There’s comes a time in everyone’s life when the wheat must be separated from the chaff, the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. Call it growing up, if you like.
Few times of year make this inevitability more apparent than British festival season. Whether curling toes to avoid pissing yourself before one of the inadequate number of portaloos finally becomes free, or spending 20-minutes attempting to find a way to the front of the bar, at this point in the calendar eight words often come to mind.
You. Are. Currently. Being. Held. In. A. Queue.
It’s enough to make you wonder why you bother in the first place. Let’s face it, spending two or three days desperately trying to see something (anything) in return for hard earned cash isn’t often much fun. That applies whether your event is in a field or car park, on a park or airstrip. Put simply, Dan Ashcroft was right- the idiots are winning, or may even have won, and right now those idiots come in the form of deceptively clever festival promoters who have cottoned on to the fact demand for electronic music has never been greater, and people’s expectations have never been lower.
How many times have you stood in an over-capacity tent and wondered if you need to see an ear specialist? More so, how many times have you got back from one of the countless outdoor mega sessions on offer, and realised it would have been far cheaper, less stressful, and probably (definitely) more fun to put your decks in the garden, get some mates round, and get on it without having to deal with a load of scallies and hipsters? The tunes would certainly be an improvement if most of our experiences are much to go off.
Of course this isn’t to say everything involving open air soundtracks feels like Satan has taken your first born. In fact, this year alone I’ve been blown away by the quality of some bashes I’ve been lucky enough to attend. The return of Bloc. in March apparently kicking off what has been a debauched few months in very fine, very messy, very techno-y and unbelievably friendly crowd-form. Gottwood the other week followed that up with what’s fast becoming my favourite shindig of the summer with a capacity over 1,000. And in a couple of weeks we’ll be returning to the hallowed Baskerville Hall for Freerotation- a party that’s hard to compare to anything else in the world.
The problem is, though, in general we’re becoming all-too used to being uninspired, underwhelmed, and overcharged. Festivals were once a rite of passage for anyone over the age of 16 who looked old enough to get in without their parents. Now they’re just a pre-requisite of the summer, like a sale at Boots. Another box on the list that needs to be ticked, even if that means putting up with substandard sound, muscular men in ridiculously tight vests, and security whose idea of respect for punters is more in line with someone kicking a small rescue dog in the face repeatedly, before dumping its lifeless body in the Manchester Ship Canal.
So what can we do about it? Well, probably nothing, but perhaps something. You can start by stopping. Stop buying into blatant money-raking offerings, stop not complaining when things are just ‘OK’; these are never cheap affairs, and so anything that comes remotely close to average really isn’t acceptable. We live in an era when consumers are supposedly in charge- we demand high speed internet on a Cumbrian peak, good quality espressos from greasy spoons, and access to an unlimited supply of tunes without paying for the privilege. In contrast, we’ll take disappointment on the chin despite spending hundreds on the tragedy, providing we’ve necked enough es and Tuborg to dull the pain.
It’s a strange case of double standards, and it really needs to change in order for us to improve our chances of not being left in some Greater London backwater fighting with poor phone signal and thousands of other tired and desperate wretches in an attempt to get home because, low and behold, nobody thought about ensuring their customers had a safe onward journey. 2015 may be too far gone to save, as such all we can do is make the most of what’s left. But please, please, p-lease let’s make it better next time round.
Everyone deserves it, especially you.