It has been a very musical couple of weeks.
I am not normally a prolific gig-goer, but last weekend, hot on the heels of the Gloucester Blues Festival (the long blog of which will be out shortly), I went with a large group of friends to the Cropredy Music Festival.
This is the second year that I have attended Cropredy. I went for the first time last year and blogged about it here. I finally succumbed after a lot of badgering by friends, tempted by the fact that Alice Cooper was headlining.
And my friends were right, it was brilliant. So good in fact that I decided I was going to go again this year no matter who was playing.
As it happens I was less impressed by the line up this year. There were the usual selection of acts that I have never heard of playing during the day – some were very good, Richard Digance was excellent as usual and I especially liked Blackbeard’s Tea Party, but many were a bit folky for my tastes .
The headliners didn’t grab me much either: it was all a bit too prog for me, with Steve Hackett, Marillion and the Australian Pink Floyd Show along with The Waterboys, Chas & Dave, Al Stewart and, of course, Fairport Convention.
Nonetheless, at Cropredy the music is really secondary: it is all about the ambiance of the place and just chilling out with friends. This year the convoy out was bigger than ever with almost 30 of us travelling down in a selection of cars, campers and caravans.
And once again it was a brilliant long weekend.
The format went pretty much the same as last year, with us all managing to pitch camp together and spending time not just in the arena field, but also in the village itself, where obviously the locals either have to embrace the weekend wholeheartedly or get the hell out!
The main difference this year was the weather. For much of the weekend it was gloriously hot and sunny, but not on Friday night. During the early evening the heavens opened. This was rain of biblical proportions. Eventually it eased off to a steady, persistent heavy rain for the rest of the night. We all got about as wet as it was possible to get, but many of us stayed to the bitter end to see the Australian Pink Floyd Show.
Luckily, on Saturday the sun was out again, giving everything the opportunity to dry out. The clouds returned for the evening but only gave a few spots of rain until the morning, just as it was time to pack up the tents, when once again it came down like stair rods.
Did it dampen the spirits? Well, maybe a little bit, but it was still a brilliant weekend and, as a rainy festival rookie I picked up a few tips (not just rain related):
- Get to the field early and stake your claim. On Thursday and Friday we arrived too late resulting in about 20 of us squeezing into a spot barely big enough for four. On Sunday we actually queued to get into the field and were still quite far back, but we had a big, spacious camp big enough for all of us. Cropredy is a very civilised festival, so you can lay out chairs and blankets and wander off safe in the knowledge they will still be there when you return.
- You can’t eat everything. The arena field is surrounded by stalls selling exotic and interesting foodstuffs and I want to eat it all, but there are limits for even me. Look at what other people are eating and choose wisely. When it comes to the beer tent, however, just go for it!
- Sleep with one eye open. A mix of too much beer and too little sleep resulted in me having a short snooze between acts. Luckily I got away with it this time, but I doubt I’ll be so lucky again!
- Keep your chair dry. When it rains you will get wet. Waterproofs help, and you will dry out. If you get your chair wet, however, it stays wet for a very long time, which means that you are going to either be perpetually wet or resigned to standing up for the rest of the weekend.
- Buy a poncho. Several of our party had ponchos. They were all identical army camouflage pattern and they were huge. They looked ridiculous. But when it rained, they covered not just the wearer but also the chair (see above). Not so silly now! The same can be achieved with a large umbrella, but that is much more precarious and much more annoying to people stood behind you.
- You can’t have too many black bags. We had a whole roll and they all went, covering everything that you wanted to stay dry. At one point we were horrified to see one of our party using one to actually put rubbish in – what a waste!
- The Australian Pink Floyd Floyd Show are absolutely brilliant even if you don’t much like prog rock and are wetter than an otter’s pocket.