Glastonbury 2014 Sells Out!

Today I woke up waaaaaayy before 9am on a Sunday, to get ready for the annual lunacy which is getting Glastonbury tickets, which this year sold out in a ridiculously quick one hour and 27 minutes. Sadly a large chunk of the crowd I now go with haven’t got tickets, so it’s a case we’ll be refreshing like mad come the resale in April.

The problem I have is that Seetickets, the organisation tasked with selling tickets, are frankly, barely fit for purpose. The first half hour of today’s sale saw Seetickets admit to an enormous fuck up.

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This frankly isn’t good enough for an organisation who’ve been doing this for a decade, and are I assume paid handsomely with our money. Neither does it especially reflect well upon Glastonbury Festivals Ltd (GFL). It just looks shoddy and a bit of a cash-grab. I know the system is the best GFL can do, and I know it’s possibly the fairest, but it’s not asking much for the multinational organisation worth millions that runs the ticket sales not to have technical issues when they plan (I assume) months in advance.

One of the conversations I had of my Facebook stream today was in regards a loyalty scheme, or something that would help people who regularly go, to get a ticket. As regular readers of these blogs know, I talk a lot about comics, and one of the things San Diego Comic Con does is something called preregistration. The jist is this

Comic-Con is working hard to improve the online registration system and will launch Comic-Con 2014 badge preregistration sometime between November 1 and December 31, 2013. Only those that have purchased a Comic-Con 2013 4-Day attendee or 1-Day attendee badge, have a valid Member ID, and retain their actual Comic-Con 2013 badge* will be eligible to participate in 2014 badge preregistration. – See more at: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/2014-cci-badge-preregistration#sthash.pEhnR1yH.dpuf

Essentially if you attend one year, you have first shout on the following year. Adapting this for Glastonbury registration so that if you’ve attended one year, you get first shout is something I’m putting forward to GFL as an idea. There would have to be a way to ensure it’s not the same old people turning up each year, but at the same time the people who have supported it for years, or in my case decades, should really get something to ease the agony of these Sunday mornings every October….

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The Rise and Fall of the Reading Festival part three

Part one. Part two.

This is the story of my experiences at the Reading Festival and last time I explained how the festival in 1996 was, and still is, one of the best festivals I’ve ever went to. This time I’m going to outline the years of 1997 and 1998.

After 1996, myself and my mate Zeb decided whatever happened we’d do 1997, and after doing that year’s Glastonbury together we were looking forward to that year’s Reading even if the line-up was, well, a bit thin to say the least.

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Britpop was on it’s sad last leg’s but it was to have it’s Altamont moment to put it out of it’s misery with the release of the third album by Oasis, Be Here Now.

This was due to come out on the day before Reading Festival (you can see the date on the cover), so it’d be something that would be the talk of Reading. None of this especially mattered to Zeb or myself as we were planning to get down early, get pitched in the field right opposite the arena and hopefully get neighbours as good as the previous year.

At this point I was in a bit of a mess as I was between homes, but I wasn’t going to be miserable so off to Reading we went early on the Thursday morning. If I remember right we left around 8am which got us down to the site at Reading around 10am and into the field by the arena shortly afterwards to find that field pretty much empty, so we picked a spot, set up, got our wristbands and headed into to town to recapture the fun of the previous year. Sadly the nice pub we found in 1996 was now closed ~(though the other one which sold breakfasts was still open) so we headed into town to Sainsbury’s to stock up on beer and snacks.

On returning to the campsite we saw the field was now rammed and that a group of students were surrounding us. We got chatting to them and found out they’d bought a copy of Be Here Now on tape, but couldn’t play it. Luckily Zeb had brought his Walkman with some external speakers, so we all huddled round the speakers in a humid field in Reading one Thursday afternoon in August in 1997 to hear the most eagerly anticipated album of the Britpop generation.

It was rubbish.

The sense of crushing (and I mean crushing) disappointment was high. Even now when I hear a track from it I can’t stop laughing at the pompous arseholeness of the album. It is a testament why pop stars shouldn’t be allowed to take too much coke and believe their hype.  It also somewhat set a tone for the weekend.

The students pretty much kept themselves to themselves for the rest of the first night, not to mention the weekend, and we’d noticed that the festival was full of youngsters. Not the 18-20 year old’s who you’d  normally see at a festival like Reading, but kids from 14-17. We were in a field of them, so we didn’t find anyone cool to chat to or get horribly drunk with so we just wandered round the site for bit on the Thursday, drank a lot and spoke to a few other mates who were there. Next morning we’d promised to go to the pub for breakfast and not miss half the first day because we were drunk.

Friday saw us get up early on a dry, but very humid day to walk to the pub for a bit of breakfast and there we had a chat with a few other older festival goers who also noted just how young the crowd were this year. Still, we had a jolly time in the pub and early in the afternoon headed back to the site to catch Earl Brutus who were a band I quite liked.In fact most of Friday was spent watching the type of band I quite liked at the time with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Stereolab being warm ups for me for Suede who were probably at the peak of their success at the time and did indeed turn out a great show. but the day felt a bit lacking in something, plus the festival really was full of very, very young kids who’d clearly never been out by themselves  let alone being set loose alone at a festival as tasty as Reading could get.  As we headed back to out camp after Suede we noticed how things felt a lost tastier than previous years and the general standard of rowdiness wasn’t as good natured as previous years. When the acrid smell of burning plastic hit our noses we perked up and kept our eyes open for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday saw us again up early. We sat around drinking and playing cards for a bit before heading for breakfast at the pub which saw us both getting very, very, very drunk and heading back to leer at Saffron from Republica who are a band I slowly grew to like, but were the perfect mid-afternoon festival band of the 90’s in that you didn’t need to pay attention when you were hammered. In fact the Saturday was mainly like that with the exception of The Orb who played a great set, and although I didn’t mind the post-Richey Edwards Manic Street Preachers they were a shadow of a band without him, which still put them ahead of most of their contemporaries, but that night’s gig was average at best,

In fact the whole weekend was average at best so far which is something Zeb, myself and some friends who were sitting around a mate called Dig’s camper van on that horribly humid Saturday night were saying. It was alright, but nothing great.The entire weekend was a sticky mess which was alright.

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Sunday saw me woken up by Zeb saying someone had nicked his speakers and he was fed up. We toyed with leaving early but he wanted to see The Verve and I fancied Metallica so we stuck the last day in order to see an amazing average Metallica set with 49 minute bass solos and a tedious line in macho nonsense.This was after noticing again that the site was full of 15 year old’s running around like something from William Golding’s worst nightmares. We did however notice this was mainly focused round where we were camped, and the fields just around it, so we thought things would be ok that last night but as the first rumour of toilets going up in flames hit, followed by us actually seeing one go up in flames we really weren’t having much fun.

Monday saw Zeb wake me shortly after dawn. It was starting to piss down with rain and the humidity broke hard. I packed up quickly, legged it with Zeb in what felt like an escape and headed back to Leicester thinking I was pretty much done with Reading and anyhow, I had more important things to sort out like my life, plus 1998 seemed a lifetime away.

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1998 however did roll round and things were on the up. I’d got myself what would be a long term girlfriend (Tash) and by the time Reading rolled round we were living together in Leicester, and the line-up for 1998 looked bloody wonderful as it’d been supplemented by the collapse of the 1998 Phoenix Festival.

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The Saturday especially was just a brilliant line-up. Friday was good because of Ash, and Sunday was the tale of the tailend of those Britpop chancers (and the Divine Comedy who were a touch apart) but on the whole I had to go.

I don’t remember if Zeb wanted to go down or not, but Tash wanted to go so we went down together for what was her first festival of this scale, and although I was wary of the toilet burning antics of the previous year I knew we’d not get a camping spot anywhere near the arena as we were going to get the bus from Leicester to the festival which was a first for me, though I was wary of it.

As it turned out I didn’t need to worry. The bus left Leicester on a warm sunny day the Thursday before the festival and arrived eventually late in the afternoon onsite. Tash had overcome her wariness about going to a festival with 60,000 other people and was now very excited, which was tempered somewhat when I told her we had to lug our stuff along from the drop off point to find a decent place to camp. We got through the gates and walked for a while as all the campsites near the arena were rammed, so we went further out and eventually found a good spot near an older group of grungy types rather than the hyperactive kids who seemed to be ricocheting across the site by the arena.

After we set up, we went to get our wristbands before going to a walk into town to get beers and snacks. As we did we bumped into a mate Doug, who I’d first met six years earlier while working at a comic convention back home in Glasgow. He was there with his relatively new girlfriend, Andrea who he’d met in Yorkshire and they were camped together fairly near us so we hung out for a bit and Tash and Andrea amazingly hit it off like old friends from the off, which was nice for Doug and myself who could talk comics, and comic related nonsense while getting quite drunk on the first night.

On the Friday we’d arranged to meet up and I’d take them all to the pub where Zeb and myself had used for breakfasts, drinking, darts and chatting up the ladies, though I was obviously skimming over the latter this year. Here we all continued to bond and have a jolly time til we went back to the arena for a day of music, and of course the mighty Ash! to help us on our way Doug had bought some speed so against the better advice of Tash and Andrea we proceeded to neck some which quickly made us both slowly fall asleep. In fact all I remember of the Friday night is the Afghan Whigs coming on and passing out before waking up nearly 12 hours later with a very narked girlfriend in the tent next to me. After some desperate apologies We went to meet to Doug and Andrea in the pub to see a very sheepish Doug who had also passed out the previous night. I came up with the bright line ‘I don’t think that was speed’ to which Tash and Andrea ripped the piss right out of me for saying the bloody obvious.

Moving on from Doug and my own stupidity we looked forward to the Saturday line up which was spectacular. Tash and myself had agreed we’d take a break during Supergrass to get changed for the night and some food, but otherwise we were camped in front of the beer tent on the right hand side of the stage (my favourite spot) for the day from Bis onwards.

This was more like it. The music was good, Asian Dub Foundation showed just what a spectacular band they are, while Doug, Andrea, and Tash were confused by Lee Scratch Perry but I bloody loved what he was doing which was making all the 15 year old kids waiting for Foo Fighters eyes and ears bleed.

After seeing Foo Fighters for the sixth time in three years, we went back to the tent to get some food and change quickly before the double bill of The Prodigy and then the Beastie Boys. There was a bit of needle between the bands after the Beastie Boys had criticised the song Smack My Bitch Up by the Prodigy and had asked them not to play it in their set before the Beastie Boys came on. That resulted in Maxim from the Prodigy to make it perfectly clear what he thought, and the Prodigy played a blinding set before the Beastie Boys also played an amazing set. Ultimately the fans won!

Sunday was a pretty poor line up as it was the Britpop chancers day, so we all got very drunk, enjoyed a lovely set from the Divine Comedy, while ignoring the dross like Gene and Shed Seven before seeing what was the last time I saw a great set from New Order. Unfortunately for Garbage they had to follow that, and sadly although they were good, they were a bit overwhelmed by what had come before not to mention the occasion itself.

As the night ended we said our farewells to Doug and Andrea with a vague promise to meet up whenever the next comic convention was held, and off we went for our last night under canvas. Now there was a bit of trouble from all accounts but we never saw anything where we were camped, though when we were leaving to get our bus back to Leicester we saw burned out toilets and a lot of wrecked tents.As said, Reading was tasty but this was a different sort of rowdiness which felt much, much darker than just people getting drunk and being loud, but we were yet to see the festival change from one where people who loved music turned up to see bands, to one where people turn up because it’s something they do before going to university. That wouldn’t be clear to me until 2001.

Before that however there’s 1999. That’s for next time.

 

 

The Rise and Fall of the Reading Festival part one

I’ve spoken about festival culture in the UK from the late 80’s, and had a huge focus on detailing my history of Glastonbury in previous blogs, but I’ve not really touched on Reading Festival, so here’s my little potted history of my experiences at Reading, not a history of the festival itself though there’s a little bit of that in my story.

Reading was always a festival I had no interest in when I first stumbled across the idea of festivals back in the 80’s. This is mainly because it looked bloody awful with dinosaurs like Budgie, Gillan and Whitesnake making up the headline acts, but the nadir of the festival came in 1988 which featured Meatloaf being bottled off stage and the festival itself becoming a bit of a laughing stock.

The following year saw the festival give itself a royal kick up the arse when Mean Fiddler took over and suddenly made the festival attractive to a new generation who weren’t just into metal and wanted something more, so within a few years Reading gained a reputation for having bright young talent from the Indie scene across Europe, while still getting the big American bands.

Part of the attraction of Reading was the way you could buy a day ticket, so if you wanted to go for just a day to enjoy a band you wanted to see you could which was a huge advantage over Glastonbury, but as I’ve pointed out before Glastonbury wasn’t just about the bands. Reading however was, and if you didn’t want to sit though bands you hated then the day ticket was a nice way to dip your toe in.

I didn’t get myself down to Reading until 92 for the day to see Nirvana,  which was the last time I’d go until 1995, but even on that one day I instantly loved the thing for the sleazy, drunken end of summer party that it was. See, the wonderful thing about Glastonbury is that it’s a celebration of everything good, positive and wonderful about summer, our culture and society generally. Reading used be a farewell to that as well as wallowing in the Bacchanalian joy of everything good and bad about summer, and also, as it was held in a pretty dreary city which suffers from not quite being London, but not quite being somewhere where it can develop it’s own character and culture. In other words it’s a perfect place for everyone to impose what they want upon the festival.

I don’t remember much of 1992. We turned up early on Sunday and had started drinking the day before, plus when we got in we carried on drinking hard so by the time Nirvana came on we were hammered. I can at least say I may have been there in body, and possibly, spirit.

I did a few other days over the next few years, but ultimately the day trip is fun but it’s not the full experience as it’s really foreplay for the main event, so after 1995 and an incredibly fun day which saw me with very short, dyed red hair for reasons which to this day I’m unsure about, but I did decide to dye my hair red which made me look like this.

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This was taken at the legendary lost Leicester pub, The Pump and Tap on a Sunday shortly before Reading in 1995, and the other chap with the long red hair is Steve, who now has no hair at all, but there you go….

1995 was fun and everything as we were getting in free as we’d got free tickets from the brewery as I worked for the same local group which also owned the Pump, so we belted down early on the Sunday, got hammered and I do remember Neil Young being quite bloody awful.

After 95 I wanted to do a full Reading Festival and lap up all the sleazy joys it offered, and with Glastonbury taking a year off in 1996, there was a gap so in early 1996 myself and a mate, Zeb, (who’ve I’ve mentioned before) came up with the plan to go down.

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That however deserves a blog of it’s own, so in the next part of this I’ll go into the details of what still is one of the best three festivals I’ve attended in over 20 years of going to festivals…..

Even the Guinness Book of Records Hates the New Superman Outfit

This weekend at Kendal Calling there was a new world record for people dressed as Superman

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A bit of research shows there’s a lot of competition over this and it is indeed, a big thing in it’s own wee way. There’s one thing though from this link here…..

PLEASE NOTE:  The costume requirements for participating in this event are as follows: 

Any costume must have the blue body suit, the red and yellow “S” shield on the chest, the yellow belt, the red cape, red boots, and the red trunks.  Guinness has given us no indication that other costume variations set forth in the comics, films, or books other than the Classic Superman version or the “Superman Returns” version are considered acceptable, so- to be safe- we are limiting it to these two costume styles only.  The Rubies-brand Classic Superman and Superman Returns costumes are considered acceptable as they are officially licensed. Fan-made costumes are acceptable as long as they meet the criteria listed above.

So there we have it. Even the Guinness Book of Records thinks this is horrible…

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We are however nowhere near this yet…

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That Horrible Feeling You Get When You Know It’s All Over

It’s the last day of T in the Park today, and that means they’ll be thousands of people experiencing the strange melancholy you get at a festival on the last day when you know it’s coming to an end. It’s not just festivals, but any big event and it’s somewhat different to being on holiday, though it’s a cousin of that melancholy you get on the last day of a holiday.

At a festival you’re busy doing things and trying to plan your day as you go on. If the weather’s awful, you struggle against the conditions to wring everything you can out of it, but you know you can’t put anything off til tomorrow because there’s no tomorrow. It’s over and to rub in the fact it’s over you can refer back to your programme and see all the stuff you missed or were putting off til the next day but now you can’t because it’s coming to an end.

Two weeks ago I was in a field in Somerset having a ball. Those fields were rammed. This is them now…

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There’s a few signs that over 200,000 people were there two weeks ago. The skin is still up on the Pyramid Stage, and there’s the roads and paths, but otherwise it just looks like a field in summertime. It’s passed and gone.

I used to get the same feeling on the last day of a comic convention I was working. It’s a different feeling when you know your last day is going to be often the day when you make your money. You can get a feeling of that in this clip from Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope featuring Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics. I’m going to go into more detail about this sort of thing at conventions another time though…

There’s a feeling of loss and you suddenly realise you’re not living in the moment not to mention the reality of packing up and going home kicks in and I hate that as you can see here….

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Still, you treasure the fun you had but milking the last day of all drops of joy is what I’ve tried to do but it still doesn’t stop the feeling that’s you’ve missed so much, and then as I’ve said, looking at your programme and realising you have.

Ah well.

So even though I feel T in the Park has become a horrible corporate thing (it always was really), I feel a little bit for those people walking around today who suddenly have the dread melancholy hit them around about now as they realise it’s all going to end and all that stuff they were going to do at the festival tomorrow isn’t going to happen. It’s coming to an end and you can’t stop it, no matter how much you try.

Depressing isn’t it?

Best. Glastonbury. Ever. A brief word about Glastonbury 2013

This isn’t a full post about this year’s Glastonbury on the scale of my previous posts, but just a quick word while I recover from what was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long, long time.

This year’s festival worked as it should. Yes the flaws and increasing gentrification of the event were there and obvious, but the positives of the festival were overwhelming as this year’s festival showed just how good the festival can be, and how now the organisers are free from their partnership with Festival Republic they can move the festival back to how they want it to go. Yes, there were gaps in the organisation and infrastructure but the CND logo returned to the Pyramid stage, and the festival felt more like the pre-2000 festivals which was really quite a good thing indeed.

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Today though is about a rest, not to mention get rid of the cold I picked up. A longer post about this year’s festival is coming but it’s a damn pity this year’s festival had to end as it really was wonderful…

51 weeks til Glastonbury 2014………….

This Green and Pleasant Land-Glastonbury 2013

It’s about 10pm on Tuesday the 25th of June 2013 and we leave for Glastonbury Festival 2013 in around seven hours. I’ve been writing a series of blogs about my experiences of the festival since first going in 1992 and am about to head from Bristol to this year’s festival

It promises to be a settled and mainly dry festival. The line up is good, though the Pyramid Stage looks suitably bland. It’s all set and all we have to do is get an immense amount of stuff down on the backs of three people.

Piece of piss…

Some thoughts on this will come but right now sod it, I just want to chill in a field for nearly a week.

Bye….