A Festivus For The Rest Of Us : The Idiots Are Taking Over

If there’s one time of year that is sure to test ones patience, sanity & goodwill, it’s now. “Music” festival season. If you are anything like me, that is. Considering Big Day Out seems to be no longer a thing, not to mention, Harvest, Homebake & Livid, Soundwave seems to have become the beacon of hope in the otherwise murky world of alternative rock festivals. A safe haven for pot-smoking people wearing Segression or Pearl Jam t-shirts with Slipknot, Red Hot Chili Peppers & Grinspoon tattoos to chant “Fooeys! Fooeys!” (or insert any 90’s/ early 00’s alternative torchbearers; see Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Papa Roach, Rage Against The Machine, Faith No More etc) to their hearts content, whilst getting trolley’d on overpriced half-strength Carlton Draught. All well and good. 31 year old me has no problem with that because 18-21 year old me would’ve been chuffed to be in such an environment, as i was at BDO Y2K. Slightly older me was less chuffed at the 2011 offering. Sure, Soundwave seems like a good time seeing as every year there’s 3- 4 bands I actually enjoy, on the bill. And sure, you couldn’t pay me enough to attend it, but that’s beside the point.

My issue is with the “non-music” music festivals. Festivals that offer nothing. Less than nothing, in point of fact. And i’m not entirely sure that my issue is with the festival itself. If you become famous by making noises that sound remarkably like Stephen Hawking on speed, then dupe thousands upon thousands of morons into buying your shallow music and attending your “show”, by simply pushing buttons, then more power to you. You are nothing to me and i don’t give you a second thought. Until this time of year. I’m about to recycle a sentence or two, but seeing as it’s my blog and i think it somewhat accurately sums up my feelings on this issue, i’m allowed to.

If the relentless barrage of shitty dub-step and house music coming from the balcony behind our apartment before 9.30am, or the half dressed, half cut/already hungover groups of girls (read: women) staggering around Campbell Parade shouting incoherent nonsense, presumably a song by Drake or Akon, T-Pain or some other hip-hop-dance music crossover Nate Dogg wannabe also-ran weren’t indicators that i had forgotten that Future “music” festival is on, the alarmingly higher number of steroid injecting, body-hairless fake-tanned mid-30’s men (read: boys) dressed in less than the scantily-clad aforementioned females, scheming around Opportos with their handbags strapped around their oddly shaped torso, literally dancing to no music other that what’s evidently blasting behind their eye sockets (resembling Nicholas Cage’s death by bees scene in The Wicker Man, or an epileptic fit) sufficiently jogged my memory.

Having already been warned by the over-drugged, under-sexed (according to them) cast of Geordie Shore who inhabit the apartment omitting the bland techno music behind our place, I should have known better than to take my Mum & 87 year old Nan out for coffee that morning and no doubt, they were wondering what evil sorcery was behind the doubtless sensory overload. When Nan commented that if she was ever caught wearing the jean-short-underpants, i had permission to put her down. At that point I thought it best to get her out of there as that was an image i didn’t really want to conjure ever again.

I’m assuming it took literally a full week for the Geordie Shore cast to come down as the following Friday night at around 10.45, they were talking that loudly about their love of cocaine and their utter disbelief that no self-respecting male wanted to “pick them up” while they were getting ready to go out again, that i couldn’t concentrate and found myself re-reading the same 2 pages of the John Irving book i’m halfway through at least 4 times. There’s something so blindly irritating about loud-talkers with thick Geordie accents that’s borderline unbearable. I don’t know what made me feel old the most. The fact that I was in bed by 11.p.m on a Friday evening, getting stressed out about level of noise being generated by them, or the fact that just hearing them talk about going out made me more tired.

Imagine, then, my frustration when i couldn’t quite put my finger on why that whole dance-music, pinger-induced euphoria culture shits me to tears.

After a conversation with like-minded people, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the music or talent, or lack-thereof in both cases. It’s the fact that everything associated with it, in some way is so superficial, it makes it redundant.

I was never cool at school. 100 per cent not popular, and i dealt with my fair share of bullying, so i was stoked when i found punk-rock, then later on metal and some of it’s sub-genres. Having never really fit in, I immersed myself in music and books. That evolved when i bought a shitty guitar and amp, wrote songs and started bands. The values i took from punk-rock, i still hold on to this day. It’s fine to not fit in. It’s perfectly acceptable to be yourself and not care what other people think of you or your choices, as long as you are happy within yourself. I never listened to Death or Slayer or Pennywise because they were cool. In fact, it was the opposite that drove me to them. It was a place to go for those of us who didn’t fit it, or didn’t want to.

None of that exists with that whole dance music festival culture. It filters through just the “music” into the image, personality and character. That is, who has the biggest muscles, who has the best drugs, who has the shortest skirts, who has the best tan, who can drink the most? As far as i can see, there is absolutely nothing of value or substance, other than the drugs in anything related to it. It’s a place for the bullies who tormented you at school to go and show off and be seen thrusting towards each other because i am convinced that at least 50% of the people that picked on me, let alone the majority of the dance-music festival attendants are closet homosexual sheep. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Come to think of it, as someone who used to sell tickets through work to these events, not only the demographic, but the culture of Future “Music” & Stereosonic remind me of the Mardi Gras, only you have to pay a shitload more money to attend. Lots of mostly naked Alpha-male types in close proximity to each other, rubbing against each other just strikes me as somewhat homo-erotic. Are they trying to impress the girls who are too out of it to even know where they are, or are they really trying to impress the other buff dudes who are a mix of borderline roid-rage and euphoric bliss? Chuck Schuldiner would for sure, be turning in his 6(66) foot deep grave if he were around to witness the state of music these days.

Unfortunately, unlike the rock festival circuit, there seems to be no waning interest in these travesties masquerading as “music” festivals, until the next hipster fad comes along, that is. Fortunately, armed with my Morbid Angel, Nuclear Assault & Descendents Lp’s  and Dave Eggers books, I know myself well enough to be content with the fact that I’ll never conform to whatever that might be.