A long weekend of music (parts seven to 10)
Part seven: Earthquake! Earthquake! Ah, It's OK... It's Only Pete 2 Snoring.
Adam, Matt, Pete 1 and Pete 2 (left to right)
I can't believe how much of little consequence I've already written about my long weekend of music. 'Music' should really have been in inverted commas. I haven't talked much about the bands I've seen, have I? This has mostly been about the lengths certain of us are prepared to go to to enjoy our favourite sounds.
As Future Of The Left's Andrew Falkous says upon arrival, surveying the vistas of mud and the bedraggled clusters of people trying to have fun in it: "I think you're all insane."
I have rarely felt less sane than I did on the Saturday morning at 2000 Trees. I hadn't slept a wink. Pete 2 snores like a freight train with a broken silencer. I suspect we all have soft palates that reverberate with a sonic boom.
God help the Hen Party who were camping next to us. I'm ashamed every time I think of the pigtailed girl, 'L' plate still stuck to her back, standing outside their tent, talking desperately into her mobile phone that morning: "You won't snore like that, will you Snuggle? If you do, it's all over. I'll either divorce you or stab you."
She finishes the call and her panda-eyed friend puts a consoling arm around her: "They don't all snore like that, Sam."
They both cast the filthiest look in our direction.
What do we care? We're lads! Well, I'm a dad. Or a grandlad. Anyway, filthy looks lose all of their value when you are made of mud and every millimetre of the world around you is likewise soiled.
So far, we haven't mentioned Matt much, to his consternation. Without Matt, this wouldn't have happened. He was instrumental in me getting my pass. He organised the tent. He's responsible for all of this. Which is why we haven't talked about Matt, much. Plus, at the one moment that I did manage to fall asleep last night, round about 2.30am, Matt stumbled through the tent flap, waking us all up, to regale us with stories about the silent disco he'd been to.
Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm on the precipitous edge of much needed sleep, there are entire university libraries filled with unfathomable research papers that I would rather read than hear about the attractions of a silent disco.
"It's a bit weird, really. I like to be able to hear my music," he concludes, then falls asleep. And starts to snore.
Part eight: The Big Match In The 70s
I wake up out of my non-slumber needing a pee. It's broad daylight and I can hear cursing from the Hen Tent. Probably not a good idea for me to stand in the tent entrance and waggle myself about, then. There is a Tommy Walsh Eco Loo (ie a set of hay bales) behind us... but to get there, I'd need to walk past the Hen Tent. Pete 2 is still ripping up Yellow Pages in his vast nasal caverns so I decide to brave the slope to the portaloos instead.
It's on this psychotropic journey that I realise something is awry with my wellies. My feet are wet and squelchy. The mud is deep but it isn't quite deep enough to have breached the lip. It's a passing observation drowned out by the Wagnerian chorus of voices in my head screaming, with brass on full blast: "GO HOME! GO HOME NOW! YOU DON'T HAVE TO TELL ANYONE. JUST SNEAK OFF! THIS IS HELL. THIS IS HELL. THIS IS HELL!"
I have deliberately avoided war-like imagery thus far, out of respect; but just know that I've considered it strongly.
After a pee, a coffee and a veggie sausage sandwich from the Wide Awakey Bar (something like that... it's playing calypso, reggae and bossa nova and is as brilliantly wide of the mark a soundtrack to the ceaseless pizzle as the BBC choosing Slayer to bed the highlights of Kate and William's wedding) I feel quasi-human.
I slosh through a couple of miles of mud to the car so I can recharge my phone, 'dry off', restock on Minstrels and listen to a bit of Danny Baker on 5 live. I upload a picture of the site to Twitter. The empty car park has 3G, you see, so that all of the cars can Tweet each other plans as to how they're going to enjoy skidding around and getting stuck in the fields come home time. Vindictive fibreglass bastards!
Falco calls me, probably distressed by the picture I've tweeted: "How is it?"
Then I try a laugh to soften the horror in my voice, but burst into quiet tears I'm hoping he can't hear. He has to drive here to headline the Cave Stage later.
"Not many people are going home, though," I lie.
Part nine: In The Muud [sic]
Welsh bands are playing today. My duty gland kicks in and I drag myself back to the tent. Squelch. Squelch. Squelch. Ripley felt like this when Newt fell into the ventilation shaft in Aliens.
Andy, Matt, Pete 1 and Pete 2 are busy cooking breakfast. Matt has a chef's hat on. It's what Viv Stanshall would have done. I look around their grimy faces, fighting adversity with supermarket sausages that are going to need to be incinerated to be edible, on account of the malfunctioning cold box, and I love them all. I hope none of them get food poisoning, though. Especially Andy, because my bed is in his path. The streaks of mud on my sheet from last night are incontrovertible evidence of that.
The first band I want to see are Among Brothers. I try a beer beforehand to see if it helps, and it does. Among Brothers play complex math electro folk pop with more stops and starts than an Alfa Romeo bought at a disreputable auction. They look defiantly wrong in these surroundings. Alex has a jumper on that encompasses all that was right/wrong with the 80s in one fell knitting machine pattern swoop. Its sheer implausibility here threatens to split reality into pastel chevrons.
Their music is similarly ambitious, wrong/right and incongruous. I'm an admirer of their recorded work, very much so, but live - here and now - it's all a little too fussy, too city scenester, for it to elevate me out of my muud. That's how we're spelling 'mood' today, kids.
By all accounts they take flight in the last third of their set. I've baled by that stage to see Bastions. Timetabling two Welsh bands to be on at the same time was always going to cause a headache. But only for me. And I've got a headache anyway.
Pete 1 has never seen Bastions. He comes along on my recommendation. I think. There's a good crowd at the Cave Stage for them. I haven't seen them since Focus Wales in March. Their evangelical post, post hardcore (ie I don't know what the heck to call it) is perfect for this particular morning at this particular festival. It's a communion of noise. Singer Jay joins the audience.
"We're in this together... surviving... we couldn't do this without you and we hope we're going someway to making this weekend worth your effort..." is what he's saying with his actions. What he's screaming is altogether more complex and poetic, but the fundamental message is the same.
The new song they play at the end of the set is slow, grinding, immense and a fascinating progression from their debut album Hospital Corners. Bastions aren't selling out, but they will definitely sell out, if you follow me. They ruin the mud and transform my afternoon. Fantastic.
The rest of my day is transformed by fine Gloucestershire ales. Festivals - good festivals - are all about freedom. I wouldn't dream - truly - of having a drink and a dance in the afternoon of a humdrum day. But here, surrounded by the relatively like-minded, regardless of the mud and the failing wellies, equidistant from an excellent bar and even better stages populated by the kind of bands I shell my money out for, I am happy. I refer you to the first entry in this triumvirate of verbosity for evidence of what an achievement that is.
Part 10: The Pit Against Common Sense
I watch a band called Hundred Reasons, who I'm told were a big deal to good people not so many years ago. The sun comes out. There are people dressed as lemmings trying to lift their lemming-y feet in the mud. A man-size cardboard Lego Indiana Jones slowly disintegrates in the ooze. Hundred Reasons sound like they may have invented Lostprophets and their ilk. I like them much more than I expected to.
I haven't seen 24 either. Or had a Nandos. Maybe I was abducted aliens at the start of the millennium. Or maybe I got married and had a child.
Future Of The Left
And so, Future Of The Left are here. I've already seen Jimmy in trainers he'll never run in again. Falco looks amused and aghast in equal measure in a red pac-a-mac that looks to be outperforming my over-priced Aquadry Water Resistant System. Jack camped here last night. Julia arrived by train.
Dan, their unfathomably young sound engineer ("sound foetus" in band parlance), is here feeling nervous about his first festival gig. He refuses a drink to settle his nerves.
There are folk I recognise from Deeside (all hail Falls!) and Birmingham (take a bow Mr Hartin) and Cardiff and Newport. And what they're most excited about seeing is Future Of The Left. I shan't bang on. I was too happy drunk to absorb any details. I bellowed along all the way through. I loved every second of it. They were loud and ace and make every second of rain and mud and sleeplessness worthwhile.
Dan needn't have worried. He does an excellent job, as always.
Jimmy's childhood friend Marc gets up to play extra guitar and 'kills it'.
Polymers Are Forever is monstrous.
Andy surveys the hundreds squashed in the tent, knee deep in goo, with a perplexed look on his face. He says something to the effect of what he said earlier, but with more feeling and expletives.
"Thank you for coming to see us, for standing in the mud. You're all insane..." something like that.
I think we probably are. But some bands are worth it, and Future Of The Left are one of the very few.
We drink and talk the rest of the night to shreds. Andy and Pete 2 manage to crack a picnic table in half. I get drunk enough to sleep. I wake up hungover and sad to be saying good bye to 2000 Trees. We yurt people commemorate our weekend with an impromptu photo outside the tent.
The words to that song are surprisingly appropriate.
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