Review: Summer Stampede 2013

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Mother: Do you fancy seeing Mumford and Sons? It’s at a mini-festival thing.

Me: Umm, sure… how much?

Mother: £65.

Me: No.

Mother: It can be your Easter present.

Me: Um, ok then.

Easter presents are not a thing in our family, by the way. She just really wanted someone to go with her. Mumford and Sons were the only band I’d really listened to on the list. The rest were names I’d heard of or been recommended at some point, but never actually got round to doing anything about it. So after that massive investment, I kinda figured I should. And well, there was nothing that I hated.

Have I ever told you that I’m not good with crowds? Well, I’m not good with crowds. I’m not generally claustrophobic, but people piss me off. I can’t bear them touching me, the heat of it all, being under the control of the masses around me, unable to escape… I can come close to panic attacks walking through Primark on a Saturday.

Why is this relevant? Because it turned out that this event was for 50,000 people! I’ve never been to a 50,000 people event before. I know my limits and I stick to them. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out this little fact until I was already in the Olympic Park. Aye, the Olympic Park! That should have given the game away really. I didn’t realise until we were crossing a bridge and the crowd extended forwards to the arena and all the way back to Westfield, and the astroturf was already half covered by the time we got there.

Combined with the intense heat, lack of shade and the fact that I was unsure of the outfit I had chosen all indicatated that this was going to be an absolute disaster. How glad was I to be wrong.

After what seemed like an hour of walking around the park to get to the site (which seemed to be a very large carpark they’d covered in astroturf and thereupon erected a very large stage) we found ourselves a clearing in the masses. Another mistake: we didn’t take a blanket to sit on. Astroturf is not comfortable! We were very far away from the stage. When the performers came on they were little more than ants in the distance, but honestly, I couldn’t have handled being closer. The people around us seemed content to sit and listen rather than standing and squishing, which was good. For most of the show, we forgot that we were in such a large crowd, until the camera panned round on the audience, and we were like, WOAW! Our biggest success was remembering to put sun screen on though. Only got a teeny-tiny bit burnt and it’s all healed now.

The first act (who started the moment we arrived) was Bear’s Den. Heard of them? I hadn’t. They were very good though. Will definitely be purchasing their album when I’ve got some spare cash.

Next up were Haim (pronounced Hay-im and not Hay-mm apparently). I’ve heard of them before, even seen them on music television, and some of my mates are absolutely in love with them. Their music was good, but their banter was absolutely pants. I get that chat is required occasionally on stage, if something goes wrong or you’ve got to tune you’re guitar, but anything over that and I get annoyed – just play your music, love.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were probably my least favourite of the night. I can’t remember a single song of theirs because they talked and mucked about so much. Oh I remember! They played Truth! “That’s it, I think. Oh wait, we’ve got five more minutes. Will we play another song? Maybe Truth? No… that just doesn’t feel like the right song…” I’m surprised they ever got round to playing it. Grrr.

Ben Howard was fantastic. We checked out some tracks in preparation, and I immediately fell in love with ‘Keep Your Head Up’. His music is beautiful and he spent his set actually playing it. Appreciated!

Vampire Weekend make me want to dance… but I’d been up for a long time, and sitting in that field in the sun for nearly five hours by the time they came on. They’re music is so chipper and fun. I love it. 🙂

And the headliners… Mumford and Sons. The sun was setting and it was cooler, so we actually got up to dance for them. It was wonderful. They did a lovely bit in the encore where they made the whole audience be quiet so they would all play around one microphone. The effect was quite acoustic and intimate, even though we were watching it on a screen with 50,000 other people.

To finish, all the bands (excluding Bear’s Den who were allegedly in the pub) came on stage for a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Break the Chain. A really beautiful end to the evening. Really raised the energy and spirits for the long, long walk back to the train station.

I don’t think I’ll be hurrying out to any more large events anytime soon, but it was a fantastic day. I got fresh doughnuts too! Bonus. 🙂

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