Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Festival Time

These days you can hardly set foot outside your front door in the summer without stumbling into a festival, but back in the good old days of my youth there were really only three festivals, Reading, Glastonbury and the mighty Monsters Of Rock at Donnington.

Not being hippy types we avoided Glasto, but Reading and especially Donnington were my places of musical worship, with a bit of drinking thrown in for good measure. Kids today might not recognise the festivals of old, today's music lovers are spoiled rotten by numerous stages, special events and so many bands that you are bound to miss a set by someone you really want to see, but in the 80's festivals went as follows.....

Arrive, start drinking, watch first band, continue drinking until next band comes on stage, watch next band, drink until third band comes on stage, continue until end of festival or unconsciousness strikes.

The 25th Reading festival was a revelation, it featured two main stages with bands alternating so you were entertained almost all day, this didn't prevent outrageous levels of alcohol consumption though.

A few random memories from Reading and Donnington....

Beefburger frisbees - Some nimble fingered soul stole a box of frozen beefburgers from one of the food stalls at Reading, they were quite large, about 8 inches across (although they shrunk to small grizzled gray things by the time you got them hot in a bun) and made quite excellent frisbees when they were frozen. They went whizzing out over the heads of the crowd, causing a couple of painful blows and much laughter. It was a very hot day though, and after a few minutes people found when they they jumped up to catch the meaty toys they actually caught a slushy, fatty pile of disintegrating flesh, nice.

Ditto eggs - the same thief nicked a box of eggs which were thrown around the crowd, I think that Gypsy Queen's drummer came in for some bombardment.

I got hit by half a chicken, I grabbed the greasy thing from the floor and tried to launch it forwards across the crowd only to succeed in hitting the bloke in front of me in that back of his head. When he turned around I was looking up at the sky and saying "where the hell did that come from ?". Apologies, if you were struck by half a slippery, half frozen chicken at Marillion's Garden Party, that was me.

Bottle fights - these were particularly prevalent at Donnington, after emptying your various plastic containers of booze you chucked them away, as hard as you could, sometimes they had been used as a urinal first. James Hetfield couldn't believe his eyes at the size and ferocity of the bottle fight during Metallica's set in 1985, pausing after one song he said to the crowd "Don't you crazy fuckers want to listen to the music ?", a hundred thousand drunken metalheads continued to pelt each other with plastic piss filled bottles.

Drinking Gold Label - this is a sort of thick, heavy alcohol liquid that I presume is only normally consumed by hardened alcoholics and/or Pete Doherty, however, at Reading 25 everything else had sold out and we were forced to drink it, oh dear lord, the Monday morning hangover.

The Ever Expanding Lake of Piss - Reading 25 again, there seemed to be no drains for the men's urinals, it has been a little swampy on Saturday night but halfway through Sunday afternoon you would have to wade a six inch deep lake of piss to reach the toilets, most everyone just stood at the edge at peed in it, raising a loud cheer when some poor soul desperate for a number two made the hideous wet crossing to the stalls.

Potato fight - I think this was Donnington '84. Someone nicked a sack of baking potatoes and proceeded to throw them around, this was nasty, if you got hit by a large raw potato you would really feel it and attention largely turned away from Van Halen's set as people defended themselves from airborne tubers. The guest list folk on the sound gantry were laughing at this, until paying metalheads noticed and began to bombard the gantry with spuds, this drove the liggers into cover and handily used up most of the spuds as well.

And then there was booze, gallons and gallons of warm, flat beer, and hangovers.


  1. I don't know how Bad News got off the Donnington stage alive

  2. and that was meant to be fun??!

  3. At Reading, Adrian Edmundson came on stage in a wheelchair, which I think was a dig at Kirk from Spear Of Destiny who had broken his leg and cancelled the band's appearence, but he soon got out of the chair when he became the target for hundreds of missiles launched from the crowd.

  4. Or in the case of MJ 'Fetish time'!