Thirty Thousand Streets

Sunday, July 09, 2006


On Saturday me and Gridrunner headed North to check out the Rise festival at Finsbury Park. Can't either of us lay claim to coming up with the idea, but the man responsible – Ed, wasn't present as he and John had headed on a mission to Ikea in the dark heart of Croydon, and were presumably circumnavigating the winding path that wends its way through forests of flat-pack pine in all it's stores. Ed was also assuming the enforced air of radio silence that comes FREE! without a mobile phone. So we left without them.

It was aight, though..

For festivals to work for me a few things have got to be true.

Firstly there's got to be few of you. You've got mates yeah? Now's the time to show them off, as you saunter round drinking off-cool Red Stripe at three fifty a pop in a camouflage jacket and shades. Otherwise you feel like a bit of herb. Urban (what you call it?) festivals especially are where everyone and their Staffordshire Bull Terrier seems to come to hook up with someone else and their squat muscular pet.

You need to find somewhere and sit down. Plant a flag. Put down a blanket if that's your thing, but crucially, sit down soon and put down the plastic bag with the luke-warm wine cooler in and start interracting as normal. There'll be plently of time to go and buy some overpriced falafel or see some local crew, but for now, act as though you were sat in your local park on a particularly busy Sunday. Or you could have a plan, but personally, I feel all other festival plans are incidental besides sitting down somewhere.

It can't be too busy. Okay, busy enough, but not rammed. Notting Hill sounds like a great idea until you get there and realise it's like a bigger, louder, hotter, busier version of Oxford Street on Christmas eve. Two years ago Me Ade and Dunc fought unsuccessfully for the best part of two hours to fight our way to the mythical Norman Jay sound system, before finally giving up and shuffling around wearily next to the Trouble On Vinyl soundsystem playing out the back of a truck. Actually getting out of the place is the most terrifying prospect of all however, as you are swept along remorselessly in rivers of people. For me, no amount of saltfish can compensate for the fact that your free will is effectively circumvented by the whims of the million or so people squashed up in your face. If John Carpenter ever ressurects Snake Pliskin and the "Escape From.." franchise, the third one should be set here. Kurt Russel wouldn't stand a chance.

It's got to be hot. Ok not essential, and a bit of rain's quite fun actually, certainly no surprise, but put it this way – at least one or two of the previous rules need not apply if it's actually a blazing hot day. Shouty urban grime acts are prolific in London; sunny days less so.

Sadly, non of these cardinal rules applied to me and Ade. We arrived late, unwashed (me anyway) and jostled through the thronging crowds. We had arranged to meet Ed by ringing his housemate John but there was no network coverage. The sky was the colour of grey milk, and the atmosphere moderately torpid. Most of our time was spent queueing for things, and wandering round clowning around whie Ade took pictures of beer bottles and reflections of bins in my shades.

Eventually we went to the the Finsbury pub across the way and sat out front with a pint. In a rare moment of synchronicity, a couple who had been sat a table away in the Hermits the night before were also there, two tables away. It got cold, but I couldn't be bothered going in the pub as the footy was on and Gary Linneker's face was leering, big brother style, from every screen in the joint.

Went home via Oval and got some food from the Silver Lake, opting, on the Chinese lady's suggestion, for some Malaysian style Mackerel. Very nice. She also showed me a laminated A4 photo of a bearded Kenneth Brannagh, thesping it up out the front of the shop.

Then went and watched 'Live Flesh' round at Ed's, before going home to sleep. The end.


doppelganger said...

For the true Notting Hill experience you also need to spend three hours queuing for your girlfriend to use a pub toilet and of course no festival is complete without a pointless argument about which bands to see - pointless 'cos you'll all probably end up spending most of it in the Hare Krishna free food tent or a corporate marquee trying to make weetabix or something like that trendy by hiring a DJ and some attractive young ladies to dosh out freebies.... once I spent the whole of a festival (I think it was Reading) in the orange mobile recharging station ....

Zeno Cosini said...

Finsbury Park. Bleak. Sam and I lived just the other side of Seven Sister's Road from the station, behind the large charmless circular building with the Arsenal flags drooping out of the window. We tried hard to like the place, God knows we did, and the Happening Bakery on the corner of Blackstock Road helped, but ultimately the bleak deficit was too great to be counteracted even by the power of fresh bagels and chollah.

Nowhere does murky off-white skies better than Finsbury Park.

gridrunner said...

I mean, if I’d had the effort to push my way to the front of one of the stages and got a decent photo of - say - someone spitting lyrics into a microphone it might have been more worthwhile.

Taking one really good photo makes any day worthwhile for me. But I didn't.

The Eyechild said...

Doppelganger: Yeah, those coroporate incursions into the festival sphere are bothersome but insiduous. Leave my festival alone! You feel like screaming, as you tuck a sacehet of free hair gel you're so hungry/delerious.

Zeno: Yeah I could never quite get my head round it when Sam W was living up that way a few years back. Whilst driving through with my mum last January, she likened that area to the 9th cricle of hell, which is a bit harsh, but the traffic was really bad, and we'd been driving for ages.

G-unit: Never mind son.. there'll be other chances.