An Eden Tale - A. Main / Reservoir Droogs

The Scottish weather has always been a gamble for festival organisers.
Everyone throws the dice with fingers crossed and hopes for the best.
Unfortunately this year lady luck failed to appear at the shoulder of Eden and the event succumbed to playing second fiddle to rain, more rain, and deepening mud.

By the Friday the camp site was beginning to look like the nightmare scene of a refugee camp imagined by Francis Ford Coppola as collapsed tents and torn gazebos capitulated to the weather and were trampled underfoot by staggering shell-shocked festival virgins.
It was very obvious that for many this was not the festival experience they were looking for.
It's supposed to be denim cut offs and Hunter Wellington boots, a smock top and a wide brimmed hat, it's supposed to be aviator sunglasses, a designer t-shirt and an Ibiza tan.
It's not supposed to be hard work.
It's not supposed to be cold, wet and uncomfortable.
For those whose entertainment is so often just handed to them, the concept of going out and hunting it down is an alien concept, and one that many, but not all, were unable to comprehend.

It wasn't much better for the festival veterans either, and that wasn't all to do with the weather.
While a certain degree of anarchy adds an element of welcomed randomness to a festival, the volunteers working on the friday seemed to be as out of their depth as those who were experiencing the festival for the first time.
Most requests for information were being met with confusion and panic before an admittance that they didn't know the answer was grudgingly offered.
For example not knowing if there was a press office, not allowing us to camp in certain areas, but unable to explain why, and even staff refusing to open the main gate to the festival while another elsewhere had been.
Chaos reigned supreme.
It was difficult to argue with the guy who said to me that everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong.

But you possibly don't want to know about any of this and just want to hear about the entertainment on offer.

So yes, admittedly no one could claim that Gogol Bordello didn't kick the festival off in fine style.

Their gypsy punk can always be relied upon to get a party started, but no matter how good they were, with their set sitting adrift from the rest of the weekend the party did seem short lived.
Sort of akin to arriving at a house party with a bottle and just getting settled in only for the host to turns the lights up, the music off, and casually ask everyone to leave.
It would have been far more fitting if they had been part of the Friday and Saturday nights main stage entertainment, but I guess there must have been reasons why that wasn't the case.
Rabbies Tavern then naturally drew those still looking for kicks after the main stage excitement, but while Mad Ferret were entertaining it isn't easy to follow on from Gogol Bordello and it has to be said that the Thursday night ended on an anti-climactic note.
Something that had little to do with the band, and far more to do with a fragmented opening night bill.
To be fair, maybe there were kicks to be had elsewhere, but we failed to find ourselves in the right place at the right time to find them.

Not being in the right place at the right time then seemed to become an entrenched habit as the weekend unfolded in front of us.

Friday was a day of wandering from stall to stall and stage to stage looking for something, anything, to distract us from the weather, but too often it was an exercise in futility.
You can only check out fairy wings and tie-dyed t-shirts so often before the novelty wears off.

The newly erected Great Mountain stage was to be opened early evening by the multi-talented Rory McLeod, but technical hitch after technical hitch left his appearance running late and then his set was cut short.
Basically the stage wasn't ready and no one was officially telling anyone why.
After looking to spread the word about how entertaining he was to others it was partially embarrassing that they ended up with a truncated experience to judge him from.
The stage manager doing a cut throat signal to the sound engineer mid song wasn't something that conveyed the alleged peace and love vibe of the festival either.
Hopefully away from the public eye Rory was treated with far more respect.
The man deserves it and you should make the effort to seek him out.

After trudging about for hours after this, which felt like days, we admittedly threw the towel in and retired to our tents and missed out on the always excellent Alabama 3.

Saturday morning and afternoon was a wash out.
Literally and figuratively.
The saving grace was Jamie and Shoony who managed to finally light the festival fuse for us with their early evening appearance on the Melodrome stage.
Here was the band that could push the weather, and all the problems that it brought with it, into the background.
Who cares if it is raining, who cares if the mud is slowly taking over, who cares about all the weary legged hours of roaming about pointlessly, because it all becomes worth it, even just for a few moments in the grand scheme of the weekend, when these guys are in full flow.
It's glaringly obvious to anyone that has seen them on a number of occasions that they keep pushing forward.
Each show is fractionally better than the last and there's no sign of them losing any momentum.
When people talk about acts that are on the cusp of jumping into the wider public eye then it's the likes of Jamie and Shoony that they mean.
And thankfully their set was just the beginning as the Melodrome stage became the place to be when shortly after Jamie and Shoony finished the Mickey 9s took the baton from them and ran with it.
Similarly they are also a band that are very clearly destined for bigger things.
It's difficult to convey how much energy they generate on stage.
Everyone should at some point make the effort to see what all the fuss is about.
In general it will be very very few who will claim to be disappointed.

And then as if this wasn't enough to snatch a victory for Eden from the looming jaws of defeat it was left to The Stumblers to take Rabbies Tavern by storm at midnight with their celtic folk punk.
You would be hard pushed to think of three bands that could be put together that would illustrate how healthy Scottish music is.
That they are all working independently from the mainstream music business says a great deal more about the business itself than it does about their talents.
The top of the tree have dropped the ball, but it's heartening to see so many music lovers pick it up.
These bands are all capable of being major global acts if only given the chance.
All it will take for that chance to be offered by the labels and promoters who can deliver that success is for ordinary people to keep keying into what they do.
Buy their releases, their tickets for shows, their merchandise, and watch the big boys take notice.

And then it was Sunday.

A play in Rabbies Tavern drew a mixed reaction from those who found themselves stumbling across it.
My own enjoyment of it cast in stark relief that what I am looking for in a festival isn't reflected across the wider demographic at Eden anymore.
The drunken woman who loudly berated those watching for 'pretending to fuckin understand this pish' was a low point that possibly illustrated that you can take the lass out of t in the park, but can't take t in the park out of the lassie.
The difference in how it was received was the polar opposite to that of how another play was in 2016.

Oh what a difference a year makes.

The light entertainment of a circus act in the Furry Chillum tent was a welcome relief from the ugliness of that ignorant and reactionary experience, and it also acted as a timely reminder that festivals should be an eclectic experience with something for everyone.

Similarly the Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 main stage appearance helped wash the bitter taste from my mouth too.
There's been a great deal of talk about the rise of the leaders of the Yellow Movement, and the vast majority of it has been positive.
That praise is well earned.
When you consider all that is expected from a festival then it is this band that has taken all the disparate elements and created a monster that delivers on them all.
If a day comes when we have lost sight of what a festival should be then they could be disassembled and what is found could be used as the blueprint to start from scratch again.

And with that I gave up with the idea that I should step out on a high coming to the forefront of my mind.

It's doubtful I will return to Eden. The weather created more than its fair share of issues, but even if the sun was shining the garden offered an experience that wasn't for me.
The kids can have it.
It's time for pastures new to be considered.

Goodbye Eden and thanks for the all the good memories that far outweigh the less than illustrious ones carried from this year.
And thank you to my daughter Sophie for taking notes.

A. Main / Reservoir Droogs