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Column: The Fest Medicine

It’s that time of year again boys and girls, as statuses of festivals booked and headliners announced are beginning to slowly but surely litter your news feed. Which eastern-European regeneration programme are you going to take part in this summer? Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic, the possibilities are endless. That week in the sun you’ve longed for, with nothing to worry about apart from which shifty local you’re going to hedge your bets as the potential drug supplier. What’s more, it’s only 150 quid for some of your favourite bands and a guaranteed suntan.

If it hasn’t already, the conversation in the Ram and Shackle is likely to reach fever pitch over the next few days, as you speculate over which delights your pre-festival Euro-trip adventure will take in: the history of Rome, the sights of Vienna, or the quaint beauty of Prague in the summertime. You hear that everyone’s going this year, so must bolt home to make sure you don’t miss out.

Who cares if you only know three acts on the bill, if you don’t book now you’re going to miss out on the best week of your life. But, excuse me, what exactly is this 12 pounds booking fee for? The bloody petrol to post one piece of paper?  I’d rather walk to Seetickets and pick the fucking thing up myself. No no no, lest we forget the transaction fee. Another little addition to the pot. After a few choice words it’s still too good an opportunity to miss, and the deed is done. Student loan duly spent.

The real issue of course is the line-up, aside from the latest in the interminable wave of ‘rejuvenated’ 90s throwbacks at the top of the bill, you’ll have the mandatory stockpile of indie four-chord dross, as well as the litany of Radio 1’s tips for the ‘Sound of 2012’ proving, once more, how right the BBC were. Nevertheless, because your ticket’s already booked, you look upon it with great hope and expectation. Skrillex has collaborated with The Doors, so he must be good, and Bez always looks like he’s having fun in the Happy Mondays, so their shows must be a non-stop carnival. Never mind the potential The Vaccines’ trademark one-and-a-half minute roller coasters have for filling festival arenas; that surely can’t fail.

The festival itself comes and goes in a hazy blur. You survived for days without a phone, who’d have thought it. As for your campmates, those you thought you were going to hate at the start of the week, they are now sure to be friends for life. Before you know it, you’re trudging back through the arid wasteland of union jacks and beer cans, which only yesterday had been the scene of such mass exuberance.

You wait at the airport for the “tactically timed” flight you booked to leave late on the following day to ensure that you had plenty of time to recuperate and sample the delights of the local area; a cultural hangover cure per se. Yet all you actually do is spend the most uncomfortable night of your life trying to muster a mere minute of sleep on the stone floor, whilst your friends moan incessantly of their lost wallet and their assured contraction of sunstroke. It is at this point that the reality hits you. You missed most of the bands you came for, are now a shade of red not too dissimilar to the core of the sun and everything you own is covered in the most delicious cocktail of piss, sun cream and vodka.

And that is why we love them, we’ll all be waiting anxiously for the next flurry of acts announced to be whoring themselves out across the continent, and why the festival will continue to be the bedrock of any student’s summer break. Even if Lana Del Rey is playing.

Tags: bbc, Column, festivals, Happy Mondays, Skrillex, The Vaccines

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Tom Hickman

Music Editor.
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