You know those festivals where girls waft about wearing culturally suspect bindis and Native American headdresses and every other converted van sells beards-in-a-bun; where 45-year-old men who work in an office all year become DJs for a day, thousands of them, all at once? Yeah, this wasn’t one of those festivals at all. This was more the one where every arena plays the same deep ’ouse tracks until they synchronise in an all-conquering sine wave, kids destroy everything like a plague of locusts and everything smells of burnt plastic as people who barely qualify for the sapient part of ‘homo sapiens’ attempt fire for the first and last time.
With me was ‘A House Legend’. It was a good day, because for once I wasn’t the oldest person in a 10-mile radius. It was him. He’d never played a large festival before. He called me prior to it and asked me what he should wear. I told him to expect knee-high mud. He talked about the good weather report and I had to patiently explain that hundreds of thousands of people, like cattle, can churn up fairly dry ground into a morass in a matter of hours – indeed, in minutes if there is even a tiny bit of rain.
It rained. He arrived in day-glo-bright, preppy golf wear (“it’s outdoors, innit!”), a pair of bright pink box-fresh Hunter wellies and a see-through cape. I watched his face as it registered first disgust, then a kind of Victorian stage-shock, then cringing terror at what unfolded before him. As we got deeper into it (in both senses of the word) the ground turned into treacle, then soup, then liquid, and he became a sort of overdressed Bambi, legs shooting out from him in different directions as he flailed to stay upright.