THE FESTIVAL POST
by Jo Michelmore
With Splendour In The Grass only a couple of weeks away and in anticipation of the Big Day Out line up to be announced this weekend (did someone say M.I.A? Yes please!), it got me thinking about all the great music festivals that happen all over the world, all the time. Now, everyone has their own ideal festival line up list, but imagine if you went to some kind of magical festival where all the great festival moments happened at the one time? Oh, I don’t think I could cope. Imagine the line-ups for the toilets! Uuurgh. So, if there was actually some kind of time machine where anyone who’d ever played a festival could play, who would I see? Tough question. There’d be hundreds of people; amazing acts, hilarious acts, incredibly talented acts, some not so talented. It’s vintage time, so let’s just focus on a couple.
Jimi Hendrix – Monterey Pop Festival, 1967
Love him or hate him, don’t know who he is, whatever, this one has to be included because it’s so damn famous. It inspired rock stars for generations to come and parodies of rock stars for generations to come, this was one of the most iconic rock performances, ever, literally. Playing straight after The Who (there’s another rock act I’m going to have to explore at another date for you, let’s just say they’re legendary, ok?), the final act of the festival, The Jimi Hendrix Experience came on stage, played through a 45 minute set, then, while playing Wild Thing, Jimi poured lighter fluid all over his guitar, set it alight and smashed it to pieces. If you’ve ever seen someone do this live on stage, regardless of how talented they are or are not, there’s something kind of cool about it. Imagine seeing it happen for the first time. By Jimi Hendrix. Epitome of rock cool? Er, yes. Welcome to the line up Jimi.
David Bowie - Glastonbury, 1971
There’s a couple of reasons I include this performance in this list. First, it’s David Bowie. Duh. I love David Bowie. Second? At our imaginary amazing festival, we’re going to charge the same ticket price as this festival did to see these amazing acts. So, how much is entry cost then? You’ll never guess. Maybe you will. Ok, I’ll tell you. Free. This festival was FREE! Free entry! David Bowie – for free!? The 70’s were crazy times weren’t they? Bowie played at dawn and legend says although he was meant to play solo, some slightly (that is, incredibly) intoxicated Scandinavian fan joined him on stage for backing vocals and Bowie was totally ok with that. Can you imagine that happening now? Probs not. David Bowie, I could see you for free AND you were happy for audience members to join you on stage? That’s so awesome, welcome to the line up.
Madonna - Live Aid, 1985
So, this was an interesting festival, organised by Bob Geldof (and another less famous guy), occurring in two countries at the same time, to raise money for the famine occurring in Ethiopia. They managed to get some of the biggest names in music of the day play for them, it was actually quite an impressive line up, if you happened to be into commercial music from 1985. The person we’re going to invite to our magical festival? Madonna. This was Madonna before she became the Madonna we know today and the exposure she received from performing at this festival was probably one of the defining moments and reasons she became the Madonna we know today. Her most famous line? “I’m not taking shit off today”; referring to getting naked for her Playboy and Penthouse appearances. Oh Madonna, excellent work, having to reference your own nudity and create controversy during a charity performance. We love controversy. Welcome to the festival, Madge.
Rage Against The Machine - Lollapalooza, 1993
There were so many good festival moments in the 90’s. So many. I could have chosen any number of Nirvana or Hole performances, but I kind of like this one, because it involves the renowned Lollapalooza Festival and one of the iconic 90’s bands; Rage Against The Machine. At the time, they were one of the bands targeted by groups who were pushing for ‘parental advisory explicit lyrics’ stickers to be enforced upon the covers of CD’s. CD’s that had these stickers were banned for sale from many stores, which caused a whole lot of controversy at the time. So, how did Rage go about dealing with this? They took their clothes off, of course and appeared on stage with duct tape across their mouths. What this actually proved is something I can’t answer, as they performed a full set later on that night. Rage, if you promise to do both sets, your duct tape one and your real one, then you’re more than welcome on my line up.
Jay-Z, Glastonbury, 2008
Ok, not so vintage, but I just had to include this one, for comedic value, if nothing else. Noel Gallagher just had to open his mouth and complain about Jay-Z, a rapper, headlining what he considered and was traditionally a ‘rock’ festival. So how did Jay-Z react to that? He covered an Oasis song, of course. Wonderwall. Not only did he cover it, he did an incredibly bad job of it. Hilarious. Take that Noel! Jay-Z, for your comedic value, welcome to the festival!