Were there always this many festivals in the UK? Maybe there were and I just never noticed them, playing Street Fighter II on the SNES at aged 7 when I could have been watching early Radiohead smash it in some regional field.
I just want to play as much as possible, so I’m delighted to be doing one (or sometimes 3) each weekend of the summer.
The first main festival of the season is always The Great Escape each May in Brighton, which John and I played as a duo. It’s the largest festival for showcasing breaking artists, essential to play if you think that’s you, and notoriously hard to get booked for if you don’t know the right people. If you can separate the hype from the talent you’ll see some acts that will really change you. Several people later picked out our set as a highlight of their festival which was nice considering how many acts were on show.
This was followed by two days of the Dot To Dot Festival in Bristol and Nottingham. We packed out the venues we played at (by accident or otherwise I’m not sure!) which makes it feel really special to play. I also learned some valuable lessons about performing festival gigs. Bands rotate around so quickly and on multiple stages that the audiences can be inclined to do the same. So you have to make instant connections with people, and feel like you own the stage even if 10 bands are on it that day.
How The Light Gets In in Hay-On-Wye – oh my god!! Full of colour and crazy banners, amazing food, random eccentric professors everywhere talking philosophy, lots of free events and family stuff. I met the people who started up my first ever fan club, and I made my own sushi food.
Stowfest was superb, and we met the team responsible for the John Peel Centre For Creative Arts. They’ve worked tirelessly to raise enough cash to make this project possible, and with a bit more time and money they’ll have a venue worthy of the great man’s name. Hopefully I’ll come back and play it one day….
One of our biggest slots of the summer was at the Isle Of Wight Festival, playing twice on the Kashmir Cafe Stage. I almost forgot the absolute golden never-to-be-broken first rule of performing at festivals: Never forget why you’re there. After a day of soaking up the atmosphere, have a few drinks and discussing music I wasn’t totally on it by 1am. Lesson learned I think! We put it right with a much tighter set the next night and said goodbye to the IoW with some great new friends and good memories. Me and Harry even went swimming on the way home, complete with sauna and jacuzzi! The only way to end 3 days of muddy camping!