I had the absolute misfortune last night to catch some footage of this years Isle Of Wight festival on TV last night. Gobsmackingly bad.
Vacuous presenters like Zoe Ball, Dave Fanning and others putting repetitive, inane questions to equally vacuous interviewees – stand up Joan Jett, The Vaccines, Parade (who??), all the while trying to pep it up, to make it look like it was FUN, that all their too-wide smiles weren’t actually painted on. Iggy Pop (more later) was asked three times in a two minute interview if he enjoyed playing the IoW festival!
The performances weren’t much better with the sole exception of Andrea Corr whose version of the VU’s Pale Blue Eyes was delightful (though it’d be hard to go wrong working with such wonderful raw materials). The Vaccines (the latest “Greatest Thing Since…..” apparently?) were drab and faceless. Parade – a girl group dancing and singing live unfortunately to a backing tape – were simply diabolical. One girl with a voice and the rest eyecandy to make up the numbers who really shouldn’t be let near a microphone. I wondered briefly WTF stuff like this was doing on the bill at a music festival before remembering we live increasingly in an X-Factor world. I could go on about Hurts, Tom McRae, Seasick Steve (what DO people see in him?) but it really doesn’t merit the time.
No surprise then that the performance by The Stooges – the promise of which had fooled me into staying tuned for so long – was perfunctory. So blatantly going through the motions for the big pay check. Of course, the Ig was doing what he does best – being the Ig – but it was obviously half-hearted. On the barrier during their biggest non-hit, he screamed “Now I Wanna…” before sticking the mic into the crowd who responded with…….absolutely zero. The front row didn’t look like they even knew who he was. Probably didn’t.
And that, I think, is the crux of it all. Music festivals these days are no longer about music and are consequently increasingly attended by non-music fans wanting to see non-music acts like Parade. This once slightly edgy, underground facet of our culture has been taken over and homogenised into the generic, big-bucks, mainstream bland-out we see trotted out (marketed) on our TVs over the summer months with increasing regularity. Buy the latest badge of acceptance for only 200 quid, and for an extra 50 we can even have someone put your tent up for you, and for another 50 you can even have access to hot showers and hair straighteners FFS! I despair, I really do.
Some folk I know go on about the failings of the Rebellion punk weekender I regularly attend (most of which I’ll acknowledge) but it has more heart and soul to it than all the rest of the UK’s Corporate Enterprise Festivals TM put together.
New York Johnny