Up until now, I’ve pretty much been a festival virgin. Unless you count my one day at Pride’97, watching gay men wanking in the toilets and seeing the Pet Shop Boys for 10 minutes in the glorious sunshine at Clapham Common while my heterosexual mate got snogged by a woman …
Anyway, Mosh and Anni had a spare ticket left for Download, a three-day rock festival in Donnington. So they tried tempting me by pointing out that Garbage (about as rock as I get most of the time) and the divine Shirley Manson were playing on Friday, plus there was a hotel room so I wouldn’t have to brave the horrors of camping.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t go for all three days but they sufficiently tempted me so that when the ticket was snapped up by Liam, I decided to go up for the Friday anyway. At 4pm on the Thursday the day before. Without a single rock T-shirt or piercing to my name.
Thus I found myself on Donnington race track on a glorious sunny day surrounded by moshers and rockers armed only with a black T-shirt (in a desperate attempt not to look like the proverbial accountant with a Feeder CD) to show any vague rock credentials. I hadn’t even brought my digital camera! Fortunately, nobody pointed a finger at me and accused me of being a faker.
Friendly people (well, if I’d managed to talk to any strangers!) and eye candy everywhere. If you want to see scantily clad women wearing black bras and angel wings, then there’s no better place. Plus planes flying really low overhead as they headed for East Midlands Airport. Great atmosphere.
Now if only I liked more of the music. Anni dragged me to one of the bands that were playing, but I didn’t find them particularly distinctive, so I just wondered off for a while exploring and observing. My favourite activity. At one point, I went to a corporate marketing tent and stumbled across a London ex-work colleague. She was stonkingly surprised to see me there, to put it mildly, but then got rid of me as soon as she could. Out of sight in London, out of mind.
I half-expected Garbage to play stuff from their latest album and nothing more. But no, they played most of the hits and had me singing along – even though I was far enough from the stage for the band to be about a finger high. The rest of the crowd were jumping and one guy around me was making really camp “come hither” gestures towards Ms. Manson. Which begs the question, how do you dance at a gig? I just sang along basically.
With the sun shining and planes flying overhead for that Rock! feel, the atmosphere was infinitely better than watching them in a warehouse concert venue like Wembley Arena.
Then it was a headlong rush into a cramped tent for Billy Idol. And the venue rocked. People climbing up fifteen feet to get a better viewpoint, Billy Idol launching into his hits really early on while stripping to show ladies his chiseled body. It’s just a shame people were crammed in like sardines otherwise I imagine people would have really cut loose with some wild dancing.
The end of a damn good day was followed by trampling along some English fields on a perfect summer evening back to the car, then collapsing into a hotel room. With four loud snorers.
Must go to another festival, with my digital camera. Maybe even camping. Once I’ve figured out the kind of music I like enough to react to, and of course how to pitch up a tent.