Monday 29th May 2006

Back from my first festival experience this afternoon. (2006 is turning out to be a year of firsts). You may wonder why there is so little build up to the weekend, unlike previous events that have been hyped and over hyped on this blog. The reality is Pav asked if I wanted to come along and I said yes. Purely because I wanted to see what it was like. My biggest fear perhaps is that none of the music being played would be to my taste. It is no secret that I am not a big fan of dance music. I probably sound 84 rather than 24, but anything too heavy just puts me off. Pav knew this but wanted me to come along anyway and enjoy the day regardless. I love the fact that he has his very own forum, where all his friends (while at work) can post entries about almost anything. Eventually I got around to buying a ticket, after constantly the weather for the event several times. Pav eventually went to HMV in Reading and bought his over the counter, whereas I had to wait for a special delivery at home. It arrived on Thursday, after my Dad went to collect it from the local sorting office. Great, I had my ticket. Even though there had been heated discussion on the official forums about late delivery (if any at all) of tickets. Pav even mentioned having to take a printed copy of my e-mail confirmation and my credit card to a ticket collection point on arrival. Just the thought of another further wait before I could enjoy the festival made me feel glad that my ticket had arrived. On Saturday, I bought a sleeping bag from Argos and packed a small overnight bag for my stay. I would only be sleeping for a couple of hours, before heading back so there was no need for luxury, just bare essentials. I headed off to Langley, to pick up a friend before driving down to wards the south coast. I wanted to take the M4 –> A33 –> M3 route but my passenger’s opinion was the M25 would be clear enough. They were wrong, but it was not a major delay, just stop start traffic for about ten minutes before we got on our way again. The M3 is quite a comfortable motorway (even if it does cut through some beautiful Hampshire countryside.) We made great time and were in the outskits of Winchester by 2.30pm and quickly joined by a few others. Dumping the car, changing to some suitable footwear, we were driven down in our friend’s VW Polo to the Bowl. Rather a tight squeeze with four of us in the back but it was only for fifteen minutes or so, but due to the one way system outside the entrance, we had to drive all the way down the dual carriageway to a roundabout and then turn back on ourselves, overtaking the festival shuttle bus in between. We pulled up and made our way into the ground. It was two minutes to 4pm, I had called my Dad to let him know I had arrived safely. My first festival experience, was about to begin.


Surprisingly it was not muddy, in fact it was dry but we still had a good fifteen minute walk to the main entrance. On the way down we bought our programme and Pav commented on the number he had built up on the years. We quickly tried to find out which acts were still to come that we wanted to see. Ian Brown caught my eye and a few of the DJs, who had some commercial success. Either way I was more than happy to follow the lead of these festival veterans. The walk around the perimeter, gave us an opportunity to see the main complex for the first time close at hand. The drive down the valley, had given us a great view, but as I was squashed against the window, there was no way or time for me to get my camera out. The first entrance was for VIP ticket holders, so we had to walk a few metres further down to the main entrance. There were only a few other late comers around, so as we walked down the rails, our tickets were taken off us. Gone was one souvenir from the weekend. (Why not just let me have half? Apparently so many counterfeit tickets were knocking about that they had to take the whole ticket to confirm authenticity.) We were searched for illegal substances, weapons and any banned goods, such as alcohol or glass. Then we made our way through a small break in the hedges to be greeted by the site of the fair. I had finally arrived and it was now time to start taking in the experience. I was surprised by the high number of stalls, selling an assortment of items, from clothing, hats, to herbal medicines. There was even a stall (or should that be booth) for the Samaritans. We made our way around, carefully consulting the site map to check which tend to head into. Mel grabbed my hand and took me into the Gods Kitchen tent. Now this was my type of music, chilled out, nothing too heavy. The ground was quite small, but I wondered why the tent was so big. Pav quickly told me that this was a small festival, particularly by his standards. Wow! Perhaps this was the ideal event, to take a sip of the music festival movement. Generally it was a great laugh, after a short few minutes in this tent, we moved around to the other tents and decided what to do. We were hungry, so got some food and drink. The veggie burger tasted really good, ideal way to get some energy before partying hard into the long hours. As we came out of the main dance tent, called the Electric Arena, I noticed a middle aged guy, in white Adidas tracksuit top. He shook hands with Mel, and she went ecstatic. There is a picture of her fantastic expression here. Then, as he walked off into the distance I tried to take some photos. Now, this will shock some people, but I was a big fan of indie music in the early 1990s. Sure, it was rather commercial Oasis and Blur but it was a Indie, never the less. I grew out of that phase, but still appreciate the odd guitar rift. Ian Brown is an artist I like. Sure I have not heard much of his material and only have two of his mp3s (one from the Stone Rose heydays) the other FEAR (which was the closing number on his set.) Can someone seen as squeaky clean and innocent, really be shouting and worshipping a Northern lad from the wrong side of the tracks? Before Ian Brown however, in the early evening, we went to watch Kosheen in the Live Arena with Kev, as he was a big fan of the band. In between, Pav and I went to the Shapeshifters in the Electric Arena and they were fantastic! It was starting to get dark and the capacity of the festival had been reached in terms of new people appearing from across the hill. There was a good crowd now, but I think only the hardcore festival goers. Most of the “day trippers”, (if you can pardon the pun) had gone home or would soon be heading home. Brown’s performance was very good, and I text my friend Dave, to let him know I had just seen his idol on stage. No reply though unfortunately. Fast forward several hours and perhaps the next big act was Paul Oakenfold, who I knew from his occasional flirtations with mainstream music. His set was exceptional, even to my untrained hear and he really got the place buzzing. I could go into further details about what actually happened but it would just be boring, so I have opted to take the easy way out. I took my Cyber ShotU, as it was ideal for this type of event, discreet and easy to handle. Perfect companion while out in the field. Plus I was not the only one, with some people with hand camcorders, some with digital SLRs. A bit extreme, if you ask me but perhaps if you are going to capture the moment, capture it in style. We left at 3am and I eventually fell asleep after 4am, only to get up less then seven hours later. Rock and roll. I had survived my first festival experience. Took 121 photos, but only 86 were suitable for my latest set on FlickR. There are of course, other images that have been uploaded from other festival goers. I have also added a picture of my ticket and programme, so you can see the ‘official’ logo from the day. I am well impressed with my FlickR account. In the last six months since I upgraded to pro membership, I have 540 uploaded and counting. My pictures are slowly growing in popularity as I get more comments and views every week. Hopefully they will continue, just as my picture taking improves in quality.

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