The ravages of age

I went to a "pop" festival yesterday - well one day of it anyway - the SOS 4.8 Festival in Murcia. Pop in case you expected opera or classical or flamenco or jazz.

I'm not really a festival animal. I don't keep up with modern music, I will not dance, I don't even sway. I noticed last night I wasn't bothering to applaud either. I usually have to drive so my drinking is limited and I haven't used any non scrip drugs for years. I am also around 30 to 40 years older than your average festival goer and, to top it all off, till 4 July I'm on my own. So why go? Maybe it's the noodles. I do like noodles and there are always vegetable noodles at festivals.

The SOS Festival is not a big name do even by Spanish standards. The Prodigy, Damon Albarn and The Pet Shop Boys were the big names - basically 80s and 90s bands. With some of the bands I had no idea about their nationality - bands like The Kooks (Brits apparently) or Phoenix (French). Of the Spanish bands the only ones I recognised on the billing were Fangoria, Miss Caffeína and León Benavente. I was quite keen to see Fangoria because it includes a woman who goes by the name of Alaska. I think Alaska is Mexican by birth but she became famous in the late 70s in Spain and she still is though I think it's a long time since she had a hit. She does an MTV show a la Ozzy Osbourne and the few tracks I've heard of hers suggest she can't sing very well. I wanted to see this legend for myself.

Got there and got my wrist band without having to utter a word - ether Spanish or English. Bought my tokens, swapped three of them in another wordless transaction for a huge beer (six hours till I had to drive again) and went to watch Triángulo de Amor Bizarro - not too great so over to watch Neuman and so it went on. I didn't like Damon Albarn at all. The place started to fill up. The Pet Shop Boys were on at 12.30 and Fangoria at 2.30. As I waited the crowd became one seething mass of humanity bumping and jostling, laughing and pushing, barging and shoving. The toilet areas were awash. The food areas were ankle deep in waste. The illicit drink was mixed with the stuff paid for at the bars, the smoke of thousands of joints drifted around. Typical Spanish festival crowd and situations though when a man next to me snorted something off a piece of plastic and that was new to me.

I felt self consciously old amongst the crowd. My hair, my gut, the liver spots on my face. I was wearing a shirt with a collar and I realised that putting on the pullover I'd brought for the slight chill in the air would make me look like Richard Briers. I stuck with the shirt. I have to give it to Neil and Chris. They turned out an exceptional show. I'd not expected much but it was really good. I stood there for about ninety minutes watching as well as listening. As the crowd began to thin out the soles of my feet were aching, my knees felt on the verge of collapse and my bladder suggested I should brave the pools of piss and the crowds. Instead, assailed by my years, I decided to hobble back to the car and come home and miss Alaska and Fangoria.

It was about 2.40am as I cleared the site and some young person waiting outside to find someone ready to hand over their entry bracelet was very pleased that I was knackered. I hope they enjoyed the remaining bands. I suppose, at around 4am, as I enjoyed a nice cup of tea, they would be dancing along to Erol Alkan or The Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.


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