First up, on the smallest stage (aka the Carling Stage) is some necessary London-based loudness from The Parkinsons. Possibly the first ‘pit of the weekend from a band who blend a psycho fit of loudness and melodicness with shows which the bbc don’t show due to levels of nakedness, drunken antics and other illegal things. Shame. But without any censorship this should rock!
A quick scoot over to the evening session tent for band numero deux, Easyworld. You may have seen Easyworld on such tours as the recent Seafood tour… Anyway, the ladies seem to love ‘em, they’ve got that clean polished sheen to their sound that makes me picture stone-washed denim but titles like ‘you make me wanna drink bleach’ means there must be something lurking beneath the sugary exterior.
Staying on the BBC1 session stage are Oxford boys Crackout. They’ve had a crazy past few months touring with King Adora, then they did the Kerrang tour with Miocene and the now defunct Sunna, then scored the support slot with their heroes Weezer(who they don’t sound too dissimilar to in a grunged-up 3Colours Red type way) and to top that off they’ve landed a deal with Hut which has sent them off to the states to record their debut album. Well worth a few moments of your time.
The Living End are next on my agenda and in keeping with the loud volumes. I first caught these aussie punkers at Reading 99 and from that moment a bond was made. Whether it was their cover of ‘Tainted Love’ or the massive riffs with squillion mph solo’s or just the true to punk attitude, something made sense.
Take things down a few decibels for a while in the Session tent with South and Mull Historical Society, both bands have been dogged by that nu-acoustic yawnsome genrefication. South dawdle on the trousers of early Stones Roses with their indie-space-rock sound taking their broken hearts on a jouney. MHS meander more calmly down the dark tunnel of love, blindly bumping into Belle & Sebastien whilst tweely tripping over the corpse of Nick Drake.. and yes, more broken hearts and maybe some fear of the female race in there somewhere too. I think I’ll probably be jumpin’ around to Run Dmc and Iggy Pop instead of standing about trying oh-so hard to look cool to the nme’s lil dahlings.. Run Dmc, yeah, well they’re wrinkly daddies of hip-hop, trainers without shoelaces, chants of Adidas [cue some reading of No Logo here so you can chant it ironically] and generally people having fun.. yay! Then yet more wrinkles with Iggy, the passenger, trainspotting, velvet goldmine, yadda-yadda.. JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!
The sun should be setting about now. The crowd in front of the main stage will be dripping a ickle bit... who better to take to the stage than Polly Jean Harvey with her twisted yet beautiful selection of rocked up folk! Nu-Folk? Not quite got the ring of to it of Nu-Metal, which has gotta be a good thing. Polly will be falling from the noisy’n’rampant vixen pedestal to a sultry, sweet & sour queen of the Uk alt.scene within the space of her 45minutes… and add in all those other soundbites, which can’t do justice to the once little lady from a tiny Dorset village. Sadly it looks as tho PJ Harvey clashes with Hamell on Trial, a one man acoustic punker of some repute... I think I'll be at the front of the main stage unless I can manage that two places at one time trick.
Now is the choice between the band who had me playing air guitar at thirteen or former Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando who’s best known for that 'Mrs.Robinson’ Christian choon playing his brand of countrified-folk. Greenday it is then.. little introduction needed, let’s just hope Billies little pecker doesn’t appear, again. Could well be the most entertaining band of the weekend.
Then Scotland takes over. Might be worth catching all the early hits from Travis before they try to set the world to rights with a story about a cardigan… I’ll be taking in the noise and subtly sickness that makes up Arab Strap. Aidan Moffat will have his image-laden poetry about sex, drugs, drink, more sex, drunken philosophies and spying on neighbours laid out ready for a trip into your head. In the background tender noise will chew and spits like the 1st time drunk 15year old to your right, complete with their blue hair, bruises, a selection of band logos tippexed onto a bag and a stream of eyeliner flowing down their arms.
And that’s Friday done. There are probably some films and comedians to fill the time for anyone not having a party with strangers, talking about local scenes, comparing sizes of flares and throwing biscuits at people walking to the toilets. Oh and.. BOLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOCCCCCKKKKKSSSSSSS!!!!!! …ahem.
Saturday morning I usually discover I used the bag my food was in as a pillow and wander off to get some fresh slices of melon, pour in some vodka, eat a gooey chocolate bar… then time for more ROCK!! Saturday is very much the day for it. And what better way to start the day than Exeters Kids Near Water. If you hear anyone whisper “quiet is the new loud” kidnap them and drag them to the centre of the concrete jungle stage for this. The whole guitars being thrashed, singing then screaming punky drumming and soul ejection scenario in the most roaring possible way. But are they EMO?
What do you get if you put the drummer from Kula Shaker, a member of failed bingo boys Catch, a singer with a big fringe and some other bloke? Yes, very bad luck if you’re in the same smokey room as they reminisce.. hence the name Thirteen:13, maybe. Actually, they’re nowhere near as bad as that sounds, think indie stadium rock, without much britpop. That’s happening on the wee Carling stage just before Ross Robinsons new proteges Vex Red, who’re infact english and don’t sound like Slipknot or At Drive-in, take to the stage. Expect blaring rock music. THEY’S LOUD I TELL’S YA!!
Then expect lots of snapped strings. Expect the bands members to swap instruments and turns at singing. Call the rozzers and expect …and you will know us by the trail of dead, who are on the main stage and are not to be missed. Last year their second album ‘Madonna’ set fire to cynical land and next year promises a new Trail of Dead record(new tracks v.v.v.likely). If you feel like you’re missing something; soundwise the guitars are sonically disorderly with peaks and troughs between what seems like randomness and arty farty riffage. Think of the sounds needed to clear a room of smiles and flip frowns upside down with Fugazi full-volume, straight no chaser rock and with that you’d not be far off, but not too closer either. Festivals aren’t about thinking or so I was told..
For anyone who was there, Reading ’98, a band deemed “best live band in Britain” smashed up their gear and other bands things during a fucked up version of ‘Hard Days Night’. Two of them, the guitarist Will and the drummer Joe are back, without any of the urn of Symposium in sight. HELL IS FOR HEROES have taken a pocket full of the select bits of System of a Down and Tool, making a dramatic-rock-metal racket without the already over the hill hip-hoppage.
Keeping things rocky, noisy and most importantly LOUD, wander to the main stage to see the man partly responsible for all this decordant, spikey and endearing rock that’s about. Frank Black, formally frontman of The Pixies. Do you need any other reasons?
I think by the now the sun will be dropping and my legs will be deader than the brain cells of a Boy Band. Time to bathe in some tinkering with the quieter side of things. The evening session stage has Elbow, perfect. Their up for the Mercury prize [yawn] and the make the kinda dead man walking sound that every bear with a sore head craves. Oh and they play acoustic guitars.
Back to the teeny Carling tent for a band who in the past year have made themselves a healthy hum, The Cooper Temple Clause. That may sound like a stupid long name but there’s nothing half-witted about their space-rock with leanings in the directions of Primal Scream and Spirtualized. There is a huge thrashed out guitar always waiting in the wings to take centre stage while along a thick gravel path twisted thoughts flow from the mouths of the multiple singers. There is an evil edge to this band, maybe not sharp and obvious enough to stab you straight away, but it’s there in the samples and journey between feedback and twinkling with whispering to make the ladies swoon.
Keeping in sync with the media machine and hype are a band I first heard back in ’98 after getting a demo off their singer Som...'cuse the ott name dropping, but I did, honest. My oh-my how things have changed. Openers of the main stage last summer, this year a lil off the top spot the session stage are My Vitriol. They may seem like media luvvies with their name checkable producers and videos on mtv, but musically it’s still the same sound which needed to be shouted about years ago. Seattle sounding, etc… you know what I’m on about.
Keeping with the kidz of the Uk scene, next up a bit more nu-metal flavoured stuff from Welsh boyo’s Lost Prophets. If you know your Incubus from your Deftones, you can easily blend the two to get Lost Prophets (or not in the case of record sales). Think Kiss rock-anthems with Metallica and Public Enemy CD’s propping up the sound system.
As for tonights headliners, none of them really thrill me. They-used-to-be-good Manic Street Preachers will be adored regardless by the glitter brats in t-shirts with statements of nothingness. Backyard Babies will be every leather wearing bikey’s second coming – much like Motorhead writing songs which isn’t The Ace of Spades rehashes. Mogwai will be Mogwai in that art-school musical architecture game of building piles of emotion before knocking them down with time changes, while people appear engrossed in their anus’. Rocket from the Crypt will probably do their over-rehearsed show they did back in ’98, with perfect looking post-elvis quiffs and pristine riffs completed by jibes about how they are true to rock’n’roll blah-bloody-blah... probably best if I join a conga line in the Bicardi tent.
Sunday By now the campsite will be 40% landfill and 3days in a field with bonfires and either dusk or mud will be taking control of the mood. It’s best to sleep through til the first band to make the most of the last day and what a day. Right from the off on the main stage with Boy Hits Car. Describing as the thinking mans Limp Bizkit they’re loud, exciting, use an array of lyrics imagery and generally won’t be small for too much longer. Much like a band who follow, Staind, who already been in the top of the US charts for quite some time and yeah, limp bizkit are once again in the equation but this time as label bosses and Freddy does some backing singing. Marked in Tool territory but without Maynards lyrics conundrums with the odd acoustic heart-stamped-on ballad to help record sales. Couples kissing to ‘outside’ is a forgone conclusion.
If the sound of those two don’t float your boat Biffy Clyro in the evening session tent may just do the trick – they’re yet another grungey rock band but from Scotland…. Also with the Murder City Devils pulling out someone else good might slip into this slot, can’t confirm who at present but I’d hope it’s Birmingham’s answer to idlewild in a female form, Twist who are shortlisted to be added.
More metal to follow, this time a choice between two bands, both know how to rock, but the choice is between the At the drive-in punkier sound from Hundred Reasons or the dj/beat-based (hed)PE who put the more known acts of the genre to shame.
Enough metal for a while, a bit of Seafood (American art rock influenced uk indie rockers) in the evening session tent before wandering into the new bands tent for Electrelane. A hard act to describe, but the words avant garde or leftfield kinda cover what it. They verge on sped up modern life is rubbish era of blur to digestible digital hardcore soundscaping.
Now for something completely different… System of a Down! If a band with metal revolutionary cool [eurgh!] have to follow in the wake of Rage, this lot certainly have the right credentials as they prepare to unleash album number two. Their a band other bands name check and will put on a show and then some. Maybe leave your granny in the tent for this one. Speaking of which, something soothing will be required after SOAD and Gloss look as tho they’ll be perfectly timed in the new bands tent with their light’n’fluffy lemon meringue pop served with a sugary female vocal.
Keeping the circulation from stage to stage going, it’s back to the evening session tent for Mark B & Blade who’re no longer the uk unknowns… UK Hip-hop? Mmmhmm. Should be an excuse to wave your arms in the air like you jus’ don’t care! I still wonder if their success is only ever going to be industry based with their anti-music biz by numbers ranting which those in the media and marketing departments must love, but does it stretch open the fans imaginations? Oh yeah, I just don’t care *waves arms*
Last year people packed themselves into the new bands tent to see Queens of the Stoneage, so they got moved onto the evening session stage, which was probably too packed too.. so this year they’ve thrown the band at the top end of the main stage bill, let’s just hope the living through chemicals threesome are balanced enough to deliver some post-stoner rock (ask some hairy guy about that genre if you know nothing!).
Swallow the lump in your throat as it’s now time for the last bands of the weekend. The Marilyn Manson Show will be something special, I hope. Anti-church, pro-Lucifer, parents love to hate him, goths are different by all liking him whilst damning the corps he’s signed to. Feather boa’s and pyrotechnics should be a stylistic distraction from the hypocrisy.
Then it’s the man who helps to sell 12year olds toilet duck on the main stage.. I think the anger of Eminem will start a full blown branded festival revolution where the food stores will be rampaged by hungry students who will spend the next 4years paying off an overdraft, loan and credit card bill talking about how great this all was over pints of cider. There will be free Carling for all (even if it doesn’t taste too great) and unlimited credit on mobile phones for anyone with a piercing which can be done gratis by some drunk bloke sat on top of a bin. The river running beside the campsite will be full of skinny dippers. The river banks scenes of free love. The shoe gazing brigade will half smile. People will break into the backstage area and realise it’s just competition winners and friends-of-friends of band members sat around on garden furniture, so then they’ll beat up the security guards who didn’t get out a water hose when it got too hot… Not gonna happen, is it? I will have to settle for an internal conflict between seeing soon-to-be-massive super chilled break-beat crew Roots Manuva or the twinkling dreamy world of Mercury Rev.
...And then I’ll go home, imagine who else could of played to make it even better, talk about it for a month, moan about all the above I’ve missed cus they clash and wait for next year.