The Nocturnal Dad | Episode 5: part 1 | Shut ‘Em Up
All expectations exceeded. Penalties saved and converted. Hero’s born. But in the end, we lost when we should have made it to the final by taking those chances in the first half. I remain a bad loser.
The World Cup is done but summer is still well and truly cooking. Schools out and annual leave is booked. Dadxit has become the hot topic in our house. Family time is on hold because I have traded in every last pass (probably the next two years of passes) to spend several long weekends at various music festivals with my mates. “Several long weekends? Various music festivals? Are you having an effing laugh, mate?”. Yes, I know, and the timing of this could not have been worse as it meant missing our wedding anniversary, my nephew’s birthday and leaving the day school broke up. Negotiations took several weeks from the point of initial, bewildered laughter from my wife through to a serious lack of laughter but eventual sign off as the Dad Lads Tour dates won their way into the diary. This would be my longest time away since the non-stop run of stag do’s about ten years ago. The difference is that back then there was the excuse of reciprocal hen do’s and weddings to balance it up. And of course no kids. Not so now.
There was only one clause in the contract instructed by Mrs. Nocturnal AKA Rock Solid; Clause 1a. Integrate immediately and seamlessly back into the family. What can I say, Rock Solid is a legend and she will be rewarded. Excitement grew amongst the dads as the tour drew closer. WhatsApp channels called things like No Sleep Till (Festival Name) were set up and streams of banter flowed. I wondered if a Dad Lads Widows channel had been set up called Let The MOFO’s Burn.
Counter to my outward bravado and excitement on Whatsapp, anxiety crept in. I had not been to a music festival for years and I’ve never been a fan of large crowds and pissy lager (having since grown up into a middle age beer snob). Camping and fancy dress are also low on my fun list – but all of which I was about to jump into, two-footed. What would unfold over the course of these monumental, pass devouring weekends would turn this creeping anxiety into full-blooded horror.
While there were definitely some very good bits to remember, I thought it would be more in keeping with my pessimistic view of the world if I focused on the bad and the ugly. So, I have picked on two of the worst that made up our much anticipated, Dad Lads Tour 2018. Enjoy the joyless!
Corporate Fun Fair
Our first stop was an ‘Urban Festival’ where some of the world’s finest rock and hip-hop bands were performing. From Queens of the Stone Age to Iggy Pop to Run the Jewels, the line-up was top notch and the performances where superb all-around. Unfortunately, everything else was total bobbins. If ever there was an example of a corporate-sanitised shitefest then this was it.
Taking place in the middle of a summer that has dished out nothing but glorious sunshine, the organisers managed to turn the fine weather into a sun-gun attack on the crowd by offering no shelter or water whatsoever. In the middle of a parched park, we baked for 12 hours surviving on weak, tasteless lager while watching a very cool and credible actor sell his soul, relentlessly looped on the giant screens overhead to promote said piss lager, dressed in a suit and looking smug. Spirits were battered further as we boiled like Lemmings for an hour to navigate the never-ending bar queue, paying £6 a pint at the end for the privilege. Morale was momentarily raised when the bar staff offered the guy next to us (who was ordering a round the size of a football team) a “handy drinks holder for just £3”. Cue head in hands and a thunderclap of all-in-it-together-laughter. You couldn’t write it. Onward to the food concessions.
With just a fifteen-minute queue time and clocking in at only five minutes more than queuing for the urinals, it was time for lunch. Taking no chances (a burger here did not look advisable) I opted for a tasty sounding Rainbow Salad.
As I watched the ice cream scoop of lukewarm rice go into the flimsy miniature plastic bowl followed by a sprinkle of diced carrot, sweetcorn, and garlic sauce, I felt like shouting Partridge style for the young girl to put the heap of blandness out of its misery “No. No. Nooooo!” or bursting into a venomous protest song “Shut ‘em down, shut ‘em down!”. Instead, I bent over to touch my toes again, said thank you and handed over £10.
Back to the music and the masterclass on how to rip-off and alienate your audience was almost complete. So quiet was the sound that you could hear the on stage monitor mix over the PA from the mixing desk. So quiet was the sound that the brilliant frontman of The Hives felt compelled to offer to pay the council fine in return for turning it up and he meant it. This was a city centre outdoor gig so of course there are going to be restrictions but it was ridiculously quiet, to the point that I felt myself cringing for the bands onstage. Especially for Iggy who gave it absolutely everything in his cannon as he jumped around like a wounded but defiant old dog.
Finally, about twenty minutes into QOTSA headline set the sound was turned up to relieved cheers in the audience, but will we ever return to this soul-sucking Corporate Fun Fair? No.
To be continued….
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Illustration: Dominic Murray @no_subs_blog
Read all of The Nocturnal Dad’s musings in the Fatherhood section.