Gerry McKeever

No doubt many among us will have spent a considerable amount of our laughably-long summer break by standing in a muddy field attempting to sing along to someone or other performing at least 15km away, by lip-reading the lyrics from a 100ft TV screen, our only glimpse of the artist we have paid so much money to see ‘live’. This year has seen the continuation of the consistent rise and rise of the music festival’s popularity, but is it really a good way to go and see music?

Sure you can probably fit in between 10 to 20 bands in only a few days, which depending on the festival, is probably a massive saving on what you’d pay to see them all individually, but is it not a lot more special to devote an entire night to seeing a band, and do festival conditions let you really take it all in?

I know personally I find it hard to concentrate on even the most jaw-dropping performances when my bladder has become larger than my head, and binoculars are not generally among my preferred gig kit. However, it somehow always seems to be all worth it in the end, whether you remember any of the bands you actually saw, or if you just had a good-old paralytic rumble in the dirt.

There is, of course, the majestic half-way house that is Barcelona’s wonderful Sonar. With its reliably arse-kicking lineup (Edbanger Records Showcase = embarrising stains) and in-city location, it’s perfect if you fancy a real bed at the end of the night. In fact the continent is generally becoming a far more popular option for festival aficionados, due to the massive difference in ticket prices.

Eastern countries like Hungary, Croatia and Latvia are now offering some of the phattest festivals around, and with pints averaging about fifty pence to a pound, they’re starting to fill up with gangs of money-conscious English-speakers.

However, with the summer now a fading memory, having an easily accessible toilet while you boogie does seem like a brilliant luxury, and not having to wake up in a hot and/or wet tent after a night out is truly a blessing.  Though for all the moaning, God knows we’ll all be digging out the tents and inflatable animals once again next year.

By the time you’re packing your collection of novelty  and contraband items into the same smelly old bag, only the excited anticipation of just how digustingly, beautifully grimy it’s going to be will remain.

You have to admit, for all the material discomforts, festivals do have the habit of providing at least one unforgettable moment when it all comes together, and the yellow trickle down your inner leg no longer matters.  When eveything is blown to insignificance by the beauty of feeling momentarily united with thousands of other battered survivors. What’s more, no-one really expects you to wash for the whole weekend, yay!!!


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