chairs was brilliant, I vividly see me and a few friends in the middle of a mud field on our seats enjoying whatever band was on…

10) Backstage At The Jazz Tent, Glastonbury Again, Early 1990’s Before mobile phones we had to arrange to meet beforehand at these festivals, behind the mixing desk at 2pm, and if you can’t make it we will try again at 4 – that kind of thing. This time a friend Geoff had told us he would be working in the backstage bar of the Jazz stage (a very small stage at the time) at a certain time. So, I went to the gate (literally a farm gate) and asked if he was there… the guy did not know and so let me in to have a look. No Geoff, though the bar prices were really damn cheap – so I bought a few bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale and headed back out. We finished those and this time my friend Mark tried to locate Geoff… nope, though hey – more Newky Brown… and so on… 6 bottles later I staggered to the gate once more and tried to explain I was looking for Geoff – only to be met with a sad look and shake of the head! It turned out Geoff never turned up for his job, in fact the last I heard of him he never turned up for his whole life….

Ah, thanks for indulging me – a little longer than expected. I hope to have many more great festival moments in the future (though will not be camping or doing any drugs to make them happen!).

GL at the tables, Mark

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