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Portaloos in the Park: Summer 2001 Pop Festival guide
Jim Johnson

British summertime is usually painfully short, so it’s no wonder that as soon as some good weather arrives we feel almost duty-bound to get outside and enjoy it. Out come the portable stereos and barbecues, as we take to our gardens. At this point, the combination of music, food, beer and sunshine starts many of us thinking about music festivals. The memories come flooding back: late night raves in the dance tent; singing along to a favourite band on a warm summer evening; or just lying on the grass, beer can in hand, soaking up the atmosphere. The jugglers, stilt walkers, stalls selling everything from herbal highs to Mexican hammocks are all part of the festival vibe.

In reality, however, festivals can sometimes turn out to be more of an ordeal. Most are at weekends and bank holidays so traffic jams are likely. Bad weather and bad drugs can spoil the party. Bands and artists may decide to pull out, even after you’ve coughed up for the ticket. There’s the risk that your tent will be robbed. The food may be dodgy; the beer over-priced and warm. Then, of course, there is the ultimate festival nightmare – the toilets. All for the same price as a return flight to a Mediterranean resort. Why do we bother?

We bother because usually the good aspects far outweigh the bad. Festivals are the sites of seminal moments that will be written about for years to come. Like when Pulp stood in for the Stone Roses at Glastonbury. We all want to be able to say that we were there when it happened. More importantly, festivals are generally a good laugh. So how do we choose where to go? There are millions to pick from, far too many to write about here. This is a guide to the major festivals this summer that will be attracting the biggest names. For a list of all the other festivals on offer try www.eFestivals.com.

The first major festival of the year is one for metal fans, OzzFest (May 26, Milton Keynes Bowl, £32.50). Headline acts include Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Tool and Papa Roach. There will also be plenty of exotic nipple piercing, body painting and even a house of horror. This is a festival for those into a specific type of music, not a place where you can skip from stage to stage to catch a wide range of styles. Neither is Homelands (May 26, Winchester, £51) which is the first major dance music festival of the year. (Although quite why indie faves Pulp are on the bill is anyone’s guess). This is a place for banging house, Ibiza anthems and sorted choons, supplied by Orbital, the Artful Dodger, The Orb (all live) plus a plethora of DJ’s including James Lavelle and Josh Wink.

Gatecrasher (June 16, £46, Brackley, Northants.) looks set to be the dance event of the year, featuring OutKast, The Chemical Brothers, Craig David, Artful Dodger, Sasha, Carl Cox, and more. It’s OutKast’s first UK festival appearance, so it should be a good time to see them. 40,000 people are expected to fill the 10 arenas. If you can’t go, tune in live on Radio One.

The London Fleadh (June 16, £35, Finsbury Park) was founded by the Mean Fiddler organisation in 1989. It was originally a celebration of Celtic music in London, but it has broadened its horizons due to disappointing attendances. This year’s acts include Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Starsailor, Teenage Fanclub, Evan Dando, The Waterboys and Billy Bragg. Fleadh is renown for attracting cultural tourists seeking to rediscover their ‘Oirish’ roots by riverdancing and drinking Guinness. London’s Finsbury Park also plays host to Jam in the Park (June 17, £28). Destiny’s Child headline for this their only UK date. The rest of the line up isn’t quite so internationally famous. There’s K-Ci and JoJo, Eve, Artful Dodger (where isn’t he appearing?), one-hit-wonders Oxide and Neutrino, Omar and the Jazz legend Courtney Pine.

Probably Scotland’s biggest music festival is T in the Park (July 7-8, Balado, near Kinross, weekend £59/£64 or £35 day). While the atmosphere can hardly be described as mellow, there is a pretty good line up here if you’re into guitar bands. Stereophonics, Wheatus, Placebo, James, Paul Weller, David Gray, My Vitriol, Texas, Coldplay, Beck and more. Plus a few dance types like Josh Wink and Luke Slater to keep the clubbers happy.


Brighton’s Essential Festival (July 14-15, London Hackney Marshes, £35 per day) has moved town due to foot-and-mouth. It’s a celebration of dance and roots and has a pretty impressive line-up if that’s what you’re into: Public enemy, Stereo MC’s, Reprazent, Asian Dub Foundation, Sizzla, Ice-T, Goldie, Isaac Hayes and more.

Ministry of Sound@Knebworth (August 11, £45). The mega club of the south hits the stately home. In attendance will be Jamiroquai, BT, The Artful Dodger, Lo-fidelity Allstars, Bent, Seb Fontaine, and more.

V2001, (August 18-19, Chelmsford and Staffordshire, weekend £66, with camping £76 or £38.50 for the day) have something for everyone. Launched in 1995 this festival is quickly building up a strong following. Both venues are in attractive and rural locations. They are well organised and avoid over-crowding. One of Virgin’s goals (which it is achieving) was to provide better facilities than the traditional festivals. The main criticism is the commercial feel. The free-spirited, positive and vibrant community spirit of Glastonbury doesn’t really happen here. With corporate identity never far away - Virgin Balloons, Cola and trains, it’s not one for anti-capitalist May Day protesters. Still, this aside, there is a strong line up including: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Texas, Coldplay, The Charlatans, Foo fighters, David Gray, The Avalanches, Turin Brakes, Wheatus, Starsailor, Spooks and more. Virgin offers a deal for a £5 return train ticket from anywhere on the Virgin network to the Staffordshire site when you buy a camping ticket.

The Reading and Leeds Festivals (August 24-26, weekend and camping £80; day ticket £35) are now combined as the Carling Weekender, both sites having the same bill but on different days (as does V2001). Reading used to be the main rival to Glastonbury but it never quite gained such a good reputation, never capturing the same atmosphere or status. There are masses of major pop acts here during this three-day event. Eminem, Travis, Manics, PJ Harvey, Eels, Mercury Rev, Ash, Marilyn Manson, Green Day, Fun Loving Criminals, Eels, Queens Of The Stone Age, Supergrass, Run DMC and many more. With no Glastonbury this year this will be the biggest festival of all.

Creamfields UK (August 25, Liverpool, £48.50) the Liverpool superclub heads outdoors. Fatboy Slim, Gorillaz, Stereo MC’s, Avalanches, Paul Oakenfold and more will keep the party going until its 6am closing time. A great atmosphere is guaranteed and the sun always seems to shine. It’s the only festival appearance of Gorillaz.

The festival season comes to an end with Scotland’s Gig on the Green (August 25-26, Glasgow Green, £55 2 day, £35 one). It has some hardcore headline acts including Eminem, Marilyn Manson and Queens Of The Stone Age. While Travis and Embrace are there for those of a milder disposition.

To huge disappointment, Glastonbury has been cancelled this year. Michael Eavis, the godfather of the music festival, announced his decision to cancel this year’s event due to issues of safety and problems with fence jumpers. A solution will be worked on this year so that the festival can make a welcome return in 2002. Michael himself plans to retire from festival organisation when he reaches 70 (2005). The good news is that the festival will continue on after this, run by his daughter Emily.

Finally a few survival tips for first-timers. Check your tent before you go. This may sound obvious but if it’s been sitting in a shed, untouched for ten years, then it might not be in great condition. Decorate your tent with flags or paint so that you can recognise it amongst the masses when you return to it in darkness. Don’t take anything that you can’t afford to lose and carry valuables and cash around with you. Don’t wander around alone at night; assaults are rare but have happened. Bring suncream, toilet roll, a torch, sleeping bag, enough money to last the weekend and get you home, and a large bottle of water to avoid the huge queues for the sinks (if you actually decide to wash at all). To avoid spending the entire event suffering from headaches and weariness try having non-alcoholic drinks occasionally, especially if it’s tropical. Lastly, all of us should pray that foot-and-mouth disease doesn’t claim the festival season as yet another victim.

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