Looks like it could be a grand bit of fun, but really Ireland is not too big that you need a sleeper. But if you like to spend days doing other things and not on hours long train ride, this may be the thing for you.
We come together to enjoy outdoor music festivals from spring to fall equinox, hopefully getting outside without rain to enjoy open air music and other acts, and the company of great friends. There are music festivals for all genres and some that mix the genres to have as many party goers as possible, which of course means more of the all mighty Dollar or Euro for the promoters and hopefully some for the acts. These affairs can be small at county fairgrounds or at massive historical estates, with camping and mayhem. Or the hugely successful and amazingly well organized chaos, like America’s Burning Man, that started over twenty years ago as a nomadic gathering, and has now become a massive commercial venue.
Images of Sicily’s Fantasy Festival have hit the news. It’s the end of the line coming up for Europe’s large music festivals over the next few months. In the US, Electric Zoo just finished up with some festivals continuing into the late Fall. No matter our age, we still flock to these music festivals, sometimes with whole families going. It’s a right of passage of youth, university and since humans were once nomadic tribes, just is natural. From the first stadium madness gigs in the US and those very lucky to be in Europe and live amongst castles or sacred places like Glastonbury, can attend some amazing music and revelry. There are many private estates with a castle and battlements where the cash poor landed gentry are happy to take money, put up stages, and bring in the bands. You can listen to some of your favorite music, meet friends, hopefully survive the three to five days if not just day tripping, and come out fairly unscathed. Then leave a trail of devastation behind you. That’s right, people can lay waste.
Music festivals have become great venues to showcase new and upcoming bands, to old favorite bands playing for decades, as well as political and Eco causes. Because they are so future friendly, you will see vast rows of sorting bins for your refuse, that rival the rows of portable toilets. Not to mention science exhibits and save the world booths. At the garbage collecting sites, you read the international signs for food, paper, plastics, and all other disposables. You may have helpful people there directing and correcting you, and some of them militant Neo Hippies berating you if you get it in the wrong bin. The intentions are good. But why is it there is still so much human debris left behind on the grounds similar to a mass migration? The situation is getting more and more dire as more festivals pop up every year. Yes, the music festival can really line someone’s pockets, but the cleanup becomes quite questionable. Do you trust them to dispose of the waste in a correct and safe manner once you leave even if you think you got it in the right bin?
What I hear of mostly in complaints on Twitter is the disappointment in this festival or that one for the bands being really bad, or the sound system not working, or the biggest gripe, not being able to get out of the car park for three hours. No one really looks back at the trash that’s been left behind. Have you read any of the articles that come out each year, talking trash about the trash? Our past three years we have raised consciousness about plastics getting into the oceans, our great Pacific Garbage Patch. This years cause Celeb is the plastic straw. Did they all get in the plastics bin, if they are allowed due to their recycling emblem. Wait, do they put that on there?
What makes thousands of people who probably recycle like fiends at home, suddenly forget how to do it? Is it some mass hive-mind mentality of abandonment? Some of these events can go on for more than 3 days, some events go for a week. If you were camping in the woods, would you leave your tent behind? In some instances yes. Some revelers mistakenly thought that the tents they left behind at the Reading Festival this past August in the UK, were destined for charities. Commonly, a rumor gets started or a mass assumption occurs, it’s like a massive pass day at school where you are forgiven a homework assignment happens. You don’t have to take what you brought in back out, the magic butler robot will take care of it. Festival clean up crews call many local homeless shelters and charities after they look at the fields, but much of the sleeping bags, tents, cookers and any other camp gear gets hauled off to landfill sites if not shipped around the world on endless barge runs like the rest of the waste on the planet.
And in some cases, many attendees really thought they were doing what they were told. In some festivals, organizers have told revelers to leave behind tents or bags, they were being collected for a refugee crisis. Then the festival didn’t follow through. Later attendees find out and realize they contributed to a serious problem. To be on the safe side, always take your stuff with you. You can donate it yourself on the way home with a charity. Maybe take that extra step and do some research before you go and if anyone talks to you at the event not sure what to do, set an example and tell them what you plan to do and why. You can start a new trend.
So Why is it Always Someone Else’s Problem?
So, do you think it’s great for the planet to trash a music festival, even if it’s on private space where the rich landed gentry live because maybe you feel a little ripped off? Did the band you love have a gripe with the festival? Whatever the convoluted reason, do you really think it’s fair to protest by leaving a squalid mess behind? Really, think about it. If festival goers keep being this badly behaved, what do you think the chances are that more music festivals will happen? It’s true, there are greedy promoter types who make loads of money. You may even think that the bands are getting serious bank. Really though, depending on the venue and contracts, many of your favorite bands barely break even going to a gig like this. Some of them donate time if it’s a charity event. And if it’s a charity event, they still have to pay for cleanup, so that money is not going to the charitable cause.
Contact a festival before you attend it, have your friends do the same. Get a campaign going. Ask them how they are going to manage disposing of the collected trash. Organize others around you. Take it back with you, donate if you don’t need the sleepers or tents. Take that time to look up homeless centers on your route home. Have a garage sale when you get back.
So what is the answer, the one that is so obvious? I think it’s really hypocritical to have an Eco Spectacular Save the World Festival and leave thousands of tents, sleeping bags and piles of trash behind. I guess maybe someone in your favorite punk band will stand up at the end and say. “Hey, you! Don’t forget to take your trash out of the park!” They really shouldn’t have to, shouldn’t you set an example? Go on, take it back.
Cora Bissett and David Greig’s life affirming Scottish drama, Glasgow Girls is to run at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow next year. The production, which is based on real life events, will make its debut on the big stage from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 January 2019. Filled with song-and-dance-filled this true story tells of seven […]
I’m off back to the capital….. Every July, I make a point of heading to Edinburgh for a couple of days. Just to confirm that it’s still got it and that the complimentary appeal is as strong as ever with my home city of Glasgow. In so doing I beat the imminent pandemonic rush from…
My Featured 45 for today is Crass’s, How Does it Feel. Crass is by no means for everyone, but they sure could get their messages across. They always had great cover art and posters from their singles.
In 1982, I was a punky 17 year old on my first trip to the UK. I was vagabonding for a month on my own. I was desperate to see where all my favorite punk bands had been and what influenced them, even if it was just to stand in the same city, hop record shops, and try to get to a show. I had to experience Carnaby Street, Camden Market, Portobello Road, and of course I had to travel and hit up other towns in the UK. I learned that each city had it’s own music scene after talking to local kids, each with it’s own flavor. I liked Joy Division, so off to Manchester I went. I then had to visit with some pen pals. So after that it was Wales.
I’ll never forget visiting with my pen pal. Ah, that ancient teenage custom of meeting people from around the world, before there was Twitter and Snap Chat. You dug around in the back of music Fanzines from the UK, the ones you might find in the import section at the record shop. You found names of people who liked the same groups you did. Hand wrote a letter, said “Hello, I found your name and you like some of the same bands I do. It’s hard to find this music here, I listen to college radio to get it. I’ll tell you about California Punk and Rockabilly, or Goth.” And so weird transatlantic bonds were formed. I would of course learn that not everyone you wrote to was how they presented themselves. That’s another story for another time.
A Discotheque in York
I was in Wales, that ancient city with Roman bits still strewn about it. My pen friend and I went down to the local all ages discotheque, me in all my crazy bizarre finery from the markets in London. Yeah, half my clothes got lifted at a youth hostel. London lesson. At least they didn’t get all the 45s I had picked up you couldn’t get back home. We sat in the disco, she with her Shandy, me with a Pernod and Ribena. Two lads started trying to get our attention. This was new territory for me. Boys didn’t give me the time of day at school or in California in general. The Gingery thing. So I let my pen friend handle it, they were Welsh and I figured I wouldn’t get it. But one wasn’t speaking Welsh, and he was in a soldier uniform. I picked up the accent finally. A Liverpool man. I had just gone through on the one day trip there. But he was speaking in tongues I didn’t get, very intensely. Finally his mate, probably seeing the utter bewilderment, and reminding his friend there was an American, tell me in my ear, “Don’t mind him so much. He’s just been through the Falklands business. He’s still not with us yet.” It was the short, fierce little war between Argentina and the British.
I had been hearing of the Crisis through my travels. I had heard something before I left home, and wanted to find out more. But this was the days of no Internet, and American filtered news, even more filtered than now. It was Ronnie Reagan and Thatcher. All about control. The conflict took place the April before I arrived, and cemented Thatcher for upcoming elections. The whole conflict was a mystery to me, and many tried to explain it to me, many of them older and very British. But the punk rock contingency was having none of it, and protests of the violence were being sung about in the music that was released that summer and fall.
I tried to be patient and sadly the young soldier with drink got far worse, and my friend and I had to make our escape. After that night, I felt terrible that such a young man had to go through such violence, and live with the people who had died because of the actions on both sides. I was determined to find out more about the punk scene in other cities. I had been told to try Edinburgh, and hunt record shops there. Maybe even get into a club. So next day, after dealing with Welsh friend’s bizarre Mum, I boarded a train for Scotland.
After surviving the strange heat wave that had hit London a week before, I was warned to prepare for Scottish Summer. On the train I would find out what that was. I was scrabbling about lugging the case, my boots and short skirt, my punky self. Slipping and sliding on the wet floors. Trying to avoid all the leering men I kept encountering. Learning life’s mysteries of older men hunting young 17 year old girls. Definitely not something you tell Ma about when you get back. I finally found a car with mostly women in it. Everyone was going about the weather. In those days, no WiFi to check the actual weather. But as we got closer to Scotland, you could see the bendy trees and debris flying about. Clouds dark as night. The train got thumped by gale force winds. Finally at the border, there was an announcement. All trains cancelled going in. We had to catch the train going back on the other side. Panic.
My Edinburgh Punk Rock history lesson was thwarted! Yes, it was really 4 years after the scene was really happening, but I still wanted to see the streets and venues these kids went through and fought in. I wanted to get in the record shops!
So after the insanity of trying to cram in on the return train on the other side, with no room for me, I found myself sitting on my case on the platform. A young station master strolls up and I ask when the next train will be. There is no next train, not for a few days maybe. Devastation. The Station Master says, ” I’ll call the Missus.” Apparently everything is solved with calling the Missus in the UK. The man came out and said his wife insisted that I stay with them. I was a bit worried as I didn’t know this person, but he was in uniform and looked very worried about my well being. So I was given my Tae and got on so well with their young child, that I was asked if I had baby sitting experience and sat for them while they went round the pub. The Missus wrote to my Ma to tell her I was alive. Sadly, I had to go back down to London and couldn’t get to Edinburgh after all of the trouble I had been through.
This year, a fabulous adventure of a exhibition featuring Scottish Punk and Post Punk music is going on at the National Museum in Edinburgh, Rip It UP! I cannot travel this year, but if you are, take it all in. Tell us how it is.
Got any great stories from 1976 to 1990 about your travels and experiences in the UK and Ireland music scenes? I would love to hear them. If you know any great Punk and Post Punk bloggers/blogs, give me a line. I would love to feature stories here. Got rare 45 and album poster art to share, send it to me, all credits will be made.
South side is da best. Not being biased at all, but it is. In recent years the south of London has exploded in with cool things to do and trendy places to be. Food Markets are one of the many sprinkles on the giant cake that is London, and south London is not short of them. […]
In the Summer of 2016 I was on a more than amazing Scottish roam. The itinerary I had changed and rearranged many times before departing, and changed yet again when I got there, going where the heart pulled me. Never a typical tourist, I may climb castles and ruins enthusiastically, but I find spending time in public transit and anywhere people gathered and talked to be the best places to be. Hearing spoken Gaelic being freely used was an amazing thing. You didn’t need to understand it to see how people communicated. It is the perfect backdrop while taking trains through the highlands, listening to happy families speaking their language in pure joy. A language of green mountains and hills you won’t find anywhere else.
After the first foray into the Highlands, I swung back down and ended up in Oban. The sea was calling me. I had been reading headlines in papers at some of the train stations. Big changes were coming for the UK. And big changes in the US. When I feel any serious emotion, I have to touch the river or the sea. I was feeling a bit guilty, a bit escapist. I was ignoring the real world. It was after the Scottish IndyRef vote had not passed, and Theresa May had just taken office. With the way the US Presidential campaigns were going, it seemed inevitable that we were heading for a repeat of the Thatcher and Reagan era.
I was sitting on the rug in a great B&B I got for a steal. Beautiful view of the bay that I had just cruised through to get to the Isle of Mull. I should have been very happy. Suddenly it just hit me. I was at a loss. So, I sat on the floor with my phone. The world was really about to go into the funnel of a maelstrom or so it felt. Into some kind of void. It was like it was the very first time I ventured into the UK as a very young teen. Back then it was Thatcher and protests, the disenfranchised youth without work and no future. This new thing called Brexit, how the UK was trying to pull out of the European Union seemed a really bizarre idea. I wasn’t so sure what I would being going home to in my own country.
I put music on my iPhone, I needed comfort from old favorites. I started with John Lennon’s Imagine, singing along and tears streaming. I fell into George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and Give Me Love. I had to have that cry out. Went to bed that night, decided not to stay the second day. I needed to get back to a city, to not be an escapist, not be in an idyllic, coastal Scottish town. Needed that heart beat and throb. Edinburgh was calling to me, something in me said just go. So I arrived a few days early. It was one of the best decisions on that trip.
Edinburgh has rescued many a soul. After walking the streets and climbing over and around graveyards for hours, I came out and wandered into a sprawling historic area. A protest parade had started. My internal forever university student drive kicked in and I made a beeline to it. Saltires and EU flags were flying, IndyRef badges and banners displayed. People still wanted their independence, but they didn’t want to be ripped from the EU without their say. Scotland Police were escorting and walking alongside. There were all ages present, children in strollers and on small bikes. People walking with dogs, a cat on a leash. Even a parrot. I spent a time trying to figure out the rules of the Scottish protest, can you just jump in, was there an end of the line you funnel in at. Someone said, “Come on”. It was strangely quiet compared to the American protests I had been to. So, I joined for a bit of solidarity. It was one of the highlights of that visit.
Sadly I won’t be traveling this year. I barely scratched the surface in Ireland last summer, much less Scotland. I plan to return in two years to bag my Munro. So many places I have yet to discover. Maybe I will find another parade to join.
Next weekend, June 30th 2018, is an organized protest supporting Families and Children in our refugee crisis with the Mexican border. Will you join us?