Electric Dreams day 3

By Sunday, I was really starting to feel the effects of trying to do a music festival with a bad cold, and so I sort of staggered through the day powered by a lot of Lemsip Max Strength!  I’d given up drinking by this point as well, which meant the drunks in the venue were even more annoying.

The Butlins cooked breakfast hadn’t done it for me the day before, so I went for a giant stack of pancakes on the Sunday morning, which was marginally tastier.  Geth and I then went back to the hotel room and groggily took ages getting showers and things, so we were a little late into the Centre Stage for the Sunday afternoon session and the first band had already started.

Bands I didn’t see on day 3: nobody, because it was just stand-up comedy in the Reds bar on the Sunday, so I didn’t have to miss any bands!

Bands I did see on day 3:

Black Box

Black Box were mainly doing their late ’80s/early ’90s dance classics, but there was a good highlight where they did a mash-up of Sweet Dreams and Seven Nation Army with the vocals from the former over the bassline of the latter.  They also (obviously) finished with Ride On Time, which was much appreciated by the crowd!

Big Country

Big Country get super major plus points for being the only band of the weekend with the balls to make a ‘Hi-De-Hi’ gag.  Great stuff.  I was also excited to tick off the first of the ‘message’ artists on my Band Aid baby bucket list!

Otherwise it was a very enjoyable hit-laden set – with Look Away, Wonderland, and Fields Of Fire (complete with an interesting interpolation of Whiskey In The Jar) all present and correct!  In another example of the Butlins stage managers not being able to deal with bands trying to do encores, the band went offstage and the DJ launched into Heaven 17’s Temptation (at which point I expressed my surprise to Geth that the band hadn’t done In A Big Country and Geth shrugged and went off to the bar to get us another drink)…and then Temptation abruptly cut out and the band came back on.  ‘We are Heaven 17!’ announced Bruce Watson wryly, before we finally got our rendition of In A Big Country.  I have no idea what’s going on with Butlins and their aversion to encores.

We then had a good long break before the evening session, which gave us some recovery time to have a bit of a doze.

OOTD 2nd December 2018
Sunday OOTD: still in my ‘ill at a festival’ uniform! Jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), necklace Claire’s Accessories (2003), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Levi (2018), boots Primark (2017).

Peter Hook & The Light

We’d already seen Peter Hook & The Light at Infest this year, but as I’ve alluded to, the crowd at Electric Dreams is a vastly different type of audience.  As such, it was a subtly different show, with more of an end-of-term party atmosphere – Hooky, resplendent in a Christmas T-shirt, explained that it was their last gig of the year, and we got the first (but strangely not the last) of the evening’s Jimmy Savile jokes.  Geth went down to the front of the stage while I kept the seats, and from where I was sitting, it just felt really, really weird when the crowd didn’t react at all to the band launching into Joy Division classics like Transmission (especially as I last saw the band at a goth festival with lots of other goths, a subculture in which the Joy Division stuff is absolutely sacrosanct).  Geth reported after the set that from his viewpoint near the front of the stage, the band pretty much phoned in the first couple of Joy Division songs until they realised that there was a small group of people down the front who were actually fans, after which they did things properly.

The audience all went nuts for Blue Monday though, so that’s something!  Hooky also did the gag about turning the lights up on the crowd and then immediately going ‘argh, no!’, which would probably have been funnier if Big Country hadn’t done the exact same joke earlier that day.

The set was pretty much the same as when I saw them at Infest, except for there being a couple of extra New Order songs – they did Regret, which is one of my absolute favourites (I had it on my Greatest Hits of 1993 album when I was eight).  It was also great to hear Temptation again, because the music geek in me was thrilled that it was the first of two famous Temptations we’d hear that night…

Heaven 17

…because Heaven 17 were headlining, and they were hardly going to avoid playing their Temptation, were they?

Before the inevitable closing song, though, we got all the classics – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, Come Live With Me, Let Me Go – and a lot of very funny stage banter between Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory, who’ve been doing this stuff for nearly forty years and have moved firmly into ‘old married couple’ territory.  This included another Jimmy Savile gag (apparently he introduced their first Top of the Pops appearance) and some slightly risqué Morecambe and Wise references.

There was a cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which is another song that’s a bit of a theme for covers at the moment.  They also played Being Boiled, which was the Human League’s biggest hit while Martyn Ware was still with the band – which meant that in the space of five days, Geth and I managed to see Being Boiled performed by both the Human League and Heaven 17!  Geth preferred the Human League performance, while I gave the edge to Heaven 17.  Both brilliant and very different though!

I enjoyed the performance so much that I was really surprised when they launched into Temptation to finish the set – it honestly felt to me like they’d only been playing for about five minutes.  I’m so thrilled I got to see them, and not just because it means more artists ticked off my Band Aid baby bucket list!  I’ll make sure to get tickets again when they’re next on tour.

Afterwards, Geth and I finished our drinks and sloped off to get some rest.  All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of music and the bands were great…it was just a shame we had to go to Butlins to see them.

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 4/37 (10.8%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 6/44 (13.6%).

Infest day 1

I love music festivals.  There’s something very exciting about an entire intense weekend spent in the one place, seeing lots and lots of bands playing, catching up with tens of people you’ve not seen in ages, and eating lots of delicious food that you usually can’t have in order to provide a carb base for all the cider you’ll be drinking build energy for all the dancing you have to do.  Utter bliss.

Unfortunately, Geth and I find nowadays that we can’t do as many camping festivals as we used to.  The discomfort of sleeping in a tent is less manageable than it used to be – now that we’re old gits in our thirties we both find we need a good night’s sleep – and when it rains it’s absolutely miserable.  I’ve been to a few festivals where it’s been a total washout all weekend (or worse, ones where the heavens open all day long on arrival day so that you’re slogging through mud for the rest of the festival).  Last year’s M’era Luna was one such example, and so I think I need at least another two or three years to forget all the bad stuff about camping.  It’s a shame though, ’cause both M’era Luna and Beautiful Days are coming up with some cracking lineups at the moment.  I’ve also always really wanted to go to one of the two Rewind festivals that are on during the summer in the UK.  Maybe in a few years’ time I’ll consider hiring a camper van or staying in a nearby hotel.  Maybe.

In the meantime, indoor festivals are where it’s at as far as I’m concerned, and we booked to go to two this year.  The first of these is Infest, and I’m having as good a time as always!

This is my sixth Infest, making it my most-attended festival (I’ve been five times to Beautiful Days, four to Resistanz and four to M’era Luna).  It’s also my fifth in a row, as since Resistanz stopped running, it’s my one annual chance to catch up with friends from the goth and industrial scene.  Geth and I are currently planning to take a break for a few years after this one (of course, I have said that before, and I may find myself tempted once they start announcing next year’s lineup – we’ll see!) and so I’m determined to enjoy this one as much as possible.

Because it’s the 20th anniversary special this year, the organisers put on an extra night on the Thursday.  I’ve arrived at festivals on a Thursday before (Beautiful Days started putting on Thursday camping a few years before we stopped going) but I don’t think I’ve ever done one with four days of music.  I was really happy about this when they announced it, as I’m the kind of person who always feels that festivals end too quickly.  Maybe four days will feel just right.  I’ll tell you after the weekend!

Anyway, Infest day 1: Thursday.

Because we usually travel to Infest on the Friday of August Bank Holiday Weekend, we’ve not previously had the pleasure of sharing the train journey with people travelling to Reading and Leeds Festival (that experience has formerly been reserved for the Monday when coming back!).  The train we were on was travelling to BOTH Leeds and Reading.  It was pretty full.  Thankfully, this was mainly due to festival-goers’ luggage rather than festival-goers themselves, so we didn’t have too much trouble squeezing into our booked seats, where we were able to commence our train picnic (complete with a couple of ciders, which I don’t usually allow myself on trains since being on Slimming World, but Infest is a special weekend).

Arriving in Bradford, we spotted old Edinburgh University Goth & Rock Society (EDG&R) friends Kirsten and Jacquelyn as we joined the check-in queue at the Jurys Inn.  The Jurys Inn also provided us with the sight of our first Christmas tree of 2018:

Christmas tree in August
‘Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree/You’re badly out of season.’

It’s appalling, because it’s still August, but this is not the earliest I’ve seen a hotel do this (the QHotel in which we stayed in Leeds in July 2016 for a Beat:Cancer gig already had one up a month earlier).  A discreet poster advertising that you can now book for Christmas?  Fine.  A fully-decorated Christmas tree up in the summer?  Go home, hotel, you’re drunk.

I’ll forgive the Jurys Inn, though, ’cause the pizza I had in the bar before heading off was absolutely perfect for a pre-Infest meal.  I’ll be having a couple more of those this weekend.

(A quick note about my Infest day 1 outfit: for years, I longed to be able to lose enough weight in time for Infest that I would feel comfortable wearing a clingy Cyberdog shift dress.  Because I reached my Slimming World target in May, I was finally able to go for it this year.  I wore it on the Thursday night in order to minimise festival bloat, but it was still fairly unforgiving!)

OOTD 23rd August 2018
Thursday OOTD: bringing the neon for Infest day 1! Necklaces Claire’s Accessories (2003), dress Cyberdog (2018), boots Primark (2017).

We arrived in the familiar environs of Bradford Student Union, exchanged our tickets for wristbands, said hi to our friend Cat from the Southampton days, and ventured into the sports bar – the heart of Infest as far as I’m concerned! – where we were able to catch up with Bod and his beautiful wig.  Geth got comfortable on the sofa, as he wasn’t interested in the first band, and Bod and I headed through to check out Grave Diggers’ Union.

Band 1: Grave Diggers’ Union

Grave Diggers’ Union were twenty minutes late starting, so there was a lot of hanging about.  When they finally did get going, I managed about a song and a half, Bod even less.  It’s sort of monotonous goth rock, and I found it a bit dull (it wasn’t helped by some problems that were going on with the sound setup, which didn’t seem to be sorted until later in the evening).  I did like the sort of goth Hawaiian shirt worn by the drummer, though!

As a bonus: here is a terrible blurry picture that I took of the vocalist/keyboardist.  My current phone camera can barely cope with taking outfit pictures indoors, let alone gig pictures, and so I will not be attempting any more during the course of the weekend.  You’ll just have to use your imagination instead, or alternatively go on Facebook and find some pictures taken by proper photographers.

Grave Diggers' Union
That UV sign on the keyboard really bothered me while we were waiting for them to come on, because although it’s meant to be a gravestone-style cross, it looks more like an arrow pointing to something.

After a quick drink in the bar and a catchup with friends Matt and John, we headed through for the second band.

Band 2: Zeitgeist Zero

Zeitgeist Zero were again suffering from sound problems, but it was quite a good show.  They have a lot of energy onstage, and their current music is very danceable, although I don’t find it quite as memorable as their mid-’00s output – maybe I just need to listen to the new stuff more.  I had a good bop around, and I found myself quite surprised when the set finished so soon, which is always a good thing.

A very quick trip back to the bar, as everyone was very excited about band three!

Band 3: Peter Hook & The Light

Three has always been my lucky number, and band three will undoubtedly remain the highlight of the weekend.  Peter Hook & The Light do renditions of classic Joy Division and New Order songs, and Hook’s treatment of his old bands’ songs is absolutely lovely.

I was lucky enough to see the full classic lineup of New Order back in 2005, when Peter Hook was still with the band, and it’s still among my favourite music performances I’ve ever seen.  As such, I didn’t think this would match it, but in actual fact I can’t compare the two – the experiences were so different.  The band did play a few New Order songs – Temptation, Blue Monday and True Faith (and this time the sound on True Faith didn’t cut out in the middle, like it did in 2005!) – but it was mostly Joy Division, and it honestly felt like the closest thing you could get to seeing Joy Division live post-1980.  In 2005, New Order were playing a couple of Joy Division tracks to mark the 25th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death, but it didn’t feel quite like Joy Division.  There’s something about Hook’s take on the vocals in comparison to Bernard Sumner’s that just feels more fitting, somehow.

I’m now really looking forward to seeing Peter Hook & The Light again in December at the Electric Dreams festival!

Because everyone was absolutely buzzing after that performance, there was a lot more drinking and chatting in the sports bar (including comparing exercise experiences with Blanka, hearing all about Pat’s special V2A darts flights – I have no idea about darts equipment but apparently they’ve been a big hit with various celebrities – and finding out from chatting with Andy from Spucktute that he doesn’t actually dislike the Human League.  All very valuable information!).  I really did mean to go and see…

Band 4: Empirion

…but let’s face it, no-one was going to come close to Peter Hook & The Light, so I didn’t get round to it.  Bod said they were quite good though!

Geth and I moved through to the Escape Bar for half an hour of post-band DJ sets (and I had a good shimmy to Soft Cell) before heading back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for day 2.

Day 2 review coming tomorrow!