When SoL started back in 2007 and every year since I lived around 30 miles from the venue. This year however it’s more than 10 times that and I have to set off to get there a day earlier than I used to. So after dropping Ben at his Summer school and having breakfast with Sarah in Wolsingham I load the last few things into the back of my car and set off. I make a list of everything I need to take and always cross everything off as I’m loading it into the car. This time however I decided that as I’d already checked everything I’d chuck it all in the car and go…which is why 50 miles down the road I suddenly thought “Pillows!”
I actually made good time and despite stopping for lunch I still had time to spare before I had to meet up with my mate Keith who had borrowed some equipment from my old company for me. I used the time wisely and stopped at Tesco to buy 2 pillows and pillowcases – the days of using rolled up jumpers are gone I’m afraid!
When I arrived on site the marquee was up (and in the right place – they’d rang me at 8:30 this morning!) and the stage was almost ready too! I put up my tent and put my sleeping bag and new pillows in there then set about cooking something to eat! I’d brought a portable bbq and I didn’t want to just put it on the ground so I found a large log and put it on that. As soon as I started cooking this appeared:
After dinner I helped Pete rig the lighting on the stage – we got the four new parcans he’d bought rigged and wired back to the control area. Then we put in his new LED parcans and we were just finishing them off as it was getting dark. At one point Jackie had to go and put out the log on which my bbq sat as it had caught fire! Pete got out his inverter but none of the lights would come on – it was only as we were deciding to call it a night that he realised that he had them set to dmx control and once he switched one back it worked – he decided to continue rigging the projectors but I heard a drink calling…actually lots of drink as it turned out, I drank far too much whiskey and fell into bed at some point!
Needless to say I woke up the worse for wear this morning and after being very unwell went back to bed. At 8am the generator man turned up so I had to get up and sort that out. I went back to bed after he’d gone and finally got up around 10 – still not feeling too good. Luckily Jackie made me some tea and I got on with setting up the various bits that still needed doing. The sound man was late though…he was stuck in traffic, something that was to become a regular feature of the weekend. When he arrived we got the PA set up and the first band on – although we were nearly an hour late by this point:
We were supposed to have the DJs doing an hour after the first band but I told them I might have to cut it short. At this point a man appeared at the sound desk saying “Stompin Dave Allen”, I asked if he meant “who is Stompin Dave Allen” but he actually meant he was Stompin Dave Allen at which point I said I thought it was time he knew who is was! The rain started around this point too which meant that by the time he got on stage there were puddles of water on the front and a waterfall streaming from the roof of the stage.
Also the next band had called me to say they were stuck on the M25 and didn’t think they were going to get here on time. Thankfully Julie Felix turned up and was happy to go on first although this was by now causing more delays. There was some argy bargy about the guitar microphone feeding back and it was getting to the point that I thought she might storm off stage never to return but thankfully she didn’t and was very good and well received. I thought though that the MC took his life into his hands when introducing her as someone who was famous before he was born!
Gary Crosby’s Groundation were well worth the wait. The drummer and sax player were already setting up when I told them about the change of plan. They didn’t seem to like the idea of having to wait or the fact that they were being asked to play for more than 45 minutes. This was all forgotten as they took the stage with some sublime jazz. It was such a shame though that some people seem to think that during music like this it is ok to go round and talk to you.
The night was rounded off by the Bevis Frond but first I decided that I had to go and take my shorts off and put something warmer on. The only problem was that my tent had massive puddles in that bit between the door and the inner tent which meant getting in and out without getting your arse wet was quite difficult! Once I was in the rain just started to pelt down – so I decided to stay put for a while.
I did however have to get out before I got too comfy otherwise I’d have just gone to sleep. I wandered round to control and eventually the band came on – they were about an hour late but we’d allowed two hours for their 90 minute set so we only overan by 30 minutes in the end. The rain just kept coming and going and when it came it was quite heavy. Thunder crashed intermittently and lightning lit up the air but thankfully we managed to get through day 1.
Afterwards we waited for the OCD drummer to put his kit away. Every stand had a bag which went in a box which went into a flight case. There was some weird ritual for rolling up his mat which took over 10 minutes alone. What was making things worse was that his car was parked in the place where Cosmic Finger got their van stuck a few years ago so it was a relief when he drove it off as I was expecting it to get stuck and for him to expect me to sort out getting him out. Literally as soon as he took his last box off the stage I turned off the genny leaving one of his band mates to have to put their headlights on so he could see his car!
I was in bed before he left. I had the feeling that if I’d had to wait much longer hypothermia would have set in and I was every so glad to get out of my wet clothes and get into a nice warm bed!