An excellent festival. More completely organised than I expected. This came to prominence straight away, when a rather spacey lady handling our tickets failed to give us one of the essential ID cards that pair up with the wristband to allow entry and re-entry. A security guard stopped us from heading back in to point out the error. Anticipating anguish at the gate, and hoping that a single card and a friendly attitude might get us through, we were met by a super-friendly chap, speaking perfect English, who whisked us back to the check-in, where we waited for the woman to confirm that her stack of cards and tickets were out by one, and furnished us with the missing card. And then we were in. Things do not run that smoothly at Glastonbury when your credentials go awry!
The venue is good, purpose built, although admittedly it does have a slight air of NCP car park to it. There are three amphitheatres with banked steps of seating set facing out to sea. These make up the RockDelux, ATP and the VICE stages. The other two stages, namely the CD Drome, and the Estrella Damm stage are set up on the main paved area that links the first three, with the food market between them. There are two gigantic arrays of solar cells, apparently the largest in Europe, which at least made a handy shelter during the couple of light rain showers, even if they sadly aren't used to directly power the festival itself. There is also an indoor concert hall, the Auditori, which I didn't manage to set foot inside once, a combination of not being nearby when anything compelling was happening there, plus not quite being able to figure out where the entrance actually was!
The festival runs over several days, Thursday to Saturday, and keeps to a gruelling schedule, starting at four or five p.m., and running through till four or five a.m the next morning. It's really all about the music, as there is little else to do onsite, other than browse a few T-shirt and record label stalls, eat functional outdoor food, or drink expensive sponsor beer from plastic cups.
It's far less wear upon the legs and feet than the typical British festival, the proximity of the stages, along with the near-universal seating, and paved footpaths rather than clogging mud fields thankfully mean that it's just the marathon running time contributing to your fatigue, not trudging miles around countryside inbetween sets. The climate was pleasantly appropriate, a few spots of light rain but it was mild enough to be comfortable in light clothing all the way through the evening, so you could just stick to the basic set of clothes you came in wearing, not wrestle with lugging around cumbersome outfit changes to cater to changes in the weather.
It may be just a result of the lack of crowding, but the toilet facilites were fine, little queuing, and freshly clean each day. I recommend taking a little dispenser of handwash gel, you can pick these up in the chemists nowadays.
Another benefit of the close site is the number of acts you can practically watch. As the stages are just separated by a minute or two's easy stroll you can mix and match to take in as much, or as little of a set as you fancy. It's quite possible to watch the start of one artist's set for a couple of songs, and then wander around another three stages watching a couple of numbers at each, and still return to the start to catch the final few of the original. This all makes it incredibly easy to sample new or interesting acts on spec without having to miss out on much if any of your must-see sets. Over the three days we easily managed to see dozens of acts, with comparatively little effort.
It would take too long to run through them all in detail, so I'll just group the highlights into some buckets.posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 19:05 by cms in gigs, music, travels | 2 Comments »