Keep in mind when summertime festivals have been enjoyable? Intercourse, medicine and rock‘n’roll. What higher option to waste the hours over a sunny weekend?
Admittedly, a lot of the time, the truth consisted of the somewhat extra PG-rated snogs, booze and fags than the complete Woodstock-esque bacchanalia. However nonetheless, the rock‘n’roll was all the time there, actually and in a metaphorical sense. Festivals have been as soon as raucous, fortunately daft and daftly comfortable occasions.
As we are saying in Eire, the craic was mighty. Even a youth of incorrigible, nearly supernatural, laziness like myself was seduced by a pageant.
It wasn’t simply music festivals, both. Literary and humanities festivals additionally used to contain rows, ructions, poignancy and sweetness, to not point out heroically unwise ingesting. Most of the issues, that’s, that make life price residing.
As of late you couldn’t pay me to attend most festivals. These one-time carnivals of enjoyable, journey and wild unpredictability have been watered down, corporatised and made protected and dreary. Worst of all, right this moment’s festivals are conformist affairs, dutifully acknowledging all of the official platitudes of the age. The precise reverse, in brief, of what a pageant
Intercourse, medicine and rock‘n’roll have been changed with artisanal catering, build-your-own-yurt lessons, gender-neutral yoga and white-privilege battle periods. After which there’s the limitless lecturing, on stage and off, about no matter is deemed the present socio-political hot-button challenge.
There look like extra festivals than ever all through Britain and Eire. But fewer than ever appear remotely attention-grabbing or engaging. And that goes even for the large canine.
Take Glastonbury, probably probably the most iconic music pageant on the earth, whose 2023 incarnation has kicked off this week. Maybe surprisingly, they’ve bought some fairly thrilling, or at the least doubtlessly thrilling, acts on the invoice – Weapons N’ Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Blondie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Lana Del Rey, The Unthanks, Queens of the Stone Age.
However then they go and piss on our chips with the tedium that’s Left Subject, an all-in-one speaking store that guarantees to ‘recharge your activism’. Get able to kick out the jams with scorching matters corresponding to ‘Can politics ship on local weather motion?’ and ‘Can we save the NHS?’.
Glastonbury’s Left Subject options the traditional unappetising stew of self-righteousness and smugness. Because the pope of Glastonbury, Billy Bragg, pontificates on the Left Subject web site, ‘As the form of the post-pandemic world begins to type, it’s clear that persons are extra prepared to face up and be counted’.
Fairly the place these ‘prepared to face up and be counted’ have been throughout the pandemic is unclear. When our civil liberties have been crushed, the likes of Bragg remained silent.
I nonetheless shudder involuntarily on the reminiscence of a Glastonbury crowd hollering Jeremy Corbyn’s title to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Military’ by The White Stripes. These individuals took one of many biggest, most thrilling and life-affirming songs ever written and repurposed it to serenade a time-serving Labourite whose complete worldview and profession are the antithesis of all that makes music and artwork so immeasurably treasured to humanity. Nicely executed.
To be honest, it’s not simply Glasto. Most festivals look unbelievably boring. This weekend in Eire, the Borris Home Competition of Writing and Concepts can be going down. It’s a veritable orgy (not the great type) of ‘stimulating dialogue and discourse, gathering collectively intriguing worldwide minds’. In case you hear carefully, you’ll be able to truly hear the chin-stroking already.
It options the standard types you get at these items – the identical outdated novelists, journalists, political commentators and activists. They’ll all be there, clustering around the hive thoughts.
The Borris Home Competition promotional bumpf mentions the hazards of ‘misinformation’ and says it’s so ‘fanatical’ about recycling that there’s an entire ban on plastics on web site. The meals is painfully hip. And buzzwords like ‘vegan’, ‘sisterhood’, ‘genuine’, ‘sourdough’ and ‘curate’ are current and proper on the web site.
Will I be there? Reader, I can’t. I’m going to Kraftwerk as an alternative. Superb music, improbable staging and residing legends who created a whole artform on their very own. Now that’s a goddamn present.
Darragh McManus is an writer and journalist. Go to his web site right here