I finally caught the festival bug a bit late. Took me to go to the first really big one, Glastonbury (see previous blog, 1999 – festivals) to really want to experience it again.
From 1990 to 1994 the annual Trip to Tipp (Feile) completely bypassed me. This was a three day event at Semple Stadium in Thurles. So I have never been to any of these but I do know some people out there who were present at Thurles. If you are reading this and have good memories of the Trip to Tipp please share your experiences.
By 1995 it moved to Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh before moving north to Dublin in 1996 at the Point Theatre. Was tempted to head down for that one but didn’t go. Not sure if an indoor festival was the right setting. It finally ended in 1997 as a one day event.
So after a two year break that all changed in the year 2000 with the arrival of Witnness. The 2000 festival was the first Witnness festival to be held. It took place on the 5 and 6 August 2000 in Fairyhouse Racecourse in County Meath.
I went down on the Sunday with friends for the second day. The line up for the first day wasn’t very appealing.
We hired a car and made the journey down south. There wasn’t even any camping at this one either.
Because we didn’t get down until the Sunday we missed out on the festival programme so it was hard to work out where we were meant to be to catch the bands that we wanted to see.
As well as the main stage, there were two other stages. I think the bulk of our time was spent in the tents rather than the main stage as there was nobody on the main stage we wanted to see apart from Embrace and Beck. Have vague recollections of Travis but nearly sure I wasn’t at the main stage for that.
On the other two stages we took in quite a lot of bands. Got to see Wilt, co.uk, Snow Patrol, Idlewild, JJ72, Feeder, Therapy?, The Walls and The Frames. Quite a lot of Irish talent there.
Overall I think I was quite impressed with the set up. Was very easy to get to and no hassle getting home. That’s a win for me.
So the next festival that summer was little under four weeks away when it was a trip over to England for the Reading Festival which was held on the bank holiday weekend of 25-27 August.
I went over to see my friends David and Mark who had moved to London. We hired a car and the task was handed for me to drive to the site!
We headed down on the Thursday and made it to Reading in time to pitch our tent and get the layout of the land. Unlike Glastonbury, Reading is very accessible with a railway to London and good access to the motorways. The festival itself was right in the middle of the town which gave it a very suburban feeling.
This was the festival I had always wanted to do. I used to set the video for the late night highlights that ITV used to show of it. Many of my favourite bands have graced the stage over the years. Definitely some you had to be there moments so hopefully I would get to experience some of them myself.
So on the Friday the first task of the day is to get the all important wrist band (see photo).
The queues however were massive and somehow we managed to bunk the queue. Not intentional now, honestly we kind of wandered into a queue and stayed put. Think we got a few dirty looks for that but nobody told us to leave and join the queue properly.
Next important task was to get the all important timetable. Yours truly spent the entire weekend with this round this next to be hurdled about all weekend with the “who’s on next, what time, what stage, etc, etc”.
Highlights of Reading:
Friday – We got our bearings and found out where we needed to be. Most of Friday was spent on the main stage. We caught the tail end of Asian Dub Foundations set. Stuck around for Limp Bizkit. After that we moved forward to the front a bit and saw The Bluetones and were in the perfect spot for my next two favourite bands, Foo Fighters and Primal Scream. Even in 2000 Foo Fighters were quite low down on the bill. Headliners were Oasis but I was haven’t none of it and after one song, I bolted to the other stage to see Muse who were headlining in the tent at the same time. Remember I said earlier that I wanted to experience a festival moment? Well this was it. The tent was packed, everybody was crammed into every acre of space in the tent to catch a glimpse of them, even some people started to climb the support poles to be told to get down while the band stopped playing. Even inbetween songs you could still hear Oasis in the background but in the tent everyone was shouting f**k off Oasis to the roar of approval inside.
Saturday – when it all got messy. Lots of bands to see but some like to have a beer or two. Me? I just want to see bands. We had only got into the arena and first port of call was the first visit to the other stage and we saw JJ72. After that it was to the beer tent.
I was getting a bit impatient as the more beer being consumed I kept looking at the clock for the next band. Idlewild were next on the main stage but Dave and Mark were too busy enjoying beer that I went off on my own and told them I would meet them back at the tent. After Idlewild’s set I went back to the tent to find they were both gone. I had no idea were they were and had no phone so there was no way of finding them. In the end I spent the entire afternoon and evening on my own resulting in me getting to see Queens of the Stone Age in the other stage and I spent the rest of the day at the main stage taking in Super Furry Animals, Gomez, Beck and finally Pulp.
I made my way back to the tent and found both Dave and Mark there. Turned out they wandering into the River Thames and were soaked to the bone. Plus the fact that it was bogging too with everybody pissing it on or going for a dump. Lovely!
Sunday – back to normal. The dust settles from the previous days shenanigans and we have a plan. Tent came down after we got up, the car got packed and ready for a quick getaway once the festival closed. We weren’t going to stay overnight for this one and would be heading back to London.
We spent all day Sunday on the main stage. There was no bands of interest on the other stages. Sunday is traditionally rock day and most acts on this stage hit that target apart from Daphne and Celeste! Who thought this was a good idea to put them on a rock stage! They came on stage to a barrage of missiles and bottles aimed at them! Throwing stuff in the general direction of somebody you didn’t approve of on stage was another Reading tradition. They stood their ground though and seemed to have taken it in good spirits until they get hauled off stage. Hard luck girls you did give it a try and were brave enough to be on stage to a very hostile environment.
So back to the rock bands. We took in Cay, Supersuckers, A, Blink 182, Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Placebo and finally headliners Stereophonics, who brought Tom Jones onstage with them later on.
Once they finished that was a wrap and we were heading towards London!
Overall, I enjoyed my first Reading festival. I would go to another two after this. Biggest disappointment of it was not taking the time to explore the other stages. Some really good bands were there to be discovered. Second disappointment was why were Rage Against The Machine so low down on the bill? They headlined in 1993 and would do so again in 2008.
I was truly bitten by the festival bug now that I have survived 2 and a bit festivals!