The Nocturnal Dad | Episode 5: part 2 | The Drugs Don’t Work
(If you missed part 1 of The Nocturnal Dad’s festival adventures, read it now to enrich your brand experience. Or not bother)
Giant Logo Fields
This was the last stop on the Dad Lads Summer Festival Tour, and I feel a little bad picking on it because the location, in a beautiful part of the country, is stunning. It also has a lovely atmosphere, is well organised, smartly curated and has some great acts. Like all small festivals though, it needs funding, and this is achieved in part by brands who pay to be there. So this is not directed at the festival itself but more at the garish presence of some of the corporations that pitched up there. It also rained every day. Which is quite frankly unacceptable this summer.
It started well. We arrived a day early to get a good position on the campsite. The sun dropped beneath the tree line as sheep bah’d and we supped from cold craft beers (no generic fizzy rubbish this time). The toilets and showers were clean. The hot weather continued. Paradise in a field.
One of the lads with music industry credentials managed to blag us artist wristbands – the most rock n roll thing that has happened to me in the last ten years. I imagined hanging out with celebs and getting golf buggy lifts backstage while mere mortals looked on wondering what band this cool cat was in. Doing a Facetime home that evening I casually showed off my credentials to the family. The boys, Drama and Rib Kicker, were mighty impressed. Rock Solid, not so.
The contractual clause was ringing in my ears; ‘Integrate immediately and seamlessly back into the family’.
The next day the festival opened, and it simultaneously started raining.
This wasn’t meant to happen. It doesn’t rain in England anymore. I’d not packed for bad weather. I noticed the ground begin to churn and become soft, worryingly quickly. I looked at my flip-flops and felt a bolt of fear shoot through me. I don’t mud well.
We noticed that a lot of the young male demographic had a distinct uniform; tops off, cropped hair, mirror shades, thigh-hugging beige chino shorts and designer boxers pulled up over the waistband. To be fair, they probably took the mutual piss out of the Dad Club too. Seeing them marauding around in their packs completely off their heads at lunchtime and looking for the WKD stage I wondered if their parents knew they were here? I found myself making a note of where the welfare tent was, should I need to fetch them a foil blanket and a cup of tea later on. I was trying to snap out of it. They were not my children (even if of some of them looked young enough to be), and I was not here to worry and fret (my default state of mind). I have an artist wristband, and I’m rock n roll.
We strutted confidently to the backstage area in seek of refuge from the elements and the awaiting hospitality. This was going to be brilliant. I wondered if there might even be snacks and a cocktail bar like in Wayne’s World. We were promptly stopped by security who told us that our artist wristbands were not the right type of artist wristbands. No golf buggy rides for us then.
Our wristbands could, however, get us into the VIP bar of the Strongbow stage, so that is where we headed. This was literally a gigantic logo towering over a dance floor, presumably designed to make you feel like an extra in a TV ad. Big, ugly, shouty and quite frankly devoid of any creativity or originality. Shoot the art director. Or maybe this is what The Man believes Millennials are looking for in their ‘festival brand activation experience’. We discovered there is only so much free cider you can drink before getting a stomach cramp. The VIP dream was over, and we trudged onward.
There was now an unfamiliar chill in the air. The rain got heavier and I was starting to feel it. A very smiley Millennial gave me a garish poncho to wear. I gratefully accepted the chintzy, crinkly gift knowing that it would now be an essential survival accessory for the next six hours. Our own beer supplies were gone and we queued in the rain for the fizzy generic piss that would have once happily fuelled our festival weekends as youths. I woke the next morning with a severe hangover and rolled over to be met with the back of my life-saving poncho where I’d taken it off. A large WKD logo stared me in the face. Fantastic.
The final day of the tour coincided with the festivals fancy dress theme. I hate fancy dress but in a group of lads, you don’t want to be the boring one that’s not up for stuff so I’d put some prep in and created an astronaut outfit with helmet, oxygen tanks and flashing light gubbins. A good effort but naff in execution, much like the brands on show here. As daft and self-conscious as I knew I was going to feel, it was the only bit of clothing I had left that wasn’t damp and muddy so I was actually looking forward to putting it on.
We trudged into the festival starring in our own little parade and immediately noticed that we appeared to be in a very small minority that got the fancy dress memo. There was a loud hen do of skimpy jelly fishes, an alien couple enthusiastically flapping their arms around and refusing to talk and a few clearly paid up characters who had proper outfits but made out they were just punters. We now had an uninvited entourage who followed us about for the next five hours. At some point, the alien couple offered up some dancing supplements. As a means of escape more than a desire to get down and party hard, I accepted.
My hedonistic rave days are long behind me and the post-party fear and recovery time for such reckless excess prohibits a responsible father of two from partaking in such youthful activities. Opting to break this rule on the final night of the tour would surely have its consequences but given the rain, mud, and misery of the situation I thought ‘sod it, I’m game’. How weak the mind when under the influence.
How shallow the soul when off your tits. An hour later and our Flaming Lips-esque encore ensemble were having it large at the WKD stage. And in my new frame of mind, it was brilliant fun.
Then I needed a wee, badly. I’d been putting it off for as long as possible because the situation at the toilets was now nauseating. Eventually, bladder bursting, I made a dash for it but had forgotten how much of a hassle it was to get my spacesuit down to free myself (NASA tailors tip; always remember to put a wee zip on your spacesuit). I had left it too long. I struggled. I tussled. I fumbled. Then suddenly, to my horror, I peed in my spacesuit. Drunk and off my head in the mud with a massive wet patch on my white and foiled threads and no spare pants.
Hell in a field. Remember kids, the drugs don’t work they just make you piss yourself.
Back to life, back to reality. The next morning was dark. I was filthy and stank of wee, my head was banging and we had a long, long drive home. We were due back that evening. The contractual clause was ringing in my ears; ‘Integrate immediately and seamlessly back into the family’.
One of the worst sins you can commit in a relationship where there are young children involved is to cheat on your partner with a good night’s sleep.
When one of you is fresh and the other is exhausted it can create more friction and resentment than when you are both shattered and unhinged, both in the trenches together.
However, this situation was different. I had to return in one piece. That night I would cheat on my wife with a glorious night’s sleep at the fore mentioned hotel chain. Brand experience never felt so good. It was the greatest bath and bed of my life. I returned through the front door a day late but feeling refreshed and ready to roll with it – immediate integration back into the family as promised. What a hero. I was mobbed and adored by my fans Rib Kicker and Drama as I came through the door. Rock Solid, not so impressed.
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Images: Dominic Murray @no_subs_blog
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