Sunday, 11 July 2010
Plurals #2 (Wattsfest 2010).
Strange as it may seem, I have never been to a festival before. Not a "music" festival anyway. They have never appealed. I remember Glastonbury when it was a hippy festival. An advert in 1978 NME (could have been 1979) a pyramid and a big CND symbol, Glastonbury Festival - very Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd I (would have) thought. My big sister went to Reading in 1978. It was "Reading Rock Festival" back then. No corporate sponsorship. There were The Jam, Gloria Mundi, Ultravox!, John Peel, The Stranglers, Sham 69 jamming with Steve Hillage, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs...but my sister saw nought of it. She said she was too far away from the stage areas to enjoy the bands. What was the bloody point of a festival?
Friends went to festivals in the 1980's. But I stayed at home. Friends went to Stonehenge to watch Nik Turner's Inner City Unit and then get beaten up by the police. Fair exchange in my books....but.....What was the bloody point of a festival?
I have done a few day fests', all indoors mind. Futurama's and the great "Daze Of Futures Past" at Leeds Queens Hall, and of course the "Feast Of Flowering Light" in Hammersmith Palais, and the WGT in Leipzig. I am more an indoors kind of guy. Pubs and clubs (and by all means obscure venues) but please let there be a roof - and a bar.
Wattsfest 2010 took place on a farm in Uffculme, a very small village in North Devon. Bob Watt's farm. I had no idea what to expect. A festival on a farm. Of course it wasn't going to be the size of Glastonbury, and the only thing I could equate it all to (in expectation) was the "free" festival in "Carry On Camping" where The Flowerbuds play on the back of a lorry in a field (in Sussex). What else was I supposed to think?
I would not have come within thirty miles from the fest' if it weren't for Plurals. Plurals were on the bill - opening up Saturday's revelry in the "Dome Tent". The rest of the acts on the 3 day bill were complete unknowns to me - DJ's, rock bands and acoustic troubadours, but Plurals playing in my county....it had to be done. I can quite easily sit here and type a stream of dislikes about Wattsfest 2010, it simply was not my "scene", but I certainly had a great day out! How bizarre is that? I watched an atrocious singer called Fiona Bevan ( a bedroom Lilly Allen impersonator) open the day on the "great outdoors" stage. "This is a love song" she said "All my songs are love songs, but then all songs are love songs...aren't they"? Never heard "This is not a love song" by Public Image Limited then...or "Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel" by Whitehouse. Ah well - I was the only one there in an Genocide Organ T-Shirt. The lady got two encores when I could have thrown a can. There was a really bad group from Bristol called An Axe in the "Moist Quiche" tent. Kids who only learnt to play their instruments this year, probably because they were Christmas presents..... But, in spite of all this - I was having a great time. The kids were loving it! Being in a field full of frisbee throwing, ball juggling freaks. There was a great book tent where I picked up a copy of "Mein Kampf" and the creationist kid's book "Dinosaurs By Design" (an instant classic at Hartop Towers), and of course there was a beer tent. (On the website blurb, on the FAQ's page there was the question: "Can I bring my beer"? Why that question needed to be asked, I don't know, but the answer was "Yes, but why would you want to when we are selling local beers and ciders at a very reasonable price". Nice answer. They were selling cans of lager at £2.50 a pop. I knew I should have brought my own)!
Plurals playing live this far West is a rarity, I have been whetting my ears in anticipation over hearing them live (live=loud) for a few months now, especaillay after the aborted set at The Ivy House in Nunhead earlier this year. (See elsewhere on this blog for details), Whilst the main throng were at the "Great Outdoors" tent and sipping the local brew(s) in the "Moist Quiche" tent, a select few sat and watched Plurals play in the "Dome" tent. The effect was instant, a textured wall of "noise" knocked me to my bottom! There were three keyboards, a violin and a microphone - that much I could see - how the noise was made from these instruments is another question. Loops built to a crescendo, lifted then deposited elsewhere in the tent to be surpassed by more textural ambiance whilst all the time there was this suppressed voice drifting around the parameters. Lost in limbo. Beautiful. It was loud, at times very loud, but never loud enough. (The sound engineer was a guy dressed in T-Shirt and little red football shorts. He had that look about him that he could have lent over and whispered in my ear "I used to play in goal for Yeovil Town back in the seventies y'know"...but he didn't...he also ignored my signals to pump up the volume). It was all over too soon. A dozen or so people were mesmerized, and the saddest thing of all - they didn't record it!
I was put in mind of Soviet France circa their "Eostre" or "Popular Soviet Songs" phase. The latest Plurals CDr "Six Eyes"also invokes this sound.
We left shortly after the Plurals set. A cloud of Marijuana was building over the field and I can't afford a relapse (not at this age), they were going to do an evening "noise" set in the "Apocalypse tent" - hopefully it was recorded and to be released later this year!
4: Plurals pose.
5: Isabel F., Oscar and Tamsin at "The Great Outdoors".