Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Fun: Festivals by Kate Hardy

Kate Hardy is telling the Pink Hearty Society about her Reading Festival antics!!

Last weekend, I got to do something from my bucket list which was one of the most fun things I've ever done - I went to the Reading Festival with my daughter, her best friend and her best friend's mum.

For the whole weekend!

We stayed in a hotel rather than camping on the site (hey - as a middle-aged mum, I want a comfy bed and a decent shower - and somewhere dry to go if it rains). But it was still really exciting and I felt like a teenager again :) And so today I'd like to share the experience of my very first music festival with you - hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

So you start the day by walking down next to the river (there are lots of swans on the Kennet), queueing up, and exchanging your ticket for a wristband (and yes, that's my backpack for waterproofs, plasters and suncream, and my spotty purple wellies because we'd had a lot of rain in the two days before the festival).

Oh, wait - you need a pic of Kate the Rock Chick, right? So this is me on day 1 :) I was very good - I resisted the urge to buy a flower crown, paint neon stripes on my face or get a mad hat. (Mainly because the girls would've squirmed and I promised to behave.) But some people dressed up - we saw bananas, men in gold lame suits or wedding dresses or tutus, penguins, various Nintendo characters, Jesse and Walt from Breaking Bad (!), and the Teletubbies. There was a lovely atmosphere, really friendly and nice - everyone was there for the music and to have a good time.

The app was excellent and helped us decide who we wanted to see and when. Friday was actually the best day for us - we saw Neck Deep (with loads more people there than the last time we saw them), caught a new-to-me band called Echosmith (I liked them so much that I asked DH to pick up their album over the weekend - check out the official video for their song Cool Kids here), then headed back to the main stage to get a spot by the barrier (i.e. the front). 

First we saw Palma Violets, and then we had the highlight of the weekend for me - Panic at the Disco. Now, I'm a bit precious about cover versions, and there are VERY few musicians that I think can cover Queen songs well, but Brendon Urie did a fabulous version of Bohemian Rhapsody. And it feels amazingly special to sing that song in a muddy field along with tens of thousands of people, with EVERYONE knowing all the words.

Actually, let me show you. Here's a link to the actual performance. (So exciting to remember that I was there!)

Amazing stuff. So after that it was All Time Low. I was pleased that they did one of my faves from their new album (but if they'd done my two faves from their back catalogue, the girls would've been embarrassed by me squeaking and singing along). Here's a pic of them coming on stage :)

Then we had Bastille. I love their song 'Pompeii' and we happen to do that at Zumba on Monday nights. So there was a bit of maternal teasing going on - y'know, we could do Zumba routines in wellies while the band was on... (Of course we didn't. But we did sing along.) 

Alt-J next - not quite our cup of tea, and the girls were cold, and there was a massive wait after that until Mumford and Sons (and the girls didn't want to see them anyway) - plus we knew we had a good 30 mins walk back to the hotel, so we called it a day. Then we sat up talking and drinking hot chocolate. (Just like being a student. Aww. That'll be my eldest, this time next year. He's going to love it.)

Saturday, we realised how much sun we'd caught, the previous day. (Say hello to Kate Tomato, aka the bad mother who had suncream in her backpack and forgot to make the girls use it, too...)

We saw Fidlar and then the Marmozets on the main stage, then headed to The Pit (one of the smaller tents) to see a band that was quite high up in our 'faves' list, so we made sure we were at the barrier to get a good view. No Devotion were very good (we saw them when they supported Gerard Way at Brixton in January - they've come on well since then) and I'll be getting their album later this month. 

After that it was As It Is (the singer had a nice voice and I'll look out for them - loads of energy in the show, too), and then we headed back to the main stage. Royal Blood blew me away - very powerful performance and it's amazing there are only two of them!

After that we saw an incredible sunset.

And then it rained. We dodged the rain in a tent to catch the end of the set by Everything Everything - and then Bring Me the Horizon were on the main stage. They sang a song called 'Drown' with big umbrellas on the screens on the stage - quite appropriate!

We were very cold by this point, so we queued up for churros and hot chocolate, and then it was Metallica. Very loud! We stood well back for this one because the field was absolutely packed. I'd promised my eldest that I'd take pics of the band for him, and we did ring home while the band was on so he could hear them, but I think it distorted a bit...!

Sunday was brighter, to our relief. And dry enough so we didn't have to deal with wellies (you can dance in wellies, actually, but they do hamper you a little bit).

Anyway. Last day. Wristband three. (The little lad who did mine put it on upside down and the wrong way round, but it does say Sunday!)

Sunday was the whole reason we went to Reading in the first place - our daughters are both massive Frank Iero fans, and he was playing the festival on the Sunday. (Then we saw what a good lineup it was on Friday, so we decided to do the whole weekend...)

We started with Fort Hope (who were one of the support bands when we saw Frank in Manchester last year). Lovely to see how much they'd come on over the course of a year - and what I really liked is how they connected with their fans. They'd found someone singing a cover of their songs on YouTube and they knew he was in the crowd, so they asked him to come on stage and sing with them. It must've made his year. He was so thrilled. Just an ordinary-looking awkward teenage boy with dreams (and a lovely voice). How NICE.  

Then it was time for Lonely the Brave on the main stage. Another new-to-me band and I liked them very much. My daughter is a big fan of Against Me, who were on next, so we were brave and went to the front of the main stage. We were close to the centre (second row back), and it was quite scary to look back during the performance and realise just how many people were standing behind us.

And then we headed back to The Pit, ready for Frank. We saw Moose Blood (another of the support bands from Manchester, and enjoyed their set), and then some pretty scary bands along with some crowd-surfing and insane stuff. (Cue two grumpy teens finally getting why their mums said 'absolutely not' to going in the centre at the front in that tent!) 

And then it was Frank. Lovely to be so close. The girls were thrilled, and we enjoyed it too (though sadly he didn't have enough time to play my favourite track of his). I know this shot is a bit blurry, but I like it because you can see his face clearly but also get a sense of the energetic guitar-playing. That's what Reading was all about, for me. Energy.

Although the girls would've liked to stay for The Libertines, we had a three-hour-plus journey home (and a half-hour walk to the car first), so we had to say goodbye to Reading.

But I thoroughly enjoyed my first festival. I danced a lot, sang a lot, discovered some new music I really loved, had a brie panini every day for breakfast (which would normally make my scales have a hissy fit, but I lost 1lb while I was away), and really enjoyed hanging out with my youngest. The Fitbit says I didn't eat properly, drank too much coffee and not enough water, and my sleep took a nose-dive (not to mention my resting heart rate going up ten points from the previous week) - but I still enjoyed every bit of it, and I'll go back to the healthy living stuff this week :)

Have you ever been to a music festival? What was your favourite bit?

Kate's latest release is Falling for Mr December, available from Mills & Boon and Harlequin this month, and in shops in October: 

The best Christmas present ever! 

Photographer Sammy Thompson has learned the hard way to protect herself. After surviving cancer, she's not about to risk her emotions on just anyone! But meeting buttoned-up barrister Nick Kennedy at a charity calendar shoot, and feeling the sparks between them, makes Sammy wonder what she's been missing out on… 

Sammy's never dreamed of forever, but as she gets to know the man behind the pinstripes, dare she hope Nick will make it a Christmas to remember with the most magical gift of all—his heart?

You can find out more about the book, and Kate Hardy, on her website and her blog - or find her on Facebook.

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