Imagine your perfect festival. Sunshine. Great music. Party atmosphere. Relaxation even.
A blissful day/weekend to remember.
I've never thought too much about what goes into one before. My first was Glastonbury in 2003 and will always be tough to top.
However I recently travelled to Lisbon for Nos Alive, with one of the most promising line-ups I'd seen. Radiohead headlining with a 2+ hour set? Check. Legendary rock voice? Robert Plant check. A host of other fantastic live acts? See Pixies, Chemical Brothers, Arcade Fire, Foals, Tame Impala, Father John Misty and Hot Chip.
But the design of the festival was so poor. Stages erected in a glorified car park. Only one set of toilets, located in the narrowest bottleneck between the two main stages causing gridlock. Food options consisting of wraps lighter than a banana and with more crisps than meat.
This all took place just metres from the beautiful Atlantic sea in Alges (10km outside the city centre). Yet the whole view was blocked by branded houses serving only to elevate the vantage points of the sponsors' guests (empty except during headline acts). VIP only we were told. My Portuguese blagging about on par with my English it seems. Not the communal spirit I was looking for.
The negatives were such a turn off it got me thinking how I'd create the perfect festival format?
I don't plan festivals, but if I did, it's likely to involve a climate more trustworthy than the 'British Summer' and:
Ensuring culinary quality and a little celebrity, we'll host one of the final stages of Masterchef Australia (more personality that the UK one). Measuring the size of beer queues will all be possible on EXCEPTION app, with beacon technology directing you to the nearest man with a keg.
And we'll borrow another Australian approach and reward those who collect cups around the site. 10 = 1 pint, 20 = main meal. Those best performers at the yet-to-be-named-concert-but-lets-say-ExceptionToTheRule (ETTR) will have access to an Uber for their journey home.
A natural amphitheatre for the RockTop headline stage, with sand providing the flooring in the main enclosed area, encircled by grassy inclined banks. Because nothing is more frustrating than being stuck behind basketball player size man mountains.
The DanceBeach does exactly what it says on the tin, where else would you want to watch your favourite DJs?
We at ETTR, promise to avoid band-clash with our headliners playing in the evening and following afternoon. Just in case.
ComedyTent for when it all gets a bit much and you fancy a relaxing sit down.
Wandering 'Cabaret acts' on hand throughout the festival to entertain while you stagger from one place to another.
For those wanting a digital detox, walkie talkies will be made available for everyone. This will negate mobile battery issues. Also helped by the fact mobile videoing will be banned. I think most people are fed up having their view blocked at a gig because of some deluded tone deaf idiot capturing that 'special' moment. So special they spend their time looking through a mobile screen with shit audio which one friend recently observed "serves no purpose other than proving you 'caught' that band/DJ live instead of watching".
One word. Pillows. Think Lannister-style opulent tents with cushions aplenty. Bean bags too. Something that moulds to your derriere.
10+ hours of standing/sitting can take its toll on your body. So help is on hand. Raffles for free massage sessions or a chance for the skin eating fish to have their way with you awaits each festival-goer. After-all most festivals cost the same as a weekend break to *Europe (*disclaimer if incorrect blame Brexit).
Festivals don't pay for themselves. So we'll need brands involved. But like the rich kid in school they're going to have to bring something special to the party. I'm still to enjoy going to a festival toilet, but a clean, scented and toilet paper-filled experience could change that. A gap in the branded market? Express monorail around the site, another utility to capitalise on. Helicopter rides or bungee jumps would represent an unforgettable experience.
No one wants to be herded like cattle, reenacting the Walking Dead. So we'll have four entrance/exits, with regular public transport every 10 mins. A partnership with Uber to have a drop-off service to your door on-demand for the top performing cleanliness patrons.
Oh and if you're acting like a wanker, then don't be surprised if you're asked to leave and not come back.
Would love to hear your suggestions as to how festivals can up their game (understand there are some who are already innovating in this area)?