Festivals; ruining the music and camping combination

As the Reading Festival closes, I thought I’d put pen to paper in my blog about why Festivals aren’t my cup of tea and why you’ll never find me at one, at least in their current format anyway.

So I’ll start this by saying I have never been to a festival, which for anyone reading this is either the time they stop reading or comment; how can anyone pass judgement about something they’ve never truly experience.
Festivals do combine 2 things that I enjoy, namely Music and Camping. Anyone that knows me will say I am massive fan of the Spotify music service and I could likely write a whole blog about the cloud based music service and how I use it, but that’s for another day.

2ndly Camping and the outdoors is something I enjoy and don’t do enough of. Being self sufficient, enjoying the fresh air of the outdoors, a tent, sleeping bag, a bbq or stove and camp fire, thrown in with my own taste in gadgetry incl solar chargers and portable power – it’s not quite as basic as the Scouts from when I was a teen but nowadays mobiles, email, netbooks, tablets / ereaders are part of everyday life and that’s something else for a future blog; me and my gadgets! But essentially I like camping with my modern items and a tech twist, however I think the newest trend of Glamping is a step to far.

Combine the camping and music together, along with several thousand people and I can’t think of a worse way to spend a weekend, let alone a single night! I look out of my window over this weekend and see big dark clouds followed by rain and we’re not just talking a little shower, but heavy torrential rain! The much rain plus an unsuitable field full of people and you get mud! I saw first hand while popping into my local 24hr Tesco late Friday night and saw people wandering across the carpark in their wellies caked in mud, some people had decided to ditch all footwear and were barefoot with thick mud over their ankles, in some cases knee height and you can guarantee if you can’t avoid getting caked up to your knees then mud is going to be getting everywhere and over everything – reading this back it almost sounds pretentious but I am in no way a tidy person, but why choose to put yourself through a weekend of being muddy, uncomfortable, ruin your stuff and spend the next week having to clean things!
The experience of battling with dirty loo & shower queues is not attractive and that’s after you’ve found you’re tent in a sea of canvas in a dark field while a bit worse for wear, sounds more like the story from a prisoner of war camp – though from the prices, unless you manage to sneak you’re own booze in you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for it! I think the retailers do take the p*ss but considering they have a captive audience what more do you expect from the money grabbing shopkeepers.

So aside from the rain, mud and squalid camping conditions, what about the music!? Well that’s my other gripe; the format, over crowding and just being packed like battery chickens into a field, infront of a stage. Hearing stories from those that have been, seeing photo’s and viewing some of the tv coverage, I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy music while being cramped into a muddy field with a view obscured by people, or worse flags! If your lucky enough to get in the front few rows, then you have several thousand people pushing behind you wanting to be where you are, so yes you may have a decent view, though still at the mercy of the outdoor elements, however if you’re unlucky enough to be stuck in the middle or worse at the back you might aswell sit in your back garden and listen. So why pay over a hundred pounds for such a bad experience!

I think the pic attached that I took from BBC 3 speaks for it’s self, a packed field, obscured view if your unlucky enough and if your at the back or side you get to see the concert on a screen, so why not just watch it at home on a tv. I think overall people go to concerts because it’s fashionable and it’s the “in” thing to do, rather than actually going for a good experience of enjoying camping and music. Organizers and Promoters have picked up on this new fad and with over 500 UK festivals in 2011 it’s become a saturated market, of poor quality, muddy weekends! I mean who’s stupid enough to think they can rely on British weather for a whole pleasant weekend.

If paying over the odds to spend the weekend crammed into a field, with a crap view of a music stage, while drinking an over priced beer before wading back through a sea of mud to eventually find your tent in a squalid campsite then help yourself, but for me the festival culture in the UK is overrated and a very unpleasant experience that I will be avoiding.

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