Ever since their humble beginnings, festivals have served a dual purpose. They are both spaces of land on which you can go and see live music, and an excuse for its attendees to abandon the constraints of normal society and go full Lord of the Flies. Whether it’s the lack of showers and fresh food or the lawlessness that only charging £8 for a toothbrush can inspire in folk, people tend to treat festivals as if they’re international waters and not subject to the rules and regulations of everyday life. While this is funny for the most part, there are a few characters always present that make you realise that all some people need is a bit of mud and separation from normality to turn them into complete fucking nightmares. Here are the worst of the worst:
The Feral Child
The feral child is invariably not an actual child but someone in their mid-to-late teens or a particularly stupid adult. Despite generally being fairly middle-class and from somewhere in the home counties, the feral child will go from docile and relatively normal to slinging their own shit around with no more encouragement than a few cans of lager and some low-grade skunk. I've had the privilege of camping with more than a few feral children in the past, leading me to witness boys with fairly normal upbringings beer bong their own piss within twelve seconds of setting up their tent. Everybody lets loose at festivals, but to sink to the levels of consuming your own waste and then slink back home three days later like nothing happened is really just something else. You kiss your mother with that mouth. Don’t literally fill it with shit.
One of the best things about festivals is that nobody could give a single fuck about what you or anyone else is wearing. You might have looked like a presentable human being on the first day, but now it’s midway through the third and you’re just glad you have anything dry and with less than six odd brown stains to wear. However, there will always be people dressed up to the nines in some high street ‘festival wear’ brand, covered in beads and feathers and generally resembling something sold in the weird hippy tents that smell of hemp. There is a time and a place for copious amounts of delicate paisley-patterned silk and tight leather shorts and temporarily living in a huge pile of mud and sleeping in a field is not it. Ditch the time-consuming pastel grunge look and embrace true grunge by not washing or looking in a mirror. It’s more honest.
Lads On Tour
Everybody likes to have one too many at a festival. I’m fairly sure it’s obligatory, or at least highly advisable. But there is always one group of men, generally between 20 and 45, who seem to get shitfaced and then wander the site chanting like a pack of Ed Hardy-clad wolves. I’m not sure if these dudes got on the wrong bus and were meant to end up at a dodgy hotel in Magaluf instead of a field in Leeds, but the focus on shouting at random passers-by and frat boy antics as opposed to actually going and seeing any bands seems to imply so. Nothing kills your happy festival vibe quicker than a group of men who all look like your mate’s pervy dad loudly trying to sexually proposition you on the way to the loos. If you want to pay upwards of £200 to drink Stella and abuse randomers under the guise of relative anonymity then a Thompson’s all-inclusive trip to Benidorm might be of more use than a festival ticket.
Obnoxious People With Kids
I like to see families at festivals. Kids and drunk people get on really well, mostly because they have similar interests and outlooks on life. Obnoxious parents, however, are a wholly different matter. These are the people who snootily ask if you could refrain from smoking anywhere in a thirty-foot radius of them while their unattended child runs wild across the festival site or glare at you for sitting near them as if you've challenged their toddler to a game of Ring of Fire. I’m happy to look out for any roaming children whilst at a festival, and treat them with the same level of careful courtesy I would anywhere else. But if you’re shooting me dirty looks for existing near your faux-boho family unit while your kid wanders around with a hypodermic needle in that it found on the ground and no shoes on then you can fuck right off. I am not the irresponsible one here. Judge not lest ye be judged, obnoxious festival parents.
Although it might be difficult to tell amidst all the legal high peddlers, ostrich burger vans and fairground rides, people generally go to festivals in an attempt to see some live music. Which makes it all the more puzzling that no matter what band you are seeing, there will always be one smug-faced muppet who feels the need to shout back at the performers like they’re auditioning for a stand-up comedy gig. Not everything will be to everyone’s tastes – that’s fine. And if a band is truly awful, then there’s nothing like an old-fashioned bottling to get your point across. But there is simply no need to heckle every single act with unfunny one-liners you spent the week before the festival coming up with. With the singular exception of a guy at Leeds Festival 2012 who kept yelling ‘fuck the singles, play the dark stuff!’ at The Cure, I have never heard a heckler who made me laugh at all. Nobody paid a few hundred quid to hear you critique the band while they’re still playing. Go home and passive-aggressively blog about it like everybody else.