I'm just back in work after recovering from the rigours of the Reading Festival 2005. Here is a look at what happened.Thursday.
When I arrived on site at last after a 5 and ½ hour journey (it normally takes under 2!!!) it decided to thunderstorm. Hurrah I thought, four days under canvass in the pouring rain. It was only then that I discovered that I'd forgot to pack my sleeping bag, which in all fairness is a schoolboy error!! I managed to buy an extortionately expensive "blanket" which was as thin as a very thin thing. After successfully erecting my new tent (which for a cack handed bloke like me was a bit of a personal success) I went to check in at the Oxbox (Oxfam portacabin for the uninitiated) to pick up my stewarding wristbands and my tabbard. Then it was off for a wander around the site. To say it was muddy is an understatement. The only place that did not have metal walkways laid down to easy access was, you guessed it the disabled camping site. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. It was truely dangerous trying to get about. Thankfully by about 4:30 the rain stopped and it started to dry out a bit. I was back at the tent very early as there was not a lot to do on site as the festival hadn't officially started. Big day tomorrow though.Friday.
I had been allocated to the disabled viewing platform at the NME/Radio 1 stage which in effect is a massive big top that holds about 3-4 thousand people. I met my Supervisor Yasser and other members of the stewarding team and we waited for the gates to open.
The biggest problem about festivals, or any music events for that matter, is access. Music venues have been notoriously crap at catering for crip cutomers. It isn't much to ask to be treated the same as non-crips. At the Reading site each stage had a disabled viewing platform, which although some of them were a bit small, was good to see. However, the ramp to the NME/Radio 1 stage was as steep as a very steep thing. And wheelchair users were having difficulty getting up it. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed as a result of the feed back that I received from punters and was able to pass on to Attitude Is Everything.
I saw some great music on Friday including the awesome Death From Above 1979 who are from Canada and for a duo make a wonerful racket. The Subways were also pretty good too. There has been a lot of hype about these youngsters and although I like the album I wondered if they could carry it off live. Well I wasn't disappointed. They were full of energy and provided a very tight little set. Oh and Charlotte is sooo cute!!! Swoon, swoon, swoon.
After my shift I went over to The Carling Tent and saw another Canadian band called The National, who were very good and then Charlotte Hatherley (guitarist with Ash). I had inetended to go and see The Pixies but I was tired and I just couldn't be arsed to move form my comfy seat. Ms Hatherley was excellent though and Graham Coxan joined her on stage for a good ole dose of feedback.Saturday
I actually got about 6 hours sleep which surprised me. Apart from some twat stamping on my head halfway through the night as him and his mates were chasing about the camp site.
I'll remember Saturday as toilet day as all the arena bogs broke down in the early afternoon apart from the disabled loos. So my supervisor Ruth, Cat, Emma (sigh) and me spent most of theday fending off drunk non-crips from trying to use the loo. It is funny how people fail to grasp the simple concept that disabled toilets are for disabled people and that we can't make an exception for them and when they get abusive it will only make us more determined not to let them use it. And oh how I laughed when people then pretended to limp about saying "I've got a bad leg can I use the loo now". Tossers!!
I was a bit disappointed in the bands on the NME stage during my stint. The Editors were fab and a bit shocked at just how many people were there to see them but that was about it. I was quite happy to sit outside and guard the loo.
In the evening it was back to the NME tent to see The Arcade Fire. Another blogger, Turtle, had recommended this band to me and having bought the album I was determined to see them. They were quite frankly magnificent. Great swirling crescendos of wonderful noise. The tent was packed out and they went down a storm.
I then went on to the punk tent and caught the end of Anti-Flag and then Bad Religion. I think the punk tent had one of the best atmospheres I encountered over the whole weekend. And Bad Religion played to that and got everybody leaping about.Sunday
I abandonded the tent about about 4 o'clock as the two tents next door were playing a very drunken game of strip pontoon. It was very funny to hear them arguing if glasses were to be classed as an item of clothing or not!! The girls present were definately cheating too, to start with anyway, but by the sound of it they all ended up naked and very, very pissed.
So by the time I got to the NME stage for my shift I'd been up 6 ½ hours. Still we were quiet early on so we were able to relax. I wasn't sure about some of the bands that seemed to be getting a lot of attention that morning. Art Brut for example were to my aging ears a load of old toss. As for The Towers of London well they may want to be young punk rockers with an attitude problem but they were unfortunatley just a load of bollocks.
HAL were good though, as were Maximo Park.
The evening saw me back in the Carling tent where I saw Engineers. I have bought there album as a result of the performance but it lacks the rawness of seeing them live. Mad bloke Adam Green was next up ex of The Moldy Peaches. He was great fun the highlight of his show was when he enticed to young women up on stage to do the bunny dance with him. (if you've seen the Moldy Peaches you'll know what I mean).
Last up was my favourite thing of the whole festival (and this was a surprise), Echo and the Bunnymen. I last saw this band in 1984 and they are still great. They did a greatest hits package with Lips Like Sugar being the standout track for me.
I had packed my tent up prior to seeing the Sunday night bands so after the last strains of the Bunnymen drifted off into the Reading night sky I was in the Marmitemobile and off home to Essex.
I had a great time, met some lovely people and came home completely bloody knackered. Can't wait until next year.