Festival Season is well and truly underway and with Glastonbury, the world’s greatest festival, now just a rain-lashed/sun-baked fuzzy memory, 2011 is quickly becoming one of the busiest years for outdoor events. But they ain’t what they used to be – sadly they seem to be losing that festival sprit and here are a few reasons why I won’t be going to any of them this year.
It used to be the case that bands would play festivals for the Hell of the festival – nowadays they use the festival circuit as a way to promote their latest album or song. Sure most bands will start with a classic but sooner or later those dreaded words are uttered “…and now something from our new album”.
…ok stop the train I want to get off now.
Add to the mix the fact that getting hit with a pint of urine (from some twat at the back) is a serious possibility, the sound and power levels often seem erratic (Kings of Leon, Reading 2009), if you stand a little too far back or a little to the side (of the stage) then you can barley hear or see the performance and you suddenly find yourself in a very un-enjoyable situation.
Perhaps worse than all of this though is that many of the people in the audience are just not down with the band that’s playing. Meaning that they don’t know the words so they can’t sing along and quite often decide that they don’t like it and then stomp through the crowd en masse to the nearest bar.
Wherever you get a big audience, you will find brands trying to sell you their goods. Festivals are no different and like it or not – branding and advertising is all over the festival world now. There’s little point complaining about this, we just have to learn to live with it.
Trying to buy tickets = not easy. Getting to a festival = not easy. Taking your kit from car/bus/train/ to campsite = not easy. Queues for showers/toilets/bar/food/cashpoint/etc = not easy. Vying with 20,000 cars when exiting the car park = not easy.
Glastonbury 2007: the rain was so bad that I vowed never to go again. There were rivers flowing through the campsites and tents were actually being washed away. Getting anywhere on the flooded site was an absolute nightmare. Glastonbury 2010: Yes, in a moment of weakness I broke my vow. Whilst the sun was glorious, there was no escape from it and it soon lost its appeal. With very little cover available, shade became the new currency. People were exchanging goods just for 10 minutes under a tree.
There is little to add here that hasn’t already been said in every article that has even been written about festivals. They stink, there is little dignity, when it rains they flood, when it is too hot the smell is horrendous – people have even been known to fall into then (Poo Girl, Leeds, 2009)
Festivals are expensive – there I’ve said it. Ok, so you’ve paid £150 for a ticket, it’s cost you £50 to get there; you’ve bought cheapo tent and sleeping bag for £25. Add to this food and booze for the weekend and all of a sudden you’ve spent the best part of £500. You probably missed all of the bands because you were too wasted so essentially you’ve spent a monkey on getting twisted in a field. Your local tramp does this on a daily basis for less than an Ayrton!
Festivals used to be full of like-minded people – just there to see a few bands and have a great time. Now they are too busy, people seem in a hurry to catch bands on that are performing on stages miles away and the number of drunken, football-shirt-wearing nob-heads has increased dramatically and this has changed environment for the worse.
It’s dark, everyone is standing up, the lights from the stage are incredibly bright and you can’t see where you are placing your feet. All of a sudden you feel a crunch underfoot and then someone stands up and starts barking at you. Not an enjoyable experience.
What’s the point of spending a small fortune on going to a festival when you can watch it all on TV? You can even watch it in 3D this year! Imagine that – Beyonce Knowles, in your living room, in glorious 3D…. Sweet!