Thursday, 15 September 2011

What Did I Tell You?

There has been so much going on recently I haven't had a chance to update this (I know, I know, I'm sorry!), so I really don't know where to start! Well, here is a brief summary of the things that have been going on in the last few weeks. Probably the biggest change is that I am now officially a student of Ravensbourne! I enrolled and I've even completed a "full" week there! More on that  later, or more likely in another post, who knows when I may get around to it. I started a part time job at a local tuition place, I went to Example's signing at the Oxford Street HMV, had a small cocktail party, have been very slowly making my silver, robot-waitress, MB-esque dress...ah I'll cut to the chase! Just over two weeks ago it was of course Reading Festival 2011, and with it of course the eagerly anticipated Origin of Symmetry set by Muse! 

Now regular readers should remember that I entered a Muse T shirt competition in the hope of winning VIP tickets to Reading (and of course for a further step in my journey to becoming a fashion designer and designing for Matt Bellamy!). Alas, I did not win. But if you remember I stayed positive and said that my time will come. One thing that I told my brother, who had helped me with the computer side of the designing and to whom I therefor promised the other VIP ticket to, stayed with me though. That was, whilst discussing the horrors that would be the campsite toilets, I said to my brother something along the lines of, it won't matter because we'll be in the VIP area! (cue a chorus of "hell yeah!" and "boo yah!"'s and so on, and so on) Little did I know what would be just around the corner...
Friendly Fires, of course!

I surfaced from the dingy depths of the garage at work on Monday lunchtime of the week of Reading, covered in dust and with a sore back from emptying the piles of boxes (68, I counted) and putting the contents into shredding sacks, a riveting job, and took refuge at my desk back inside. I hadn't even planned on going back to my desk, I had my lunch in a bag and told myself I'd be happy enough to eat sitting amongst the ceiling high piles of boxes, they was even an old spinny chair and that was enough for me! But my indulgence went beyond that; this particular lunchtime I decided to boot up the old pc and check my emails (something I never do at work)! As I scanned me inbox I noticed an email entitled "CONGRATULATIONS!" and instantly thought it must just have slipped through my junk filter. However, being the person I am I like to check my junk mail is actually junk before deleting it so, after reading a couple of emails I thought were more worthy first, I opened it. At first glance it did appear to be junk; it was written in that standard, plain font with no pictures or headers. But it was a short email so I read it.Low and behold, it was actually an email from NME telling me I'd won a pair of guest tickets to Reading Festival 2011. For a couple of seconds I stared, confused, at the screen. Then I remembered: I'd entered a draw for VIP tickets, these must be them! I was going to Reading as a VIP afterall! Surely this couldn't be real?! Well it was! Safe to say I went back to garage a very happy bunny and powered through the rest of the shredding whilst listening to a Reading playlist on my iPod, dancing around the garage and fantasising about the VIP area...   
Taking a break from the luxury of the guest area: our miraculous BBQ which took no less than 49 matches to light after being left out all night in the rain, I actually cooked a pretty nice sausage on it!

After the small issue of having to sell my pair of normal Reading tickets (which was actually the biggest stress ever but lets not dwell on that) Thursday arrived and we left for Reading, guest tickets in hand! I painted the Origin of Symmetry album artwork on my nails, got my mum to put semi-permanent purple hair dye in for me and had my camping gear, sirius muesli (get it?) and the essential Muse t-shirt packed. I won't bore you with details of the longest walk ever from the car to the entrance whilst lugging all my bags plus over 20 cans of beer with absolutely no help from the far stronger boys I was with. But at the end of that walk, after leaving our friends at the "commoners" entrance, we finally reached the guest only entrance. We blew all hopes of trying to blend in and looking cool by first of all the fact we (namely I) were red as tomatoes and dripping in sweat after the weather took a turn for the better and got a lot warmer than we had dressed for, not to mention the ton of bags. And secondly by queuing at the wrong window. You see, there were two windows open and one had a queue and the other didn't (already a sign we should have noticed), so we went to the second window. After failing miserably to catch the attention of the workers inside I looked up and realised why we weren't being served: we were in fact queuing at the window for the bands, which explained the list of bands on the desk that had some ticked off (I blame seeing Muse written down which distracted me). So we made the walk of shame to the back of the other queue, which had grown considerably by this time. 

After that brief hiccup though we received our exclusive "weekend guest" wristbands, so exclusive it only has 3 figures as opposed to the 6 figured "commoners" wristband, and proceeded on, past the tour buses and tv crews, to the guest camping area, located right next to the main stage (and also adjacent to the fair which we discovered that night). After another brief hiccup of accidentally unpacking our stuff in the disabled camping area instead, we finally chose our patch to pitch up in; a good 40 meters or so away from any other tent in all directions and with the grass still very green and unspoiled by mud and water logs (believe me, that is glamping compared to the other campsites as we soon discovered). Other luxuries of the guest camping area included portaloos that were 100 times cleaner than the "commoners" ones, shower cubicles (which still didn't get used, well we still wanted the full Reading experience!) and sockets to charge phones with, which really were a life saver after buying a dodgy "emergency charger".    
My Origin of Symmetry nails!

But the luxuries didn't stop there, oh no! There was also a guest area on the other side of the main stage that had, wait for it, REAL toilets! Not to mention two different guest bars which both had different DJ's playing some really great music all day and night (well, until 3am, we know because we stayed until the end, the hardmen we are), a guest BBQ, real fires at night to keep warm by and a range of actual seats including picnic tables, deck chairs and sofas!! (why do I always sound like I'm trying to sell something?)  But besides that the guest area also had the press area and and entrance to the actual main stage! Of course to get there you needed to be working as part of the crew or have access all areas, however, just being in the guest area means that you can see people going on and off from the main stage via this entrance and hanging around the press area. The very first time we entered the guest area within minutes my brother told me he saw a guitarist from Dry the River. He pointed him out to me but I don't know what he looks like anyway so it was lost on me. However, over the weekend we did definitely rub shoulders with Suggs from Madness, Stefan from The Midnight Beast (who I genuinely would have stopped if he wasn't rushing for the stage entrance) and I could have sworn I saw the front man of Two Door Cinema Club. 

Also, one of the first things we witnessed in the guest area was a band doing an acoustic set, well we just caught the end of the set. I don't even know who the band were but I recognised the song, something about a blackout, I must look it up. There was also someone who came off the main stage not long after My Chemical Romance finished playing who caused a bit of a fuss and was having his photos taken with various people, not sure who he was but he must have been someone famous! It really was a case of being there at the right time though, Matt Bellamy probably passed through at some point but we couldn't spend all our time there, not only would we have missed the music we would have angered our friends beyond what we already had done! 
Pulp (duh), so much better than The Strokes

God knows who else we were in the presence of that weekend, after all unless you win a ticket, guest passes are only given to friends and family of the band and people who work on the music industry. You can tell, and they can probably tell we were competition winners, as everyone is far to immaculately dressed for a festival and probably doesn't even venture out into the "commoners" area. (Yes, we spent the whole weekend referring to everything else as the "commoners...") That meant we felt very out of place striding in with our mud covered wellies and me with my bright orange "kag in a bag" on. Luckily, those pretenses, and our inhibitions, disappeared by night when, after all the acts had finished, we continued to party in the guest area, sipping rose amongst the other guests, some of who were understandably quite drunk and began dancing on mud covered tables (how this didn't end in disaster, I don't know). We even joined in on the dancing after a couple of drinks and on the last night even entered what appeared to be a very exclusive circle of people sitting around a fire. (one of those people looked a lot like Tim Minchin...) 

On the Saturday night, after our friends had "called it a night" we went back for more drinks and sat up one of the bar's balcony. From here we could see backstage and we witnessed about 5 trucks arriving and loading out equipment onto the stage. Being the night before Muse we were of course convinced that it was the mysterious Origin of Symmetry stage, it probably was you know. 
"Polaroid app on my iPhone..." me near the guest camping toilets, being all gaijin, photo taken by my brother who would like me to remind you that the link to his blog is on the right of this *rolls eyes*

Given the people we were probably rubbing shoulders with we overheard a few interesting conversations that weekend. I heard what I deduced to have been a photographer who has worked with Jared Leto talking abut how difficult he is to photograph, apparently he always pulls the same facial expression no matter what you ask him to do, who knew? There was also a group of what seemed to be reviewers, or generally people who work in the music media, slating The Strokes after they came offstage (late, might I add!), saying how boring they were, which I couldn't agree more with, I should definitely have seen The Midnight Beast instead. That's why it came as a surprise to me when publications such as NME and the likes didn't have a word to say against them the following week. I certainly didn't hear anyone in the guest area, or elsewhere, that had a good word to say about them. However, the following night more than made up for it! Muse! What can I say? Yet again, there are no words! (which I'm sure you're glad to hear, this blog's already gone on for too long!)
An idea of how epic Muse's Origin of Symmetry Stage, and set, was!

I'll leave you with my lyric of the day then. It's taken from the internet viral "Being a dickhead's cool", a song that we couldn't stop singing all weekend purely because there were so many real life references to it! "Hipsters, there's hipsters everywhere!" were my brothers words as we got out of the car. This particular lyric though reminds me especially of one night when we were entering the guest area after the acts had finished. I have never felt more exclusive in my life, it just beats being photographed by about 20 Japanese strangers in a train station as if I were a celebrity. As we strided into the guest area, being waved through by the security guards after flashing our guest wristbands, we passed a pair of clearly desperate girls begging to get in, even offering bribes of money, or more! I couldn't suppress a grin as the security guards just went "sorry, if your name's not on the list you're not getting in". 

Lyric of the Day: "exclusive list, look, there's my name! I got in! You couldn't get in!" - Being A Dickhead's Cool      

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