The Highs and Lows of Festival Season

Callum O'Callaghan takes us through the festival flops and triumphs of the summer of 2017.

Callum O'Callaghan
17th October 2017
Callum O'Callaghan reviews the festival season of 2017

The unpredictability of Festivals can make or break any experience, as was demonstrated by the two festivals I attended over summer. The first was Community Festival at Finsbury Park in London.

Despite being in its inaugural year, the festival’s superb planning and execution could have easily put it in its fifth year. Boasting a line-up of ‘the best in new music’, the event included the likes of The Wombats and Slaves, alongside headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen. Right down from the organisation of the event, to the price, a modest £35, the festival was an outstanding success and were it to become an annual event I would not hesitate to go again. One key factor was undoubtedly the weather which in an atypical British fashion left everyone suitably bronzed. An ideal location, ideally planned and an ideal line up.

An ideal location, ideally planned and an ideal line up.

Reverting to a much more typical British Festival I also attended, was the smaller “Y Not”, held in the Derbyshire countryside destination of Pikehall. On paper it looked like it could be a brilliant festival with them having managed to draw in big headline acts Stereophonics, Two Door Cinema Club and The Vaccines. However, the whole weekend descended into a complete shambles with Stereophonics being the only headliner to successfully perform. By Thursday afternoon the rain had set in and became the dismal backdrop of the whole weekend. Although it was relentless and heavy, one would expect festival organisers to be both expectant and prepared for rain at a British festival, especially in the North of England, but there wasn’t a dusting of sawdust or wood chippings in sight. The tone was set by mid-afternoon on the first day of music with cancellations on the main stage without any announcements coming on the screens to notify crowds; this left rumours to filter through from social media about rearranged set times and cancellations. Those who did make it on including Sundara Karma played under a gazebo to try and protect equipment. Sadly, this was not enough to prevent a layer of water gathering on the main stage causing the sound to continuously cut out or resemble an old 1st generation iPhone speaker  rather than the cutting edge festival equipment you would expect when seeing your favourite bands live. By Sunday morning the whole festival was cancelled leaving thousands of disgruntled attendees trying desperately to escape the mud.

By Thursday afternoon the rain had set in and became the dismal backdrop of the whole weekend.

Admittedly Community festival had the luck over Y Not in terms of the weather, but countless other festivals that deal with adverse conditions handled it a lot better and were still able to put on an event as good as Community’s. The awful conditions at Y Not make us wander what it is that makes us put ourselves through the same water-soaked weekends every year. The answer?  Like at Community, there is nothing quite like being stood in a field in the middle of nowhere listening to your favourite acts surrounded by likeminded people and friends, rain or shine.

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