Posts Tagged ‘Festivals’
I never sleep well during a full moon. So if you add that to Tinnitus playing its wicked part in a lack of a peaceful nights sleep regardless of the lunar cycle, this week has been restless. At some point around 4am Wednesday morning I started trying to compile an Easter mixtape but all that kept popping into my head was songs from Jesus Christ Superstar and Blue’s All Rise (blame a catholic upbringing and drinking a lot of cider in a town that loved pop, tacky boy bands and R&B). Despite the fact that the mere mention of these songs runs the risk of creating unwanted earworms to anyone foolish enough to be reading I didn’t want to actually put you through hearing them.
Last night as I was sat sinking pints listening to my male colleagues talk golf and scrolling through my phone the Glastonbury line up was partly announced (I know there’s more to come because Thom Yorke in some guise wasn’t listed so I am still hopeful for John Grant and Yeah Yeah Yeahs in my wildest dreams). So instead of Easter this mixtape is based on those first knee jerk excitements as I glanced through the stages. I can smell the petrichor, sloe gin in hip flasks and the mud already.
- Phoenix – Girlfriend
- Tom Tom Club – Wordy Rappinghood
- Solange – Losing You
- Villagers – Becoming A Jackal
- Foals – Milk & Black Spiders
- The Rolling Stones -Ruby Tuesday
- Devendra Banhart – Can’t Help But Smiling
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Nobody’s Baby Now
- Nas – The Message
- The Horrors – Still Life
- Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
- Haim – Falling
- Local Natives – Breakers
- Rodriguez – Inner City Blues
- Peace – Bloodshake
It feels like an exceptionally busy week for music so I thought I’d post a midweek round-up today instead of on the not-so regular Sunday Swoon (by the weekend I predict witterings over Adam Buxton’s BUG, Polica and Wilton’s Music Hall).
1. Vampire Weekend popped up with two new songs this week, Diane Young and Step. A band always synonymous of festivals, the smell of damp grass and the taste of rum and coke for me. Happy to have them back. Both songs being streamed on their website.
2. Suede have released Bloodsports twenty years after their debut album, making me feel exceptionally old. Brett Anderson is still insisting on using words like semaphore, slither, gutters and aerosols in his lyrics but I will always adore this band and Bloodsports hasn’t failed me. It feels like typical Suede and that gets my seal of approval.
3. The internet went into meltdown hyper mode on Sunday evening when Beyoncé released snippets of two new songs Bow Down and I Been On. I am beyond words as I usually am over her, super fan. Just listen. Also this promo for her forthcoming Mrs. Carter tour makes me want to live in her idea of a royal court.
4. The debut album If You Leave from London trio Daughter is released this week. It makes me melancholy and calls regrets to mind. That’s the beauty of music, when an overwhelming emotion or memory arrives from nowhere even on the happiest of days.
I appreciate that by blogging my Sloe Gin recipe that I have now addressed practically every subject I could poke my beak into. But I am no chef so you won’t be seeing any baking tips from me. I just make a cracking moonshine (even if I do say so myself). I went home to Devon this weekend firstly to visit my family, secondly to pick Sloes. For Sloe Gin you will need the berries, sugar, gin and I add Vanilla pods. You will also need empty sterilised bottles.
The Sloes aren’t fantastic this year and the hedges were practically bare. If you go foraging for them yourself then my tip would be to take a walking stick or umbrella as all the best berries were out of reach, something hooked to pull branches down would have been perfect. As it was three generations of my family found themselves climbing into bushes, along cliffs and into ditches along Berry Head to fill our tubs. The perfect Sloe is slightly firm with a purple sheen over it. Discard any green or wrinkled ones.
Once you’ve heard your berry picking party say “I’m getting fucking bored of this now” (I’m looking at you Mum) then head home and rinse your sloes. One last sense check for rotten ones would be sensible now. Now, mundane and laborious as this is you need to prick each sloe a couple of times over with a needle. Fill your empty bottle with Sloes about a third of the way up, add a generous amount of caster sugar and a vanilla pod.
I never use exact measurements, it’s more about common sense. If the sugar and sloes take up a half of your bottle there’s too much in there. All you need to do now is fill the bottle up with Gin, and you really don’t need to go buy Tanqueray. I made one batch with Gordon’s and one with Lidl’s gin last year and couldn’t tell the difference, the flavour comes from the other ingredients.
Now you need to prove you’re not a snaffling alcoholic as it takes patience. In fact three months is the perfect time. You need to place the sealed bottles somewhere cool and dark and once a week give the bottles a little shake. Someone once told me they place theirs in the boot of the car as the bottles will get the movement needed for the brewing while you drive so you don’t need to check in on them.
Once your three months is up then strain through a sieve to get rid of the little bits that remain, place the liquid in the bottles and well… get drunk!
(Sloe Gin is lovely over roasted plums and it’s also the perfect late night festival drink, warms your bones)
I’ve had one experience of V Festival & it turned into a borderline urban myth, a warning about packing your own bags.
My cousin phoned me drunk on the morning of our departure “somewhere at the end of the Northern Line”, and unsure which end at that. I was in charge of picking up more drink for the journey and she would run home to collect the tent. We met at the flat, me clutching cans of lager & her clutching the tent. My parting words before we made a dash to Liverpool St was “Have you got everything we need?” & my response was a definite & defiant YES.
Fast forward to a rainy field in Essex and you will see one girl (me) frantically emptying out a suspiciously light tent bag questioning where all the tent pegs & poles were. The other girl (my cousin) alternating between scratching her head puzzled & laughing at our useless camp. There were no tent pegs & poles. The drunk northern line cousin did not, and to this day does not, know where the bones of our tent ended up. I’m not proud that we *borrowed* a couple of tent pegs from nearby tents and attempted to raise it off the ground but it just looked like a sleeping bag propped up by a matchstick.
The only sensible solution we could think of would be to drink and deal with it later. Drink we certainly did, dealing with it later we most certainly did not. By the time we returned to the tent it was torrential rain & any resurrection was impossible so we grabbed our sleeping bags and trotted off to find somewhere to sleep.We had the promise of a van in the car park which, as my sandaled feet sank into the mud seemed like a luxury hotel to me. My excitement rapidly left me however when it became evident our rescuer couldn’t remember which car park he had left the van in. Why this was a shock I don’t know, as an earlier conversation with my cousin went something like this;Cousin: I really want to see Ian Brown Rescuer: Is he the black singer? Cousin: No, that’s James Brown. Ian Brown sang with the Stone Roses Rescuer: Oh yeah! With Ronnie Wood & the boys?
My cousin tried to keep my sinking spirits, and sinking feet, buoyed. Momentarily, after what felt like hours of traipsing the van was found… with its window smashed, and the rescuers brother entertaining in what were our promised sleeping quarters. Enough was enough. As my cousin remonstrated with the party concerned I made a bold move.
I jumped on the bonnet of a car that was sensibly moving out of V festival, literally sprawling myself over the windscreen like a badly sketched cartoon. As the driver (thankfully) gently applied the brakes I screamed at my cousin to jump in the car. A slightly baffled man found himself car jacked by two muddy drunk girls but bore it with good grace when we asked him to drop us in Chelmsford. My cousin started to gently apply the pressure on our latest rescuer. We soon found out he lived in Chelmsford, and after we convinced him that we weren’t robbers (just car jackers) he agreed to let us stay the night as the mud on our bare legs slowly dried and flaked into his car.
Back at Chez Chelmsford he donated cans of lager & a spare bed for the two of us to share. I suppose we should have remembered parents warnings about strangers but he was harmless enough, except for a fumbling attempt at *accidentally* putting on a porn channel that was nipped in the bud sharp by my cousin snapping the remote from him and telling him “that’s enough of that”. At that he shuffled to bed and left us to the spare room, tucked into our rescued sleeping bags & listening to the pitter patter of the rain.
He was nowhere to be seen the following morning, a strange quiet surrounded the flat and the sun had finally come out. Having already stretched the concept of hospitality we both had showers and headed back to V. Both having slept well & smelling of Lynx Africa.
The experience put me off über corporate V and I’ve never returned. ♥
Observing human behavior is a little obsession of mine. Living in London you especially get a glimpse into the true nature of man from your commute to work alone. The past couple of weeks I’ve gladly been to more gigs than I have tube journeys and I’ve been picking up on crowd behavior from spending so much time in fields with strangers. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a definite crowd etiquette to be adhered too. Let me know what I’ve missed. ♥
- People born tall were not genetically modified for the sole purpose of obstructing your view, no matter how convinced you are they were created for this very moment by Frankenstein to ruin your night at [insert venue name & band here]. Give the lanky people a break and don’t be mean to them. If it’s bothering you that much then you’re much better off moving than getting the pitch forks at the ready.
- If you’re going to wee in a bottle make sure you put the lid on after you’re done.
- Similarity if you’re going to wee in a cup and then throw it (anyone else witness the urine shower fest at Oasis, Milton Keynes in 2005) beware of karma. If you’re the unfortunate that ends up with wee over them, have faith that aforementioned karma will wreak revenge and get as drunk as possible so you don’t care.
- Do not be a snob about the appearance of those around you. At Arcade Fire, Hyde Park, we had the most amazing time with a bunch of ‘chavs’ (for want of a better term) from Croydon. A similar crowd at Pulp, again Hyde Park, were equally beautiful to spend time with and were so concerned they may be obstructing our view they kept apologising (seemingly forgetting about the thousands surrounding us). Your behavior is infectious so spread your excitement and happiness.
- If you are concerned about being trod on/personal space/being crowded/hurt/not breathing properly/having too many people in close proximity/people sneezing near you perhaps going to a gig was not the wisest choice. We had a lady behind us recently who constantly complained of all the above on rotation throughout the whole set.
- Be the bigger person and don’t react to anyone trying to start to a fight. I know it can take a lot to walk away from someone who gets all up in your grill but don’t let someone’s negative attitude ruin the memories you are making. Inevitably when you mix drink, confined spaces and crowds tension can bubble over but you can choose not to be a part of that.
- People move. A lot. If you don’t like shifting an inch to let someone past to get to the bar, or you don’t agree with people having a dance then stand at the sidelines or sit at home and listen to the CD. Recently had someone appalled that we were dancing (along with 500 other people)
- Don’t throw drink at people when they’re on someone’s shoulders. Firstly it’s a waste of liquid. Secondly, both the top and bottom of the human totem will only last a song or two maximum so eventually your view will be restored.
- Save your chit chat for the bar. I’m not saying don’t mutter a word for the duration but someone just reminded me that talking grates on them. I remembered a gig at Brixton Academy where two girls chatted the entire time from ex boyfriends facebook updates to outfits. It was painful and ruined the gig for me entirely.
- This is festival advice only, but if you are strongly opposed to an act do yourself and everyone else a favour by choosing to do something different with your time. I was surrounded by the disillusioned and downright grumpy during Beyoncé at Glastonbury that were not budging in their hate. The excitement around them was not catching light. If you have options use them to your advantage. That has to be better than sulking.
- If you see people struggling to take a group photo, especially lovely couples trying to capture their latest Facebook profile picture do what karma would smile at you for and offer to take their photo. People want their memories to last & it will come back around when you need it doing.
- Perhaps what I found most interesting recently was an apparent divide during Pulp. I witnessed this fall into two categories. Once when a group of women in their thirties were berating some younger girls because they couldn’t possibly be “original” Pulp fans, one of the girls said “I’m not apologising for being 18”, and quite rightly so. Also, there was a geographical split as I heard a large group of people from Sheffield pointing out people in their immediate area and sneeringly accusing folk of being from London based on how much they were dancing/shouting/singing. Music is universal and no one, and I really do mean NO ONE, has a bigger claim over music based on geography, sex, age, shoe size, commitment to the cause (Jarvis himself acknowledged that although Sheffield is his home town the songs would not exist had he not moved to London). Enjoy it for what it means to you, and not what you think it doesn’t mean to others.
I wanted to write this the moment I bundled through the flat door, it had priority over showering and changing the knickers I’d been wearing for days. However if I had followed through on this I fear it would have been the ramblings of a woman embarking on a self-inflicted, sleep deprived breakdown, ending with my tears plopping over my Macbook.
I’ve been thinking about what I would write about Glastonbury. How do you avoid sounding annoying to those who missed out or a bore to people who just don’t care? How do you sum up a festival that is going to be so uniquely different to each person who was there. Glastonbury, when embraced, becomes quite a personal experience.
I could tell you how seeing Metronomy on the Pyramid Stage on the Friday was emotional, hearing an album based on an area where I grew up on that historic stage was spine tingling for me. I could tell you I laughed until I cried at my friend’s behaviour (we decided it isn’t twitter safe so it’s definitely not blog safe to reveal details either). That Darwin Deez danced to Enya, The Spice Girls & Willow Smith (but you wouldn’t believe me right?). That despite my hesitations U2 were a festival highlight, that when I didn’t think I could dance anymore The Go! Team got me back up on my feet. That a pizza, lemonade and boy saved me from a bad hangover. That I had my wallet stolen but didn’t care as I was having such an amazing time. That in choosing to see Beyoncé I feel like I witnessed one of those historic musical performances. I could tell you that although the memories are drunkenly hazy I know I smiled like there was no tomorrow, no time constraints, no real life.
None of this really matters except to me, and those who were at my side… 170,000 of you.
We were there. ♥
NB: I was recently criticised for tweeting during a gig, but that led to contributing to The Guardian’s Glastonbury coverage. Tweeting didn’t detract from my experience at all & I just want to say thanks to the staff who gave me the opportunity to do so. Great fun!
I’ve been reading various guides over the past week, increasingly as the festival to outshine all festivals draws closer. Some have offered great advice, some have offered nothing of substance whatsoever and I suspect villagers have loaned out their idiots to the media.
Below are tips that have been gleaned from personal experience or advice that’s been passed down the line from many experienced or organised festival goers. They’re all practical, if a little gross at times, and you wouldn’t have read them in the papers. Please also check out my previous blog on Festival Fashion. ♥
- For when you need the toilet in the middle of the night invest in a head torch. You’ll appreciate having both hands free, trust me
- When you’re drunk, merry and don’t want the night to end but find yourself heading back to the tent anyway now is the time to run down and fill your water bottles so you don’t waste hours in the rush during the mornings
- Men have the luxury of peeing in a bottle, us ladies get the raw deal? Wrong! An ordinary funnel used for cookery over an empty bottle makes a homemade ShePee for those of you not wanting to expose your bum to all and sundry. Great use for the middle of the night in your tent and it can be disposed of simply after
- Don’t accept medication off strangers, even a friendly nurse could be giving you LSD instead of antihistamines
- For those of you with weak stomachs suck on extra strong mints as you head in to the toilets, all you’ll smell is minty freshness even if you feel like you’re sucking on chalky grit
- Don’t underestimate the £1 shops for camping supplies. Great for batteries, ground mats, billy cans, torches.
- Attempting to remain hygienic, lots of companies will give you samples if you’re friendly enough and it saves a lot of space on packing. Kiehls have been especially generous this year
- Get a First Aid kit together, while it’s true you can buy pretty much all supplies at Festivals, basic paracetamol and plasters will cost four times the price you’ll buy in a local chemist. While hopefully everyone remains injury free hangovers and blisters are inevitable
- For those of you wanting to get some sleep (we all try to fight it but it will need to happen at some point) invest in some decent earplugs
- Line your backpack in the ultra thick bin liners you can pick up in supermarkets (the garden refuse ones are best) to help keep things waterproof. When you leave your tent chuck your sleeping bag in one of them and tie it up tightly. This was a lifesaver at Bestival one year as it was the only thing left dry in my tent after it flooded
- Take moist toilet tissue with you, closer thing to a shower I get at festivals
- A lot of emphasis is placed on taking spare batteries and solar chargers for your phone but don’t forget your cameras! You’ll want to look back at the memories you make