Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Festivals 2008


I'm not going to Glastonbury this year.

Actually I didn't go to Glastonbury last year but that was mostly because of work and I was looking upon it very much as a break to renew my energies for this year. Now, when it comes down to it I (and most of my friends - Glastonbury veterans of 10 or more years all) haven't even registered.

It's hard to pin down all the reasons but it sounds to me like the things that were starting to irritate me about Glastonbury in previous year got even worse. As one friend said "it feels like you're in a giant Radio 1 advert".

Having recently gone to a few of the smaller festivals (including the amazing TIPI of which more soon) the sheer scale of Glastonbury has become completely exhausting and unnecessarily hard work. This is, I suppose, a posh way of admitting that I'm too lazy to trek for half an hour to see the acts I only mildly care about, meaning I don't see as many bands as I'd like to.

The line-up is also an issue. I rarely pay much attention to the headliners, since I rarely want to see them but I've always found them a very good indicator of the ethos of the festival as a whole and this year's reads like a bad joke.

My final issue is a thorny one. Last time I was at Glastonbury the levels of public engagement with environmental issues was yet to explode as it has in the prevailing two years and even then I found the conflict between the "green" credentials of the festival and the ignored impact of its happening irritating in the extreme. I can only imagine that now it will be worse. There is something infuriating about wandering through fields of information on green technology in a valley surrounded by mile upon mile of car parks, thousands of petrol generators and stupidly large lighting rigs.

Obviously, it would be difficult to to run the festival without any of these things and of course it is important that we educate people about the issues surrounding sustainable living but the danger is that the audience is somehow conned into believing that they are somehow helping the environment by being there alone and really the opposite is true.

Furthermore, the public transport links and the provisions they make for transport at the festival are pathetic. Just get rid of the car parks, everyone would be forced to take the coaches and, because fewer people would take the mega-tents that have started to become the norm in recent years, there would be more capacity.

I don't begrudge Glastonbury their environmental impact, I should imagine it's less than most comparable festivals, but I do begrudge the smug attitude that they allow to prevail that they do no harm whatsoever. "Leave no trace" is completely unobtainable and to imply that it is is irresponsible.

Thom Yorke (kinda) agrees.

1 comment:

minifig said...

Nah, I'm not going this year either. Partially for personal reasons that you may or may not be able to figure out, but also because I went last year and I really didn't enjoy it. Some of this was because of the incessant rain, and therefore the fact that I didn't get to see a lot of what I wanted to. The sound was often pretty bad too. Mainly though the problem was that the magic had gone. I don't know what the magic was, or where it went, but I'm really not all that sad about not going this year, which in itself is really weird.

I've got tickets for Latitude though. I'm hoping that's going to be my New Favourite Festival.