Waaaaaay back in March 2012, I wrote a blog post outlining my TOP 5 reasons that I moved to London. At the time, I envisaged the TOP 5 to be a regular weekly series outlining my (wait for it) TOP 5 picks, opinions, or beliefs on a variety of topics. It would be the zany, sharp, witty, sometimes acerbic weekly piece that would help me build a following and encourage people to come back for more, more, more!
And then life happened. You know, life? That pesky things that gets in the way of us doing the creative things we love. Like work, gym, Mad Men, eating, Mad Men, work, Mad Men, eating, work, eating. Oh and travel, which is très fun. Well, now that I have done a bit of travel, experienced a bit of London, season 5 of Mad Men is over (side note: what a season!), I don’t really have an excuse to not try and get this up and running. Except for catching up on Game of Thrones. Yay!
Over the “summer”, I have had the great pleasure of attending veritable selection of summer festivals. So I thought, what better way to commemorate these hedonistic fests of fun and frivolity than to devise not one, but three festival-related TOP 5 lists in their honour.
TOP 5 MEMORABLE FESTIVAL MOMENTS (so far)
5. Grace Jones
I must say, I’m a pretty bad gay. Until recently, I basically knew nothing about old Gracey. I knew that she was famous because she kind of looked like a dude, Andy Warhol followed her around in the seventies, she tried to kill Roger Moore in the eighties, and she had a penchant for hula-hoops.
I was also aware that she had some kind of musical career, however I always envisaged she was a bit of a one-hit-wonder who pumped out an album of awful German-style electro-trash, perennially played in underground leather clubs.
She’s 63. She grimaces a lot. Why is she headlining Lovebox?
Little did I know that old Grace was a musical heavy weight back in the day, producing eight albums during her tenure in the seventies and eighties. She was a massive new-wave-electro-soul-dance-floor hit in Europe, and a musical style icon of Lady Gaga proportions. Forty years on and she can still deliver.
The old diva was a little late and her set started a little shaky, but once she settled in she remained in full force. Her voice bellowed, her hips gyrated, she danced, she grooved and she SMILED. A lot. In fact, she had a fantastically humble, self-deprecating sense of humour and a fond connection with the audience.
Amazingly, at her tender age, she was still able to hula-hoop for an entire 5 minute jungle song. It was a true sight to see. But the piece de resistance: her sparkly-laser-disco-ball-bowler hat.
4. Discovering new music
The big name acts are what usually attract me to specific festivals. If there aren’t at least three big acts that I know and love, then I probably won’t buy a ticket. With big acts come big expectations, which can sometimes lead to big disappointments.
However, this festival experience can be salvaged by the little nuggets of pure joy that come in the form of discovering new acts.
3. Chillin’ with the Artists
Okay, so we didn’t so actually “chill” with artists. We chilled with one artist. And we didn’t actually “chill” with him, so much as danced, which I think is equally if not better than chilling.
The Artist? Aussie club floor gay icon, Sam Sparro! During his hit song, Black & Gold, Mr Sparro leaped off the danced in the mosh WITH US! And before you denounce me as an exaggerating and a liar, I have the photographic and videographic evidence to prove it!
Follow our liaison, we politely lifted Mr Sparro above our heads, and he surfed his way back to the stage to finish his set. Very chilled.
2. Extra-curricular Activities
Music is alright. Alright, music is excellent. Fantastic. Amazing, even. Without music, there is no festival. However, the difference between a good festival and a great festival, the stuff that separates the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats (what, wait?) is the atmosphere. The little extra touches that make a festival a well-rounded bundle of joy.
This year we witnessed sack races, winkle eating competitions, super slides, dodgem cars
The crème de la crème was the non-festival festival-cum-country-house-party that was Wyndstock 2012. Held on the grounds of Houghton Hall, a country manor in Norfolk, the “festival” focused on the frivolous and extra-curricular. Music played throughout the day, but there were no big names. Just string quartets, jazz bands and killer DJ sets.
However, the music was merely the soundtrack to non-stop hours of croquet, badminton, yoga, dancing the Charleston, cloud watching, making animal sculptures out of vegetables, cartwheels, tequila shots and other tomfoolery and wankery.
1. Rihanna (and other big names) superseding expectations
Before Hackney Festival this year, there was a lot of hubbub in that Rihanna was cancelling her appearance due to
tantrum “exhaustion”. When Radio 1 confirmed that Rihanna was indeed appearing, I assumed she would just phone it in. Wear a sparkly dress. Sing a couple of hits. Hang a colour-printed banner of her new album cover in the back. High five a couple of fans in the front row. Have the whole thing wrapped up in 40 minutes.
To my surprise, Rihanna went all out on her show. The stage was Egyptian themed, with a Giant golden Sphinx as the centre piece. Rihanna also gave a generally (see below) good performance, singing all her greatest hits, dancing some generally (see below) good moves, and supported by an array of back up dancers and Jay-Z – a surprise guest appearance for 3 or 4 songs.
Other honourable mentions go to Metronomy, Sam Sparrow, Azalea Banks, Dizzee Rascal, Florence & The Machine, Beirut, David Guetta, and even Lana Del Rey, who destroyed any rumblings that she can’t perform live. Simply magic.
+ Images by me, unless otherwise cited.