Monday, 14 September 2009

Festival time

There is a low, loud droning, groaning noise coming up the stairs from the sitting room.  Mr WithaY has bought a didgeridoo.

It's amazing what you can find to buy at a festival.  We came home with a selection of hemp clothing, some geckoes made of copper wire, a couple of CDs and a didge.  All the cool kids call them that. 
Indeed, I am sitting here wearing my new hempen t-shirt as I type.  I feel like a proper counter-culture heroine.  It's only 26 years since I went to my first festival*, and finally I feel like I''ve got the hang of it. Yay me.
We saw sooooo many bands.  Here, let me list them and make you go "oooh, they sound interesting".
There were several venues.  The Garden Stage is the big outdoor "main" stage, where we sat in the glorious sunshine and watched Mumford and Sons, then Loney Dear, a bonkers Scandinavian chap.   
Then there was the Tipi Tent.  This was a huge wooden and canvas venue, made up of about three big tents all linked together.  There was a bar selling cocktails (and cider) as you walked in, and lots of cushions and padded boxes and things scattered on the floor in front of the stage.  It was decorated with hundreds of strings of lights wrapped around the poles, and was really rather lovely. 
The cocktails were splendid.  They were offering a Hedgerow Something Or Other, which we decided to try.  I  asked the bar girl what was in it.  "Mostly gin," she replied, grinning widely.  Mmmmmm gin.
And raspberries.  And some sort of fruit liqueuer.  So probably at least one of the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables. 
We sat on the squishy cushions, drinking cocktails and watching an artiste called The Sliding Rule.  He was a youngish skinny guy with a mop of black hair, who played an acoustic guitar.  Well, eventually.  First he spent ages using what looked like a long twig, or possibly a feather, as a bow, then an actual violin bow to make loops of ethereal sounds, before playing his song over the top. It was interesting to begin with, but when he decided that he wanted to get off the stage to "be among the people" we looked at one another and decided to go and find another band. 
 We checked out the Big Top Stage, a huge marquee with a great light show, and saw The Tenebrous Liar, then later the Duke and the King, who were superb.  In fact, we ran into them later on, and had a quick chat, when they told us they were doing a "secret show" in the Tipi.  We went back there at about 10.30 pm and sat and chilled till they appeared, then watched them play again.
Apart from the horribly, noisily, clumsily drunk Australian girl who managed to spill drinks all over the place (including on me) it was pleasant and laid back.  Mr WithaY got chatting to a couple sat on the floor beside him, who had driven up from Plymouth, breaking down and getting lost many times en route.
They seemed pretty cheerful about it, and as the conversation progressed, the reason for their frame of mind was made clear to us.  It's amazing what people will tell you when they have absolutely no idea who you are.  They explained to us all about how they had grown their own dope, dried it, minced it up and turned it into festival-going fags.  For all they knew we could have been off-duty drugs squad officers.  We aren't, as it happens, but they had no way of knowing that.  Seems you get less clever the more stoned you are.  Who'd have thought it, eh?
Anyway, the Big Top tent.  We saw a young American band called Motel Motel who were superb, and then Beth Jeans Houghton, who stepped in to cover for a band who had cancelled. She and her band were excellent, and I will definitely go and see them again if I get the opportunity. 
I took some pictures of the tent itself, because I thought it was rather well done, and a very blurry picture of Beth Jeans Houghton which I like, despite the blurriness. 
The final venue was called The Local, and was a mouse-eaten marquee with a stage at the far end, nothing grand at all.  We saw Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo in there, an all-girl band who were lovely.  Again, definitely worth a look if you see them playing anywhere.
The highlight of the weekend for me, other than the Fleet Foxes, was the Saturday lunchtime session by The Leisure Society.  I've heard their stuff on the radio** before, and they were simply breathtaking live.  It was the session that everyone was talking about over the rest of the weekend, they are clearly superb musians and were just lovely to listen to.  The chat between them and the audience was good too, self-deprecating and cheerful, and most entertaining.  We bought their CD, and I am listening to it as we speak. 
Other bands we saw, or heard as we sat drinking tea, included Wildbirds and Peacedrums (very loud and clearly insane), the Dirty Projectors, Explosions In The Sky (hugely loud even with earplugs in), Alela Diane (sweet easy listening stuff), The Week That Was (not sure about them, we were drinking cider at the time).  And the Fleet Foxes, obviously.
We were right at the back, so the sound quality was excellent, but it did make taking a photo of the band well-nigh impossible. 
One of my favourite spots was the Tea Stop, a double decker bus cleverly converted into a tea room, with a garden outside.  We sat on their comfy double deckchair and enjoyed tea in the sunshine on more than one occasion.  Very civilised.
One visit was enlivened by the sight of a young man with extravagent Wolverine-stylee facial hair sitting on the top deck, having a cream tea. 
Me:  Look!  Up there!  It's Wolverine, having his tea!
Mr WithaY:  Where?
Me:  Up the end of the bus!  In the window!  Look...he's pouring tea from the teapot.
Mr WithaY:  But his mighty metal adamantium claws will shear off the spout!  How will he grip the teacup?
Me:  But, looking on the bright side, he can use them to spread butter and jam on his scones.
We tried taking a photo but it was too far away and we were trying to be discreet, so you'll just have to imagine it. 
We met some amusing people, particularly the two chaps sitting on a bench in the woods, admiring a beautifully lit tree.  We stopped to admire it too, and then took some pictures.  They were hugely impressed.  "We've been trying to photograph it for ages," they told us mournfully.  "It keeps being blurry."  I think that may have been their eyes, not the tree.  
....although, now I look at it again....
The woods had been decorated with lights, which I am a sucker for, and we spent a long time walking through admiring the sylvan loveliness.  
I was taken by the woodland library, but particularly by their selection of books.  Struck me as incongruous, given the setting and all. 
They had set up a few funky little installations around the site.  This one was being utilised by some musicians for an impromptu session. 
This one wasn't.
A nice time.  Just what we needed, I think.   
*A very lovely folk festival at Goodwood Racecourse in 1983.  Donovan was headlining.  Happy days.  In fact it was the Sussex Folk Jamboree, August the 6th, thank you Internet. 

** The Leisure Society review by the BBC


@eloh said...

Will Mr WithaY be performing with his new didgeridoo at the next festival?
How long do you think you can tolerate his practice sessions?
The festival looks like it was out of this much more than any festival I have ever seen or even heard about.

Thanks for taking us along.

livesbythewoods said...

Eloh, it was a lovely, lovely weekend. The glorious weather helped of course!

Mr WithaY has spent a lot of time practicing already. It's still bearable, but I will let you know when I feel that I need to stuff socks down his pipe. So to speak.

Middle Sis said...

Guy is just getting you back for all those years of guitar practice. stuff a potato up his didge, that'll stop him!

I remember you going to that Goodwood thing, you asked me to nick the poster advertising it of the old cinema wall. Me, being who I am, did. How you admired your stolen poster of Donovan.

livesbythewoods said...

Middle Sis, my emergency Muffling Potato is already in a safe place...

And yes, that poster graced the walls of my teeny flat for about 3 years after I left home! Mmmmm Donovan.