How was your Summer? Did it have all the perfect ingredients for it to be an ever lasting memory? Sun, sand, cocktails and a crush to top it all off? Good for you! If you are enjoying the last strokes of an indian summer, I’d have to admit that I am jealous. I don’t know where you guys live, but in Belgium it seems like God turned off the summer light and switched it on to winter. Anyhow, here is my Summer recap, or how this other Knotoryus blogger spelled out so well: My festival-a-thon.
For the ones that like short stories with a lot of pictures and a happy ending? Please click forward.
This summer was all about the festivals and my first to combine that with a Polaroid hunt. Let me tell you something. I am not very into festivals. I prefer sand and sea to grass and mud. A deserted beach to a moch pit. A cabane to a tent. But, anything for the blog, so I went hunting with Jules in my tail.
First stop: EPMD at Dour Festival
Dour is one of Belgium’s most notorious festivals. Not. For. Pussies. The last time I went to Dour I couldn’t remember my own name, multiply that with a 140.000 visitors and you might get the not so pretty picture. I almost decided not to go, since I knew the festival and estimated my chances of getting backstage very low. I was extremely tired and sick ànd I didn’t have any tickets. Since Dour is a 3 hours train travel we had to sleep there, since there were no trains back and I STILL don’t have my driver’s license. I always feel guilty If I decide not to go to aim for a possible positive Polaroid, so the moment I finally had peace with my decision, a last minute mail confirmed 2 free tickets. Jules convinced me to go and off we went. With a tent. O God. I mean, free tickets. Would be stupid not to go right…?
After 3 hours of travel we arrived at the Dour Festival. We quickly realised that finding a place for our little tent was going to be a challenge to say the least. We managed to negotiate a spot right next to the security camping. Read. The local Hell’s Angels crew. If we weren’t safe there, we weren’t nowhere. The boys even agreed to help us put up the tent. What? Dour was Jules’ first festival. And me? I don’t do tents. We went straight to business. I had no connections whatsoever. None. Come to think of it, it was doomed from the very beginning. When we entered the venue where EPMD was supposed to play, the tent was empty besides multiple dirty dozens of men, trying to make ‘music’ with various objects by hitting, smashing and knocking them to the big iron construction that keeps the venue nice and steady. You know, like STOMP! But in a drunk and drugged up kind of way. They were very enthusiastic and kept it going for a whole hour even. I tried to understand them, they were obviously in a very creative state of mind and after 3 days nonstop decibel injections, the ears needed a fix. Think of 25 toddlers hitting silver spoons on the back of your grandmothers giant tin pots. It drove me MAD. Arriving at a festival at 20h00 is just never a good idea if you were not planning on drinking. EPMD was late and left quickly. That’s all I can say about that. Impossible to get backstage without a connection. This was the first time I actually considered dating a DJ. I felt stupid. A 3 hour travel for nothing. When we left the venue. It started raining. Perfect. We immediately left the festival and went straight to our tent. There was nothing left to be said, just sleeping was on our mind. I can describe the night in our tent as following:
– Jules being scared to death when it started poring cats and dogs, since, so she said, she was afraid that the tent would float away and we would suffocate in a mud stream. Uhu.
– Nonstop pounding beats on the left side combined with screaming guitars on the right side and finishing it off with non stop cheering people yelling their throats out.
– A leak on Jules tent-side, making her couchin soaking wet instead of her dreams.
Needless to say that we were gone before the break of dawn to catch the first train home right. When we arrived at the station we stumbled upon a scary drunk who screamed, yelled and threatened us to death so we safely ignored the dude. Dour. Nothing but great memories.
Second stop: NERD at PukkelPop festival.
Did I mention that I tried NERD before? I sure have. Did you read about our little meeting in Rotterdam? You should. For the Pukkelpop festival the best I could get, in preparation for my Polaroid was a VIP ticket. Don’t get too jealous. VIP in a festival means: a chair to sit on in a relaxed atmosphere. A bar where you are served very fast. A clean toilet wìth a toilet lady (my favorite). When we arrived at the festival we quickly found out that the artists were transported in vans and immediately dropped off in the artist village. Jules and I went through all our options and we decided that there was nothing else to do, than proceeding with plan Z; getting frontrow. At Pukkelpop this means that you have to start waiting 3 headliners before the actual act. Translated into time this means approximately 4 hours of waiting in the blistering sun. Not my favorite thing to do on a saturday. But. All for the Polaroid, right…?
To be honest, I was kinda pissed off that day. Since the blog, I have numerous people contacting me, suggesting me their help. This was the final stop for NERD in Europe for some time now. They have been touring with the Seeing Sounds album for a year, so this was my final chance to might achieve a better result. My final chance and my fourth attempt. Yes. Fourth. Some people confuse me with a hardcore fan and offer to send me their old BBC caps. So If people keep telling you that they réally – like – REALLY can help you, or they will attempt to do so on the day itself, it is very hard to accept for me that they don’t do that when push comes to shove. At the end, Jules and I realised that we can’t count on nobody but ourselves. But it still is a hard one to take to see people walking by with that special all access bracelet you need and they have no more business to hang around there than you do. That was the time I considered dating a rock star. I swallowed my pride and went to my final act of despair: signs. The times that fans wrote ‘ I LOVE YOU ‘ on a cardboard are definitely over. This is the Pussycat Doll generation. They make very clear what is on their minds: “One Night With You Pharrell“ followed by “Please”, “Lick My LollyPop”, “Take me to your candy shop”, “Take me backstage” – you see, I am not alone in this one, “Lapdance 4 Free”. I felt almost threatened by not having a sign. So after quickly weighing pro’s and con’s, I decided to make one myself. I asked the security to rip off a piece of a cardboard box that was standing there. When I hunt, I always come fully equipped so of course I had a black marker with me. I wasn’t sure if my sign would stand out next to the others, but since I hate what-if’s I went for: “PUSSY FOR POLAROID”
Yah. I know. I mean. I had to compete with “Lick My HoneyPot“. What else could I write…? There I was, standing front row with Jules with my “Pussy For Polaroid”- sign, an XL Billionaire Boys Club hoodie, hoping, praying, that we would stand out, and be picked out to backstage with NERD and take a my Perfect Polaroid Picture.
Which, of course, did NOT happen. They picked out some bikini girls to go on stage – and with all do respect, but I’m not even considering wearing a bikini to get my Polaroid picture. This is Belgium, it is cold at night! So the minute the concert was over, – a pretty good one btw – we ran to the VIP entrance where the artists pass by in their vans when they leave the festival. I looked with my biggest bambi eyes in to the black tinted windows of the vans when they drove us by, but they did not stop. So, again, No Polaroid after hours of waiting front row, wearing BBC sweaters that don’t look good on me because they are way too big, making profanity signs to stand out, and being filmed numerous times in close-up for all the above reasons displayed on big screen for 50.000 people to see. No Polaroid. Needless to say, that we felt both sad as stupid. Needless to say, that when pictures popped out the next day of a relaxed Pharrell posing on backstage pictures I had a little tantrum and felt even more stupid. What a bracelet can do for you. I still get asked if it “is possible that we saw you on big screen, with ….a hoodie on…? with a sign with ‘pussy’ on it…?”. I think I smoked 3 joints to calm me down.
Last but not least, the TOP-NOTCH of hardcore failure was: Dizzee Rascal @ Polsslag Hasselt.
Now, Dizzee scored big time with Bonkers. Bonkers did for summer, what Crookers did for winter. An overdose. The song was everywhere. In the supermarket, the elevator, in commercials, in your local night shop, hell even your grandmother knows the goddamn song. I decided I wanted Dizzee Rascal in my series, since I always thought he stands out from the rest with his heavy, almost aggressive rhymes and cockney accent and I’ve always liked his out-of-the-ordinary music. Now, the hardest part of this one, was the traveling. We did all the things we normally did. Standing Front row. Eye contact. Talking to entourage. Explaining Project. At the end of the concert we waited. And waited. And waited. But nobody came back to take us backstage. And there we were. Too late to take the train home. At a mostly electronic festival with too many ravers. For Jules and I this equals HELL. After hanging, sitting, hanging and sitting some more we decided to take the first bus to the station. The station was already packed with sleeping kiddies all over the floor.
So we entered the only bar still left open. With our final euros we ordered some tea and waited the night out in a bar with a pole and a busty blond behind the bar singing to Kim Wilde’s ‘If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody baby’. How appropriate. When we finally went back to the station to get our train, the station was flooded with a tsunami of people. When I entered the wagon, all departments were already packed with people and I found a little spot in between 2 wagons, on the steps of the entrance doors of the train. This train ride did not feel like Hasselt – Oostende, it felt more like Kuala Lumpur – India. Because I was sitting on iron steps, my ass cooled down my whole body and when I finally arrived in Ostend after a 4 hours train ride in between departments with 100 people squeezed next to another at 10h00 in the morning, I asked myself: Is all this really worth it? Is all this really worth to spend my only free time on?. I hate failure. I hate it. It’s hard for me to take. If I fail, I want to crawl in my bed and cry crocodile tears of frustration. Jules is pretty good with failure. She always calms me down and motivates me to keep going and tells me there is always a next time. I come home, my brain starts going over things, wondering if there was something I did not do or see, maybe my preparation wasn’t perfect, I go over every little detail until I find the peace that there was just nothing to do about it.
Unfortunately, sometimes I depend on other people who can help me, but most of them don’t when the time arrives. True, it frustrates me, but that’s part of the game I suppose, at the end, you can only count on yourself to make things happen – and Jules of course! I try to learn from the mistakes and take my experiences to the next hunt. But sometimes, sometimes, it is just not meant to be.
It took me some time to write this story. It means thinking of all the failure, and putting it down in letters, words and sentences. Because at the end of it all, failure is part of this little blog. But, since you guys have been reading this story to the final letter, I might have a little surprise to put of some weight off this heavy story. My Polaroid Summer might have been Bonkers, but there would not have been any Bonkers without .. the one and only:
Armand Van Helden
Please check my favorite Dizzee Rascal song: