Something's changing in Londonist Towers. Something's in the air. Perhaps it's a subtle shift in the midichlorians, perhaps it's that there's a new Turin Brakes album out but we're beginning to stockpile bottles of Tequila and Rizla papers and trying to find the number of 'that bloke we met down the pub' the other day.
Look out the window and, yes, it's raining.
Festival Season is upon us.
So whilst some will be finding their innner-Coldplay at Glastonbury, other's unleashing their primeval angst at Reading or dancing naked in the bestial orgy to Mammon that is V, most right thinking folks find the idea of camping out in a cesspool of badly digested veggie burgers and cheap hash for three days to be somewhat unpalatable. And so the idea of the inner city festival was born. The chance to sit in a nice park, watch a couple of bands, get ripped, get ripped off and still sleep in your own bed after a relaxing bath and some late night tv.
And if ever there was a metropolis suited to such to such an event it is this great capital of ours which Londonist proudly proclaims Festival City 2005. To be fair we've become pretty damn good at hosting quality live events of astonishing taste and diversity such as Meltdown or the Somerset House gigs. We can turn pretty much any park into a mini Glasto at the drop of a hat, catering for just about any musical taste. And whereas Finsbury Park's ascendancy as outdoor arena par excellence has fallen to Hyde Park it's still all go across our treasured green and pleasant spaces as sponsors everywhere compete to churn up the turf all in the name of a good day out.
The season kicked off proper with the Jack Bauer like dash around certain 'sponsored' venues that was Carling 24 and the King of beers sponsored Bud Rising which tuned out to not be the King of festivals, as everyone tried to forget the further onslaught of American culturalist imperialism in our music scene. Still at least it was 'proper music' for 'proper people'.
But taht's history. So come and take us by the hand as we lead you through the festivals of London. Of course you'll first have to 'turn the page'.
First off we have the Hampton Court Palace Festival from the 7th to the 24th June. The resplendent surroundings host such resplendent artists as Katie Melua, Elaine Page and Van Morrison. Tickets get more expensive the more resplendent the performer - £150 for Andrea Bocelli! - but lets face it, you probably won't be going unless you're third car's an SUV.
A little closer into town is Herne Hill's Brockwell Park hosting Park Live 05 (great rhyming there), Friday 10 to Sunday 12 June. Friday is cutting edge Urban, showcasing the up and coming talents of Lemar and Shola Ama. Saturday is old codgers day when middle-aged dad's can dehydrate themselves to The Strangles and Stiff Little Fingers and on Sunday all the hipsters can groove on down to dj day to sample Danny Rampling and the Scratch Perverts amongst others. A respectable £20 to £25 though, and the opportunity to cool off in the Lido if it all gets too much.
Londonist has already covered Meltdown so we'll direct you back to our own intro to one of the most imaginitive line ups in any festival calendar. It all starts on the 11th June down on the South Bank and unsurprisingly the chance to catch iconic Goddess of all things cool, Patti Smith, has led to a sparsity of tickets still out there. Full details from the Meltdown site.
For U2 a quick jam is now a world conquering multi-media event, so a couple of days at Twickenham (June 18 and 19) should be a walk in the (ball) park for them. Not strictly a festival but one of those mega-headliner shows that can only occur outdoors, Bono and the boys return to play a few tunes from their nowhere near as good as they all made out latest album. Considering how astronomical ticket prices were before they sold out if you still want to go you may need to sell you worldly possessions to get there and it may just be worth it. Regardless of their much scoffed at position as Dads Of Coldplay they do give damned good show and they'll be one of those bands that you'll always say you would liked to have seen at least once.
This year's 'Glastonbury alternative' is the 02 Wireless festival. Looks like mobile phone companies are the new brewers since neither go well with cars, and ironically cars go very badly with festivals, unlike beer and mobile phones which are hilarious at festivals. If you don't know who's playing by now then you probably don't leave the house, but for the record New Order, Basement Jaxx, Keane and Kasabian headline four days of mainstream indie/dance at London's trendiest new rock venue, Hyde Park. Check out the full bill though as there are some great acts appearing such as psychadelic space-monkeys Secret Machines or the cut and paste mix and matchness of Mylo. Check the press for current ticket availability
Second of the big band days out this summer, fresh from conquering Glastonbury - which, let's face it, they will do, are the bastard offspring of U2, and absentee fathers to the rise of the 'big' chorus, Coldplay. Once again it's easy to scoff and once again it must be reminded that these guys have enormo-tunes that were made to be played in large open arenas and they do so very, very fucking well indeed. How they'll fare in the soul-sucking atmosphere of Crystal Palace though, is another question. Second only to Wembley Pavillion as the most hellish venue on earth, it's almost a great reason no to go. But then again so is the lack of ticket availability. Still if you keep your eyes open tickets for their shows on the 27th and 28th do pop up from time time. Support alternates between Supergrass, Interpol and Morning Runner.
If we tell you there's a festival sponsored by Bacardi you must be able to guess what it's going to be like. A little bit Latin, a few djs and Jamiroquai? Absolutely. £55 will bag you three days on Clapham Common from Friday 1st July and a hangover from hell at your home on Monday. If you're going then you probably already drink vast amounts of the popular white rum so everyone's a winner. Oh and it's called B-Live. Festival names are getting better and better.
Katie Melua pops up again at the Kenwood House Picnic Concerts and since there's no way we're publicising her twice...
If Sir William Chambers had conceived of Queens Of The Stone age, it would only have been in his worst nightmares. If he'd been told of the Mars Volta he probably would have keeled over and died. But then he wouldn't have been able to get tickets anyway since the Somerset House concerts are pretty comprehensively sold out. There are a few tickets kicking around at the £25 odd asking price for some of the shows between the 6th and the 13th July. Otherwise it's the rip off agencies or eBay. Always worth checking out the Gum Tree for last minute tickets at sensible prices, but as ever if you weren't lucky in the queue you take your chances with the honesty of strangers.
July 2nd however will be the date that dwarfs them all although it's not going to be Live Aid 2. No this time it's called Live 8, to tie in with the G8 summit that kicks off a few days later up in Scotland. With Coldplay and U2 returning to London ahead of just about any major label act about who'll all be fighting to get on the bill. St Bob of Geldoff has finally given the go ahead 20 years after the original event to raise awareness of the plight of the world's poor through the Make Poverty History campaign. One can scoff at the bleading hearted minted musicians trying to appease their wealth guilt but let's not forget that 5 million kids die in Africa every year and that if these guys and gals can reach through to the minds of the people where the politicians can't this can only be a good thing. As Sir Bob himself said in his official announcement:
What started 20 years ago is coming to a political point in a few weeks.
There is more than a chance that the boys and girls with guitars finally get to tilt the world on its axis.
And quite frankly if it takes some hairy arsed pop muppet to make a difference to this shit heap of a planet we've created then that's all well and good with us. We don't see much else happening.
There will be a US leg although reports still vary between Washington DC and Philadelphia, home for the original US leg of the Live Aid show. It's been rumoured that there may be shows across the world, and good news for all, apparantly the Spice Girls won't be reforming.
We'll keep you posted on further developments.
They're probably not even going to take the stage down because a few days later on the 8th Queen and Paul Rogers role back into town with Razorlight and Peter Kay in support. We've documented our dissatisfaction with this experiment in reincarnation previously but some people will never learn.
And just in case you don't detest the million selling rock behemoths enough, rounding off the big band days out are REM at Hyde Park on the 9th July. And once again we say to ye "cynics despair for they too are a damn fine live band". Indeed as their recorded work has increasingly made less of an impact so their live shows have loosened up to the point where Michael Stipe can shimmy his crushed eyeliner through any possible number of classics plucked from their vast and venerable back catalogue, laughing and joking and (dare we say it), having fun. Tickets are still available and the band will be joined by Feeder, Idlewild and The Zutons.
Festival going is an expensive experience. Once you've cleared upwards of £30 just getting through the gate there's all that over priced sponsored intoxicant to drink to wipe out the memories of what you thought you saw in the toilets. So a free weekend of soulful jazz and asian music may just be the answer for you. The Croydon Summer Festival Saturday / Sunday, 9 / 10 July sounds like a mini WOMAD kicking off in Croydon's Lloyd Park. This one you can take the kids to.
Another freebie, this time in the name of anti-racism as the Respect festival becomes Rise and once again Lemar croon's the crowds to grateful catatonia. Great chance to catch the voice of Massive Attack, Horace Andy though as well as Mike Skinnner's protegees The Mitchell Brothers. 16 July, Burgess Park, Camberwell.
And it's back to Somerset House between the 3rd and the 7th where Grolsch get their hands dirty with their own sponsored series of shows. The line up is still to be revealed so watch this space kids.
Whilst the indie kids and the metal-heads re-congregate at Reading for the August Bank Holiday, Clapham Common hosts two days of rubbish pill induced dancing. Saturday's the South West Four clubbers day out where Carl Cox and Erik Prydz take the line up from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sunday's the return of Baggy as the Happy Mondays and The Farm try to remember the words for Get Loaded In The Park whilst Fat Boy Slim, Elbow and Snow Patrol assist with the decks. That's decks and not deck chairs which might have been more amusing.b And helpful. Theweekend is being sponsored by our favourite early morning 5 day a week freebie which makes the entire event possibly some form of evil cult ceremony where the happy punters will unwittingly release unnamed demons from beyond the abyss upon us all. Or was that just Sean Ryder?
Which gives you the Monday to finish off the summer at the Notting Hill Carnival where Hollywood stars open up their homes to a crowd that really needs a piss. You either love Carnival or you hate it so there's little to say. If you've never been then you should experience it at least once, but probably best on the Saturday or Sunday before the come downs kick in.
Then you can roll on home to bed wondering at the amount of alcohol you've consumed, dodgy food stuffs you've experienced, bands you can't remember, gardens you've pee'd in and why you have a plastic bag full of mis-sized and over-priced t-shirts to commemorate the day. You will of course swear that you'll never do it again.