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...and bugger me, there's not a bloody book in sight.
I'm bored, so here it is, three weeks late: READING!
Finally got everything packed after my mum getting neurotic and insisting on unpacking and repacking my bag. How the hell I managed to fit everything in - clothes, tin mug, wetwipes, bog roll, food, drinks, Oxfam stuff, toiletries, etc. - is beyond me. Went on Hole website to check update on the Great Hole.Com Reading Meet-Up. Three hours later, got on train to Reading, walked for about half a mile lugging my huge backpack, sleeping bag and tent and getting rope burn on my hands, before I found the entrance, but when I consulted my map I found the Blue Gate was down the road so trudged off for a bit and then found Blue Gate, which led to an Oxfam hut with a topless American in it. He sent me off to the stewards' campsite, but it was full, so I had to pitch my tent on the guest campsite. But before that, I got my shift times, and - fuckfuckfuckfuckbollocksgoddammitAAARGH - I WAS STEWARDING DURING SYSTEM OF A DOWN! No-one wanted to swap with me at first but I tracked down a guy called Jonny who wanted Saturday off, so I swapped with him. Which meant I had to work in the Dance Tent while Blur were on, but at least it meant I got to watch Audio Bullys. Pitched tent with great difficulty; the bloody poles broke a hole in the lining. This nice South African guy helped me get the bastard up. I thought I'd lost the flysheet, and was about to go and get one from a camping store when I opened the door and found the flysheet in the tent. Phew. Later I went to the Health and Safety talk and met Edie (one of the people from the Hole site) who introduced me to her friends Alex and Jemma (I think that was her name?) We all wandered around the Green Campsite for a bit looking at the various stalls.
I wasn't working for ages so went off to Tescos to buy some more food and thus avoid eating the horrible overpriced crap they sell in the arena. Wandered aimlessly around site and bought army trousers and herbal speed. At 3:30 I was bored, so watched the stewards showing people round the bit where I was working (Piccadilly Circus) and looked for people I know. Eventually I found one - Takesy! He was there with his mate Claire and his bright red hair made my eyes hurt. He claimed his laminate photo from Glastonbury was uglier than mine, although this isn't possible as I look positively deranged in mine. Talked to him and Claire for a bit before they went off to the site. Half an hour later my shift begun and me and my shift partner Emma had to stand in Piccadilly Circus for 6 hours, getting covered in dust, yelled at by security guards and interrogated by the punters to the point that I thought I was going to kill the next person who asked me where the wristband exchange was. Halfway through my shift a load of people from the Hole website came to see me (recognising me by the purple trousers) and were amazed to find that I am actually short. So big up to: Scarlingrrl aka Buko, Tammy Machine, Outsmarted, Whoreface aka Siobhan, Spasticaguy aka John, Mumrah666 and his Justin Timberlake shirt, and E-Bow aka Daniel (who doesn't look that much like Marilyn Manson). Went off to meet them and Edie at the stewards' campsite. I wish I'd been there longer as they were all lovely (and Outsmarted and Daniel are gorgeous). Apparently they went to do karaoke later, and Edie got wasted and murdered a song called Palisade Park. Meanwhile, Emma and me had to help security stop idiots trying to get into the arena. One such idiot claimed James Hetfield invited him backstage. The fact that Metallica were playing Leeds the next day evidently hadn't registered.
Went back to steward campsite and drank Chardonnay and played cards with a load of other stewards.
Typical, eh? I would have to have my day off when all the crap bands are on. Meh. Met Katie in the arena (at long bloody last) after trying to get hold of her for ages, and wandering around the yellow campsite like a moron. Waited for ages for the queues into the arena to settle, only to find out stewards could get in at the back entrance. Phew! Bought System Of A Down t-shirt. Met Edie and Daniel wandering around and wandered around with them, trying to ignore the horribleness of InMe and later, Less Than Jake (Daniel couldn't listen to them as he claimed they made him feel sick). Wrote 'Zebra Fucker' on a random man's t-shirt (to go with 'Xylophone Buggery' - anyone know where this comes from?) Watched the following bands:
- The Datsuns (Main Stage): good, I was gutted I missed them at Leeds. A huge fat hairy man in leather underwear walked past me at one point. I nearly puked.
- Ladytron (Radio 1 Stage): loads of Hole.com people were there but I didn't see any of them. Mira Arroyo is gorgeous in real life. Ladytron were great, even if I had to wait forever for them to play. Some twats in front of me tried to start a pit. WHY? How can you mosh to electronica?
- Electric 6 (Radio 1 Stage): funny, but disappointing. The pit was awful, so I had to get out. I nearly had a panic attack. The band were OK, a bit disappointing and people only went to see them for Gay Bar.
- Interpol (Radio 1 Stage): atmospheric, and no, this isn't a crap Joy Divison joke. They were a bit Joy Division, except the singer's voice is higher than Ian's. Surpsinigly chilled out for a guitar band.
- Sparta (Carling stage): amazingly good. I'm gutted I missed them last year too and went to watch some shitty band on the Main Stage instead. They were the best band of the day. Bumped into Takesy and his mate Cat (who has 15 piercings - she could pass for a member of Kittie!) and her little brother. Made Takesy squirm by comparing piercings. Takesy went off near the end to watch Linkin Park. I question his sanity at times.
- Death In Vegas (Dance Tent): great, even though they didn't do Aisha. The videos on the screen were like watching a bad acid trip. The music was kind of a cross between dance and rock, they had a guitarist with them. They kick shit out of Linkin Park.
Afterwards, met Edie, went back to stewards' campsite, tried to teach her to play cards. Then went off to garage over the road, where the shopkeepers all gave us evil looks, and met a weird guy who claimed the highlight of his festival was me saying I liked his lightsabre. It must have been a pretty lame festival for him.
Spent morning wandering around arena eating Ben and Jerrys and signing Amnesty petitions. Went to the Main Stage to chat to Edie (she was stewarding there). Saw:
- Cave-In (Main Stage): emo-ish. Jack likes them, they were pretty good, if unoriginal. And the singer was fit.
- Junior Senior (Main Stage): camper than a row of tents with Graham Norton, Julian Clary and Dale Winton singing YMCA on karaoke in the background. They were hilarious, and amazingly, unlike with Electric 6, people didn't bugger off after Move Yr Feet. They covered Twist And Shout and Senior introduced one song with "This one's called I Like Girls, something I don't know about!" Junior is really tiny!
- Poison The Well (Concrete Jungle): I didn't mean to watch them but I heard a nice racket coming out the tent that sounded a bit like Raging Speedhorn. I ended up watching them. They were amazingly good, really heavy.
- Boy Sets Fire (Concrete Jungle): see above, but with more tunes. I looked for Takesy in the audience but couldn't find him. The singer did a corny speech about wishing and hoping and how hope is the most important thing in the world, yada yada, but the song was good. Unfortunately I had to leave halfway through cos the Kills were on.
- The Kills (Radio 1 Stage): SEXAAAAAAY! Well, VV anyway. The songs were very minimalist, a bit White Stripes (although there are three of them) but I liked them. The NME got it right, even if the songs got a bit samey.
Then I had to go and steward in the Dance Tent. First I had to stand in the disabled bit, prevent myself from falling asleep and chucking non-disabled people out. Then (as I'd mentioned to the supervisor that I liked Blur) I had to stand outside the tent and stop people climbing the poles, not that any of them were stupid enough to try, answer questions (I got a lot of Dirty Sanchez fans) and attempt to control the crowd, not that we could. I got panicky cos the tent was packed out, but no-one got crushed. I saw:
- Matt Cantor: OK.
- Photek: boring, and the music made my head hurt. It was heavy techno. Rob wouldn't have approved.
- Spooks: nice, chilled, funky, got big cheer when they did Karma Hotel. It was weird seeing them, they haven't done stuff for years. A few people in my year were into them, I'm not but they were a relief after having my ears battered by Photek.
- Adam F: I wasn't really listening as I was outside the tent by then. It got packed out in there - even some of the stewards joined in the rave!
- Audio Bullys/Blur/2manyDJs: great, but I wish they weren't on at the same bloody time. Simultaneous bandwatching is pretty fucking hard; I could just about hear Blur over Audio Bullys. I liked Audio Bullys, I wish Rob had been there. And they only did a small bit of The Things. Bugger. Blur were pretty good, incidentally (what I heard of them), even if I didn't know a lot of the songs (I so need to get Think Tank) and Phil Daniels came on for Parklife. And amazingly, even though they're sick of it, they did Song 2. Apparently Damon Albarn was being cheesey and fell off the stage. What would Graham say? And 2manyDJs didn't do that many mash-ups (no Nirvana and Destiny's Child? WHY?!), apart from Royksopp and Dolly Parton and another one I've forgotten. But they made up for that with a cool mix of Lithium.
Later: stayed in the tent to watch The Matrix Reloaded. Nearly fell asleep, and not just cos the film HAS NO PLOT WHATSOEVER. Apart from "Keanu Reeves does swanky martial arts moves and Carrie Ann Moss gets to wear a sexy catsuit" (and every time either of these things happened, all the men cheered). At one point in the movie this Spanish woman gets off with Keanu and Carrie Ann gets jealous and someone sang the definitive Reading 2003 song: "Get yr hands off of mah wooomaaaaan, motherfuckah!" When my shift finished, I tried to find the supervisor as he'd got my pen, but in the end I couldn't be arsed and dragged myself back to the tent. I was so knackered I fell asleep straight away.
Four words. System Of A Down.
I managed to swap my shift with another steward who wanted to go in the Dance Tent and ended up on the Main Stage getting my neck roasted and the purple bits in my hair bleached (although I didn't find this out, due to lack of mirrors, until my mum pointed it out to me the next day) and stopping people sitting on the metal fence around the sound tower (including a little punk boy in army trousers who was there with his punk parents - and these were proper punks, mind. The amount of small children there was incredible, although god knows what they did with themselves when they weren't squealing at Sum 41. Reading isn't the sort of festival you'd take a child to, unlike Glastonbury which has a whole FIELD for small children, but I digress).
- Sugarcult: sweet. The singer invited us to share his toilet and warned us off eating Chinese food.
- Biffy Clyro: godawful and miserable. The fact that they were replacing the sexier and more interesting Lostprophets didn't help. Thanks a lot, you bastards. Look what you landed us with! Still, at least Godsmack pulled out as well.
- All American Rejects: also sweet. Like a poppy Weezer. Told us how much they loved us Brits. Vomit.
- The Used: I made sure I had my break when they were on, they were godawful. Even worse than the Dillinger Escape Plan, and that's an achievement. Oh yes. Imagine Puddle Of Mudd crossed with Nickelback, but without the Christianity (Bert McCracken said "We hate Jesus and we love Satan!" - yeah right, like nobody's ever said that before). Hideous.
- Good Charlotte: two words; guilty and pleasure. They got so many bottles thrown at them that eventually Benji Madden asked the audience to bottle him. And lo, a shower of bottles did hail forth from the skies. They kept trying to jolly up the crowd but no-one was in the mood for it. And I wish American bands wouldn't go "We totally fucking love you guys! You guys rule! We love England! We wanna move here!" etc. Oh, STOP IT. The aforementioned punk boy squeeked "You suck!" at them. As did everyone. Except me. I got a few funny looks when I danced to Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous.
- Primal Scream: incandescent. Even better than when I went to see them with Rob in 2000. Mani told us we were ugly motherfuckers and asked if anyone had actually had baths ("I can smell you from here!") It was nice being insulted after the gushy American bands. Bobby needs to eat more.
- The one and only...duh duh duhhh...SYSTEM OF A DOWN. I don't care what Takesy says, they were amazing, I only wish I'd been nearer the front but I had to settle for the soundtower. It was packed even around there but the audience were a bit dead, I was singing my lungs out so I got a few weird looks. Daron looked like he'd been living in a hedge; Serj was beardless but still as cool and sexy as fuck; John had an afro; Shavo hasn't changed a bit. He is also a sex god. Daron claimed the English were all alkies and got a bit pissed off when someone bottled the band ("It's a long plane journey to come here to play to you, you know"), but it's sacrilege to bottle System. The only crap thing was that they didn't do Boom! or Fuck The System. And I wish they'd been on longer...stop moaning, Lottie. Fuck you, Space, System are officially my favourite band. Long may they screech.
System did: Needles, Deer Dance, Jet Pilot (urrrgh, why?), Mind, Chic 'n' Stu, Bubbles, War, Toxicity, Mr Jack, Chop Suey (which made me cry), Streamline, ADD, I-E-A-I-A-I-O, Aerials (Daron got us to sing the chorus and give the guitar-strumming Serj a break), PLUCK (I cried all the way through - sad, eh?), Psycho, Sugar/Prison Song (they did Sugar up till the bit where it slows down, then Prison Song, then the rest of Sugar.) NB: this setlist isn't in exact order. I crave pardon. And not once did the barrier break, unlike at Leeds (poor Jack was right at the front!)
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs: orgasmic, maybe because I'd eaten the herbal speed. Karen O's voice is fantastic; again, the NME got it right. She sounded like she was going to shoot off into space, and apparently she had a sock puppet. Nutter. Unfortunately I couldn't see her. I nearly cried during their set, fuck knows why, they didn't sing about Armenians dying.
I didn't go and see Metallica, they would have been an anticlimax, so I hung out with Emma and Jonny in Piccadilly Circus and listened to them from a distance. Went to meal tent, met Edie and friends, went back to steward campsite, met up with John in his furry hat, sat up till 4am talking about little boys called Jonny and liver and near death experiences and me trying to impersonate the Buffy Swears bit on rathergood.com. MIIIIIIIIIIIIINGE!!!!!!
It was good. Very good. Wicked, amazing, fantastic, glorious, wonderful, magnificent, gorgeous, emotional. Apart from the minging toilets. But the showers on the guest campsite were luxurious. I was sad to go home. And I slept nearly all day on the Tuesday, fuck I was so happy, shame Jack thought Leeds was an anticlimax.