Having worked at a number of uk festivals this year I decided to give a roundup of my experiences both as a bar worker and also of the festivals themselves and the acts I got to see during my working process, there has been a delay in putting this video up since filming due to an issue while recording and losing my main audio recording, hence why this video plays with only one audio side and isn’t the best quality audio.
This year’s festival season began at the isle of wight festival where the weather was so ridiculousely hot that being held in the staff campsite for the morning briefing and having not stocked up on water to be able to drink during this, and a rather extended wait of several hours I got a little heat stroke and spent half of the first day recovering, luckily there were no bands playing and I didn’t have to start work at this point so spent most of the day sheltered attempting to recover. Once my shift began however I jumped onto the serving side, avoiding using the MDU machines because I probably would’ve passed out doing all of the heavy lifting after spending the day recovering and still feeling a little whoozy.
The next day was rather a busy day working the entire day and having worked at festivals for a number of years I’ve learnt that if you seem to have been missed a lunch break by a certain hour you’re not getting a lunch break so I ensured after being missed that I got my lunch break, this process continued throughout the next day with missing lunch again and even missing being called for dinner and it being “too busy” for me to be able to leave for a dinner break, because I was working hard and being asked to cover the pop bar during other peoples breaks and also while other people slacked off not working hard or to sneak off and watch bands, it just seemed a little unfair so I moved from the center busy area (which I enjoy working but not to be taken advantage of without getting food and rest breaks as needed) and I took the first advantage to hop off to see the red hot chilli peppers to finish early on the final day, as the only band I got to see the entire festival it was good to be able to see thier only uk performance, and getting to go off with a few people I got on with on the bar it was fun. I wouldn’t mind as much working harder and having less benefits than others if it lead to promotional prospects but usually you get looked over because you work too hard and are too valuable a regular worker.
Then it was off to sonisphere with another agency, which was drafted in last minute by creativevents another company I use to work for until they lost the nec contract and as a result I didn’t have a job to work, some of the managers I recognise and they appear to have moved to london, I wouldnt’ve moved because birmingham is my home and the town that feels right for me, but it was nice to be recognised as a good worker. The event however was severely overstaffed which was unusual considering how last minute they called in other agencies, so there were 5-6 different agencies all with many staff sat around hoping for hours and many staff not even getting any hours and only those who persisted getting any. I got to see quite a few bands here and a couple of the noteworthy bands were babymetal who put on a good show with a cross of metal and jpop stage entertainment telling a story through song. I don’t think much of the audience understood due to how they began cheering along to the soundcheck thinking it was the performance, it was entertaining and the “metal gods” behind the j-pop girls did more than just play smiling and interacting with the audience drawing them into the performance.
Another Early morning performance which drew people in was ghost, where the main performance is around the stage presence of ghost who plays a demonic priest manipulating the band to play and acted the role very well, drawing people in with his heir of dignaty and had the presence of an overlord controlling everything around him. I can’t say I agreed with the lyrics being sung but the melodic nature and the stage act all tied in and it was definately an entertaining act, but possibly one that aids the incorrect negative image people have of metal fans. Sure you get some idiots who are violent sociopaths but you get that with every group, and on the most part metal fans actually tend to be kind natured caring people who just enjoy that music style and are outcast for thier looks and choice of dresscode.
I got stuck on a bar in the back end of nowhere for my actual shifts halfway between the dodgems and silent disco, there were a few customers but for the most part it was a little quiet and you couldn’t even hear the acts on stage from there so I couldn’t enjoy the festival while stuck there. After work there was a staff party, where all the people you’d been working with gathered. I got a sonisphere cup from one of the ladies who did the check in process, I really can’t remember if I promised her something if she got me one I have the feeling I may have promised things and completely forgot at the time (slipping my mind after a slow dragging shift) so if I see her again I’ll have to live up to promises, she didn’t ask but I guess people get shy to ask. Another minor regrett is not saying goodbye to the girl I’d been chatting with most of the time sat in the campsite waiting for work who describes herself as an outgoing doormouse, or something along those lines where she use to be shy but now she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants. She was nice but at the staff party I felt a little spurned when she decided to go off and chat to other people all night leaving me with the slightly offputting guy who attempted to use NLP on absolutely every girl “oh I don’t know why other people don’t think you’re pretty. I think you’re pretty” Who’s been saying that dude, nobody! seriousely don’t use NLP around me it seriousely puts me off you.
Anyway at the end of the party she came to say she was heading off to sleep, I should’ve said goodbye and got her number to stay in touch, but I was a little spurned and did think I’d see her at other events but it seems not as after this event they severely reduced numbers of staff to give people a fairer chance of working.
After this came the Ynot festival a small event with big bands, which this year got upgraded to a “medium” sized festival. I headed to the event a day earlier than the management of the event company I worked for because I would rather set up in the daytime (and travel on the shuttle bus) than arrive first thing in the morning and have to set up in order to work, and considering the travel required to get to the event it just makes it an impossible factor. Anyway having arrived the night before I got to enjoy the pre festivities which included goldie looking chain, usually frequent in the hidden garden of V festival unlisted they instead operated at this festival, and put on a good show drawing in the crowd. There were a few other acts on the first night and it was a fun start to the event.
My second day of the festival however was rather a dull one, considering I got shipped (literally) on to a bar on the side of the saloon bar which they had especially created as an experiment last minute as a shipping crate fast can selling bar, the lady the night before had found it boring on a short shift and I was in there the entire day on my own which was definate torture, a few of the customers came up intregued and thought maybe it was the secret area usually hidden within the festival, I had to point out my thoughts that it was in area 51 due to the layout of that area, still they persisted attempting some secret handshakes and passwords thinking it would get them somewhere, and a couple of leary people trying to steal the communications radio made the shift tougher than it needed to be but I got through.
The next day I insisted I couldn’t do that all weekend as they planned and I got moved onto the main bar where I had a good time and it was nice and busy, also the customers came up chatting to me who’d seen me in the fast can, and I was working alongside my EDS friend. I probably got her to make more drinks than I should’ve but having dated someone with EDS I get the feeling she wouldn’t want special treatment and she chose to operate the pouring of the stout, the next day she was helping in the office instead and I know she’d been to hospital recently for heart operations. I don’t know I’m not the most socially normal and we still chatted away normally and fine so I think everything was fine.
The last day while sat waiting for shifts they were trying to find someone to operate the fast can again, having used a rotating system the previous day and accidentally leaving someone in there on thier own with no stock and no radio unable to leave the till they decided to operate a two person system, I was asked by the manager of the main bar personally and my manager pointed out thats good to be asked personally, social awkwardness kicked in with me thinking “well I’m use to being asked for because I work hard” of course I didn’t say that and just sat with a strange look on my face. Anyway that day consisted of running around to cover every bar at the festival and missing my dinner break, and when I got back to the main bar I got sent on my break, but after finishing serving a customer, which happened to be 5 double spirit mixers, 5 jagerbombs and 2 stouts, so took a long time to pour. After serving this I went out to get my dinner which today was actually a decent cooked meal after an entire weekend of undercooked poorly made food. I got my food from the food vendor sat down and had one bite before being told I had to go back in to help work, needless to say I had a mini episode and probably blew any chance of being given a better role having spent the entire weekend being groomed by the bar managers and chatting and getting on well with thier closed knit group.
On the social side I also got to see a few bands and went off to the backstage area chatting with raggle taggle photography who I see there every year, who’ve still to put up the photo they took of me signing the guitar 😛 and this year instead had a book to sign and remembered me well, I can’t say I checked to see if they’d put a photo of me signing the book with all of the bands but hey I don’t expect much after they promised to put up the photo of the guitar (or at least they could’ve sent me a copy if they didn’t wish to display it) and while waiting for my shift the second day I simply sat on the bails of hay on the bar and didn’t even attempt to socialise and made a friend who chatted to me who’s pretty cool.
Next weekend it was off to bloodstock where the staff I got on well with all went down to brighton for an event there while I chose bloodstock because it was closer and convenient and I knew people who would go as customers. I got a fair bit of time off at the event due to the fact that I was working from 8am-3pm so got to see most of the event, and while looking after the bar while the manager was off on lunch break I had uncle gio’s itallian joint came to the bar took plastic cups off the display and said “don’t worry come to me and I’ll give you pizza” after I stated we’re not allowed to giveaway stock. At this point I couldn’t really abandon the bar and it wasn’t worth tacling someone for some plastic cups so I just accepted it, however later when coming to claim the pizza for us all (and having checked with the 4 members of staff we had on the hobgoblin truck that nobody had claimed any pizza) he stated very loudly and harshly that 20 people had claimed pizza’s already and one person had 6 portions all to themselves, and pointing clearly that we were only 4 members of staff on our stand and nobody had claimed any pizza he refused outright to provide any, stating instead he would offer a £1 discount and “they were only plastic cups” which is besides the point, its about the honour and that he stated clearly he’d do a pizza for us in exchange, which in the spirit of trades shows that as a festival trader he and his stall are not to be trusted and you should never make any trades with them. Having emailed the company they state “trades are a regular part of festival work” and made no effor to apologise or put things right instead defending thier worker who clearly wanted to rip people off and probably made trades with other vendors not giving anything in exchange either so as a result are a company never to be trusted and you shouldn’t even purchase food from them due to thier shifty nature.
After this it was off to V festival, which is the one I’ve worked at for the longest, unfortunately due to the time I had to call the event from bloodstock to confirm my shift I ended up on the hidden garden rather than a main bar and ended up stuck on till with a very boring shift indeed. I did get to see some bands with all saints during one of my breaks, having to return and miss pure shores unfortunately, and getting to see the main headliners each day due to the closing time of the hidden garden. I also had a minor fanclub who thought my name was judas because of playing a name guessing game, and they even had pictures and signitures which was rather fun. I also ended up having to constantly shift my change out of the till onto customers due to the fact that they overloaded it with loose change and pound coins for how slow and hidden that particular bar was, which some of the other workers found a bit strange, but it was natural to get a better balance of change and notes for cashing up at the end of the day (and being able to close the till rather than having it overflow with coins)
All in all this year wasn’t as fun as usual but I got to have a good time and meet some new people, and I got a little more abuse than usual due to having put some weight on, but with the nature of people I would assume they would see I could excercise a little and lose the weight, so I plan to once I can sort my circumstances out and get back into shape and looking like me again, and I wouldn’t presume that was the reason I was on worse bars than normal, but we shall see how 2015 goes, and hopefully next year I will be able to get press permission to take footage and photo’s at the actual events to include in my roundup and reviews for next year, where I will more than likely return to seperate reviews because it makes more sense than having this overloaded single article. Time constraints and issues lead to this, and the less than professionally written article but I hope you still enjoyed reading and watching.