I’ve reviewed so many festivals the last four years that I kinda’ sickened myself of them, even before the music journalism days I was attending festivals almost annually since I was sixteen. So this year, I decided I would just take press passes for the ones I haven’t done yet, there aren’t many I haven’t been to, not in Scotland anyway. I got my wish thanks to Ailsa and NHC and acquired Audiosoup, Rebellion and Linidisfarne. Audiosoup was brilliant and is done and dusted and you can find that review here http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2017/7/27/audiosoup-2017-by-ct-herron-with-kami-minkrap Rebellion I have wanted to go to for a long time, what with it being somewhat of a mecca for punk, and with Lars Frederiksen telling me in our interview it’s one of the best punk festivals in the whole world. But alas, unforeseen financial difficulties meant even with passes we still couldn’t afford the petrol to Blackpool and a weekend’s worth of booze, so we had to give them up to someone else.
Lindisfarne was almost off the cards too, for the same reason, but when the time came we had just enough in our tight budget to buy a weekend’s worth of drink and some petrol (for the car, not for us). As long as we only went for one day we could afford it, and that would be enough to do some interviews and a few live reviews. We chose Friday, and when that day came, I went straight from work, stocked up, and drove down to my birthplace, the North East of England. Despite the diabolical weather this Summer has thrown at us, the sun was bathing cerulean skies in auspicious golden rays. Signs of a good weekend to come then…
We obtained our wristbands, after being confused for a biker gang, which obfuscated me at first, until I actually saw the biker gang later that day and they actually were called Hellfire Club! And adhering to the rules on the festival’s site we only took a “reasonable amount of alcohol for personal consumption” and no glass or large spirits. Twenty-four cans of Scrumpy, one bottle of vodka, one bottle of rum, one bottle of bourbon, six Jack Daniels ciders, six cans of Jack and coke, and three 3ltr bottles of Strongbow plus a couple of Buds for matutinal drinks - not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into “a reasonable amount of alcohol for personal consumption” the tendency is to push it as far as it will go. And personal consumption between Kayleigh and I could stock a small pub for a long weekend.
One of the great things about being a music journalist is you don’t tend to get too much hassle from security, usually, and Lindisfarne is still a young festival so there should be no bother. But as we tried to enter our campsite, with some of our booze supply for the weekend decanted into canteens, we were knocked back, and soon became at risk of having our alcohol confiscated. ‘What the fuck? Did he say confiscated?’ I’m a fucking raging alcoholic, anybody that tries to confiscate my alcohol that isn’t a cop might well receive a broken arm from a Kimura lock.
Instead, I suppressed the vitriolic bubble that was rising in my stomach to spill out my mouth in a vituperative condemnation. Histrionics would not help the situation. Clutching my canteens like Golem might clutch the One Ring I scurried back to the car. It was quite a blow, because I need alcohol to enjoy myself, that goes without saying, without it I’m just a curmudgeonly misanthrope. Usually in this situation I would shrug, stash my booze for later, and concede to paying mercenary prices at the festival’s bar. Unfortunately though, that wasn’t an option this time, we had spent our budget down to the last penny. We were faced with the choice of festival or alcohol.
Not a hard choice at all, I chose not to choose life… I chose alcohol.
Back at the jeep, the four Scrumpies I had consumed on the journey down conspired with my rage at being knocked back and almost losing my liquor, and a fire ignited in my gut. Ranting into my dictaphone such babble as “Can’t the working class enjoy a festival anymore!? Corporate fucking greed. Death of a festival if the only people who can attend it are rich kids! The authorities play sick games with our head, allowing us to have our legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine but then depriving us of them too, mind-fuckers!” And a whole bunch of other incomprehensible stuff. Kayleigh wanted to go into the festival and I said she should go and I’d stay here and calm myself down and catch up with her. But I knew I was never going to step foot in that fucking place that weekend, nor ever again. I had a new plan anyway…
…If they’re prohibiting alcohol they’re basically encouraging the use of drugs, fine, that’s better anyway, on their heads be it. I rummaged through my rucksack, uppers would just send me off into more of a rage, so instead I ate enough magic mushrooms to send me to another part of the space time continuum. I took off my trademark tartan trainers and put my hood up over my mohawk so no-one would recognise me and disturb me, and I climbed up on the roof of the jeep with a few Scrumpies. I needed to calm down before the psilocybin kicked in, so I adopted a meditative position atop the vehicle’s roof, as the conflagrant orb of the sun seemingly dipped into the sea, boiling it as it set.
I adopted the Lotus position, steadied my breathing, and turned my thoughts within, entering my inner world. To keep intrusive thoughts and noises out I focused all my energy on holding an image in my mind’s eye; the image of me on the jeep’s roof. Then I fixed the image in my mind with the seven chakras, running in a line from my groin to the top of my head. Once that mental image was stored, I envisioned a beam of energy from above, entering a central axis with a vortex at each end and a coherent field surrounding my body. A torus of electromagnetic energy in which I was enveloped, blocking out all the previous anger, the noise, and the worldly distractions. The energy entered through one vortex, travelled through the central axis I was in, and out the other vortex before wrapping around itself and returning to the first incoming vortex.
With this image planted solidly in my head I fell into a deep trance and was at peace. Until finally the fungi kicked in and I couldn’t keep my mind from the swirling skies, I felt like my soul could blow right through the roof of the night. I noticed suddenly I was no longer on the roof of the car, but staring up at the sky on my back, the firmament above was aswirl with stars, as it had been, but now the stars, or some of them, were moving irregularly, dancing around stationary stars as if the sky was filled with UFOs. I found this really strange, satellites maybe, but then satellites were linear-moving and these objects were capricious in their movement. This weird distraction only lasted a minute, because once I tore my gaze from the heavens and looked down the second realisation was much more confusing.
If I flipped over and looked down I could see myself (or at least the top of my head), sitting on the roof of the jeep, some twenty feet below, and wrapped in glowing energy. I seemed to be having some sort of outer-body experience, or maybe the meditative trance combined with the psychedelics had caused me to inadvertently astral-project, was I remote-viewing, or tripping?
I spent a couple of hours floating about above the festival, enjoying the bird’s eye view. After a while I started getting the hang of driving the vessel I occupied, my soul I guess, and I started to get the hang of the handling of the thing, I was Learning To Fly. I was above the planet on a wing and a prayer, my grubby aura was a vapour trail in the empty air, out of the corner of my watering eye across clouds I could see my shadow fly. The festival was just twinkling lights in the gathering darkness below, and I was never going back down.
I was fully prepared and totally calmly and happily accepting that I was just gonna’ head off into the distance on a ribbon of black, stretched to the point of no turning back and not intending to return either. ‘Eternity welcomes careful drivers’ I was thinking, when I heard a familiar sound, like hearing it underwater, or from a coma, or from a million miles away. It was The Twistettes, I recognised the bass and vocals even from here. The Twistettes, are famous for their loudness, and have been said to be audible from a few miles away, but managing to traverse miles of sky and break through to the spirit realm to reach my disembodied ears was quite a feat indeed, even Motorhead wouldn’t have managed that.
The sound sucked me back down to Earth and the door to infinity closed. I was however, still outside my body, attached by a long strand of energy that seemed to be keeping me tethered to it, a strand long enough to circulate above the festival, in hearing range of the music, and not just The Twistettes either, they were combining with the sounds of ska, drum & bass and people now too.
It was a little later on I heard a familiar gruff and gravelly voice coming from a giant talking banana, literally, it was Kevin Pearson (expert festival-goer, frontman of the Chibmarks and 6th Dijon legend) in a banana costume. I floated down to eye level but I was seemingly invisible to everyone. A thought struck me at that point, and adopting a meditative state as I floated cross-legged in the air, I focused all my energy on entering the subatomic level.
Once there, I found a loophole and gained access into the mind of Kev, instantly regretting it. I was suddenly filled with The Fear and the self-deprecation and the nihilism and paranoia of Kev’s innermost thoughts. I swam through the Fear and into a black sea of tonic wine that teemed with aquatic Buckfast unicorns. Eventually, after journeying far enough through Kev’s warped psychedelic mind, I found a part of his brain I could communicate with; the lizard brain, the reptilian complex. In that group of subcortical nuclei in his vertebrate brain, I found the basal ganglia and sorted through its functions until I found Kev’s cognition… and I interviewed it.
I interviewed Kev’s subconscious in a space of time where there was no future, no past and no present, because all three existed simultaneously on this plane of dimension. Here, there was no separation between time and space, they were fused together, and with that stubbornly persistent illusion of “reality” stripped away, I got inside the mind of the Chibmarks’ singer, literally.
CTH – Kev, Kev, it’s me, Chris…
KEV – Wha’, Chris fuckin’ who!? Whit ye’ daein’ inside ma brain?
CTH – Herron, just wanted to conduct a wee interview?
KEV – Aw right, thought I recognised that weird accent. Well if it’s you…okay.
CTH – How is Lindisfarne? I’m trapped outside with my booze…
KEV – Best end tae’ a festival season I coulda’ hoped fur’ mate. Not jist’ fur’ the bands but fur’ the relaxed atmosphere. Done the usual an’ seen Jamie & Shoony, Colonel Mustard and Supa & The Kryptonites, but unfortunately missed the Twistettes due tae’ not long arrivin’…
CTH – Any particular highlights so far?
KEV – A huge crowd ay’ the Scottish contingent congregating in ma brar’s camper whilst Alaine (Well Happy Band) belted oot a beltor o’ a set wi’ her uke…
CTH - Cool! What could you not live without at a festival? Like, if you could only take one thing what would it be?
KEV – Bev an’ Buckfast. Never been tae’ a festival wi’oot Bev but a’ve been to wan wi’oot Buckfast, I can’t function wi’oot either and it’s a nightmare! A bottle o’ [tonic] wine is a Scottish olive branch, a nod ay approval, acceptance and delight, it bonds the jocks when we find oorselves abroad. N’ God knows whit the fuck would happen if ah’ didnae’ have ma’ good lady tae’ keep me in check!
CTH – What have The Chibmarks been up to the past coupla’ months?
Kev – Ah’ve bin’ reciting poems at the Unaware at festivals fae’ the Highlands tae’ the Borders. Bin’ cheered, chased, booed, n’ flung oot, but the message is oot there! We have five gigs comin’ up, two in Glesga’, wan in Lockerbie, n’ we support Jamie n’ Shoony doon in sunny Dumbarton on seventh October n’ supportin’ The Fast Camels at Sleazy’s third o’ November so buzy, buzy, buzy, albeit doubt we will ever legally play a festie…
CTH – Thanks Kev
KEV – Cheers mate, but whit the fuck ye’ daein’ in ma’ hied!?
I left that awful place before answering and left a bewildered Kev in his banana costume, eyeing his bottle of Buckfast suspiciously, probably thinking he’d been spiked.
Catch the Chibmarks’ own brand of insane, shite, punk debauchery at the Classic Grand on 16th Sept (which I’m hosting and also featuring The Stumblers, The Fuck Ups and The Sexy Offenders), or at Jamie’s birthday bash on the 23rd September (also at The Classic Grand), at Rockerbie in Lockerbie on 30th September, Nice and Sleazy’s on 3rd November, and in Dumbarton Waterside with Jamie & Shoony and Pyro on 7th October.
After leaving Kev’s head (thankfully), I realised I could get the review done after all, by interviewing a few more musicians at the subatomic level and through their lizard brain. Next up was Jo D’Arc of the brilliant Twistettes. It was intense inside her mind, but I managed to hang on long enough to ask her my three questions in the timeless, spaceless, interconnected consciousnesses I was travelling through in shades of mottled purples and neon green geometric patterns which flashed by in dazzling arrays.
CTH – How’s Lindisfarne Jo?
JO - We’re only gonna’ be here a few hours we have to leave to catch a train to London for our gig tomorrow. We really enjoyed our set, and we also caught Jamie and Shoony and they smashed it. The weather is brilliant too, so that helps.
CTH - What could you not live without at a festival?
JO – My van! It’s a dream not having to pitch a tent every weekend and it keeps the beers nice and cool when it’s sunny! Ha.
CTH – What have The Twistettes been up to past coupla’ months?
JO – We’ve been crazy busy touring the UK. We’ve had amazing adventures which I will write down when I get time! Broken-down vans, stolen bass guitars, random Scottish folks appearing at the funniest moments, and lots of amazing people and parties. We only have two gigs left til’ we take some time off to get the new album sorted, woop! Before that though we have Stramash in
Edinburgh on Friday for Musicians Against Homelessness, then Zandari Festival in South Korea! What a bonkers year it’s been!
I left Jo pondering what a bonkers year it had indeed been and what had just happened inside her head, and next I hijacked Jamie of oppidan pop-punk hip-hoppers Jamie & Shoony. Crawling into his neocortex and conversing with his subconscious on some ethereal stream of thought I hit him with my three questions, which had a strange echo to them in my own incorporeal voice, like that of a dodgy telephone connection when you hear yourself repeating back to you.
CTH – How’s Lindisfarne for you Jamie bro?
JAMIE – Amazing! We’re really having the best laugh ever! Made some awesome new friends and blown away by our show’s reaction. It truly is the perfect way to end our summer festival run, with a bang!
CTH - What could you not live without at a festival?
JAMIE – The people make festivals, you can’t have one without them. We always make friends with our tent neighbours and Lindisfarne delivered the legends, just like they did the weather. Shout out to Amiee, Jay and Shavey, they supplied the banter and made our weekend.
CTH – What have Jamie & Shoony been up to past coupla’ months?
JAMIE – We have been living in our tents the past few months at festivals up and down the country. We really have seen it all this year and loved every second of it. Kendal Calling, getting to travel, play our music, and to meet so many characters in these type of settings is a very magical and surreal thing. We are very humbled that folk are into what we do and that is our drive to keep improving and evolving..
CTH – Thanks bro.
JAMIE – No problem
Catch Jamie and Shoony at Dumbarton Waterside with the Chibmarks and Pyro 7th October and in Edinburgh, Stramash, on the 23rd October, a unique live experience not to be missed!
Suddenly, the interconnected fractals that built the universe I inhabited started to fracture and disintegrate, a familiar voice was calling me, “Chris, Chris”. I broke through several, what seemed like membranes, and eventually popped back out on the correct plane of reality, the fakest one, our one. I appeared to be in a ditch on my back and a familiar face loomed over me in a shiny discoball helmet and a garish yellow suit. It was John, AKA the Colonel of Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5. I looked around blearily, I felt like a mole burrowing up out of the blindness of its hole, I felt like I was coming back from death, and I felt like every atom in my body had been displaced.
‘What are you doing in a ditch?’ The Colonel asked me.
‘Interviewing Jamie & Shoony’ I replied.
‘No you’re not, there’s no one around Chris.’ He chuckled. ‘You all right?’
‘Yeah fine,’ I got up and dusted myself off and stretched my muscles. ‘You good for an interview? Just three questions.’ I was intensely dehydrated so I pulled out a Scrumpy from my jacket and cracked it, gulping it down like I’d just trekked across a desert, and by all accounts I had.
‘Of course mate, fire away’ said the Colonel.
‘How’s Lindisfarne?’ I asked, after draining most the can.
‘Amazing. We’re only here a limited time as we have Vanilla Johnson our trombone player’s wedding to go to tomorrow.’
‘Any highlights of your short stay so far?’
‘They’re all mostly Dijon 5 related highlights but the Showhawk Duo were apparently brilliant and I loved seeing The View for the first time in a while. During our gig, just experiencing the love of the people of the North East and crowdsurfing a newly-married couple out into the crowd. We had some family in the crowd, it’s always nice to get some of them into a festival and The View were real gentlemen letting my cousin’s sons backstage for a photo before their set.’
‘That’s awesome! What could you not live without at a festival?’
‘David Blair (The Dijancer) still slags me for back-in-the-day turning up at a festival with nothing but a bag full of Tennent’s lager, nothing else. I’m a simple man of simple pleasures, that still does me. A waterproof jacket helps but isn’t a necessity, same with a sleeping bag and tent, they’re luxuries. All you really need is a positive festival mentality that you’ll have a great time and make other people’s festival enjoyable. The Dijon 5 were born out of festivals. So yeah, in answer to your question, a playful attitude and a bag of carry out.’
‘Good answer. What have the Dijon 5 been up to past coupla’ months?’
‘Deep in the juju of festival season, breaking further into England with Soundcity, Solefest, Boomtown and Lindisfarne and cementing ourselves in Scotland with Eden, Kelburn, Butefest and that amazing mainstage at Belladrum, it feels like a lifetime rather than a couple of months. There are times when we’re all losing our minds but really we’re just very lucky to be doing what we do and that people are into it. We go from the sublime to the ridiculous every summer, I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
I talked to the Colonel for a bit then took my disjointed mind back to the car to gather more booze and reunite with Kayleigh, across the vastness of time and space it seemed. Once we had filled our canteens we headed down to the beach, in the burgeoning light of a summer night where the sun never really goes away, just dims down. Then I ate some mescaline and went for a swim. Afterwards we lay on the beach naked and gazed with awe into the maws of the Milky Way above us, the stars weren’t dancing around each other like before, but they were no less beautiful, inspiring and frighteningly unimaginable. After some time, we crawled back to the jeep and fell into deep slumber, my mind was exhausted and my body was very drunk, the two still seemed vaguely disconnected.
When we awoke, we smoked an ante-jentacular joint and drove the 115 miles back to Glasgow. By all accounts (and all the feedback I’ve heard since) Lindisfarne festival had been incredible and would continue to be so long after we left, as we only went on the Friday night of four days! I hadn’t stepped foot in the festival even once, and yet I still had my review, and my interviews, which (unbeknownst to me) my mindless body had been scribing faithfully into my notepad while my soul was away. Did we drive all that way and back for nothing? After hearing Kev, Jo, Jamie and the Colonel’s experiences at Lindisfarne, as well as others who were posting all about it on Facebook, it seemed like it might be one of the best festivals in England. I couldn’t help but feel like HST that time he missed the classic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ Ali/Foreman fight in ’74 by getting drunk and floating
naked in half a pound of marijuana in the hotel swimming pool instead. Maybe they didn’t let him in the fight with his drink either…
…Ah well fuck it, that’s gonzo journalism…
Seeya’ in the Triune brain!