Freakish weather catastrophes, great music line up. Probably one of the best I've ever been to.Â
I was onsite Wednesday afternoon, with only a few minutes to spare before my first shift. Working away from the fearsomely hot afternoon sun proved to be a blessing, by the evening time it was pleasantly cool and I enjoyed myself as a spectator, marching around the fringes. Thursday proved to be even hotter, and I gave up after the morning and spent the rest of the day hidden, baking under canvas with a radio tuned to long wave, listening to us struggling towards a loss against the Australians on TMS. I worked the evening shift that day, and mostly filled it with the second half of the one day game and Guardian Quick Crosswords.Â
On the Friday morning the rains came. Sequestered away in the compound with the backstage bar, I watched it quickly develop past the obvious point at which we were going to be granted another mud-heavy year. For a while it looked as if it wasn't ever going to stop, and I watched the lightning storm show with a bit of a sinking feeling that it would be another disappointing wet year. It was fairly obvious that there were direct lightning strikes all around the site, there were a handful of ominious explosive noises that followed these now and again. The Vodafone mobile phone signal disappeared on cue right after a particularly loud bang. Things weren't going according to plan.Â
At around 10 am there was a gap in the rainfall, and I ventured out, waterproofed, to find a fair amount of ground water and mud and tales of lightning-struck stages and evacuated fields. I made it back to the John Peel bar just in time before it all started up once again, only this time with seemingly double the rainfall. The JP stage enclosure became something of an island, surrounded by a wide lake, several feet deep. We were stranded. I have to say it almost seemed like an ambition fulfilled for me, to be stranded on an island with a well equipped pub, and so accompanied by some happy members of a band called "The Boyfriends" and some of my party, we opted to get the beers in and prepared to sit it out. On very comfy dry sofas. Cheers.Â
News filtered in, all the other main music stages, bar us were closed for various reasons, the dance village had been evacuated, Radio 1 had lost power, people were swimming out of drowned campsites. Turns out The Boyfriends had been the only act playing on site at the time they were on, and the reason they were so happy was this had probably netted them more media coverage than they ordinarily might have expected. I like to imagine they completely deserved this extra attention, for they were jolly nice people.Â Â
Eventually the storm abated, our moat quickly drained away. The rest of the day was overcast, but dry. The next two were progressively hotter once more. The mud made random wandering a bit too much of a trial, so I mainly concentrated on hanging out with friends, catching performances, and rubbernecking at the casualties who'd come under-equipped or camped naively expecting no weather trouble. Bless. I do think it might be helpful to offer basic camping tutorials on arrival to many of these people.
I had a great time.Â
Things I saw, grouped into in vague quality buckets
- Rilo Kiley – as quirkily brilliant and thought provoking on stage as they are on CD
- Dresden Dolls – daveh recommends decent band shock!
- Art Brut – Top Of The Pops ! Best thing all weekend, according to me.
- The Magic Numbers – one of those career-defining gigs where you watch a band hit the big time right in the moment. Never seen a crowd react so warmly. Lovely.
- The Secret Machines – they make music almost scientifically designed to appeal to my listening template, I was an easy win
- Stewart Lee – if not the best stand up I've ever seen, definitely something very close to it. About the twentieth time I've seen him make the same jokes funny
- Goldielookinchain – You knows it
The Not Great
- Athlete – I walked past some of this. Ouch
- Jem – Did the hit. Then the one that wasn't quite a hit. Then a Coldplay cover.
- White Stripes – crap sound, two inches of mud, didn't convince. And I like the White Stripes.
- Sons and Daughters – I was prepared to like them from what I've read, but it fell a bit flat to me
- James Blunt – although I admit the muzak styled warblings made me nod along pleasantly enough in the sunshine as I wandered past
- Bright Eyes – Ugh, spare me.
- LCD Soundsystem – seemed a bit of a waste of two drummers, from what little I saw
- The puppet show man – I think the worst act I've ever seen at a festival. By a long margin
- Sucker – fairly dull, even with both Trevor and Simon on board. Perhaps too early in the morning for me
- Garbage – not really my bag
Sorry to have missed
- Cake – they cancelled, I'm sad to say
- Brian Wilson – my fear of watching legends and the pyramid stage put me off at the last minute. By all accounts, this was a bad move
- Broken Family Band – It was just too much of a trek to manage at the time
- Beta Band – Ok , they weren't scheduled to play. In fact they don't exist anymore. But I miss them anyway