Guilfest 2011

It’s amazing how looking out the window at the rain can make you feel glad you went to GuilFest the previous day, regardless of how good yesterday was.

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This year I had failed big time in organising for the event – I had forgotten to book Friday off as holiday. Of course, I’d reminded everyone else in the family to ensure they had a clear day but somehow forgot myself. I only realised my mistake last week when my boss said I’d be holding the fort on my own as everyone else would be away.

So that meant catching the Reading-Gatwick train at 5:34 after work and getting into the festival at 7pm, coincidentally the same time that the most important tent closed for the day:

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But Guilfest does have an impressive amount going on at any one time so all was not totally lost. On Friday there were 9 stages featuring over 100 performances (including 10 in the comedy tent) plus the theatre tent. And the same number on Saturday and Sunday. An impressive number although the vast majority will be unknown to most people.

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[[Bought a pint of Brothers cider at the beer tent for £4.50! Truly shocking. Didn’t buy any more after that experience.]]

 

Vive Le Rock Stage

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Arturo Bassick (bass and vocals),
and Nelly (drums)

Steve Straughan (guitar)

First band I saw were The Lurkers who I had only vaguely heard of. None of the songs sounded familiar; standard pub punk fare so I sat on the grass and finished off my Marvel 1602 graphic novel. Arturo came out with some funny lines, like “Come and Reminisce if you think you’re old enough”, the song for which I think is worth sharing:

“Come And Reminisce” (2008)

Who wants originality, I know who don’t, yeah that’s me
All new music is a bore, just need what I’ve heard before
In ’77 the die was cast, I like living in the past
Ramones, Pistols, Clash & Jam, Stranglers, Buzzcocks & The Damned

Come and Reminisce if you think you’re old enough

Ain’t bought a record since ’79, I ain’t got an open mind
The latest music is all pox, I just want a punk juke box
Same old songs from the early days, will keep me happy to my grave
You could say my mind is shut, and that I am in a rut

Come and Reminisce if you think you’re old enough

Nostalgia is a lot of fun, now that I’ve turned 51
If it’s new, I won’t go, they won’t play a thing i know
The missus thinks it’s no good, I’ve got my second childhood
I won’t even buy new stuff, by the bands I used to love

Come and Reminisce if you think you’re old enough

 

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Arturo Bassick also played bass for 999 who were on next after a break. I had been waiting to catch some of their songs as I’d actually heard a few of their singles (bought 25 years ago from a bargain bin out of curiosity). Unfortunately they didn’t play any I knew before I departed for the main stage.

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Nick Cash (vocals) with Arturo Bassick (bass and fresh T-shirt)

 

The GuilFest Main Stage

Of the acts on tonight, I was most looking forward to seeing Roger Daltrey as I’m always up for seeing a famous person who hasn’t died yet. He was advertised as performing Tommy and The Who’s greatest hits which seemed appealing.

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Unfortunately two things got in the way of my enjoyment. Firstly, I didn’t realise (or had forgotten) how dull the start of this 1960s rock opera was. Secondly, every few minutes a deafening boom would come out of the sound system, something they couldn’t fix for some time and not before I’d moved on to the The Good Time Guide Stage. I felt sorry for Roger, trying his best to put on a good show with the sound system sabotaging his efforts.

 

The Good Time Guide Stage

Earlier in the day I had drifted past when The Outcast Band and then The Popes were on stage. Unlike the main stage, where people tend to set up camp, the second stage doesn’t guarantee an audience and the performers need to drag people in through their music. The Outcast Band, for example, didn’t look too happy with the patchy attendance which probably explained why their songs were so lacklustre.

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On the other hand, The Popes seemed like they wanted to put on a show and enjoy themselves. I might have stayed if I wasn’t on walkabout between The Lurkers and 999.

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Headlining the Good Time Stage, competing with Roger Daltrey and Funeral for a  Friend, was Adam Ant.

[[No picture as neither Sue nor myself were close enough to get a good shot]]

Looking online, his performance gained praise but I’m not sure why. To start with, the intro track before he came on stage was tedious and went on way too long; isn’t this where you’re supposed to get audience in the mood? The sound desk didn’t seem to have done a very good which made you feel the songs were missing something essential (or maybe Adam and the band just were playing very well). At 56, I have a suspicion that Adam just can’t carry the songs as well as he needs to.

Unimpressed I soon moved on to see Funeral For A Friend; Sue managed to hang on until “Kings of the Wild Frontier” before going to the Main Stage.

 

The Big Cheese Cave

Funeral for a Friend were great – full of energy, good banter with a receptive audience, and so on. Nice tent too, fully enclosed (I suppose in line with its name) with a ceiling of tiny lights. The aroma of overheating teenagers did add an interesting je ne sais quoi to the experience.

 

During the day, when the small fish play, bands can expect a reasonable audience as no one band is going be the main attraction. Come the evening, when the big names are on the main four stages then the smaller stages become very empty affairs. I wonder how they decide who goes on last at the Live Club or Surrey Advertiser stages.

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Overall, bit of a disappointment. Reading Festival next.

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