Friday, June 16, 2023

Pick your festival, pick your tribe


All over the country and even closer to home, summer is the time of tribal gatherings.

Yep, it’s festival season. No more football, where tribes are defined by the team we support, and fans come from all backgrounds, in all shapes and sizes, whether they are following their team to Curzon Ashton away or to Istanbul.

The weekend before last the youngsters thronged to the Neighbourhood weekender in Warrington to sing ‘f**k the Tories’ to the tune of Pigbag, whipped up by scouse songman Jamie Webster.

Loved to see it, said a local Labour MP, cue howls of outrage from the perpetually offended of middle England and the snowflakes at their house journal, The Daily Mail. 

Advertisers and political parties like to identify types and their tropes, and when even “Deano” is railing at the government you know it’s time is up. 

Who is Deano? I hear you ask, he lives in a new build in Glossopdale, or Hurst, works in sales, has a German car, likes his holidays, has mates in the forces so probably has a Help for Heroes sticker in his car.

Deano was at The Arctic Monkeys at Old Trafford, possibly the Courteeners, and definitely chanting along at Neighbourhood.    

Meanwhile, in a few weeks time, it will be party time for Mavis at the Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank.

Mavis stands for Middle Aged Volatile Insurgents. 30s to 50s, green, liberal, professional, educated, hate Brexit. Culturally open-minded, like a bit of world music, new ideas, and comedy.

They aren’t conservative, because they don’t see that they have anything to conserve. 

I’m at the older end of the Mavis spectrum, but I was definitely with my tribe at the weekend at the Kite Festival in Oxfordshire.

Once again we hired a VW Transporter from Alex at VDubhire in Hyde, headed down the M6 and camped out next to polo field in middle England.

By day we listened to talks and interviews from people as diverse at Michael Gove and Sir John Major, to Joan Collins, Simon Sinek, Susannah Hoffs and Alastair Campbell.

A lot of them have got a book to plug, which is fine, because it gives them something urgent to say to make you want to trot along to the Blackwells tent and buy a copy. Which we did.

It obviously works, because Alastair Campbell sold out his book and the shop wished they’d stocked more.

You also get to meet a lot of these people and see how decent they are in person.

We met Nihal Arthanayake off the radio. He interviews people on BBC Radio 5 Live and he’s very, very good at it. Same with a guy called Alexi Mostrous who makes what he calls WTF Podcasts. Shocking gotchas with twists and real life nutters. I get a buzz off them and loved hearing the tricks of his trade. Turns out he only lives a few miles away in Stockport, so hopefully I’ll bump into him again soon.

We ate Tibetan curry, Indian rolls, bagels, all manner of artisanal gorgeousness and slapped on the factor 30 in searing English summer heat.

By night we saw mostly incredible older women. Candi Staton, Chrissy Hynde, Alison Goldfrapp and Susanah Hoffs. 

There’s also a micro tribe of male fans of certain females of a certain age, right down to the record label t-shirt, the tank cap and the facial hair. I first spotted them at the front of a Saint Etienne concert, and they managed to find their way to the vantage point at Kite too.

Which brings us back to Susannah Hoffs. She was there to promote a book she’s written, a novel, but she didn’t disappoint with low key acoustic renditions of Manic Monday and Eternal Flame.

Our adult offspring were at the Etihad watching Weeknd, by the way.

Which leads me to ask one final thing. Who on earth filled the Etihad the week before to see Coldplay?

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