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« BACK | HOME » ABOUT » THE SPIRIT SPEAKS » BABYLON IN AVALON (PART 01)

BABYLON IN AVALON (PART 01)

posted 20 June 07 ___ Tales from Alabama 3's 2007 UK Tour

"Without Cruelty there shall be no Festival" - Nietzche

The first alarm bell is triggered by the wristband; www.familygathering.co.uk. The second goes off when we get to the gate of the festival and a cropped yellowjacket with moari tatoos and connect four-counters in his earlobes stops the van and says in a serious voice: "I just need to ask you a few questions. The first one is the most important question. I'm going to ask you all day... Are We Having a Good Time?!!" The answer to this question is No. Not really. We've just spent four hours in an overcrowded, overheated minibus, driving from London to play at a lame Hippy Festival, and we're being interrogated by an Orc. In a perky way.

"Can i ask you gentleman, do you have any drugs on you today?"

Doh. It's a festival. we're the Alabama 3. 

The interrogation continues; "did you hire this van?" "Where've you guy's driven from today?" "How long are you staying?" The bells are now ringing like its Christmas morning in Strangeways. I don't want to off like Paris Hilton, but when you're the headline act at a thing like this, it doesn't really help with the Woodstock Spirit when you're treated like a criminal on the way in.

Finally we disembark, and after a paper plate of cold beany slop, I stroll off to explore. On site it's business os usual; The Bong Emporium, The Brain Machine, The Oxygen Bar (That's a good one: selling air at £1 a pop from Flash Gordon - type cannisters... 'Increases Blood Flow to the Brain!' 'Available in Four Exotic Flavours!' 'Aids Respiration!' I know where you can get that shit at a considerable discount...  Everwhere.

Some of it's alright tho... Wandering further afield there's a squatter advice centre in a small tent, there's a tiny cinema showing films about the evils of globalization and Neocon expansionism, theres a strip of burlesque sideshows and turning a corner i see my old friend Jo Piece setting fire to himself in front of 400 people in a silver jockstrap, as usual. Wandering back with Eddie we pass an inscrutable wierdy beardy advertising Gong Baths; for £5 you can lie on a Futon while he skips with a mallet striking said gongs and bathing you in cosmic resonances, thereby cleansing your aura. Which is nice.  

Returning backstage, the band are being ushered into a Yurt. This is a cylindrical construction made from paper and twigs, decorated with oriental hangings and heated by a temperamental wood stove. Anyone got a fag?  We do the gig and its alright. All the hippies jump up and down like they're supposed to, despite the fact that the mixing desk is so near the stage that half the audience can't see what we're doing. We're all wearing brand new white suits in attempt to generate a dubious early seventies M.O.R. vibe. This look suits some of us better than others; The upright Rock Freebase (slide guitar) resembles an Austrian Oil magnate, whereas D. Wayne (MC), with  slicked back hair and a big, big belly festooned with silver bling looks like the corrupt mayor of Buttfuck, USA. I, of course look rather fine, like the Titty-bar owning, coke-dealing slimeball from an early Scorcese movie - the kind of chancer who gets a bullet in the eye socket in at the end of reel two.

Fast Forward a few hours (maybe 2, maybe 20)... as custom demands, we're off our faces in the crew bar (the best watering hole at any festival). As usual, I've missed my ride home, so I've resigned myself to whatever phantasmagoria the Spirit of Avalon decides to throw at me. A festival, (at least a good one) is a cocktail of the divine and the infernel; inside the autochthonous bubble of freedom that such gatherings conjure its all too easy to believe you're in Heaven... or Hell.

So I'm having a nice chat with an ostensibly meek librarian who has mysteriously transmogrified into Lady Chatterly, complete with top hat and riding crop, when Jo Piece appears, with some interesting news... our lead singer Larry has been kicked off site by security, along with some other guy...

Here we go... 

Continued in part 2 

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© Orlando Harrison 2007