I'll start with Lowlands.
Set opposite Walibi World in Biddinghuizen, Holland, its amazing. Line up is pretty much the norm for festival seasons ( Kaisers, Arcade Fire, Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal to name a few), all set inside tents. The main stage, Alpha, is about the same size as a football pitch and all under canvas, which just amplifies the crowd and the music. Set in between two banks where you can sit and chill to the music if its a nice day.
Other stages included Bravo, Lima, Grolsch and Juliette. There is an outdoor cinema, numerous food eateries (Asian, American, English, Mexican etc). Massive Camping area with flushing toilets and cubicle showers, all cleaned throughout the day.
The only downside Lowlands has, is that fires are not allowed. Camping stoves are welcomed, as are BBQs, the disposable ones, but no fires. Which you may think takes a lot away from camping, but with music ending about 6am in some tents, who needs sleep??
Now how much would you pay for such a festival in the UK??? Well lets see:
Reading and Leeds Festival = £155 for 3 days camping. £20 if you want early entrance.
V Festival = £130 with camping + £8.25 fee ( £138.25) or £110 without camping + £7.50 fee (£117.50)
Bestival = £115
Glastonbury = £145 + £5 fee + £4 shipping (£154), all available, perhaps, if you registered before hand.
Lattitude = £112 + Fee
Lowlands = £95
So quiet alot really for 3 days camping, not all have the same line up but most are the same bands.
So Lowlands is cheaper for entrance, and yes there is travel, but say you fly, that's £70, which still puts the festival at £160. Alot you say, yes, but considering both Reading & Leeds and Glastonbury ( Some say best festivals around) cost in that region. Lowlands is 1.) in Holland ( we all know what that means) and 2.) Is as good, if not better than the two mentioned.
Lowlands has its own currency called Munten (Tokens), the exchange rate works out at 1 munten = 2.2 Euros ( £1.50).
Pricing is like this:
Beer,Water and coke are 1 Munten
Food averages out at 3 Munten
All merchandise is bought in Euros not tokens.
The reason this works well, and adds to the atmosphere, is that there are no muggings. If someone steals a wallet, what do they get? a handful of tokens that can only be used at the festival, for that year. Hardly worth mugging someone is it?
They also have a scheme that if you bring back 8 cups, you get one token. And as beer is one token, its not that hard to gain a few beers for the night, or even get some food with the tokens.
That's about it for Lowlands, one of the cleanest, chilled festivals around.
Suppose I better write something for
Reading Festival then.
Right, well apart from the outlandish pricing for weekend tickets, going up by at least £20 each year. Day tickets this year cost £70 a day. £70 a day, some of the days i saw people just standing facing a 10ft high metal fence, seemed to be having more fun.
This year you had to pay extra in order to camp a day early, every other year we have rocked up to the entrance, said good morning/afternoon and then proceeded to get drunk and put up tents. Failing that we join the thousands of people on Thursday and walk in normally.
Anyway, £20 they were asking for. Which is ab it much considering most of the people who payed that money ended up camping in Brown camp gay ( yes that is the official name) or camped right on the walkway, which if they haven't been trampled on, usually get burnt.
So having saved £20 we came on Thursday, much to our joy some friends took 16 tents between them, and found the perfect place for us to camp. And I'm getting off subject again.
So once you have paid the price of a testicle enlargement operation in Slovakia, you proceed to walk. Some people walk abit, then dump their gear, and set up camp. OK it may look good at the time, but you can guarantee that every other Tom, Dick or Arthur is going to camp there too. So say hello to your neighbours next time they are pissing on your tent, it may save you from being stabbed, mugged or your tent set alight.
OK i camped in Orange, which was the furthest point away from the main entrance. I could sit on my cheap post burnt chair and listen to the main stage. An exit was a mere 100yards away, which offered easy access to Waitrose or if i was inclined, Hookers, Drugs and Lydls.
I was far enough away that the plastic fumes were only toxic enough to kill a 10yr old child, and the fires looked like the orange glow of street lamps... which were being burnt by dying 10yr old children.
Its also a good retreat from marauding mobs waging war on Gazebos..
That said, i still managed to help in taking down a 10ft metal fence (OK so we didn't know at the time that people were camped underneath), managed to see the explosions of gas canisters and aerosol cans, and most probably some 14yr olds testicles, though if i found them i could have gone to Slovakia and gotten part exchange on a large pair for myself. We created a monster that was called Candy Cock. Placed a monument to something that included a BMW bonnet and a Jersey flag. Though no game of trolley was seen, which was a downer.
So not camping in knee deep of shit, or mud, or piss, or a combination of all three was my choice. Yay for me.
Anyway again off topic. Where was i? Ah yes money. So you pay your saved money for testicle enlargement operation, or a down payment on a polish workforce, and you set up camp. Drink beer. Oh you've run out? here come to us and pay extortionate prices on a case, or in fact come inside the festival and pay £3.50 for a pint. Oh but don't worry, we saw what they did in Holland, cheeky dutch, you too can get free beer, all we require is you pick up 10 cups (that's £35 worth of piss) and we will give you one shiny cup full of piss. Aren't we cunning! The dutch want people to help clean up, and as a reward get tokens to spend on not only food, but also beer or other drinks. We on the other hand just want you to clean up, and yes here's a beer or two. But the cost of that beer is only going to go towards cleaning up your piss stained, shit smeared, vomit ridden tent. But thanks for making us look 'Green' what with the amount of noise pollution, fumes from fires and vehicles that we are pumping in the air. Kudos.
So you have paid the ticket to camp, the beer, maybe even pay about £5 for 10 chips after your beer. Now what? Oh yes its a music festival. Lets go to the comedy tent.
Though there wasn't anything wrong with the comedy at a music festival, it offered relief from the sun and annoying emo kids. It was a sanctuary for those who liked to do other things than stand up and listen to 4 shit bands, so they can get to the front for the one band they have been waiting to see all weekend.
So your not into comedy? OK. Well you can wander between tents, or just chill by the main arena sipping from your water bottle...
Oh wait, you haven't got a water bottle have you? No that's because the 'bouncers' won't allow you to take water bottles into the arena for fear of said bottle containg alcohol, rohypnol or even water. Also for health and safety fears that bottle could be thrown at a really really shit band. Maybe if the shit band wasn't on stage, then the bottles wouldn't get thrown.
So they take your water bottles for fear of them being thrown. So you go and buy a water bottle from a vendor. But wait, didn't they just take a bottle off you for fear of you throwing it? I'm sure they have a good reason, maybe its made of that soft plastic, you know the one that when it hits your head, makes you feel all warm inside, instead of that hard plastic that makes you feel all warm outside with the blood trickling down your head.
So you have paid the ticket to camp, the beer, maybe even pay about £5 for 10 chips after your beer, maybe a £2 - £2.50 bottle of 'ice cold' water as its one of the hottest weekends of the year, and your dehydrated from all the beer, so what now?
Well you could look at the merchandise on offer from any of the market stalls, same shit you see on some street vendor, though the price is that much more. Or if that's not your thing you could erm, well that's about it. Apart from the music ( which your ticket pays for) or the food and drink ( which you pay for, which in turn pays for the music) or the merchandise ( which you pay for, which pays the vendor, which pays mean fiddler) what else is there to do?
Well, take lots of drugs, drink lots of alcohol you bought in yourself, and go fucking mental.
But of course, not so early in the weekend. No. You save all this anger at a festival that was created about the music, that is now turned into a massive cash cow, because lets face it, no other cows will be on that field anytime soon.
So all this anger at over priced tickets, food, drink, merchandise, shitty toilets ( well i mean hole in the ground), overflowing toilets (holes) because no one can be arsed to clean them, Scottish 'Specialized Security' (hey all they need is a nice uniform and speak a language no one else cares about.
So all this pent up anger, and all those drugs and all that drink lead to one thing.
DESTRUCTION. Destruction of yourself, of your possessions, of buildings, anything. There is no violence towards other people, no violence towards police, fire crews or volunteers. Yes a few bottles get thrown (Don't worry its the soft plastic kind) but they are seen as the problem. Maybe if you didn't hire the SS, sorry Specialized Security, then they wouldn't need to be bottled. OK i might be unfair to them, by our camp some people had jarred the fence and walked through. So we had a guard there. He was OK, he was funny, about my age, smoked a spliff with us, we offered him a chair and a spot next to the fire as it was freezing. He thanked us and joined in the conversation while making sure no one came through the hole. About 40Min's later some 'senior' (you could tell because he wore a red jumper, not yellow. Either that or he just beat enough women and kids to turn it from yellow to red) Security man came over and started shouting at this friendly security guard telling him "Eeeh we don't pay you to party'.
No you pay them to work 12 hour shifts without any breaks. Fair enough £500 for a weekends work is good, and your providing a helpful service to the festival goer. Though I'm sure some would waver the wage in order to deal out some punishment, but i suppose that's Leeds not Reading.
So a weekend of drink, drugs and destruction. What a way to spend a couple of hundred pounds. That testicle enlargement is at least another month away Timmy, now go back to wearing those swabs of metal wool down your pants and run along.
So that said and done it probably looks like i hated Reading Festival, oh no i enjoy it, have done for 5 years. I enjoy the music, the drugs, the alcohol, the random occurrences during the nights, the free beer, chairs, hats and inflatable sumo costumes that you may find on Monday morning. I enjoy seeing other people have fun. I enjoy spending a weekend away from home with my friends, some who i don't get to see too often and which i wished i could. I enjoy meeting new people, having fun and not being afraid that the man in the dressing gown that i stroke isn't going to get me stabbed. For being able to not care for three days that whatever i do will have any effect outside of the festival.
So this may seem a rant, well the last 3/4 probably is. But amongst all the hatred towards Mean Fiddler ( Festival Republic) and the Security guards, i do have to say thanks.
If you didn't charge us a fortune for everything under the sun, if there wasn't a fear of being raped, murdered, mugged or just plain old beaten up, then what would we have to rebel against??
Thank you for becoming as commercialised as Cillit Bang.
Thanks for letting us run rampant for a weekend, setting fires etc...
Thanks for the blind eyes when it comes to drugs and under age drinking.
Thanks Mean Fiddler for turning Reading Festival into Reading Town Center!
And remember, if your testicles are blown off by a gas canister, just know that whenever your at Reading, the many cheers you hear, will force a mild seizure, usually forcing you to crack and burn the toilets down. That'll teach em eh Timmy?
And if you have read all this? You either don't do much work, don't work or i pestered you to read. Have fun for the rest of the day.