The U.K. is swamped with festivals right now — it seems that every weekend a new patch of ground is swallowed up and covered in plastic pear cider cups. About a week ago it was London’s turn. First there was Field Day, a quaint afternoon of tea and cakes, tug-of-war contests, and sets from the left-field likes of Justice, Battles, and Four Tet. Unfortunately, Field Day redefined the concept of ”teething problems,” hiring about 10 bar staff (and an equally paltry number of toilets) for 10,000 punters. Needless to say, most of the NME staff spent the day sober and cross-legged.
The following day, Victoria Park held the inaugural Underage Festival. Underage gigging is a faster-growing phenomenon than binge drinking over here, with teenage promoters throwing parties all across the country. We first witnessed one two years ago, when rising stars Jack Penate, Late of the Pier, and Cajun Dance Party all got together to pretty much destroy a working men’s club under a concrete flyover in Hammersmith. Since then they’re everywhere. However, this festival had a strict under-18s rule for reviewers too, so we let three teenage competition winners go down and check out prog oddballs Mystery Jets and teeny garage punkers Tiny Masters of Today, while we eloped to the Welsh countryside for Tapestry festival.
Another popular pastime at many of these boutique festivals is self-expressionism. One of our reporters got so carried away at the very odd Secret Garden Party festival, which had a theme of Brave New Worlds, that he covered himself in blue paint and cream pies. At Tapestry all revelers are required to dress medieval. Cue chainmail, swords, and a variety of historically inaccurate costumes — plus a weekend of hog roasts, archery, jousting, and a headline set from Circulus. If you’re not aware of Circulus, this is what they have to say about themselves on their MySpace page: ”our music is a gentle fist fight between a group of under nourished sixteenth century court musicians and an acid soaked bunch of hippie rockers from the early seventies.” And we wonder why we’re perceived as an oddly quaint nation.