Sunday, 21 September 2008

EotR - a rambling mess of a tale (part 3)

After another morning of tea and Bad Science I arrived at the comedy stage around the time it was due to open, however it soon became apparent all was not well. James and Sarah were spotted attempting to prise open a side door before coming round to announce to the waiting crowd that there was going to be a slight delay as they couldn't get in the building. It transpired the person with the keys had gone AWOL and in the end there was nearly an hour's delay while they were located. To keep everyone busy Rufus Hound arranged some sort of strange game involving everyone holding hands, which being an unsociable git I studiously avoided. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made, as two biologists suddenly appeared and started talking to Robin Ince, who happened to be standing a few feet away from me at the time. I got brought into the conversation as they were talking about the teaching of science in schools which I'd been chatting to Robin about the night before and suddenly I found myself sat on a bench behind the comedy stage with two real scientists, Robin Ince, Josie Long and Maeve Higgins while Robin recorded us all having a chat about science! I'm pretty sure this must actually have happened as I was stone-cold sober at the time, but it still seems slightly unreal looking back on it. I did not expect that the highlight of the entire festival wouldn't involve a band, but this was it. Having the opportunity to speak to people so enthusiastic about science has made me realise just how much I care about it myself and made me want to somehow get back into studying it, if such a thing is possible after the crap grade I got for my original degree. Whoever had the keys and overslept - I thank you.

Sadly due to the stage being so late opening I had to miss James Dowdeswell to run off to The Wave Pictures, who were in top form and had the massive crowd they deserved rather than the feeble handful at Latitude (being up against Blondie and Grinderman was always gonna hurt). Another bonus of the comedy stage being delayed was that I could get back in time to see Terry Saunders' Figure 8 which I'd been interested in seeing since it was first announced for End of the Road but thought I'd have to miss as it was due to clash with the Wave Pictures. I'd been warned that it might not work particularly well as there was a certain audio/visual element to the show that couldn't be recreated at the festival but nonetheless I really enjoyed it, although I'm not sure how well it went down with those in the audience not appreciating the Elliott Smith references. A brief trip to see Kimya Dawson followed, but it was impossible to get past the very edge of the main stage area so I abandoned this rather swiftly and made my way back to the comedy stage for one final time in order to catch some of Darren Hanlon. I have no idea why a singer/songwriter was on the comedy stage but it suited him well, there were some hilarious stories between the songs, its a shame that with the comedy stage so out of the way not many people had turned up.

With all the comedians I'd been hanging around with (I'm not a stalker, honest, they were just the only people I'd spoken to who I managed to find again at any point) having to run off and get paid I was back on on my own for Billy Childish, who I knew by name but wasn't overly familiar with. It was a decent set and a bit more lively than most of the bands I'd seen but by the end I was slightly bored of hearing songs which could all have been obscure Jam B-sides. It would seem the last 30 years of music have completely passed him by, so it would seem his place as one of the founders of the stuckist art movement was more appropriate than I'd realised. Darren and Jack Play Hefner Songs seemed to go down incredibly well with the rest of the crowd, unfortunately Hefner were a band who largely passed me by so I felt quite out of place surrounded by people who knew every word. It was enjoyable nonetheless and marked the second appearance of the Wave Pictures, with Franic Rozycki and Jonny Helm playing bass and drums all through the set and David Tattersall appearing at the end to play some ridiculous dueling solos with the Hefner guys. A third appearance for David was soon to follow during Jeffrey Lewis's set which was one of the best performances of the weekend and also included a brief appearance from John Darnielle singing backing vocals on the Crass song Do They Owe Us a Living? Before The Mountain Goats own set. Both Jeffrey Lewis and The Mountain Goats are bands I desperately need to buy up the back catalogues of, brilliant sets from them and the biggest and most appreciative crowds seen in the big top all weekend. Missed most of Calexico unfortunately but made it along in time for perennial set-closer Crystal Frontier which was a great last(ish) song to hear at the festival.

By this time I'd ended up with all the comedians again and we decided to see what was going down in the woods. Sadly the security started coming round to close the area off at midnight but we weren't giving up quite that easily. We fled into the undergrowth and managed to stay hidden for some time but we couldn't very well just stay crouched down in silence and it would seem we made our move too soon. Before we had a chance to escape security were on us and marching us back to the main arena. After re-grouping it became apparent some people had managed to evade the security guards so it was decided another attempt was in order. With Tom Bell distracting the steward I was able to get into the service road (being the only one of us with a pleb wristband) from where the next attempt was to be made. We managed to locate the box needed to get over the fence but the cursed security were already waiting for us on the far side. They were threatening to throw us out by this point but one more attempt had to be made as we still hadn't managed to meet up with those who had avoided security the first time round. We eventually found our way to them but yet again our adventures were cut short by the damned yellow-jackets. This time they were taking no chances and escorted us the entire way back to the arena. We may not have managed to have a secret party in the woods but the attempt had been one of the most entertaining moments of the weekend and certainly the most surreal. I'd spent quite a long time worrying what going to a festival on my own would be like and I never once considered that I'd spend Sunday night hiding from security guards in the woods with a bunch of comedians who I'd been watching earlier that day, funny that. While my night didn't quite end there this post most definitely has to, nothing of any great interest happened and I've spent more words than I ever thought possible describing the weekend already. It was a truly incredible three days and if I had the money I'd be buying an early bird ticket for next year right now.


dunc said...

Two scientists, Robin Ince, Josie Long and Maeve Higgins.

Throw in Daniel Kitson, David Gedge Claes Tingvall and all of The Deirdres and you've got my ideal (and in reality possibly hellish) dinner party line up.

Richard said...

You didn't tell me you were actually on Robin Ince's science recording! Well done, that's some quality blagging...

NRG said...

I think all I did was introduce myself and recommend a science book at the end, I felt a bit out of my depth with people who were far better read than me and the tape recorder being turned on was the final straw, I dried up completely and just sat there reassuring myself that it was really happening.