Even during my teenage kicks years I was never a natural festival goer. Maybe it’s down the fact that pitching a tent that doesn’t collapse within hours seems to be beyond my capabilities or maybe it’s down to me possessing the kind of pale skin that the average Goth fantasizes about. Certainly being someone who suffers badly from hay fever doesn’t help but mostly I think it’s down to the plain fact that music just sounds better in an enclosed space, preferably smallish, with decent soundcheck beforehand. It does, doesn’t it?
I could list a number of things that I dislike about the average music festival although I wouldn’t quite go along with Edwyn Collins’ ‘Yes, yes, yes, it’s the summer festival, the truly detestable summer festival’ lyric and I even once spent over a week at Stonehenge – a very interesting time albeit I’d struggle to name a single band that I actually enjoyed. I even trooped back the following year and by then – this was 1983 – I’d learned a valuable lesson, which was that a combination of scrumpy cider with magic mushroom tea is best avoided. In fact, it probably makes the Buckfast Challenge seem a sensible idea.
Despite having the reputation of being a hippy dippy festival where everyone wore tie-dyed clothing and discussed ley lines and chakras, Stonehenge was by this point attracting an element that were more Hate and War than Peace and Love. More and more hard drugs were being sold at the festival site and tooled up Hell’s Angels occasionally took great delight in attacking punks – although I never witnessed any aggro myself.
Even with some badass bikers on the rampage, compared to the Loch Lomond Festival of 1980, Stonehenge could probably appear as reasonably harmonious.
Taking place in the Cameron Bear Park, the first Loch Lomond Festival apparently proved pretty successful although I was living dahn south and couldn’t attend. The line-up was impressive and included The Skids, The Stranglers, Dr Feelgood, Buzzcocks and The Boomtown Rats, who opened their set by airing their new single, I Don’t Like Mondays, live for the first time in Britain.
The following year’s festival, which I did attend, will probably be remembered more for the violence that took place on the Saturday rather than for the music, which is a pity because The Only Ones, Stiff Little Fingers and The Jam were all top notch.
Throughout the day different factions fought running battles with each other. The Punks fought with the Skins, and the Mods fought with the Punks and the Mods fought with the Skins too, although I forget the exact sequence of the fisticuffs.
Before all that, in an attempt to skip in, my pal climbed a massive wire fence (described the year before in Sounds as ‘impregnable’) only to discover once he’d started his descent down the other side that there were a number of brown bears on the that side of the fence.
It was called Cameron Bear Park for a reason.
He decided to pay in.
Anyway, the atrociously named T in the Park celebrates its 21st birthday over the weekend – the first headliners back in 1994 being Rage Against the Machine and Blur, whose Parklife had only recently been knocked off the top of the British albums chart.
You’ve likely guessed that I won’t be there this time around but there are though a number of acts I would rather fancy seeing; primarily Pixies, Paul Weller, Wilko Johnson, John Cooper Clarke, Call to Mind, Vigo Thieves, Franz Ferdinand, The Stranglers and a couple of bands I’ve recently featured in this here blog, The Moon Kids and The Human League.
Fresh from playing a string of dates across Europe supporting Jack White, this bunch are also playing and will be taking to the BBC Introducing Stage at 8pm on Saturday. This is The Amazing Snakeheads live at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club a few months ago with I’m A Vampire.
Remember folks, anger is an energy.
For more on T in the Park click here.