I’ve never been a huge music fan and I think this might be down to my early life where we would have talk radio in my parents’ house where The Archers and Radio 4 news stick in my memory but not much music. I don’t know why this was the case as my Dad loves music and he has been to countless concerts and gigs, he saw The Beatles. In contrast I’ve seen little live music (only once paying for a gig ticket – Boo Radleys circa 1995) and until last week had never been to a festival. However, earlier this year a friend said he was going to a festival in Lisbon, called Nos Alive, and talked about going together. As he listed the acts it became clear I had no idea of who any of them were (with the exception of Depeche Mode and The Foo Fighters). But I thought why not give it a go, especially as Lisbon was likely to be hot and sunny. The idea of being muddy and wet for three days had always put me off UK festivals, a little nesh I know.
The tickets were released and we booked these for the full three days and then arranged our accommodation (a party hostel no less). Derek, a good friend from work and music aficionado, talked to me about the acts and Spotify proved to be a wonderful resource to acquaint myself with the music. I particularly liked The XX, learnt more about Depeche Mode and The Foo Fighters, but most of all I loved the electro-swing act Parov Stelar. The time eventually came and I took a few days before the start to visit Barcelona and Madrid, then met up with my friend (and new honorary little brother) Chris. The whole festival experience was amazing, it was tough to see everything as lots of acts clashed but I managed to see loads of great performances. The XX did not disappoint and Parov Stelar was amazing, so I’ll be looking for more electroswing gigs in the the future, and I also loved Imagine Dragons and The Avalanches. What I took from all this is that people have a wide variety of preferences, like with anything in life, and that is great but there is no animosity with music fans, the differences are embraced. I found that I really like a good beat, lyrics you can follow and an energetic stage performance, whereas overly loud rock is less my thing. I used to joke (with a fair degree of honesty) that my kind of music was S-Club 7, I think I can safely say I’ve moved on from that now! I should also admit, that despite my age, I was a little apprehensive about traveling on my own for part of the trip. But I didn’t need to be as I met some truly wonderful people during this trip. These ranged from the laid back Aussies (Shaun, Carl, Lachlan and Jared), who gave me some well needed fashion guidance, to my very cool new European friends Daniela and Andy (from Austria) and Hunter (from Los Angeles) who as a music professional knew the music I might like, or might not. There were also several Americans, all staying in the Lost Inn hostel, who provided help with planning night time exploration of Lisbon, although I have rather hazy memories of the ‘pub crawl for all’ (thanks Sabrina!).
Aside from the music I’ll have real fond memories of the other, unexpected, experiences. The highlight was exploring the Lisbon flea market where a group of us (including Sonja and Heather from the US) completed our own version of the TV show Bargain Hunt and bought each other a holiday momento. I’ll really treasure the retro swimming medal and antique mini-roller contraption (no idea what it is) that Aussie Carl picked out for me. I’ve also take away a new nickname courtesy of a Londoner named Disco who said I looked like I was paying homage to Ocean Colour Scene or Shed Seven. With my ‘party shirt’ and straw hat Disco decided that I was ‘very TFI Friday’, and so renamed me Festival Dad! I’m not a dad but didn’t mind this one bit (especially as I am old enough to be the father of most of the people I met) and feel it won’t be that long before my alter-ego resurfaces at another festival. Nos Alive 2018 is on the list already but this time I’ll be far more ready to embrace the music, and even think it is time to remove S-Club 7 from my Spotify playlist. Thanks everyone for the musical education. See you all soon I hope, love Festival Dad!