The Frootbat emailed me today, telling me and Buddy K why he won't be going to the Bracknell Festival:
I think I'm going off big festivals. It's all the standing around, you know. They should have an Oldies section, with seats. And free bowls of bread soaked in milk. And secure walking stick parking facilities. In fact, I think I'm going off big gigs - I haven't forgotten my unpleasant experience seeing Public Enemy at Northumbria U. last year - the air of uncritical drunken worship almost, regardless of the quality of what was presented. Plus a floor so sticky you had to keep moving unless you wanted to be trapped in one place. Plus lots of students - one of whom said, "You lads don't look like Public Enemy fans." The cheeky young pup! If Chuck D had been in the audience, rather than on stage, I bet he would have been spluttering and complaining as well. DON'T, DON'T, DON'T, DON'T, DON'T KEEP TALKING SHITE! And if they'd had the Beastie Boys as support, I'm sure we'd have heard, YOU GOTTA FIGHT! FOR THE RIGHT! TO BE COMFORTABLE!
I won't be going either, but mainly because just as it starts I'll be getting back from a few days in London where I'll be soaking up the delights of the Hopper show at Tate Modern. I can't really afford the time or the money to turn round and go back down again.
But in a way I sympathise with the Frootbat's reasons. I never was much one for the big event. Give me a more intimate venue like the Live Theatre, the Corner House or even the Cluny (bad though the sight-lines are), and I can enjoy myself. Put me in a field full of geeks, nerds, drunks and stoners and I can enjoy myself for a while. Then I'll start to realise I've been downing the warm lager for some time and begin to wonder how long I'll have to queue for a pee.
And oh for a seat. I'm lucky in that I can stand for very long periods. This is good considering how much time I spend in front of an easel. But there comes a point where I really would like to sit down, and the ground is not made for the likes of me and my office-damaged back.
Late last year, Buddy K kindly bought us tickets to go to the Newcastle Arena to see Radiohead. Once there, I got pissed off immediately with the fact that even though we had seats, we were forced to stand up because the jerks in front insisted on doing so. During the quieter numbers it was obvious the rest of the audience thought it was cool to sit down. Our jerks, who could after all have stood on the Arena floor, didn't seem to think sitting was the thing to do at any time.
After the gig, when they were filing out, one of them said to Buddy K, "Sorry if we blocked your view." Gritting your teeth and smiling do not a pretty face make.
The light show was good, provided by some video engineers who clung perilously high up on the lighting gantry. But then, who really gives a shit about light shows? It's the music that counts.
And I've found it difficult to find any affection for Radiohead's music, so not knowing the songs didn't help the evening. I recognised some of the earlier stuff, which has a certain melodic quality. Thom Yorke's voice is perhaps better live because he inevitably has to shout, but the sound mix was pretty poor and much of the music came across to me as extremely loud, undifferentiated noise.
A great number of air guitars were in evidence and the arena floor was a sea of waving and punching arms; even cigarette lighters made an appearance amongst the mobile photo-phones.
The support band was Asian Dub Foundation who were thunderously loud (my right ear started to hurt and the air in my lungs was vibrating), but came across as interesting. For a while. After a while it seemed like a little went a long way.
Still, glad I went. It was an experience.