We're ferried to the site, and although the weather is beautiful, and the surroundings idyllic, I'm not expecting much.  I checked out the website before I got on the plane and I won't lie to you, it looked a bit earnest - an Artsy-Crafty convention of basket weavers, faux-ramshackle bookshops peddling Chomsky and Klein, most likely arranged round a bio-degradable hot-tub. Bad Memories of the Sunrise festival* flash through my mind. At the artists’ entrance, my main emotion is Dread. Our passes checked, a rusty gate creaks open and we enter...Paradise. 

Beautiful Young Americans frolic amongst bucolic vales and rolling hills. Flaxen haired uber-nymphs float about, hygienically pierced, tastefully tattooed, their sarongs not quite falling off their sculpted hips. The Sunrise Festival in Yeovil fell asleep and had a dream that it was Rothbury and when it woke up, it cried. We stroll through an enchanted wood festooned with psychedelic lights and strange glowing structures. Myriad sprites Loll and skip amongst the bows, flashing perfect teeth. Coming out into a verdant meadow, Ed, Stevie and I are greeted by a heart-stopping sight. A gorgeous blonde has dozed off upon a hillock in denim hot pants, and her left hand is creeping dreamily down the front. Ed, Stevie, and I stand rooted to the spot, beers in hand, tears in our eyes, for at least 15 minutes, until, disappointingly, she wakes up. (Ask Stevie what she said) 

Back up towards the artists’ enclosure, a friendly, enthusiastic man is giving a talk on the iniquities of globalization and Freedmanite expansionism. Apart from a couple of children playing with a balloon, the space in front of the stage is completely empty... 

The audience for the Dresden Dolls 'Punk-Brechtian cabaret’ is a bit more enthusiastic. The pan-sexual piano and drums duo are doing a cover version of Roger Waters' In The Flesh

'Are there any queers in the theatre tonight?
Get 'em up against the Wall
That one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me...
Get him up against the Wall
And that one look Jewish, and that one's a Coon!
Who let all of this riff-raff into the room? 
There's one smoking a joint, and another one with spots!!
If I had my way I have all of ya shot!'


In the artists’ tent, all the drinks are free. And its not warm Fosters and Blue Nun neither, but Tequila Gold and Maker's Mark and hand- squeezed mixers. Happy days.  A magnificently bored girl with golden hair and translucent blue eyes asks me if I'd like to do an interview for a music magazine.
' Er...okay...I've got nothing better to do...Whatever...’
I attempt to trump her indifference, and I lose. I'm too excited by her, and she's really good at being bored.  Some American girls possess this talent in Spades.
Note to self: must be more Blank. 

She takes me into a little green tent and asks me a question. I pontificate upon the ventriloquistic assumption of masks in our post-modern pop milieu and how it relates to the 16th century Italian tradition of commedia d'el Artes while she stares gorgeously into the middle distance. She is spectacularly bored now. The more tedious I become, the more wonderful she looks...

Suddenly she's replaced by a clean-cut handsome man with bleached hair. He's the editor of the magazine, and he appears very keen to hear what I have to say. At least someone's giving me attention.  

'So Spirit, don't you think the Mac's new Logic 8 sequencing platform enables cross-media exchange in a way that promotes an neo-syndicalist challenge to the notion of intellectual property?' (Or something)  I burble something about the technological evolution of the D.I.Y punk aesthetic, feeling slightly ashamed. Blondie has disappeared.  

'Thank you, Spirit, You're a fascinating man.'


There's hours to kill before Showtime; we'll take to the second stage just as the headliners of the main stage are doing their encore, and we're hoping to catch the cross-traffic. Someone gives me pull on a big spliff and I decide to go for another wander thru the enchanted forest. This time, I notice that certain sections have been fenced off. I'm peering through the metal wire and a floppy, dreadlocked kid says: 

'You don't wanna go in there dude, it's full of Poison Oak. That shit'll put you in the hospital.'
This bit of the U.S. is like England on hormone-boosters; it's green, moist, romantic, just like Blighty. But the trees are taller, the corn is higher, and instead of nettles and spiders, there’s Poison Oak and grass snakes. Along with beauty and fertility, the danger increases... 

Some say that the land is tainted, cursed by the bad blood of Witches, Negroes, Cherokees. As the sun sets on ripe ears of Corn and Rusting farming machinery, in my hashish haze it looks like the opening of a Steven king Novel. ' Festival of the Damned', perhaps or 'Crucible 0f Asparagus'. In my mind's eye the golden spring-breakers turn to me with blood dropping from their brilliant canines, and wink at me with sightless eyes...  

I stumble back to the Artist's tent, where I'm introduced by D. Wayne to a bearded, 50 something gentleman. He's a famous writer, I'm told, and a supporter of the band. He seems shy. I get into conversation with his beautiful girlfriend, an intense, painfully thin woman with some kind bandage on her left wrist. I ask her what she did to her hand. She gives me a witchy smile... I realize her whole frame is slightly twisted by some kind of ectomorphic condition... 

We enter into intense conversation. She's fascinating. She's on the cusp of Scorpio and Virgo with Saturn rising, Half Spanish, Half Irish, Half Polish and Half Cherokee. 

'Um... I'm English. Capricorn.'

Near to show time. Larry and Devlin are running around looking for the festival's M.D, a mr. M. May. I don't know why they're so desperate to get hold of him, but they keep shouting his name...

Larry introduces me to our American agent, a nice bald, smiley man who's clearly thrilled to be hanging out with the band. This worries me. I don't want our agent to even like the band. I don't want him to look nice and smiley. I want him to look shifty, cold and slightly intimidating and to regard the band as mere performing monkeys in the service of his burgeoning entertainment empire. In short, I want him to look like our British agent, Dan Silver. Preferably with a Zapata moustache. This guy's having far too good a time. 

Oh dear. I'm getting jaded. I have shot my bolt too early, and not for the first time. Larry and Devlin are bang into it however. They've got so excited they've completely re-arranged the beginning of the set to include a 20 minute Acid Techno Freeform workout, much to the confusion of the band and the disgruntlement of Piers, who only got up five minutes ago, the rest of the band having neglected to tell him it was Showtime. As the light of a thousand glowsticks pierce the night like light sabers, I mount the stage feeling less than rock-starry. Despite the magic of these fields, the spell has been broken.  Most of the time these days, if I'm not 100%, I still manage to get into the Spirit (ha) of things. Even if you’re not totally feeling it, you can still get into the absurdity of the situation, scan the front row for totty, and if all else fails, concentrate on playing your instrument. But every now and again you get a stone cold naked lunch moment, and you just can't fake it through. You just stand there in front of 2,000 people feeling like a total nob and thinking 'fuck me, what a horrible racket I'm making. And why are all those stupidly dressed people waving and shouting at me? What's their problem?' 

But I'll bet Our Lord Jesus Christ felt like that every now and again. And Hitler.   

* 'Babylon in Avalon' 

© Orlando Harrison 2008