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:
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!)
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.
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.