Sunday, 28 June 2009

festival survival tips

don't bimble with the cups
Reading Maximum Bob's review of Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury got me thinking about festival behavior.

The rashbre central tee shirts usually make it to a festival and yurt or two across the summer and this year it was Isle of Wight a couple of weeks ago but then Glastonbury simply viewed on television. I expect we'll hit Bestival or something else before the end of the season.

For overnighters, though, Glastonbury still can't really be beaten. Its the scale and the consequent variety. For some acts its easy enough to get proper front row. When we take a camera along, the artists (like Sharon Corr, here at IoW) will even respond with a pose or two along the lens.
sharon corr
We've also been only a few rows back for some of the guitar bands but the barrier isn't always sensible when there's muchos pogos.
Even from this slightly more distant point, it is possible to get interesting pictures to go along with the music. However, when I see people attempting to make recordings from near the front the power of the bass speakers destroy any fidelity.
I regard these festivals it as 'topping up' with some live music rather than dedicated listening though. The main bands normally get television coverage whilst the interesting side bands are nearly always edited out. This year I could make a completely different non headliners track through Glastonbury and enjoy it just as much. Fortunately some of the recordings have made it to the BBC's online set coverage although I don't know how long the sessions will be available.

One of the tricks is to remember at these events is that the fan base changes for each band, so with the exception of a few die-hards, there is a consequent opportunity to be sited where one prefers. No great problem to spot the demographic for the Maccabees at IoW. Or to notice that the obvious way into this particular stage area is not the best way to get to the front.
maccabees fans at the barrier
In any case, it sometimes its fun to stand further back and get the effects of the weather. Here's The Long Blondes at Glasto a couple of years ago, handheld phonecam in the rain.

My main point is simply to go with the flow. Glastonbury is a huge venue with plenty of stages, so part of the fun is to not be in the middle of 40,000 muddy and steaming people listening to Pendulum unless you really want to.
old glasto.

So beyond the festivals, the rashbre central advanced listening model works quite well. Its surprising, particularly around London, how often there will be good bands playing in small venues on their hopeful way up.
old glasto
Nothing wrong with an occasional stadium or park venue, if you know what to expect, but there's fun in being able to sit a few feet from the band in relative comfort with tickets than can be as low as £8. We saw the excellent Low Anthem a couple of days ago sitting in row 7. We've already got similar tix for Amanda Palmer later in the year. This Friday we're planning to become outlaws.
Old Glasto

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