The Old Gig Diaries: The Wildhearts, Download Festival (15/06/2008)

My desire to be a music journalist is nothing new. Once upon a time, aged 13-17, I kept a scrapbook of concerts that I attended. However, not realizing just how many I would end up going to, it wasn’t updated very often. Still, it is a documentation of how my relationship with live music began. In this series, I will brush off the dust and transcribe these old diary entries (with emphasis on ‘diary’ as they aren’t reviews) in all their flawed glory.

I’m not proud of some of these, or what I write about (crowd surfing and being dropped on your head in retrospect is annoying, and nothing to be proud of). Maybe it’s not the greatest idea to post these in the middle of a portfolio of serious work, but I was growing up. You can forgive me can’t you?

I posted some of the earlier entries, dating back to 2004 and 2005 (starring Wednesday 13CKY and HIM), and thought I would dig the tome up again, since my blog is no longer being marked by uni lecturers.

This was my first festival, closing with my 18th birthday on the Monday at the end. Cue much partying. When I got home, due to just how blown away I was by the experience, I wanted to start chronicling concerts again. However, this would be the final entry to my diary. If you want to be philosophical, maybe this was a signal of my progression into adulthood, and the final awesome experience of my childhood. Or perhaps not. While I wanted to write about my entire experience, only one band, who really left a mark, got a mention – The Wildhearts.

If someone says ‘music festival’, what comes to mind? Drunkenness? Fire? Whatever makes the list, I can almost guarantee that ‘bottling off’ is in there somewhere – a festival performer’s worst nightmare. Lead singer and guitarist Ginger plucked up the courage to provoke a riot. “I thought I was at a rock festival, where are all the bottles?”

They got bottles. A lot of bottles. They got a toilet seat. They got a toilet roll. They got mobile phones. They got a dildo. They got a cuddly toy panda on a stick. Still not content, Ginger requested a Nickelback fan on a stick, though that request wasn’t fulfilled. Ginger took great pride in catching an egg that was thrown at them (or ‘fucking egg’ as he put it), though wasn’t so happy to tread on it (though again, he ‘fucking trod on it’).

“I want your shoes, I want your hats, I want your girlfriends, I want the fucking lot, let’s make fucking history!”

Due to a couple of technical blips, Roadie Doug was introduced to the stage, to unprecedented applause and chanting. “DOUG! DOUG! DOUG! DOUG! DOUG! DOUG!” Since then, I wouldn’t be at all surprised had his ego was fit to burst, and has since hoped for more things to break for bit more stage time. “How friendly are you?”, Ginger reminisced in a fit of giggles. Likewise, I don’t imagine him ever having been quite so happy for something to break onstage.

Their set was cut short, as during ’29x The Pain’, about seven-and-a-bit songs in, the power was cut. There are conflicting reports regarding the reasons why the band was cut off. Some say it was time constraints, as Ginger did a lot of talking, and others because of safety, particularly because of a knife being thrown. Some have denied there was a knife at all. I can confirm that there was. A cutlery knife landed luckily at my feet, and not lodged in my shoulder. The person next to me picked it up again and threw it. Whether that’s what ended the performance early, we may never know.

Oh, and musically they were brilliant too. Playing such energetic tracks can not be simple. This was a show so incredible and memorable that when they put down their instruments, and stepped forwards and bowed in the middle of a cloud of junk being thrown in their direction, they received a spectacular applause. Any band that can do that deserve every clap and cheer.



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