Does anyone else think festivals are crap? Well, I do, and I’ll tell you why.

First, there are too many of them. In the 70s, you only had Reading (Glastonbury didn’t really take off until the 80s). Now, if you look in the NME in any week during what we call the British summer there are dozens of them; and what’s a boutique festival supposed to be? And what idiot would arrange a major outdoor event which relies on good weather in this country during the summer?

And the toilets; you pay a small fortune to go to an event with toilet facilities that wouldn’t have been acceptable in the Middle Ages. I’m with the Manics on this one; take your own bog and don’t let anyone else use it. Next time you’re queuing to use a fetid stinkhole at a festival, ask yourself if the facilities backstage are the same; they’re not and you’re paying while they’re paid to be there (or freeloading).

At the other end of the digestive system, we’ve got festival food (and drink). The combination of inadequate toilet facilities and frozen junk food cooked too quickly is a recipe for a dysentery outbreak. Visit Leicester Forest East services on the Monday after Download and you see hundreds of Lord of the Rings extras looking for the first solid food they’ve had in a week. It’s not a pretty sight.

What about bands reforming to milk the festival circuit for huge amounts of money after years spent saying they would never work together again? You know who you are, and it’s not just The Libertines.
It’s difficult to beat Guns n’ Roses tribute band performance this year as an example of how to alienate your own fans. You take the stage an hour late with a band full of lookalikes and throw a strop when the stage crew stick to the curfew and cut the power on time. Taxi for Mr Bailey.

If you want to see your favourite band close up, forget it. You could get up at 4 in the morning to position yourself 100 yards from the stage (behind the press and TV pit and the freeloaders) or watch your heroes on the obligatory video screens from about a mile away with a warm, over-priced pint of lager in each hand. Still, at least it should sound good, shouldn’t it?

Guess what, the answer’s no. At festival gigs, the bands don’t get a soundcheck, so at the start of every set the sound engineer is frantically trying to create a perfect mix outdoors with no chance to move things around or tell the singer to listen to his monitors. As most of the sets are about 40 minutes, the sound is probably about right by the end of the set – if you’re lucky. And then there’s the festival set; all of the light and shade and dynamics of the usual set is lost in an attempt to shoehorn in as many anthems as possible. And the 2 bands that you really wanted to see are on at the same time on stages separated by half a mile of unwashed humanity.

You could always watch it on TV at home, of course, because just about every festival’s televised now. Good bar prices, drinks chilled to perfection, ice for your JD and Coke and clean toilets (possibly); isn’t that much better? Surprise, surprise; no, again. You’ll hear the bits that you really wanted to hear as muffled background noise while BBC4 feature an acoustic performance from some over-hyped nonentity before cutting back to inane presenters or an interview with some wacky festival casualties.

Roll on winter.

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