12 August 2013

Musical delights: Happy Birthday to me! A music festival with Gentleman of the Road and Mumford in Lewes on July 19 (Day 1)

My thirtysomething-ish birthday present to myself was a two-day pass to the Gentlemen of the Road concerts to see, amongst others, the delightful Mumford and Sons! On July 19th, three days after my day, I got to experience that gift.  Boy, was it an experience!  I have been to concerts.  I have been to outdoor concerts. But, I can honestly say I had not experienced a music festival: until now. 
Gentlemen of the Road flags on the walk to
the stage site

One thing I've learned:  England has many music festivals; it holds one of the biggest around--the well-known Glastonbury.  Well, Gentlemen of the Road was no Glastonbury (at least what I saw of it on the telly), but for this festival novice, it may have well been. For two days, the small town of Lewes in the Sussex countryside had transformed.  I had discovered the small-gem of a town a few months prior and was thrilled to see it chosen as a stopover city for one of my favourite bands, but even I did not recognise it when I got off an afternoon train and made my way up the familiar road from the station to the high street where my hotel was located.  So, no one of those tents is not mine (I was glad to have a room in the White Hart Hotel.  It was a basic room, but it was a room in a town that was fully booked that weekend).  

The first bands weren't scheduled to start playing until that evening and I arrived in the afternoon; I had some time to wander around before I made the journey to receive the braclet. I was celebrating my birthday so I went to my favourite Lewes record shop  to add to a growing collection of folk music.  
Musical purchase of Hatful of Rain, Iron and Wine, and Emily Barker.

The journey to collect the little green band of entrance had one passing by not only flags and a sea of camping , but some sites you may not see on a typical day.  A group of cadets (that is the only way I can describe them), though cadets of what I know not, could be seen marching and down the same road the herd of people were traveling in order to provide a service.  At one point they stopped their marching and chanting to collect a camper's many items and, presumably, carry it to the site.
 Maybe it would have been worth camping for that...nah, not really.

The unusual heat in mid-July, so talked about by every Brit in the UK, made it perfect weather for a music festival.  Sun-tan lotion, sunglasses and water .were essential.  Food was an extra...a real extra as I would find out. 

I arrived and took part in the great British practice of queuing.
My lovely queue on Day 1 in Lewes
 It was a bit odd at first and a bit annoying as I stood there not really knowing how long the line was and where exactly I was in it, and it was impossible for me to find out...I'd lose my place!  I stayed, I waited, I queued and after a bit of shuffling I received the braclet-pass only to enter another line to enter the site.  I can now queue quite like the English, I must say.  

Being on my own; however, I started talking to people.  I met several interesting people over that course of the weekend by being on my own.  It started in line and continued through the following day...more of that in Day 2 though. While in queue, I started a conversation with two locals who told me about some places not to miss while I was staying in town.  Taking the advice, Sunday breakfast was delicious!

Reaching the end of this great line, we were met by concert staff/security guards.  My luck:  I had a real arse.  He looked at my bag like it was from a foreign country and not the store in town and rummaged through it like I was trying to smuggle in drugs--which some festival-goers clearly did--and threw one of my sandwiches aside as if it was said drug! I soon learned he threw my food aside because vendors wanted concert-goers to purchase their ridiculously expensive food, rather than bring their own. I could tell my two line-acquaintences felt bad for me and I was too embarrassed to remain in their company...bye guys, thanks for the restaurant recommendation! I'm off to stake my claim on a piece of grass with a view of the stage in hopes to catch a decent glimpse of the evening's bands:  Youth Lagoon, White Denim, British Sea Power, and Vampire Weekend.  

Site entrance.  Past the arse of security
 Scenes from Day 1...
British Sea Power.  A pretty good band. 

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