August was the last chance to put behind a summer of disappointment and the last opportunity to celebrate the great British festival before winter draws in.
But with all that expectation often comes disappointment as the sun disappears behind the clouds, wasps start to appear everywhere and we all lament that the summer peaked at Glasto. But let us be positive…
…and tell you what a splendid Winter our Australian friends had! Dannii Leivers hit Splendour in the Grass where 30,000 Australians milked 30 degrees Queensland sunshine watching the likes of Pixies, Muse and The Strokes. Perhaps, we can all be consoled that Dannii also had to watch Jake Shears boil down to his pants in her surprising highlight of the weekend – to clarify Dannii means Scissor Sisters' set and not JS's man package.
But back in Blighty, we preferred to head indoors from the summer gloom. Phil Macallef joined a mass of punks bedsitting in Blackpool, for Rebellion, one of the UK's best hardcore festivals. Legends of the game Bad Religion and Stiff Little Fingers reigned supreme putting the generic newboys King Blues into their place, whilst the delightfully named Kunt and the Gang, had the whole room laughing along to their YouTube worthy sing-song antics.
Moving down South, there was a murder at Standon Calling. But fortunately it was all entirely fictitious as Laura Foster found out. CSI: Standon was the theme for the boutique festival, a running narrative throughout the whole weekend. But for those of us not all that into role-play, a stellar line up of bands overcame the downer of an ongoing murder investigation. Laura witnessed perfection from Buena Vista Social Club and enjoyed the traditionally over friendly antics of Fucked Up.
There was no murder involved in Bloodstock as metallers ate cake – we’re guessing a Black Forest Gateau for some reason, as Ross Baker celebrated the festival's 10th anniversary. The festival has evolved into one of Europe's best metal festivals rivalling Hellfest and Wacken. Opeth and metal super group Bloodbath were Ross' standout performers and also his compensation for witnessing a lad walking around in a mankini with an inflatable penis.
V Festival has some parallels with Bloodstock, mostly lots of men in Borat mankinis. Rachel Dallimore witnessed one mankini group of lads get nutted in the proverbials by a six year old, thus proving there is a God! The begging question is whether V is now Party In The Park, full of teens holding placards and waiting to see Mika fall over. V at Chelmsford divided opinion, with some VF message boarders befuddled by the notion that Madness fell flat and Peter Andre went down a storm.
In V at Staffordshire, Leanne Kelsall also enjoyed the early morning Peter fever. Kasbian and Kings of Leon cemented their status as festival king pins but it was The Prodigy who smashed it, blowing away the teenybopper acts. Madness were better received in Staffs and those who were not yet sick of the sight of her, were swept away by Florence And The Machine. Leanne pondered whether a new festival culture has formed overnight, with people shouting out 'Steve' and 'Alan' in the early hours around festival campsites. Answer: they’re probably just wankers.
After the tragedy of Love Parade in July, the festival scene was hit by more sad news with two untimely deaths at Pukklepop festival in Belgium. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool frontman Charles Haddon committed suicide shortly after the band's set whilst former The Call frontman, Michael Been, had a heart attack roady-ing for his son's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The two tragedies put Axl Rose and his cronies' antics, to be witnessed later in the month, into stark context.
A bad year can be saved by the final parties of the summer – Reading, Leeds and Creamfields. Creamfields proved the reliable party popper that it is every year with Sean Fitzpatrick wiling out to Tiesto, Leftfield and the perfect 10 for Deadmau5. Other big hitters such as Calvin Harris suffered poor sound problems, which may have taken the sheen off some other acts, but it did not dampen the party spirit.
Reading and Leeds had its usual blend of rock start histrionics and performances verging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Guns N' Roses were the headline news of the weekend confirming VF's pre-festival expectations that they are a promoter's nightmare. Both Reading and Leeds' crowds treated the band with the same contempt as the band had shown for their fans. The band were 45 minutes late at Reading and ended up having their set cut short and being vilified by the public, causing the band to claim a conspiracy was against them. The band threatened to miss Leeds, instead turning up 30 minutes late, with crowd and band probably wondered why they even bothered.
With enough childish paranoia floating about in one headliner's camp to fulfil the rest of the bill, it was left to Arcade Fire and Blink 182 to put in solid outings as headliners. Both bands did sterling jobs with Blink revoking a wave of nostalgia on a main stage bill boasting Weezer, Cypress Hill and Limp Bizkit. The Libertines' return was properly understated in the wake of Axl's crew with the band seeming together unlike the good old days. It still divided music fans who thought they were as shit or as frigging amazing as in 2002.
August will be remembered for lots of mud, innumerable displays of genitalia, very little sunshine and some seminal festival moments – much like any other summer. Acts such as Mumford And Sons and Florence rose to the next level whilst Arcade Fire and Kasabian are now proven festival headliners. Guns N’ Roses stole the headlines and now seem to return every four years bringing their overblown egos and false expectations. It makes them the perfect soundtrack to another band of egotistical failures. See you in 2014 Axl…for England's next world cup campaign.