I had this great idea. There was this festival on called Forbidden Fruit – and I would go to it. This festival was on in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham, so I would be able to walk down and back from it without having to bother with any unpleasantness about camping or travelling to a festival site in some remote location. And there were people playing at it I liked the idea of seeing – The Flaming Lips, Caribou, Yo La Tengo, Battles, The Aphex Twin and various other we're-here-too acts. Nothing can go wrong, I thought, as I bought myself a two-day ticket. My beloved did the same.
A sinking feeling descended as I arrived at the festival site. In retrospect, I find myself wondering whether the problem was with me rather than the festival, but a number of rubbish things struck us almost immediately. Firstly, the music was too loud. OK, I know, that sounds like a real old man complaint, but the music here genuinely was too loud, with massive sound leakage from the different stages to each other. In front of the main stage, the sound was so loud that it was ear splitting and also ended up sounding too distorted for the music to be properly appreciated. This seemed to be the same on all the other stages we went near.
It was also striking that for all that Forbidden Fruit site looked very nice, it was all still being run on the classic take-the-money-and-run model of Irish festival organising. When you go to a proper festival, one thing they always do is give you a programme of what is on, where it is on, and maybe some kind of information about the acts so that you can go "Oooh, Anal Plexus – never heard of them before, but their write-up sounds interesting, let's check them out on the Internal Probe stage". Well there was none of that here. We had the forethought to print off a running order from the Internet before coming down, but it gave no information on the performers, so there was nothing to indicate whether any of Spank Rock, Carte Blanche, Ham Sandwich, Cast of Cheers, or Ignored Playaz would be worth checking out*.
The other thing that is always nice to do at an outdoor festival, especially when the weather is nice, is to drink an alcoholic beverage of some sort. One immediate problem with Forbidden Fruit was that it was sponsored by Bulmer's, makers of a [redacted for legal reasons] cider beloved of [redacted for legal reasons]. The festival may have been part of their ongoing attempts to re-brand their product. I was open to the idea of at least giving their repulsive alcoholic fruit juice a try, but this proved impossible. Despite the festival being sponsored by a manufacturer of alcoholic drinks, there were so few bar outlets on site that it rapidly became the case that to sate one's lust for booze would require enduring a queue of at least 45 minutes before you got near the bar. Now, I like a drink, but I hate queuing, so this became, for me, a dry festival**.
Some of the other festival attendees were a bit more dedicated in their quest for alcoholic refreshment than I was, so later on the day the place became rather messy – it became increasingly apparent that this was a festival for boozed up event people. Loud as the main stage was, it was increasingly difficult to hear bands over the sound of people telling each other how drunk they were or carrying on their inane conversations. The poor toilet training that afflicts so many Irish men also reared its head. Rather than make their way to the perfectly adequate toilets, for a great many it was preferable to urinate against the perimeter fence, in full view of the entire festival. Some of the fellows who did manage to make their way to the toilets could not fully grasp how these things work – rather than wait a minute or two for a free portaloo or a space at a urinal, they simply expelled their liquid waste at the nearest inanimate vertical object. Small wonder this country is in such a crisis.
* These are all actual bands who were playing at the festival.
** With all the "what is this shit music?" consequences that implies.
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