Our anonymous columnist offers tips on playing festivals ... including what to do if you spot a girl covered in mayonnaise
It's festival season. This weekend we played three different festivals in three days. Each one has its own identity, from boutique to big budget, and its own pros and cons. We also played Glastonbury in June, which is amazing for any band, although our van wasn't quite prepared for the sea of sludge oozing into the site. When it gave up near the entrance we had to get out and push it most of the way to our stage. Inevitably one of us tripped up and went face first into the gunge near a ripe-smelling Portaloo. He was surprisingly good-natured about it, shrugging "that's what festivals are abaaath!", albeit less gung-ho once we were on stage and heavy clods of mud were crumbling off his jeans every time he went for a rock lunge.
With this in mind, I thought I'd offer some tips on wading through this season of tents and toilets.
1. Have a good booking agent
We're blessed with ours, mainly because before accepting any offers he trawls through the lineups and stage times to ensure we're not going to be hitting our stride at the same time that Jarvis Cocker is kicking into his. There's nothing worse than pulling up to a festival and realising your slot clashes with Pulp. Just ask our mate Dave.
2. Make sure you see some bands
We've played loads of festivals this year yet I can count on one hand how many bands I've managed to watch. What with acquiring wristbands, unpacking and repacking gear, searching fields for band members, discussing yourlive set up with the stage manager, finding a bottle of water and then, inevitably, peeing, time has a tendency to slip away. We've heard tons of acts from afar, while busy with another task, which means the only post-festival conversation you can have in the van on the way to the next one is: "Did they sound like the record?" Or "What amp do you think they were using?" Trust me, these topics get boring really quickly.
3. Beware of clueless security
The scale of production at festivals is overwhelming. Over the course of a week, thousands of people pour into the site and all manner of unpredictable issues arise. For example, last week we saw a girl lying on the ground backstage, fast asleep. She'd obviously been there a while as she had sunk into the mud, her denim shorts smeared with what we hoped was mayonnaise.
She was surrounded by security guards who had absolutely no idea what to do. You could see them flicking through their inventory of "what if's" in their mind, and panicking because at no point had they learned how to handle the situation of "girl out cold covered in (hopefully) mayonnaise". In the end she just woke up and walked away, while they all pretended to inspect the tent for stability.
Obviously some security staff are brilliant and stroll around like overgrown Yodas, offering wisdom and fixing problems with a flick of the hand. When you meet one of these, hold them close and never let them go.
4. Enjoy the opportunity
Like many bands, we didn't get paid for playing Glastonbury. This is standard at larger festivals, especially one so famous and iconic that people only bother saying half it's name. This might be upsetting for some but for us, having an opportunity we'd previously only dreamed of, it was fantastic.
Some argue that festivals are bad for bands because people are less likely to see you during the year. I don't know if that's true. All I know is that when you're onstage with the sun shining, you don't worry about the rest of the year. But that's just my opinion. Our mate Dave might disagree.