Saturday, 7 August 2010

Foreign Festivals. A Justification

Nearly a week has gone by since being at Sonisphere and I miss that festival feeling. I know I’m not alone with this mindset but a festival to me is a great holiday. Literally the only aspect I don’t like 100% is camping (I should state that I’m not the sort of person who doesn’t like getting dirty, I just don’t like having a sore back). I don’t remember the comedian, but a fairly famous comedian has a joke about holidays being too long. Your standard festival is Fri/Sat/Sun of music, maybe a day or 2 before, and maybe a day or 2 after to recover. Basically, a week is needed for a festival (I find anyway). Sonisphere served as a great holiday for me this year and I had a great time there. But I now have my mind wandering again. Last time this occurred with relation to festivals, I ended up spending 2 separate weeks in Germany...

I’m not someone who chooses a festival based purely on its atmosphere or reputation. This is one of the reasons I’ve never been to Glastonbury. I’m sure I’d have a great time when there but there is never usually enough announced beforehand to make me think “YES! This is the festival for me” (I should point out at this stage; I have used a festivals reputation to discard a full weekend at a festival. I speak of course, of the Reading/Leeds festivals. I have friends that like it, but it is not for me). A festival is chosen by me based not on campsite atmosphere but who is playing at the festival primarily! Campsite atmosphere is a factor but there is a certain degree of making your own atmosphere and it fitting in with your surroundings. One of the reasons Sonisphere was so good for me is the campsite we had was pretty damn good (and I did have reservations, they were all pretty much quashed).

My experiences of UK festivals have generally been positive. The reason for this is that I’ve never been a victim of anything bad at one. Granted there have been a few attempts (including one I believe at Soni) but nothing has ever happened to spoil my festival experience. I have read horror stories (and indeed witnessed horror stories) of theft at festivals. That tends to be as bad as it gets at the type of festival I go to (I’ve heard of assaults and rape happen at others). But on a much smaller scale, festivals of all kind in this country can have an aura of relaxation, of free spirits. But it can also be one that is quite threatening (especially on the last night as once again, people prove themselves to be complete cunts). The thing which amazes me about this is that the people that partake in the cunt activities are the same ones that moan the loudest when the festival has to bump up ticket prices to afford the extra security they require to try and prevent incidents like the one they helped to cause!

I’ve been to two festivals in Germany. Rock AM Ring and Wacken. Both of these festivals had their pros and cons, much like the festivals here. However on honest reflection, I feel they are still both my favourite festival experiences. Granted, there was an awful lot about RaR which wasn’t all that fun. The epic walk to the arena and back each day is probably the main one. People at Download moan they had to walk a mile or so and at Sonisphere, it was a moan about it being uphill. Rock AM Ring had hills, bridges and autobahns (!) but more importantly, 4.5miles from where we camped to the arena. The lack of signposting probably another and the absolute randomness of the wristband collections. Of course with certain people, there was also a language barrier (a fair whack of people spoke fluent English though). However, as a rule, it was a much better experience (at both – I haven’t moaned about Wacken because I don’t feel I need to). Sonisphere was my best UK festival yet but it is not the best I’ve been to.

Foreign festivals better than UK:

• Price – Download costs near £200 for weekend/camping. Sonisphere cost £162 + £10 for Weekend/camping/early entry. Wacken cost me £100 for that. Rock Am Ring cost £130.

• Travel – Granted, festivals abroad do require (for the most part) a flight. However, factoring in the fact it costs less to buy a ticket, this isn’t so bad. Lufthansa is charging £90 for flights. Festival travel here can cost £20 if you know someone driving.

• Band times – Some people argue that festivals should be able to run later than they do. Indeed, in Download’s case, there is no reason as far as I can see why the festival cannot run later than 11.30pm. Abroad, bands play on open air stages until 3/4am, in areas that aren’t that far from where people live.

• Campsite atmosphere – Both German trips have involved helping neighbours setup, talking to neighbours about nothing. The only UK festival where that happened really has been DL07 – where we talked to a neighbour about being sent to the festival by his daughter who couldn’t go. He missed Motley Crue and had to watch My Chemical Romance.

• Incident free? – Granted, this could just be because I’ve had nothing happen to me, but at the two festivals I was at in Germany, nothing bad was reported. No assault, no theft. It was a much nicer and more relaxed place to be.

Will my next festival be in the UK? Honestly I’m not sure. As I said earlier, it really depends what the festivals here have to offer. This was written because as I type, the final day of Wacken is coming to an end, and despite the awesomeness of Sonisphere, it was not a patch on the festivals I went to in Germany. Would it be Germany next time? I quite fancy doing some other European festivals. Such as Hellfest, Graspop Metal Meeting, Novarock (though actually, its 2009 lineup was vastly superior to its 2010) and Metalcamp. I discovered other festivals as well this year which seem interesting. Main Square Festival in France and Bilbao BBK seem very good. Both of which I wouldn’t be opposed to going to if the lineup is right.

There’s no real point to this, I just felt like justifying my case for going abroad for a festival next year

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