We weave through those assembled till we find an agreed good spec and stop, the crowd already closing in behind us. The balls of my feet ache for rest and the gorgeous haze of too much red wine dizzies my head. The calm cool of the night though is a welcome rest from the skull-cooking heat of the day. Waiting and swaying in the rising sweaty mass my eyes turn to some white fabric pipes hanging from the roof like frozen stalactites. “Appropriate for a band from Iceland eh?” I remark to The Cat, but he’s more gone than I am and my wonderful witticism is lost in the increasing volume of international chatter.
The tent is bursting by the time the lights fall and that wonderful first cheer of satisfaction and anticipation rises. A white mesh screen on stage lights up and the first bars of music pipe out from behind it. They appear only as shadows behind the screen till, knowing that we are all now tuned in, they lift the curtain to move us all the greater. The slight presence of these musicians is far outweighed by the force of their sonic power. These people who create that hard to find point of wonder, mine depths and utilise all that they can muster to fill us with faith that there is hope, beauty and truth of a kind in the world.
They take us on a rare cathartic journey into ourselves and resistance in such a setting is futile. There are few formalities and graces to hide behind in the brief community of the festival. Not all will be taken, the cynics and those so consumed by bitterness as to be blind, but they are few, and piece by piece the music, the magic, moves from the air to inside you till your spine is mainlined directly into the grid. I look around, slowly, and, other than the couple who kiss in front of me – what else would you do with your nerves on overdrive – everyone is watching. Our heart soars in the presence, not just of these mere exquisite layers of emotional noise but in the display of unity that it helps to create. Bringing people together whose only commonality is the sweat and drink of the day, and of course, a love of MUSIC.
In a break I ruffle the hair of The Cat, now unbothered by convention. “Told you it would be a good one eh?”
Another song and they go even further. Our hearts feel as if it is about to burst and the music moves around the body till deeply buried, long forgotten, anodes in the deepest recesses of the brain start to glow once more. Unable to contain it anymore, I cry gently and without shame.
The Cat too is moved by the Lightandmagicandbeauty but with his weary bones it is too much, “I’m just going for a piss, I’ll meet you by that tree”. But despite my usual nerves, I don’t mind the loss of company and I pathetically attempt to drink it all in, try and preserve what I know can not last indefinitely.
Once more they bring out melodies and emotions that I did not think existed. The swirls and chimes they emit form together in the air and rise in all of us. In the midst of this I feel an arm on my shoulder and think it’s The Return of the Cat but when I swing my head around to see a blonde girl in a black top. She is alone, and it is her hand on my shoulder and I tense in shock and fear. But she’s not looking at me. She is looking up at them with her eyes are closed. It is then I notice how the cold the rest of my body is other than in that one space were her hand is and all that exists beyond the moment crumbles away and I know why she has done it. Yes, perhaps she has had too much to drink and wants someone to lean on, but it also the desire for a connection, the need to share the force of the feelings that this music is generating and heighten them all the more. It is too much and not enough to feel all this on your own and so she touches someone, anyone, just as much as her breaking of conventions will allow. This much even, would not happen anywhere outside the transitional freedom and allowed at this festival. Outside it grim realties and all too human divisions would never permit such a thing.
I revel in the moment as it continues and all is well in the world, till the thought of possibilities of further connections seep out from my ego, always wanting more wanting too feel MORE. I place my hand on hers and she does not move. I turn around but still she does not look and for a second, I don’t dare imagine what might happen next as a darker undercurrent begins to come from the stage, shades of pain are contained in the sound and they build, threatening to overpower the joy and then I feel her hand break away from mine and I look around to see her back moving away through the unaware crowd. She has gone and I am to scared to follow
I light a cigarette to try and raise myself once more. But with my parched throat and sun weary eyes it only cheapens the moment, dam those addictions and petty highs for they are nothing compared with real beauty and passion in all its forms.
For a second I feel a hole in my stomach but it quickly refilled by the music and without her hand I have to grit my teeth to contain it within myself.
But like all moments when you are free of all the shackles it can only last a short time.
Noticing the long absence of The Cat I jump ship early, stagger through the throng who still focused on the fading lights of the stage and the dying embers of the spell as I force myself through to the outside to find my associate sleeping under a tree oblivious. Rapturous applause echoes from the tent something far beyond a polite salute.
Nerves still sparking I try to verbalise the event to him:
“That was, that was….Transcendental”
A passer by smiles at us and in broad Cockney: “Nah mate, that was fucking brilliant.”
By Kenn Taylor