I had just said goodbye to JJ after a rather wonderful lunch and couple of pints. I was heading away from her car, walking back to the campsite and a lump came to my throat and a tear fell from my eye. "For fuck sake, Reidski, get a grip," I screamed at myself. "It's only a fucking music festival!" But it wasn't any music festival. I had been to countless music festivals over the years. Chilled out at Glastonbury, got down with the indie kids at Reading, went mental for the Manics and Pistols at Phoenix and relaxed and drank loads of guinness at the odd Fleadh or two. But the festival I was heading back to was like none of those. It was the Download festival and it was the worst weekend of music I have ever had to put myself through. It was the 13-15 June 2008 when the football European championships were on - big reason for not wanting to be at Download there.
For the uninformed, Download is heavy metal and associated music. For the uninformed, heavy metal and heavy rock music fans are probably the worst sort of music fan.
Thought it might be fun - well, first night was Motorhead followed by Judas Priest followed by headliners Kiss. Well, it wasn't fun, it was boring as fuck. Motorhead were tedious, but, hey, they then launched into a few late 70s numbers. Only for only other sad bloke on his own to come up and start fucking talking to me until Motorhead walked off stage. "Who are you here to see," he asks. "Err, Motorhead were the only band I wanted to see the whole weekend but, as you can see, they have now gone off and, as you talked to me for half of their set, I've missed them," I reply. So, off I go to hang about elsewhere away from Kiss's number one one fan, or so he told me, to check out music on the other stage. Some shite metal band are on, so I have my fifth or sixth pint of cider of the evening. I trundle back round to the main stage and Judas priest singer is coming on stage on a Harley Davidson motorbike. "Please, please, please take a run right off stage," I think. But he doesn't. Instead, he gets off the motorbike and starts shrieking over some goddam awful music. Exit Reidski to watch some emo shit on the other stage. Yes, should have said, some emo gets a look-in here also. I then decide to go back to tent and read and drink whisky. Then it's walk - well, should really say trek as the campsite is a 30 minute walk from the stages - back to catch Kiss, thinking they would be funny. They weren't, they were fucking tedious, embarrassing and a musical disgrace. Spinal Tap did this much better than this. So off I trek back to tent after about three mind-numbingly bad songs to read and drink more whisky. I then don't get any sleep all fucking night as heavy metal fans are all fucking anti-social cunts (JJ, I know I vowed never to use this disgusting word again, but surely I can use it when referring to the people at Download?) who stay up all night being really noisy and vicious and parading around the campsite saying they are going to set alight to tents and get enough people together to beat up all the security guards. I didn't participate.
Ok, shit night, but when the noise kind of stopped at about 8 in the morning I did manage a couple of hours sleep until meeting JJ and how I needed to see her. First, though, I had to take something to the car and made the long trek to the car park. Got there and thought, oh shit, where the fuck is the car? My problem being that rows and rows of cars of indeterminate shape (all cars look alike to me) and colours (I am colour blind so cannot easily pick out colour of car that I want). So, after hour or so of looking I call my son - he is the reason why I am here, but more on that later. He comes to my heroic assistance - much as he and his mates did with the tent (but that's a boring story of my incompetence and impatience and desperation for a pint). They evenutually track the car down and I get on with what I need to get on with. And then meet JJ outside this hell hole. We had fantastic time and, as I say above, I then have to go back to the abyss. But, after pulling myself together, I did perk up as I had the idea of spending the evening in the car park, listening to the football on the car radio - can't remember now which games were on that Saturday night. So was all happy about that and missing the music cos there were no bands on on the Saturday that I had any interest in at all. So get myself a couple of pints and my book and take the long trek to the car - this weekend is a series of long treks, innit? Get to the car and, am just about to put radio on and it hits me: can't get MW on this fucking car radio! Shit! Get a stupid fucking local FM station whose presenter declares this evening a "football-free three hours". Shit, won't even get the scores. But, at least it's an indie station so sit - very sadly - in the car listening to music for three hours. Sitting in car, I just know from experience, is a million times better than watching the headliners on the main stage - The Offspring, who are the worst band every in any history of any world. Terrible excuse for a band. Then it's long trek back to campsite and being kept awake all night. Heavy metal cunts!
Hey, get up for last full day. Music is shite. How many more burgers am I going to eat? When am I going to wash? Can I take 70,000 festival-goers on in a fight?
Anyway, cannot remember any bands I watched, but seem to remember quite liking on of them - Simple Plan, I think they were called. Watch the headliners on the second stage, the Finnish band Children of Bodom, who take their name from a massacre of a group of kids in Finland many years ago - how sweet. Their vocabulary between songs consists of telling the crowd, including me I suppose, that we are the "best motherfuckers in the motherfucking world, you bunch of motherfuckers." Don't think I'll be introducing them to my parents the next time we all get together!
And then another sleepless night. And not too bad getting out of the car park. And drive down the motorway. And could not wait to get through my front door. But, first, it was put my son through his front door. About six months previously, I promised the boy that I'd take him and his mate to Download. Everyone said I was mad. I thought I could handle anything. I couldn't handle Download at all, the weekend, the superb lunch with JJ notwithstanding, was a fucking nightmare.But, as the boy got through the door and I annnounced my goodbyes, he declared this to be the best weekend of his life. I gave him freedom. I gave him a couple of beers. I hardly saw him all weekend. He saw lots of bands that he's right into. I felt like a nice dad, at last!
But, hey, I was glad it was all over. Fucking horrid!
* Lloyd Cole and the Commotions