August Bank Holiday weekend 2012 there is only one place to be. That place is Reading festival, and I quit my job to get there.
4am the alarm went off and I was bolt upright; straggled hair, grinning. I imagine I probably looked like Bellatrix Lestrange after a night out on the town. Now most people pack everything for a festival, but me, I travel light; one tiny vintage leather suitcase, which I try to squish the whole of England into, for you see it’s a magic suitcase (the magic being that I have to sit on it for several hours to make it close). The tent was by the door, with a cushion that I’d made my mum for Christmas; which would eventually turn out to be a pointless item as I never even used it; that slutty little cushion spent it’s time in another man’s tent.
Moving on from the cushion… What every woman needs at this time of the morning is a man (not for the reasons you’re thinking), but to ensure that I actually get up, as I have a massive habit of sleeping through 10 alarms every morning. Luckily for me I had one right there who amazingly got up with me, helped me carry my stuff to the train station and even waited until everyone else arrived there too. At this point my excitement levels could be compared to those of TOWIE after finding out that Botox and spray tans were free for the day. I got handed my first beer of the weekend and we were off.
The train journey consisted of copious amounts of vodka, as businessmen boarded and disembarked, whilst the sun slowly rose outside along with my level of drunkenness. In fact by the time we reached Reading (around 10 am) I don’t remember getting the taxi to the festival entrance; I know disgusting behaviour, what would my Grandparents think of me?
Once you have your wristbands, apparently the new thing is to get ID’d. I had a bit of an argument when I was told this had to happen, declaring that I was 23 and drunkenly demanding to be let through the gate. I failed and got herded with the rest of the underage masses. Dammit.
This is where the battle begins folks; everyone wants the best camp possible. It’s a bit like those nature videos where you witness gannets all fighting to get the best nesting area and pecking and squawking at each other. I only pecked one person though, so it wasn’t that bad. Green camp is where everyone wants to be; it’s the heart and soul of the festival after the main arena closes and we managed to secure a spot in G6, in between 2 paths (which would inevitably help us to entertain ourselves, but I’ll tell you about that later). Tents were erected and we were ready for the weekend. I shared my tent with my friend Jamie as he didn’t have a tent, and throughout the weekend he was evicted from the tent twice for random misconducts, I nearly had to get the bailiffs in.
Friday morning we woke up and the sun was shining, those weathermen never get it right, but praise the lord they didn’t this time! Now party people, everyone know the bands start on the Friday at Reading, so after a very cidery breakfast me and some of the ladies headed into the main arena to see Hadouken! Managing to source ourselves a prime spot to the front right of the stage, we were ready and excitably waiting. In fact we were getting quite rowdy, but then they came on stage and everyone else joined in, so it was all good! We jumped, screamed and spun (I think it’s a Cornish thing, where if a finger is on your head you have to spin). I even made an old man in front of us spin; god knows why he was seeing Hadouken! The set finished way to quickly, and with sweat dripping from our once clean brows, we all held hands and snaked our way out of the tent through the crowd and back to camp.
Next band to see was Scroobius Pip. After a few more ciders and some Rumta (Rum and Fanta, yes I know I have a way with words), we headed back into the main arena. Scroobius was amazing! I have to admit that before Reading I wasn’t a fan, but by jove I loved it and had an epic time; in fact my friends even made a 3-man tower.
But this is where it gets serious folks, next up was Alt-J and Holy Moses – it was hard to get into that tent. Following my friend Trev brandishing a beer horn, blowing it every so often to ensure the pack was with him, we ebbed towards the front. The band had definitely been put on a stage too small for their boots, as the masses kept squeezing into this particular tent. It was like being put in a sardine can; everyone toing and froing together, trying to reach the front barriers. It was a bit like a mass group sauna with clothes and not knowing what that thing is poking you in the back. Alt-J played all the favourites – Matilda, Breezeblocks, Tessellate; all accompanied by a writhing, pushing choir, holding up finger triangles all the way. After Alt-J it was tent time again, more booze, then off to the subways. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get into that tent, but we danced our woes away. The set was nothing on their 2007 appearance at Reading, but none the less it got everyone moving. I was gutted they didn’t play Mary, as it’s my favourite of their songs. Finally we saw the Maccabee’s, after seeing one song of The Cure and deciding it wasn’t worth the hassle of pushing through.
Saturday morning we squirted passers by with a water pistol and invented a new drinking game. The game was that every time you saw a girl go past with shorts short enough for her bum cheeks to hang out you had to shout ‘ass’ and drink. It was a very successful drinking game.
Back to the music – first up was Mystery Jets, performing on the main stage where the ladies and I had a jolly good jig yet again; shaking our muddy little tail-feathers to 2 Doors Down and Young Love, amongst a few other Mystery Jets specialities. TBH I wasn’t that impressed with them, but I loved them back in the You Can’t Fool Me Dennis days.
We saw Jake Bugg, who was clashing with Santigold, but we thought we could make it to both… we couldn’t. After seeing the majority of Jake Bugg we decided to go see the end of Santigold, caught one song (Big Mouth), which was pretty lame and we were gutted we didn’t see Jake Bugg sing Taste It or Lightening Bolt.
This is where I turned into a bit of a mess and after it took me 2 hours to make it five minutes down the road to the toilets (we have a photo of how ecstatic I was to make it there), I decided I needed a nap. I therefore missed the Vaccines, who apparently were EPIC. I did however re-emerge ready for Florence and the Machine, unlike my tent mate Jamie, who missed every band on Saturday. I even made it through Kasabian, who were amazing even though we were near the back.
Now on the final day I was up at 8 am; the ass game was in full swing and the water pistol was attacking randoms. We’d even gained a shark in a muddy pool by our tents, which I like to call Herbert. After going on a beer run and returning with a bountiful catch, we had several hours before the first band we wanted to see was on, so the drinking carried on. Typically I got too drunk and had another nap, but luckily got woken up by one of my friends later on and marched into the arena.
Sunday is a blur for me, but I know I saw a bit of every headlining act. We saw Two Door Cinema Club (who were close to being my favourite act of the weekend), Kaiser Chiefs, The Foo Fighters (where I found a bracelet on the floor and presented it to my friend Sam as a trophy), The Black Keys (who I loved, but everyone else seemed to be unhappy with), Justice, Less Than Jake (my favourite band when I was 14) and finally, we saw the majority of The View, who in my eyes were the best band of the weekend. The crowd were going mental and I was having the time of my life in the mosh pit until I lost my 9-year-old hat (I found it again, so it’s ok). IT WAS TRUELY AMAZING!
And that was it; the weekend was over. And now for the cheesy American ending… The greatest part about this weekend was the fact that there were so many of us camping together. The best times were those in the camp, around the campfire. The quote of the weekend was definitely “is this friendship or is this piss”, after one of our friends had wet himself from being too inebriated.
So, boys, girls, scenesters and geeks, until next year – when I’ll see you all donned with short shorts and brandishing a beer horn!