Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Scarlet Ribbons






You spend ages waiting for the Wychwood festival to arrive and you spend the all of the week before obsessively checking the weather on metcheck, and then it comes and in the blink of an eye, it gone and you are struggling to remember half of it; not because you were wasted, but because so much of it was good. Don’t go running away with the idea that I didn’t get wasted though, because I did.

Friday morning arrived, and, cleverly, I had arranged a review at a placement not too far from the festival site. 7 minutes away, to be precise, I had also arranged for a colleague to take over the case and for him to accompany me, so that he could be introduced and to drop me off at Wychood. Meanwhile, the Mrs would be sorting out all the equipment the car and the kids, which all seemed fair enough to me!

As it turned out the journey up was not unproblematic and the visit, which I thought would be routine, turned out to be very unroutine, but I still got to the site in the early afternoon. We had stuck some stuff in my mates car to drop off, but the ever vigilant Wychwood stewards would not let him on to the camp site without a ticket, so I had to yomp all over it looking for the Mrs and our companions for the weekend, in the end, I found them easily, if sweatily enough. By the time I found them I was knackered and experiencing some discomfort in the upper thigh region.

I was bit surprised to find them camped in the general camping area, rather than the quiet or family area, but there was method in their madness, in that the family area is only quiet until the babies start waking up in the middle of the night and then it is very unquiet indeed: which was a point. Eyeing the general demeanour of a largish group of adults setting up next to us though, I had my doubts regarding the wisdom of the decision. As it turns out, my doubts were well founded, because, although the inconsiderate gets did not manage to spoil the weekend, they made a gallant effort. I think that there should be a separate field so that there is quiet area , a family area, a general area and a selfish, inconsiderate, ego driven, immature area.

Yes, it was a festival, yes, people have a right to enjoy themselves, and, yes, we were in general camping, but it wasn’t just us that they pissed off, it was everyone else in the general vicinity and many comments were made, which only served to annoy them. On Friday I heard them laughing about who would get most annoyed with them over the weekend and who would take mostoffence at their behaviour, as happens at every festival they go to, apparently. Who, they wondered loudly, would be Angry Bob.

Why would people be proud of the fact that everywhere they go, they piss people off? Moreover, why would people pay to go to a festival and then spend most of their time sitting in the camping field listening to their own shitty music on a endless loop on a shitty little system? Why would people do that? See, I said I wasn’t going to go on about it.

There were other large groups around us who all enjoyed themselves well into the night making sleep more or less impossible, but they didn’t really bother me; it’s not the sound of people have a laugh and enjoying themselves that grates, it’s the attitude that goes with it.

Anyway, on with the unpacking and the erecting, which is not really my forte and, what with the neighours, the journey, the visit, the sweat and the upper thigh discomfort, I managed to put myself in a bad mood, at which point I left the Mrs to sort everything out and took littlest nipper over to have a look at the opening band, Danny and the Champions of The World. It wasn’t long before I was in a good mood. This lot were superb and got the thing off to a rousing start; I loved them, including an extended jam which is normally the kind of thing that makes me want to throw up. They were very close to being the highlight of the whole weekend. The little chap was amazed by them and was happily sitting in front of the stage freaking out.

We wondered back to the campsite to rejoin our companions, got through 3 bottles of bubbly in very short order and wondered back over to the festival site. The upper thigh problem was becoming more acute. We missed a bit during this hiatus and I am struggling to remember what it was we missed, I think we al sort of split up and just generally wondered around, enjoying the vibe. I think it was at this point that I missed Ella Edmonson and Agnes Milew, which, in the latter case was a bit of a pisser.

I sat out the Wonderstuff, although I am told that the littlest one loved every single beat of every song and demonstrated this fact without any self consciosusness at all. I managed to hear them, without seeing them, while sitting outside a beer tent, on a perfectly beautiful evening while simultaneously listening to someone or other playing in the beer tent and imbibing enough Old Hooky to get me properly in the spirit of things.

At some point I had a look at Oysterbands John Jones strutting his Max Wall stuff and was very surprised to find him and his pals performing in front a very sparse audience. I like John, but he always looks as if he is having a shit.

I got back to the main stage for the Men They Couldn’t Hang. I used to love them, way back when but I always have my doubts about old bands making a comeback and trading on past glories. I needn’t have worried about the Men though, they were something else.They looked suitably haggard and aged as they put on a storming set, full of the old power and passion with even the new stuff (I think it was only the one song) sounding as good as the old stuff and this fucking festival was beginning to feel like a very special place to be. All the bouncing about did nothing to improve the upper thigh situation though.

I wasn’t very good this year at seeking out stuff on the smaller stage and in the beer tent, and stuck mainly to the main stage. I did pop my head into the other places, but either wasn’t inspired, or it was too damn hot, or the sound quality was shit. There were a couple of things worth noting though; already, it seemed that the reputation for having good bogs was going to be deserved. I haven’t always been impressed with the bogs at Wychwood but all through Friday night they stayed clean and you didn’t have to queue, at least you didn’t if you were prepared to walk a few yards from the main arena, also, and importantly, the system for queuing at the bars worked brilliantly and you never had to wait long for a refreshment.

The last band on were the Super Furry Animals. I have no problem with SFA, other than, outside the singles, I am not overly familiar with them. I don't like 'em, I don't dislike 'em, they just sort of pass me by. Having said that, there is something about them that I like, they are quirky, in a good way, like the Flaming Lips and seem to just play around, having fun, until they hit upon something that is just right, and they hit the right button, very often.

The lead singer who is a very cool dude indeed, said at the start that they would play the first side of their new record. I loved that; I bet half the audience thought that were talking Greek. Some said it was brave, some said it was foolhardy to play their new album straight through like that, but, Christ, in the age of Spotify, there is no reason not to be familiar with a bands oeuvre............ and the new stuff was better than the old stuff and suited the time and the mood and the venue. For what it's worth if you like the old shit, you will like the new shit more................spotify it!

Every now and then, the singer would hold up comedy style cards, exhorting the audience to applaud or go "whoah". I suppose you had to be there, but it was funny, but not as funny as the gormless look he put on his face as he held his cards aloft.

It had been a great night, much better than I had expected, but we were seriously knackered and headed back to the tent relatively early, not without stopping at the pizza tent though. How is that a load of youngsters in a tent can knock out a pizza to be proud of, while pizza hut does its best to put you off pizza for life?
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