Bloc Festival 2012 what really happened


Hello Good People who read this blog

After my last personal review of what happened, here is the story behind what really went on.

This is what I have been told, I cannot certify that it is true.

It is rumoured that : “The Pleasure Gardens run by the Shangri-la people were rented from Newham Council . The council lent them some of the money to pay them rent for the land.

What they didn’t mention before then was that there was asbestos on the site. Newham Council rented the land out knowing that there was asbestos there beforehand but did not remove it.The Shangri-la people then had to find another million or so pounds to have the asbestos removed from the site themselves.

This delayed the renovations of the main venue on the site , an old warehouse, which was not fixed in time for the big opening the previous weekend .It is currently still covered up and has scaffolding around it. They also did not decorate the site and were unable to do other works beforehand, and a whole part of the site was closed off leaving less room.

The Bloc festival people , who are separate from the Shangri-la people, sold tickets on the basis that they were running a festival on the entire site including the warehouse. The capacity of the entire site with the warehouse renovated would have been 15 000, the event sold out, but the warehouse with an estimated capacity of 5000 people was still out of bounds.

The main venue then became a circus tent placed in a corner of the festival not far from another big tent where Steve Reich played, and the ship. But putting up a circus tent meant there was less land available as free space for people to circulate, land surrounded by deep water, the festival being situated at a dockside.

The layout was poorly thought out in terms of people circulating from one venue to another, so that there was not enough room.”

I also heard that later “there was a confrontation between the crowd locked outside and the police and that cement blocks were thrown. (I cannot certify that this is true!)

“Also both the Pleasure Gardens and the Bloc Festival have gone bust.”

Ok well that’s the end of the rumour, it still leaves many unanswered questions for me such as why they were not letting people into venues while the acts were on and leaving us to queue outside when the tents were virtually empty , thereby creating a crowd outside, why no one could help me find the exit etc..

Got to go now…please see my previous post for a more embellished poetic version of my experiences.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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Bloc 2012 Festival Review


Bloc Festival Review or why you shouldn’t try to have a good festival in a paranoid London devoid of all common sense.

Hello Good People who might read this blog….


Postscript July 10th 2012: When I wrote this post, it was from a confused punter’s perspective, I’d just experienced the festival ,left early and the next day was trying to make sense of it ( and also review the music in my own daft way). I start off blaming health and safety rules being over the top then get very worried as I leave, due to angry crowds outside and  people being cramped and prevented from going where they wanted inside . Since then I heard a totally different story from the  festival crew, which I wrote on July 7th. I now feel totally differently about the whole thing. If the information which was told to me was correct, then I think that some people  were neglectful of public safety to different degrees and maybe when large sums of money and major investments are involved, we really do need health and safety rules.


It’s been a long time, sorry about that, I did start writing this blog under my real name but it didn’t really work, so here I am back briefly as Born2rant, to write about a festival I went to yesterday that could have been great, but which I decided to leave before it all went to pieces.

This will only be a review of my limited experiences. I guess I arrived at the Bloc festival site at London’s Pleasure Gardens around 4.30pm by 10pm I decided it was sensible to leave but had a lot of difficulty getting out.

I was due to hang out on the ship MS Stubnitz, which has successfully been sailing around Germany as a mobile art installation and general chilling out party place for some time. It takes coming to crazy Britain for the Germans to realise they are far better off back home where things are more liberal, the state has less control, and the general public has not lost its ability to make individual sensible decisions without external legislation. Forget gloating about how great and wonderful the British are when I was trying to leave the Bloc festival, it was like trying to escape from a “psychedelic concentration camp” and that was entirely due to Great Union-Jack waving, right Royal Diamond Jubilee, aren’t we proud to be having the Olympics in London, paranoid British madness.

I arrived at Pontoon Dock around 4.15pm. There seemed to be a lot of stressed out people in orange jackets obstructing the oyster card bleeping machines, so people got confused where to “touch out”. They ushered me to a bridge to cross over the road and immediately my bag was searched, then further on more people in orange jackets asking me for a ticket. Other punters were clutching tickets printed out from the internet, I thought that strange to start with, it might be OK for using a budget airline, but without computers, scanners, ID and a whole big security system how can you tell if a computer print-out is genuine? I asked where the guest entrance was after some confusion I was directed to a gate a few minutes walk away.

At the guest entrance I had my bag searched again, then a sniffer dog climbed up the back of my legs, then my bag was searched AGAIN!!!! I complained politely but complied. They couldn’t find my name on the guest list but gave me a wristband anyway because I was saying all the right names. I had to put the wristband on myself, also a bit strange.

It took me a few minutes to chill out after all the security measures, and dealing with stressed out people, lots of security guards on the site, and mobile CCTV units, but the security man I spoke to was friendly enough and to be fair all the police people I spoke to during the course of the day were polite, but then all the paying public I met at the festival were also extremely patient and polite considering we were treated like dangerous animals throughout the festival, and the people who payed £125 per weekend ticket must have been peeved.

At first I went on the ship, the MS Stubnitz where I had a great time. In Germany they do not have many health and safety regulations, and do not scream announcements to passengers on the tube to say that due to a little drizzle that people are bound to fall over and kill themselves on the potentially slippery floor. Therefore I think the general public were probably quite shocked to be on an actual fishing ship with many steps, some damp from rain, and bits of metal to step over, no warning signs and generally to be in a place where you actually had to take responsibility for yourself and keep yourself sober enough to watch what you did. Also there was a big central hole leading from one deck to another, this had some fencing and chains around it to stop people falling in.  From the all dancing deck below, I could see many punters going to the edge of the hole and testing to see if the fence was secure. I felt like saying “You are at a festival, you are free to enjoy yourselves now, so forget the fences, forget health and security rules and just enjoy the lack of them for once”. I feel that the British public and especially Londoners, are brainwashed at all times to seek fences and rules in order to feel safe. Of course bad things could and do happen, but life is dangerous, you can’t control everything, get over it and try to enjoy life!

People on the ship were having a good time, somehow in spite of sniffer dogs and CCTV everywhere, the odd person was skinning up on the top deck, most sat drinking beer, smiling beneath the warm sun bouncing off their sunglasses. Below many moved to the music whilst taking copious pictures of the ship on their phones. Downstairs there were at least two bars and padded “seating bars” around tables where they used to freeze and chop fish. The ship was an awesome place to have different party rooms, the angular industrial music bounced off the ship’s hull in a suitably sheet metal way.

My only gripe about the ship was the music, I would have preferred dancing to Led Zep’s Immigrant Song, that would have been perfect or some kind of heavy metal version of  the Ride of the Valkyries would have been great.Here is some Led Zeppelin with  The Song Remains the Same just for effect,old fart I am!

But the DJ I heard on the Stubnitz was mixing French café style accordion music with deafening heart-stopping bass and drum music, note I did not write “drum ‘n’ bass”. I am too old and psychedelic to know what type of dance music I was listening to but it was experi and mental. I left the relaxed atmosphere of the MS Stubnitz to go and see Steve Reich around 6pm.

This was another “odd thing” , I noticed that they put some of the biggest crowd-pullers on early on both evenings even though the music ended at 6 a.m. Gary Numan was due to be on at 6pm the following day (today). I started to realise that maybe there were “problems” with the festival. Well to be fair all festivals have problems, they are always a headache to run for the organisers but some are worse than others. You really need to know what you are doing when you run a festival, especially if you plan to run it in a dock full of water and then place barriers so people can’t get out.

I found the hugest biggest queue  zigzagging its way round a small bit of the site, but people were patient and well-behaved, I hardly saw anyone attempt to push in. I must have queued for over 20 minutes, everyone was saying they’d never seen anything like this and we could hear Mr. Reich playing from outside, we could not understand why security did not seem to be letting anyone in.

Once we got in the tent was only a third full and yet he had been playing for over 30 minutes. The sound quality was not good, the audience was pretty thin, so this did not help the general feel of the gig. Many people were waiting for their friends to be allowed in.

While watching Steve Reich there were times when I wanted to sit down or leave, but both options were difficult from where I was standing, once people were allowed in from their long queuing they tended to head into the crowd and stand and the only way out I could see was through the entrance with hundreds and hundreds of people blocking the way. I looked around and saw there was a zip in the side of the tent, if I’d been feeling trapped I thought I could always use it to get the hell out.

As people slowly and steadily dribbled into the tent, while many left, the music livened up a bit. This was when a full rock band ensemble in the form of Bang on a Can, complete with sheet music,  started to play. It was enjoyable but stilted at first. They sounded like ‘Yes’ doing a version of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, in fact I was beginning to wonder if Steve Reich had been listening to the final few minutes of Tubular Bells when he wrote it. I’m sure others must have thought the same as me! But then I decided that perhaps Steve Reich  wrote it first and Mike Oldfield and Yes who copied his style. Playing repeated patterns in unusual time signatures is the link. Steve Reich must be far more influential than I realised and I must listen to more of his stuff.

Here is Bang on a Can playing Steve Reich’s  2x 5 (2008)

( turn the volume up first, sorry about any ads that come up, try AdBlock)

But although Steve Reich is no doubt a genius and influenced Yes,

I’m afraid I much prefer the following clip which sounds remarkably similar,

compare the two introductions!

Perpetual Change by Yes  (1971)

OK I digress but it’s my blog so I can, and hopefully not bore the pants off you

After Steve Reich I couldn’t get back onto the ship because by now there were long queues and barriers preventing people from going on board, this made good sense to me because it was quite crowded and there was only one way on or off, unless you jumped into the water, but I still think that if people were left to their own devices that they could have managed to see it was too crowded before boarding instead of being restrained like stupid sheep.

I went for a walk about but there wasn’t a whole lot else going on, the cheapest Amber Leaf rolling tobacco on site was a staggering £7, so I decided to go to the local shop. I couldn’t find the way out as described on the map, so I went to the main way in. There were by now already hundreds of people stuck outside the entrance, and the security process was slow and they were clearly not in a hurry to let anyone in, I have never seen anything like it before, they allowed just a handful of people in then would let them wait a few minutes before letting in another few people, meanwhile crowds were building up outside.

I asked one security guard if I could go out and come back in again. He said “NO” sternly. I explained that I had a weekend ticket. He just said “You can’t leave till later and when you do leave, you can’t come back in again”. Since there were no camping facilities, I decided he was stressed out and uninformed and I continued to look for the exit but couldn’t find one, I asked another security guard but he didn’t seem to know anything.

Then I looked for the queue to go and watch Amon Tobin on the main stage. Another very long queue, at one point that queue got muddled into the ship queue and no one knew what they were queuing for or where the queues ended. After queuing for 20 minutes in the crowded area outside, I found the main tent almost empty once I got in.

It made no bloody sense at all.

This was a joke, why was everyone queuing outside virtually empty tents in a limited area surrounded by deep water, since the whole festival was in fact at an old dock?

Amon Tobin  came on. The 3D projections were fantastic. They had a big installation of a kind of cube shaped wall, I’d seen similar things at multi-media art installations, but this was huge and exciting to start with. Amon Tobin was inside one of the cubes which was see-through, it was a bit “Spinal Tap” but I’d rather have seen Spinal Tap.  I was bored, maybe if the sound had been better I would have enjoyed it. Like so much music in 2012, the visual element seems to be more creative and interesting than the sound itself. Maybe you disagree, here is a clip, it sounds better than I remember , it was visually stunning but after a while it was repetitive ( sorry Amon,I’m sure you are a nice guy, it’s just not my kind of thing)

While I was watching the show, all around me a load of very drunk vertically challenged girls wearing too much fake tan, too much make-up, with silly hats and no clothing but a few bits of white fur and denim, were hugging each other violently and squealing. They took millions of photos of each other to put online, they disregarded the music which was very loud and hard to ignore. On the side of the stage there was  a guy pointing a camera on the audience in a type of steering-wheel shaped frame, which I thought might be a CCTV camera scanning the few people that were allowed in. I decided it was not worth sacrificing my hearing for this, and being sober and not having a set of friends to hug, I decided to go outside to look for something else to do.

By this time there were a lot more people just hanging around outside trying to get into the various venues, queues here and queues there, it was ridiculous. Then when I walked past the main gate even more people were even more tightly packed and waiting to get in and being processed at a snail’s pace as if they didn’t actually want to let them in. Those waiting outside seemed remarkably patient, I am sure some of them had maybe shelled out £55 just to see Amon Tobin , the festival was sold out, but they were unable to get in, others may have paid £125 for the two days and the last DLR train back home would not leave that late.  I felt very sorry for these people waiting, thinking that they might not get in for more than a hour or two before they’d have to go home again. I went for a walk around the dock like others who got fed up with the queues. Thirty minutes later the crowds trying to get in were chanting and then someone let off a flare, the exiled crowd cheered, I wandered off for a bit enjoying the sunset and beautiful clouds, the weather was fantastic and there were some nice walks around the dock away from everyone.

But when I came back to the entrance the people waiting to get in had disappeared, something had happened. Inside the festival the crowds were growing a bit and all this queuing was taking up a lot of space, although walking around was no problem, but it was a pain to queue up all the time, I decided since it was dark to go home and come back the following afternoon. I still could not find the exit and a security guard suggested I went out through the main gate. Since there were no crowds left on the other side of the main gate, I thought that maybe they had all got in, but I could hear “booing” not far away. There were many metal barriers, in my way and I had to climb and crawl here and there, there were many security people thinking of not letting me out, and then telling me it was OK to leave, none of them directed me to the proper exit, if indeed there was one.

I got to stairs that led into the main road and then I was quite surprised at what I saw. A double police line at the top of the stairs, plus many more security guards and on the steps a huge crowd, well-behaved, but angry and a few shouting. Well wouldn’t you be, if two of the main acts had already been on, and you’d paid £125 for a ticket to get in?

The police were very calm at that point, some stood with their arms crossed smiling, they seemed surprised that I wanted to leave, they also could not tell me of another exit and they were very polite, and helped me to get out. As I went down the steps some man grabbed me and asked me a question and I pulled away and ignored him, then this other woman shouted to me and asked me if there was trouble inside, if it was safe to go in. I said “Yes it’s fine. It’s great!” but afterwards I thought maybe I should have told her about the amount of pointless queuing you had to do to get to see any act.

After I crossed the road to get into the station I turned around and then I realised that things were seriously wrong. I hadn’t realised just how many people were queuing to get in, there were in my rough estimation at least two thousand, booing. It occurred to me then  that either they had sold far too many tickets and had hoped to stagger the crowds by putting the main acts on at 6pm, or perhaps that having a computer print-out had allowed a lot of people to forge tickets. What I couldn’t believe is that there were ticket touts still trying to buy tickets off the queuing punters, it was clearly a nightmare situation by the large crowds unable to get in.

I worried then for my son who was working there and for all the people there because if everyone had got on the site and they continued to deny people access to all the stages, then it would be overcrowded and tempers would flare especially by 6 a.m. The thing is, the tickets were expensive, most people who were going there were well-dressed, calm, extremely patient and mostly seemed  sober and compliant with the law, but we were treated like we were criminals before we even got in. It was a disgrace. It was like being kettled and herded the whole time but at a paying gig. We were not  going to a riot, it wasn’t a political demo, in fact there were no politics in evidence of any kind, not even an Amnesty International stall.

After an anxious night I got a call from my son this morning to say he was fine.

It did get overcrowded and they had to get all the stages and DJs to shut down  the music at midnight, then the police cleared the whole area. There was another big stand-off with the police and a bit of trouble, nothing major that he knew of, none at all on the ship where the good vibe remained throughout.

I wonder now how people managed to get home from the middle of nowhere at Midnight or 1 a.m.. My son stayed there overnight. He seemed to think only one person got hurt with concussion but this whole queuing/kettling technique to deal with the crowds caused a lot of the trouble and people were very angry that they were not allowed to see the artists they had paid to go and see.

I hope there were no further injuries. The rest of the festival is cancelled. I wonder if they’d had no barriers at all,  if  just maybe people would be sensible enough to come and go as they pleased.

In less paranoid times, with an atmosphere of caring for one another and looking where you tread, could a few roadies and stewards, a St. John’s Ambulance, a fire  engine and maybe a few lifebuoys, be more than enough to keep this festival safe?

Will the police be kettling people all through the Olympic games for their own safety?

I need a musical interval, this next song was ringing through my head as I took the DLR home, very worried about my son and everyone left at the festival. In spite of my ranting about health and safety regulations, given the situation and the fact that people couldn’t leave easily, I am glad they stopped everyone from getting in, it could have been a dangerous situation, due to the tensions building up over a number of hours as well as the size of the crowd outside.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

They should just have removed the barriers so people could leave at least!

The festival was sold out, did they sell too many tickets ? I can’t see that several thousand people would forge tickets.

 If you were there and want to say something please leave a comment.

Gary Numan who was due to play today, Down In the Park

Love and Peace

Born2rant

 

Day Three of my Imaginary Glastonbury


Hello Good People who read this blog….

I thought I would start by telling you that although I smoked lots of imaginary spliffs yesterday, in real life I can’t get away with such behaviour! Dope makes me feel thoroughly ill, especially a couple of days afterwards when I get what I can only describe as “emotionally weak, panicking easily and slightly paranoid”, so these days I can only get away with the very occasional indulgence and then pay dearly for it afterwards. I love the feeling of getting stoned but I also lose keys, money, and cannot function and do all the stuff I like doing normally if I ever indulge! When I was younger I had a better resistance to these things but also grass now is  just so much stronger than the stuff we had twenty, thirty years ago.It’s a different drug these days.

So at my imaginary Glastonbury I wake up Sunday morning feeling also really rough, like a hundred elephants have been stampeding on my head in my sleep. I also get cramp in my left leg!

My Imaginary Sunday at Glastonbury is a bit of a blur, and I have in reality, little time today to write about it. So I will do this briefly( sorry!).

I look for the Healing Field to see if anyone can help me with my dope hang-over but instead find the International Music  field.

I stop and find a Javanese man who speaks no English, he endeavours to show me how to play a Sundanese zither from West Java, to accompany the singing of his beautiful wife.

After this morning’s music lesson, I traipse across the International Music field and go into a large marquee.What I see next is so bizarre that I wonder if I am imagining it all.On a cinema screen they are showing  the Chinese Revolutionary Opera: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy ( I don’t think you’ll be seeing this at WOMAD! Please note that the singer/dancer is riding an invisible horse whose movements  are portrayed through percussion)

Leaving the International Music Cinema , I stroll around the field and come across a myriad of old friends and we edge our way to the Krautrock and German Electronica tent where we find a serene performance by Klaus Schulze

For the rest of the day, we gather our resources to make a picnic and find a dry piece of ground next to the main stage. We are all recovering from the previous night, the sun is blazing and we want to take it easy and chat about our news and lives.Some of these people I haven’t seen for ten years, a festival is more efficient than a Christmas card to stay in touch. We are all exhausted but cannot resist dancing when the Ozric Tentacles appear on stage.
Domes of G’Bal

After this we can hardly believe our eyes, as a navy blue box with a flashing light on the top,gradually manifests itself on the stage. It’s the tardis!

As if by magic,out comes the original Dr. Who followed by The Beatles ,( and a small dalek groupie wearing a pink feather boa round her neck) .

We just have to get up and sing along as they start to perform  I am The Walrus.

Inevitably we get stoned again and have to eat an entire packet of chocolate biscuits, plus crepes and drink more beer,until Pink Floyd’s set starts with  Careful with that Axe Eugene.

As we reach the final act, the sun has gone and mercifully the air is pleasant and cooler. A well-loved hippie band takes the stage, they must have some kind of secret sacred store of energy after all these years, and all those drugs.I know I can’t really cope with the pace but somehow this group’s energy is infectious and makes us feel 18 again . Yes it’s  Gong,what a great way to end the imaginary Glastonbury festival!

I go home, tired and too exhausted to go into details! I am sad to go home to an urban space where I am not constantly surrounded by live music and many friends, but we have talked about meeting at Solfest towards the end of the festival season and other festivals in between.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

Day 2 at my Imaginary Glastonbury- Saturday


Hello Good People who still sometimes read this blog…

(still editing this, sorry about errors, it was written in free-flowing time)

In a fit of self-serving blogging to cheer me up, I am going to bore you all with Day Two of my imaginary ideal Glastonbury.

It’s Saturday , so it will be a long day. Weather is cloudy and unsettled, but hey it’s not raining. I got wellies on for the mud and last night had an imaginary sing song with bearded dread-locked strangers playing djembe by the fire until dawn, sharing bottles of scrumpy, herbal cigarettes,many jokes and looking up to spot shooting stars. I was woken up by the dawn chorus of birds and grumpy young tikes, am a bit dazed, but am looking forwards to foraging for breakfast and a cup of good coffee, and to see if there are any solar powered showers.  Can smell lovely bacon but am trying to be veggie. Maybe I can find a nice veggie sausage alternative.
By the time my physical needs are slowly sorted, it should be time for the first act of today ( at my imaginary Glastonbury…cheaper than the real one and with some of my favourite bands).

Led Zeppelin are billed on the Folk Garden Stage, ( playing electric later on Mainstage). Great, that will do to start my day. This pedal-powered stage is adorned with flowerbeds   and with creeping honey suckle plants hanging over the stage instead of a lighting rig ( this is not evident in the footage I have chosen…you need to use your imagination).
Going to California – Led Zeppelin

Well after that beautiful acoustic performance, I sit down on a bale of hay and chat to Jimmy Page about his acoustic guitar tunings and smile at Robert Plant who talks incessantly about Viking Sagas, ( John Paul-Jones has gone off for a morning shit in the backstage portaloo).
It is still dry, but the skies are turning dark grey.Was that a rumble of thunder in the distance, or an amplifier farting angrily? I don’t know, that Honey Rose cigarette I scrounged off Mr. Plant is giving me a strange sense of space, colour and time.
All the tents look the same as I amble back, I spend two and a half hours looking for mine, it’s blue and I bought it from Millet’s.

Found my tent and collapsed like a clean-living middle-aged hippie who cannot cope with intoxicants of any kind. I am woken up by what sounds like a load of balloons being inflated simultaneously.Ah, a herd of young people and their nitrous oxide I think! I don’t approve, but it’s a festival, and the UK do both festivals and excessive alcohol and drug consumption particularly well.

Managed to get a lift in the back of the van of some crew member to get to a supermarket. All the locals look at us with dishevelled hair and screw up their faces as they sense the smells of skunk and woodfires which suddenly seem to emanate from our clothing once indoors.
The security guard follows us around. I buy festival essentials:cuppa soups, rizzlas, rolling tobacco, tea bags, powdered milk,chocolate biscuits,beer,candles, spare lighter,loo roll and a magazine that I will never read.

Getting back into the festival takes a while due to queues of traffic and getting lost on country roads.My driver is a guy I never met before called Botty. I have  known three “Botties” before,and they were all pretty much the same. He wears a hat , a torn t-shirt and an evil grin.  He likes loud classic rock and  heavy metal music , and so while we are stuck in lines of traffic surrounded by fields, he enriches my musical education with his stereo blasting AC/DC, ZZ Top, Rush  and many other rock bands. He tells me I should investigate the Free-floating Anarchy Noise Tent this evening. So later I go and investigate and to my surprise find my old friends Treatment performing on stage.
Treatment -The Hidden Attack (at a Club Dog event at Shoreditch Town Hall?)

After dancing  like a maniac, I join Clive, Adam and co.  and they encourage me to stay to watch Acid Mother’s Temple from Japan.

I love loud musical anarchy.

Later on,it’s getting dark , and I walk around aimlessly, munching on a reasonably-priced and delicious nut-burger ( remember the prices are imaginary),who is this on the Acoustic Politico-Philosophy Stage? Yes it’s Benjamin Zephaniah, oh joy!

At the end of Zephaniah‘s act, an MC appears in a silly jester’s hat with bells on,  a big pink tutu , his hair in plaits dyed purple to match his beard.
He tell us that he runs “Men and Gender in the 21st century workshops”in the Healing Field and also reminds us that Bob Marley is about to appear on the main stage, creating a minor stampede of Benjamin Zephaniah fans to rush out into the rain. Yes it’s raining, out come the plastic macs distributed with free copies of the Guardian.

But as we plod through mud and showers, to get to the main stage , the sun appears,  re-awakening the evening sky. Bob Marley  is resurrected from the dead, like  a Messiah living  briefly once more to sing us songs of love, hope and tribulation all encased in Rasta spirituality.
Concrete Jungle

After Bob Marley, having  danced and sampled spliffs handed to me from smiling multi-coloured strangers in the crowd, who instantly became my friends, Steve Hillage appears on the stage as he was in 1977! (Steve Hillage  is as great now as he ever was but can’t find recent footage with  good sound quality )

I have been dancing my socks off,drinking some beer, met many strangers, had many laughs, got reasonably covered in mud. I have few possessions but  great happiness renewed in my  heart and spirit.
Late at night, now the booze has worn off, there’s a special guest  on the  Literary and Pensive Songs Stage . It’s my favourite songstress: Joni Mitchell.
This is a sung poem really, about a woman who will not commit or give up her freedom, and her abandoned lovers(or fans?). A few tears run down my cheeks as she sings, but they make feel more alive emotionally and I cannot regret them:
Cactus Tree

I need to go to bed now before I get too stoned ( in my imagination) to enjoy the rest of the weekend. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have no idea who will be playing as I couldn’t afford a programme as usual.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my Saturday at Glastonbury, I have. I just need a time machine, a ton of money and to own a big plot of land near a spiritual place.

Love and Peace
Born2rant

Glastonbury or Watched-on-boredly ( sorry I know “boredly” isn’t a word)


Hello Good People who read this blog

I have been thinking that I need to write a new post but was a bit depressed due to various things and didn’t…until now, and now I’m glad I have started writing because it bloody well cheered me up.  How are you all in cyberspace, how is M15 and how are all you scammers, spammers, lunched out people, and hippies of course, and all those pretending not be hippies even though deep down you really are?

Instead of writing depressing stuff I thought I’d write this daft thing instead:

If I ruled Glastonbury…. Day 1.

I know I’m an old fart...but listening to the uninspiring airs and lyrics of some the blander bands  the crowds love at Glastonbury, this early Friday evening, I thought I’d compile my own  personal  ideal Glastonbury line-up , just to cheer myself up a bit as a boring old fart.

So here it is in no particular order:
Jimi Hendrix singing Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”  while chewing gum and playing around on his guitar with an ease, brilliance and charisma sadly lacking in  the over rehearsed CD quality performances of today ( yes I am being an old complaining fart today).

Next,some Here & Now with their timeless song  Addicted , the first song of theirs I heard and liked before I saw them live for the first time in 1979.
I don’t think this is the same version though, as the one on the Here & Now/Alternative TV  Album ( correct me if I am wrong). I no longer have a copy. I wish someone would upload it on youtube.
I also would have loved to have put up Only Way from their All Over The Show album but only have it on vinyl.

In 1998 I was at Glastonbury in the monsoon, and decided to go and watch Tori Amos who I knew little about.Thanks to the rain, I stood in the front “row” , so close I could see my own reflection in her piano. I saw her do this amazing performance, every song  was done with the most amazing psychotic passion, and she inspired me to go back to London and play and sing to my teeny audiences with a new crazy confidence.

I make no apologies for including Genesis with their early English subversive songs.
However they do feature Phil Collins , I must apologise very deeply for that.
This is Selling England by the Pound from 1973. I think we will be selling England by the pound very soon, to a stronger economy, perhaps China, Germany or to  aliens who are secretly living among us with wardrobes lined with gold , platinum and diamonds they brought to trade with us in case of emergencies. I assure you I’m not stoned , just rambling to entertain myself.

At sunset I think there should be all night anarchy from Hawkwind ( Urban Guerrilla again):

Some English folk at sunrise with the lovely Anne Briggs singing Living by the Water.

I must go to bed now, having successfully ignored the 2011 Glastonbury procedings on the TV  in the background for several hours now, and created my own Friday night/Saturday dawn alternative line-up.

I bid you goodnight and actually I wouldn’t want to see these acts at Glastonbury at all, it would have to be at a new “Peace, Love and Green Anarchy” free festival at Stonehenge .
I’m sure I will hear some good music this weekend on the TV from Glastonbury but I’m not sure if much of it will be innovative or spontaneous. Cynical old fart I am!

Love & Peace
Born2rant
p.s. now there’s an act on as I type this who I like a lot , I think the music improves the later it is. Ah it’s Primal Scream , now that the vocals are over and they are having a good jam, I quite like them.More old farts like me.

Too busy living to blog or watch TV, plus a teeny bit about Solfest 2010


Hello Good People who evidently still read this blog…

I keep trying to give up this blog for good but it’s up there in cyberspace without me, just like the millions of  photographs of teenagers on Facebook,  who may at some time, rue the day they allowed photos of, and  information about themselves, to be handed over to various companies and intelligence agencies who rule the net. My blog will outlive my initial enthusiasm for bi-weekly blogging ,and like many a dead rock star’s music, will probably outlive me.

I did go to Solfest this year , and I guess that by the number of hits on the day it ended, many will have to checked in to see if I have done a review like I have done the three previous years.

In a word  “no”, and I’m not really going to. It is still the greatest UK hippie festival that I have experienced this millennium,although a few less punters this year and slightly more zealous security. Well actually, I mean specifically one guy. A young security steward who wore large sunglasses day or night , wore a “security hat”, and obviously took his job extremely seriously. He questioned and scrutinised people at the gates of Solfest as if they were non-EU citizens of “Asian” origin trying to get through passport control at Heathrow. It was only one enthusiastic Nazi  in the whole organisation, but one too many, plus he never seemed to go off duty. Maybe he dreams of being head of all security services one day…in which case, don’t work at a hippie festival, run by hippies.

Backstage the air of hippiedom was also occasionally marred by the odd territorial argument over which loo one could use .One group of people in particular, got hysterical if other members of crew used “their” portaloo and shouted to me “don’t fill our loo up or we can’t use it”, which I found mildly insulting. There was also by the end of the weekend, a row over who could have access to my nearest water supply. Various people started to attach their own personal pipes,to the general standpipe going directly to their tent or caravan, leaving no access to water for the humble camper without extra water-pipe fixtures, and a trickle of water to all trying to get their direct private supply, due to low pressure. It was exemplary of the follies and injustices of  Capitalism, which I hoped to get away from completely during my stay at Solfest. I am hoping that the hippie spirit of sharing resources over and above stupid claims to exclusive access to basic amenities will return next year in the backstage area.

I have not written a review of Solfest, why ? Because I am not often here.

I’ve turned my back on blogging, Myspace, Facebook, hotmail, Googlemail, all mainstream TV news, most TV programmes, and most Radio programmes. I do still use youtube quite a lot, especially if I want to hear music from the other side of the world. I mainly watch TV if I have visitors who want to watch it or if I am just too tired or ill to think of anything else I can do. I read newspapers if I find them lying on the tube, and yet without the internet or the media intruding in my life as much, I am not suffering from any withdrawal symptoms. Quite the opposite, I actually talk to real people face-to-face,  go to real places, and don’t feel like my life is over because my hair is dull or I don’t have a car, or I don’t know what David deCameron said today, and I haven’t suffered any more patriotic military propaganda passing for news on a daily basis.

However I will entwine this rant against second hand communication and experiences with a bit of music from Solfest.

In spite of my previous negative comments, Solfest  is still friendly, creative, and the happiest weekend of the year for me. I always meet great people, have long rambling conversations, dance to loud music even though I feel I am too old to do so, laugh at the inventiveness of fancy dress costumes, discover new  music, see amazing landscapes, feel hopeful that there is a little bit of the year that is not cynical and under surveillance but is creative and flourishing. I love going up north, can’t cope with southern festivals ever since my first Solfest. Ironically it has now become a yearly gathering point for people I know from London, Brighton and South Wales.

Every ageing hippie seems to have their favourite yearly festival, the one where they will see their old friends again and maybe have a little smoke even if they gave up on New Year’s day 2000, laugh like teenagers again, and show their kids how to power generators by pedalling like crazy, how to make things out of wood, and basically introduce them to various degrees of alternative living.

Some of my favourite musicians at Solfest 2010.

Here is John Fairhurst playing sitar music on the guitar. I saw him on the main stage on Saturday, strumming hard and fast, blending slide guitar with flamenco and ragas, very impressive. Unfortunately there is no footage of him playing at Solfest, so here he is playing in 2008 at an album launch party.

John Fairhurst , a sublime creative guitarist. Here he  starts quietly and gradually builds up momentum, then later explodes into a raucous manifestation of  many guitar genres peeping out from one another to say a brief  hello. Are you following me? Good, if not, don’t read any more, have a cup of tea instead.

My favourite Drystone stage act at Solfest was Richard Barry and The Chaps from Manchester. Maybe I am biased, I met Richard at a residential songwriting workshop in 1999. His sense of humour, charm and excellent musicianship make him always worth catching. Yet again, there is no Solfest footage his performance. It was pouring down with rain when he started but he still gathered a crowd, and then the sun came out!

Richard Barry and The Chaps – Please Don’t Ration My Fags.

I spent a lot more time in the Dance Tent than I intended to, especially on Saturday night where I danced to Eat Static, now a solo act, but still doing “his”/ “their” thing, and this guy DJ Adsorb who did an interesting set. Well I enjoyed it but I am frankly not an expert in dance music at all!  I’m more of an acoustic guitar person myself. I just liked Adsorb’s set because there was plenty of variety.

Now maybe it’s because I have never taken the right drugs , or possibly because I haven’t taken the correct amount of drugs, or more likely because I don’t even know by what  acronyms the drugs I’d have to take, and ask for,  from someone  two decades or more younger than me, leads me to find the brain-shaking tones of “doofff-doofff-doofff-da-da-dooff-dooff-doofff etc…” looped for an hour, and somehow so loud that they obliterate any other sounds in the mix…..B.O.R.I.N.G..

However this Solfest having spent much time talking to DJs in the Chill-Out tent who had taken the correct drugs, with their abbreviated names, in the right amounts, to like every type of  Dance Music,  I was  re-assured  that what I was referring to, was music that was  “relentless”.

You can actually pretend to like it, then when in the company of those you truly trust, complain that in fact it was “relentless” possibly shaking your head to demonstrate just how relentless it was.

So now I can blend in with people who know and appreciate all types of dance music by saying  ” God, that was  relentless!” and show the punishment I endured with a little  downwards shake of the head.

But as you can tell I don’t pretend to be anyone but the anonymous person I am pretending to be.

I cannot find much footage of Solfest 2010 itself!

But here is some footage from the Dance tent, I don’t know which DJ this is but I am sure someone will tell me, it could very well be DJ Adsorb, this is then contrasted with the Dogs in Space ( Chill-Out) tent, where you will see a few seconds of an amazing trio driven by the jazz beats of the Van Der Graaf Generator drummer: Guy Evans, along with psychedelic guitarist, Nigel Mazlyn Jones and flautist/guitarist Jim Nield. I caught the end of their set and they created a sound as colourful and ambient as the décor and lightshow of the Dogs in Space tent itself, shame there are only a few seconds of this available to show. I thoroughly enjoyed their mesmerizing set of jazz drumming and psychedelia.

The Damned played but I didn’t go to see them, the youtube clips are pretty poor quality soundwise.

Another act who played twice in the Dogs in Space tent and performed in cafés all over the site were the excellent Marley Chingus, from Liverpool,played rich bebop jazz covers as well as their own compositions, their long-haired and bearded trumpet player was particularly outstanding although all of them are very highly skilled musicians. Again no footage of them at Solfest but here they are with one of their own compositions, no trumpet player but a great sax player instead.

Marley Chingus -Neolithic Chant.

Well I’m off now to make some tea and maybe listen to some music. In the meantime I asked a DJ who came to visit my place last night what his favourite Gong tune was. He told me this one because of the electronics in it, the synths were played  by Tim Blake. It’s a fantabulous track beginning with synths, echo and tabla and building up nicely into a freeform jazz jam with psychedelic lead guitar, slide “glissando” guitar, with other sounds and many instruments thrown in for good measure.

So, I’ll leave you with the brilliant and mind-awakening : Gong – A Sprinkling of Clouds (1974)


Love and Peace to all of you

and remember hippies are cool, superficial people are… well …superficial

Born2rant

…to Solfest, not a review, but some thoughts…


Hello Good People who read this blog…

Although I will be writing about Solfest, this is not a review as I have done in the past two years. I spent most of my time at Solfest recovering from the Hawkwind party and evaluating other experiences I had from my crazy summer.

For me the Notting Hill Carnival or in recent years Solfest , mark the end of summer and announce the beginning of a period of reflection and times indoors. Hawkwind reminds me of the past and the power of rebellion. The music reflects the effects of both drugs and the power of large gatherings and in particular the extremes of creativity.Thus opening  the “Doors of Perception” to deeper consciousness where both heaven and hell  live cheek by jowl.

Solfest was an altogether more “grounding” experience and is an example of a “newer type of festival”, exemplifying changes in alternative culture. It bridges the spirit of free festivals, mainly started by travelling creative idealistic people being chased around the country by the police, with the present, to create an event that has learnt lessons from the past and does its own thing while still conforming to rules and regulations, although there is  much turning of a blind eye to activities that are not harming anyone.

At Solfest I found both the most anarchic creative influences present in the entertainment, fancy dress costumes, and various types of  artistic installation and also mainstream culture in some of the aspiring stars performing, still climbing that ladder, even though making obscene amounts of money out of music is mostly a thing of the past.

At Solfest, you can pretty much have the experience you want, whether you have small children,don’t have children, love acoustic music, want to go to various excesses of toxicity, want to be healthy and coherent and attend yoga workshops, want to rock, listen to live world music, chill out all night  in a psychedelic way or want to dance.

This is a clip from the dance tent although many of the older and youngest attendees completely avoid this place.

The Ashan Project in the Dance tent Solfest 2009

The only time I went into the dance tent was on Saturday night waiting for The Orb to come on and this was an experience in itself. Northerners and the Scots know how to get excited and to enjoy themselves with free abandon twenty times more than any uptight Londoner. The atmosphere was crazy. The tent was packed with people of all ages in strange costumes with hash pipes, cans of beer, laughing ,dancing and shouting and throwing themselves about and screaming in anticipation. After thirty minutes of  being pushed about in a friendly way by revellers, I left the dance tent feeling like I was being boring but also avoiding the odd bruise the next day.

I am using youtube in a lazy way today but I think this little clip highlights pretty much what it is like wandering around this festival and why I love it. You have the organised entertainment but the majority of the time you have people just entertaining themselves, everyone participates and creates the atmosphere( watch about 1 minute in for little sound system scene with live singer, random saxophonist and “The Urban Gypsies” dancing along).

If you like your rock music truly raw and raucous (plus beer) then the Bar Stage is often the place to be. I didn’t see this band but I quite like them(you get to see them on stage 30 seconds into this clip).

This is “Vice Squad” originally formed in 1979 as a punk rock band featuring “Beki Bondage” on vocals.

There seems to be less footage of Solfest this year up online than last time.

One of the reasons may have been the mud and the rain. By Sunday,the mud was almost as bad as Glastonbury 1997. My tent is cosy but not very high and you have to crawl into it from outside. Due to last minute packing ,I had only one pair of jeans and no torch, since coming home I have washed my jeans three times on the maximum cycle to get rid of the mud and had to machine wash the tent too, plus my boots have shrunk . You get the picture! Travelling home on public transport one had to adopt a ” I don’t care if people stare at me strangely” attitude.

Also walking around the festival started to get a bit grim by Sunday night. I went to watch Kula Shaker then The Charlatans with my son and his friends. I didn’t much like Kula Shaker, sometimes I felt like I was listening to The Doors, sometimes The Who, sometimes early Deep Purple, or even The Kinks. It was like listening to a puzzle , lots of pieces of different bands copied and assembled into songs but no continuity or individual style. The performance was faultless and excellently executed, but then to me,that’s not creative. I like music that has mistakes, it’s the mistakes and the improvisation that generates something new.

In the break between the two bands my son and I discussed various things, we like talking about music and culture together. We were saying how everyone is a “covers band” these days. The new bands copy the styles of the old bands and the old bands keep touring doing their old stuff, that nothing new has really happened for twenty years in terms of live (non-dance) music. I pointed out that in the 60s and 70s everyone was intent on finding their own unique style and not just trying to fit into a marketable music category that wouldn’t offend anyone.

My son wanted to know a detailed account of the Hawkwind party. Then he told me about a conversation he had heard in the Dogs in Space tent with this bloke who had been a HUGE Hawkwind fan. The ex-Hawkwind fan described how he used to have every single Hawkwind album on vinyl, first pressings only. When asked if he had sold them since,he said in all seriousness(something like) :”No, I gave up drugs and as part of  the process, I had to give away all my Hawkwind albums, it was a big step!”

I know we were cruel, but we laughed about it and imagined a twelve step programme for giving up drugs .

STEP ONE: Get rid of all your Hawkwind memorabilia and never listen to them again!

( end of my brief comment on Solfest, still my favourite festival)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. I just found out that the “Urban Gypsies” were on “Britain’s Got Talent” 2008 , they have just blown their urban gypsy credibility.