I'm quite lucky to work in an industry where things like music festivals are taken really seriously. In fact, often it's deemed "good" if I make the effort to stuff a hold-all full of old clothes and baby wipes and head out of London to the nearest boutique event. And now as iTunes Festival draws to a close, I think it's safe to say we're done for 2013. My first of the summer was, as it often is, Glastonbury. It's a wonderful little world where you can spend hazy evenings wandering through Shangri-La and lazy morning searching for Chai tea in the healing fields. You can overhear people talking about how life doesn't have to be an endless, monotonous drive towards more money and more security, and catch ear of people saying "coke? MD? Coke?" It's the oldest festival. It's the king of festivals. And, as I returned from Bestival roughly two week ago, after an indulgent summer of dragging a beer and mud stained tent up and down the country, I came to a conclusion. Festivals are all, in a way, a bit like Glastonbury.
But why? Well, I - of course - did a little research and discovered something rather odd. It turns out that Glastonbury is in fact not an event, but a living organism that, when it's not entertaining acidheads and Coldplay fans in a field somewhere in Somerset, it's trudging around the UK impregnating random areas of greenery. It's a massive, predatory slag, who spreads it's seed all over Britain like a shaken up can of Fosters.
As you can imagine I was shocked to learn all this, but not altogether surprised. When a colleague and I travelled to the depths of the Lake District to attend the beautiful Kendal Calling, a strange thing happened. After ordering a can of Carlsberg to share, we got chatting to some of the festival locals. They were friendly enough but, when I flippantly said "yeah this place is great - just like a little Glastonbury" the whole field went silent. Suddenly Kendal Calling turned round and shouted "It never calls! It never emails! It only ever bothers to come up after it's been drinking! I don't even know who's headlining it anymore!" The festival let out a deep sob.
"I'm desperate to expand into more dance-orientated territory" Kendal continued, "but I've got this inexplicable connection to weird hippie shit. I didn't even think we had any hippies in the North? Wasn't that a Southern thing?"
My colleague and I simply thought this was one of those arty festival performances and applauded. Now we clearly see it was a cry for help.
I tracked down festival expert Bradley Reel to try and find some answers. We met in an old Volkswagen that he called his office.
"It's been a problem for years maaaan. As Glastonbury has gotten bigger and more famous, it's become sleazier. In the nineties we tried producing these huge condoms to stop it spreading, but punters kept putting DJs inside them and turning them into stages."
As we continued to talk the damage that Glastonbury has done became more obvious. Feeling abandoned by the Somerset stud, the festival's offspring have started to rebel.
"Just look at them. They've grown up all screwy because they've got no parental guidance. Take V Festival for example. It used to be a nice Britpop festival, now it's become a bit of a slag. Look at who it's friends with! SW4? Wireless? Creamfields? Nothing but uppers."
I travelled across the country to get some answers from the festivals themselves. I tried catching up with The Twins (Reading & Leeds) but apparently they don't talk anymore. Someone close to them told me that whilst Leeds is happy to stay with their rock upbringing, Reading keeps inviting dicks like Eminem along - who then brings all his mates and they make a real mess of the living room.
I also tried to speak with Download and T In The Park. Download wouldn't come out of it's room. It just turned up Megadeath and ignored me. As for T In The Park, it didn't seem to even remember that it was still a festival. Instead, it thought of itself as some kind of pub or AA meeting gone wrong.
I was beginning to lose hope. I took one final trip to the Isle Of White to speak with Bestival. I'd heard that Bestival used to hang out with Glastonbury in the sixties - when it called itself the Isle Of White Festival. After I'd spent about 400 hours actually getting there, I discovered it was just as good as Glastonbury. It had all the quirkiness, all the bands, and was half the size. Plus, it turns out that Bestival is just really nice.
"Yeah me and Glasto used to smoke a lot of weed back in the day" It began, "but I took some time off to sort myself out. Glastonbury just kept going and went a bit mental. We're a bit like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears in that sense."
After chatting for a while about how the internet is changing everything, how we're genuinely both into old school hip-hop, and about how chips are the best food ever (the usual festival spiel) Bestival gave me Glastonbury's number and said I should get in touch.
So I gave Glastonbury a call. After a long while, the phone ring low, there was finally a clatter and a grumpy "hello" crumbled down the line. I told Glastonbury who I was, what a big fan I was, and asked him - very amicably - why so many festivals existed as a result of it.
There was a slight pause and then, in a voice that's smoked far too many roll-ups without a filter, Glastonbury shouted "because I'm the fucking Daddy!" and hung up.
I couldn't argue and went online to register for 2014.
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