Sunday 11 December 2011

Leeds Festival Day 3, Part the First: Real Blues and Fake Amy Winehouse

And action. Come Saturday morning, we headed back out in search of breakfast and music, before our midday to 6pm shift kicked off. The catering team were doing sterling work. I told them this. I make a point of doing so each festival; they always look so grateful. Shame they couldn't have made the porridge taste of something - you had to douse it liberally in dried fruit and maple syrup to achieve edibility - but there's a limit to what even miracle-workers can do.

C and A were still ribbing me about last night, when I'd mentioned that I was drinking red wine in tribute to Matt Bellamy, whose favourite drink it is. I maintained that: "Fandom is happening to read an interview in a magazine where he mentioned he likes red wine. Stalkerdom is where you try to find out what sort of wine it was and buy it". (Also, I really like red wine, and find it pleasantly warming at festivals. It also lubricates the creative processes, which is why I'm drinking it, right now.)

C had headed off to meet his mates, who were attending the festival as ordinary folks, leaving A and I to see what was happening. Fortunately, the mud was rapidly drying, and with the festival in full swing, there was music. We headed in the direction of one of the big tents (can't remember if it was the BBC Radio 1 or NME tent, don't care enough to look it up) to experience the delights of "Pulled Apart By Horses", heard what sounded like ten minutes of non-stop screaming emitting from it, and just as swiftly did an about-face and headed in the direction of the other big tent to see a blues band called "She Keeps Bees". This proved to be an up-and-coming American bluesy rock bank, fronted by a down-to-earth woman with blond hair, a demin shirt, and a guitar. Since she could sing, we enjoyed it. (I'm sure "Pulled Apart By Horses" are great, if you're into that sort of thing. I just prefer singing to screaming.)

Alas, good things must end, and bar shifts must begin. We yomped off in search of our bar, stopping on the way to buy a souvenir T-shirt for a friend of A's, a good-natured young lad who apparently once had a bad experience at Leeds involving ketamine. We found a suitable souvenir saying "Ketamine: Just Say Neigh". I pondered buying one, then remembered my rule about not buying stuff at festivals, and joined A on the yomp to the bar.

The bar shift was not too bad. Yet again I must praise the hard work of the other servers and the bar management, who were excellent. Things weren't too bad; busy, but not unmanageable. My nightmare is that I'll accidentally serve someone underage and get fined £80. So far it hasn't happened. Thank God, this year Leeds had decided to give people the option of buying a pink "I'm over 18" wristband for a few quid, which made life infinitely simpler for them and us. We were also visited by two men who apparently felt the need to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse, which made a refreshing change from the legions of students wandering around in full-length cow or horse outfits. I was so impressed I took a picture.

Between that, the odd fifteen minutes here and there spent listening to the acts on the main stage (nothing you'd want to write home about) and the odd break at the back of the bar, the shift passed pleasantly. I say pleasantly. Our bar was near the "fairground" area of the bar, meaning that all breaks were punctuated every minute by a giant fairground ride whirling overhead to the accompaniment of frenzied screaming. (Watching the ride to see which of us could spot the most terrified face on it soon became a favourite pastime among off-duty bar staff.) For some reason, they didn't insist that people take their shoes off before going on the ride, meaning the breaks were spiced with the low-level concern that at any minute a welly might fly off and wang you in the head. It didn't happen, I'm pleased to report.

We survived our six hours without £80 fines or being hit by flying Wellingtons, collected our drinks tokens, and escaped. I was really happy with how the festival was going - C, A and I were getting along just fine! We had a couple of hours to kill before My Chemical Romance hit the main stage, so there was only one thing for it.

Have a stonebaked pizza, and go and see Noah and the Whale. Of whom more later...

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