Festivals – Riiight…

A summer task to do over these last few months was to visit a festival and investigate how they used media. Unfortunately, under the circumstance that I was given this information approximately one week before I went to Tenerife for four weeks, that made it sort of difficult to do. I did try and visit the Arona Music Festival whilst on the island, but it sold out (apparently it was rubbish anyway – good dodge!). You may have thought that blogging every day for a month about such lovely endeavors as diving or climbing volcanos to take stop-motion videos at the top may impress the lecturers enought to let me off the hook.

…but just in case:

Out of the several festivals I’ve been to, it’s hard to choose one right for this task. ‘Blog about your day and your experiences’ – riiight. The two most recent festivals were actually film festivals – both part of Roots To Shoots. One was a music video competition festival, which played out similar to standard film festival nights, but with aforementioned music videos in the place of shorts. My friend Yasmin had starred in one of them, and I’d also been on the set helping a friend conduct interviews. The one previous was a film festival where our documentary ‘Our Life, Our World, Our Autism’ was being screened – I was the only members of staff below the director and producer to get any credit, although this did not permit me a discounted entry unlike it did them (and they wonder why I’m going into directing…) But to blog about either would be rather dull – they were film festivals, and the only thing shown were films. It was independent, so some were good, some were bad.

I’ve visited a free festival once called City Pulse in Nottingham, and I’ve also visited Splendour In The Park on one occasion to see Madness and The Pogues. However, it’s fair to say that in the summer of 2010 I went to a five-day festival in Donnington which eclipsed them all. The festival originated as the Monsters Of Rock Festival in about 1980, and became ‘Download Festival’ in the mid-to-late nineties. It has nothing to do with downloads really – I guess it was simply considered an ‘alternative’ name at the time of creation.

2010 made it the thirtieth anniversary of the festival, whichever name it was under. I went down with some of my college buddies and we had a grand old time of it. They were Download veterans, so I was much more amazed about everything. I took videos of almost every band I saw (certainly the famous ones), but aside from the obvious music, there were others types of media that I actually found quite interesting.

Arguably the highlight of the five day event was AC/DC, who headlined using their own stage, geared up full of cannons, lasers, pyrotechnics and confetti. This shot was at the end of Angus Young’s twenty minute guitar solo. Never seen so much confetti in my LIFE.

For starters, there was a village area with fun fair rides in. Mixed into all this was a cinema and a small outdoor nightclub. This nightclub basically took the form of a greasy diner similar to what you’d find alongside the hard shoulder of the M1, and all the people danced outside it. It was essentially a DJ booth with a huge patch of mud outside. How was the mud wet in the middle of summer you ask? Beer, that’s why. But this patch of land was sponsored by load of franchises, so technically it could be considered a nightclub – albeit the smallest one I’ve ever been to. The cinema was an equally bizarre idea – it was for those who wanted to watch some alternative film after the concerts, like The Crow and so forth. Advertisements were all over the village, and we even got extra travel adverts thrown at us from the airplanes that landed right next to the tent pitches.

During the actual events themselves, besides usual billboard and music announcements, there were these big TV screens. Presumably for ‘those at the back’, but then they also showed videos of CD commercials whilst the bands changed over (I distinctly remember Iron Man 2 – AC/DCs ‘new’ greatest hits album). They also got people to text up pictures, either of funny JPGs, or sexy ones. On the last day there was a downpour whilst everyone waited for Aerosmith – the photos being sent via mobile to the screens were all sexy ones. It kept moral high – we needed it, I’ve never been so cold and drenched in my life!

The beer brand of Tuborg had a large segment of the advertising market – not only did they have as stage, a game inflatable game house-thing featuring bungee cords, but they also had a recycling thing going on. If you cleared cups off the floor, for every ten you handed in your got £1. I wondered for ages why people were walking around with loads of empty, mud-covered cups and asking for mine which still had booze in it. Still… who said goths and rockers weren’t concerned with global warming?

I’ll stop showing off now – I have many a photo, particularly on the last day, of this quality. I was right at the front with my pal Kristina. We were both Aerosmith fans – we wanted to be at the front when they came on. It was no midnight run for damn sure, but it guaranteed a worthy end to such an epic experience.


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