If anyone wants to read the formal review I did of Redfest, you can pick it up on Gigjunkie, which is the lovely live music site I often write for. In that review I got into detail about the bands we saw and the atmosphere of the festival but I know that’s not what y’all want to hear about. So this little memoir of the festival is all about being a backstage virgin.
On arrival at Redfest (pathetically hungover and out of love with life on my part) we discovered that there was no “press area” and that the only option other than “general festivalgoer” was a full backstage pass, which Paul and I were granted with barely a glance at the list. In fact they initially seemed to think we were in a band called Gigjunkie and asked us what day we were playing on.
It took us a while to actually pluck up the courage to go backstage out of fear that we would stick out like sore thumbs and possibly embarrass ourselves… but there’s only so long you can resist the lure of possibly clean toilets (although that turned out to be a pipe dream).
We sat around for a while drinking cans of Red Stripe, which were considerably cheaper than the beer available in the festival, and gawking at the shininess of the Enter Shikari tour bus before Sam McTrusty of Twin Atlantic came loping over for a cuddle and a chat. It was a bittersweet reunion. I always love seeing Sam. He’s impossibly charming and open and even if I wasn’t wholly obsessed with his band, he’s just fun to hang out with. However, it was him who ended up breaking the news to me that my other favourite band, Envy On The Coast, is no more. I mentioned in a previous blog the connections between the bands and my connection to EOTC and hearing that I’ll never get to see them perform again was a massive blow. Although I suppose if you have to hear that your favourite band has split up the best person you could get the news from is probably the front man of your other favourite band.
It was at this point that we realised that knowing one of the bands means that everyone assumes you’re important and one of the “gang” that includes journos, photographers, brand reps, crew and of course musicians. With Sam sitting with us we got chatting to everyone from the festival organisers to the head of marketing for Fender to eventually Chris from Enter Shikari. And once they started treating us like one of them, we just acted like we belonged. After all I had a notebook and pen and Paul had a camera, of course we belonged. People gave us their cards and asked us our opinions… in between Sam attempting to karate chop all of the wasps that kept descending on our table. It all gets a bit hazy because the Red Stripe was flowing like water but in the end we even netted an invite to the Enter Shikari after show tour bus party. But after two days on the lash and the 4000 photos Paul took, bed was calling.
Day 2 was significantly more subdued. Twin Atlantic and Enter Shikari were gone and I had reached a level of lethargy that creeps in when you’re almost thirty and you haven’t had an opportunity to lie on the couch and contemplate the meaning of life for a number of days. Several of the friends we’d made the day before recognised us though and we ended up being adopted by a raucous band of barristers who were backstage for reasons yet unknown, and kept us in stitches for most of the evening.
I think Paul fared slightly better than I did, chatting pretty much every band that played on the day, including the ridiculously cool, Little Comets, who I have intentions of adopting. But in the end we were both agreed, beyond a shadow of a doubt that backstage is where we’re meant to be…
All photos kindly courtesy of the lovely Paul Osbiston