Endurance? Surely that's surviving five days at Glastonbury with little more than some soggy fags, a rotting jumper and a seat at the Cider Bus? Not if you're Greg Parmley, the man attempting a festival marathon by attending 26 in just 30 days...
Glastonbury alone would be too easy. So simple in fact that Greg has even decided to kick-start his tour at Worthy Farm. His plans then see him don a crash helmet and roar across 13 European countries on a sleek, black 1200cc BMW motorbike, taking in the likes of Volbeat and Hatebreed at With Full Force in a German airport and Caro Emerald and Liza Minnelli warbling in the twisting streets of Italy’s Umbria Jazz festival.
If successful, Greg will be a Guinness World record breaker too, notching up the honour for the most festivals visited by a person in a single month. Obviously intrigued, VF meets him outside a London pub that’s overshadowed by swinging cranes and noisy machinery. It’s a far cry from Swiss Alps or Croatian beaches he’ll be winding round later this month, but why he has taken up the challenge? “I write about festivals for my job, so for me it’s a way of seeing a lot of them and seeing them first hand,” he says. “I’m marrying that with a passion for motorcycling.”
His love for both festivals and motorcycling may well be put to the test, with the average distance between festivals clocking in at 200-300 miles each day. “The distances are going to be pretty hard going. I’m riding up to 450 miles a day, which is a lot harder on a bike than it is a car,” he muses. “I suppose if I’ve got any concerns about the trip, it’s just that it’s going to be quite gruelling. I’m on such a tight schedule that I can’t really afford to miss anything at all. If I miss one festival, it’s a bit like a house of cards – they all fall down.”
Some of those in the balance include Graspop Metal Meeting, Rock Werchter, Balaton Sound, Moon And Stars, Live At Sunset and back on UK soil for High Voltage Festival in London. It’s certainly a mixed bag. Which ones is he most excited about? “I’m quite looking forward to Exit Festival in Serbia because I’ve got two days there so I can spend a day relaxing and have a couple of beers,” says Greg. “And some of the further a field festivals like Pohoda in Slovakia, The Garden Festival in Croatia, and then there is a whole bunch in Switzerland as well like Paleo and Gurten which I’ve wanted to check out for years,” he adds.
With around 5,500 miles of road to travel (and plenty of shuffling to bands too), Greg took the decision not to camp for the entire stretch. “I was thinking about camping,” he offers, “but a friend of mine who runs a company called Intellitix has given me a little bit of money to cover some of the costs.
“Also the idea of being kept awake all night at a festival in a tent is a little bit dangerous if I’ve got to get up in the morning and sit on motorways all day. So it was more a safety issue than anything else.”
So how did he decide which events to visit in the first place, and how long did the plan take to hatch? “Well, actually the routing was the hardest bit – the weekends were easy, but try to find festivals in the right direction on a Tuesday or Wednesday…? It took a while, and I only finished adding the final two dates last week.”
Most importantly though, who is Greg looking forward to seeing? “I think I see Arctic Monkeys twice, Manu Chao in Poland and The Killers at Hard Rock Calling. I’m looking forward to Queens Of The Stone Age at Rock Werchter. An emerging band that I’m into at the moment called Pulled Apart By Horses are playing at Paleo, which should be great. To be honest at all of the events there is a whole load of local talent that I haven’t heard of, so hopefully I’m going to have time to discover some new music as well.”
You can find out what Greg discovers as he will be doing a weekly video diary on Virtual Festivals during his trip. He will also be updating information about his trip at http://www.facebook.com/RidetoLive2011
The festivals Greg will be visiting are as follows:
Hard Rock Calling
Graspop Metal Meeting
Rock a Field
With Full Force
Rock for People
Moon and Stars
Live at Sunset
Paleo Festival Nyon
Secret Garden Party
I’ll Be Your Mirror
High Voltage Festival