Something’s missing for me this summer, and it’s certainly not hot sunny days.
I’ve always loved a good music festival. As someone who’s mildly (ahem) addicted to the sound of a live band blasting out over an audience, especially against a backdrop of a few pints of cider and enough crushed grass to set off a severe bout of hayfever, the absence of proper outdoor music events for two years in a row has been hard hitting.
In fact, these are the first two years I haven’t been to a summer music festival since I turned 18, and I’m now in my late 30s. I’m so hooked, that the first outing my wife and I took without our son – admittedly nine months after he was born – was to spend a weekend at Glastonbury while the little lad chilled with my parents. He’s been to Knockanstockan several times since.
The thing is, for the music community, music festivals are like our All Ireland final. You get a heap of musicians, some you’d watch anyway, and some you wouldn’t, all pulling out all the stops one after the other. You get half the people you know from those 1am sessions in the semi-hidden bar upstairs in Whelan’s rocking up. At certain festivals, you get everyone who’s in a band, or spends half their life watching bands, or simply likes a certain type of party, all in one place.
What’s often lost in the narrative around all this stuff, is that festivals are a true community, and not just about that ‘headline band’ or that wild night out. They matter, because they’re about friendship, about hedonistic release, and about a weekend spent for the pure fun of it, an escape from the humdrum. It’s unlikely they’ll come back as strongly anytime soon, but I, for one, will be at the front of the queue on their return. And it will be about friendship and connection, not just the party.