We decided to stay in a "glamping" section of the festival. Which is a horrible portmanteau and in some ways an awkward compromise; it's really not substantially cheaper than staying in a hotel, and doesn't give you a whole lot more freedom, but only removes some of the downsides of camping. Well, downsides for people like me who like their creature comforts; I know some people positively like sleeping in tents. It certainly was nice to have the tent ready when we arrived, and erected by competent people so we could be pretty confident it would withstand wind and rain – we had plenty of both. And it was nice to have classy temporary toilets and washing facilities, and nice to be only a five minute walk from the festival itself. But it was also too cold to sleep well, especially Saturday night after a surprisingly clear day, and generally I'm probably not going to make camping my priority for time or holiday money in future.
I was somewhat trepidatious about the festival, based on what I'd read about music festivals, which I'm sure is partly exaggerated. Actually the whole thing was extremely well organized; they had effective but not intrusive security at the festival site, and I didn't see any kind of scary crowd behaviours. I don't know if people were taking drugs but if they were they were doing so unobtrusively, and the people who were drinking were doing so in a pleasant, sociable way and not being obnoxious. There were plenty of food options, including veggie food, not unreasonably priced and not with huge queues (I'd been a bit afraid we'd have to live on chips all weekend). There were plenty of staff clearing up litter and keeping the toilets pleasant. Even the geology was decent; although it rained heavily all day Friday and lightly for most of Sunday, the festival arena never turned into a quagmire, and seemed to drain pretty rapidly as soon as the rain stopped.
Not surprisingly considering the line-up contained a lot of 50-year-old bands, the age range of the attendees was pretty broad, not just teenagers and students; there were quite a lot of parents with young children as well as ageing rockers. It was one of the whitest gatherings I've ever been to, and had longer queues for the male toilets than the ladies', but you know. I don't know, I feel a bit silly reporting that I went to a festival and it was clean and pleasant and well-organized, but I have to admit I'm quite a boring middle-class person in general and I would have enjoyed it less if it had been wilder.
I really enjoyed hearing Blue Öyster Cult live, as well as Dream Theater. And made the opportunity to discover some new bands, partly by listening to the acts who were going to be present beforehand, and partly by just wandering up when someone I hadn't heard of happened to be onstage. The stand-out new discovery was a contemporary Swedish group called Blues Pills. But I enjoyed Haken and Anna Phoebe who are doing musically interesting things (the latter had a tabla player and a violinist alongside the more traditional electric guitars and drums), and No Hot Ashes and FM just doing middle-of-the-road classic rock well. Plus a couple of slightly quirky metal bands I'd come across and probably wouldn't have deliberately made plans to hear live, but was glad to catch as part of the festival: Alcest, Solstafir (who people were into at WGT but we didn't get to due to scheduling clashes) and Anathema. The two headline bands on the Prog Rock stage were Camel, who are in fact great, and Marillion, whom I missed because I was just wiped out by the end of Sunday evening. I probably should have heard of Camel before but you know, I'm out of touch, so the festival bringing them to my attention was a bonus.
So yes, I'm really too boring for rock festivals, but it was fun to pretend for a few days that I'm the kind of person who travels across country and sleeps in a tent (albeit a posh tent) and stands around in muddy fields in the rain to hear bands I like.
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