Greetings, Glancers! It should be fairly obvious that I love music. I’ve loved music since day one. As a child I was known for my Michael Jackson moves, aunts and neighbours throwing pennies at me as I danced. I got a guitar when I was eight. I started DJing when I was thirteen. I’ve been to a bunch of festivals. I’ve written a tonne of songs… you get the idea. The idea behind this series of posts is based on another classic of pub discussions – if you could, without any limitations, put on a concert or a festival, who would you put on the bill? That’s what I’m going to be writing about over the next few days – do you feel lucky, punk (sic)? We’ve all imagined this, haven’t we? If you haven’t, then start now and stick your line-ups into the comments or your own blogs. Share your wildest dream concert line-ups and invite us to the show – in The Spac Hole, anything is possible.
Naturally, I have put a few guidelines in place – NOT RULES – if you want to play along (and why in thine hell wouldn’t you?) you can follow your own guidelines. These ones works for me. First, it’s going to be a three day festival. Second, I’m going to give some loose timings – some bands might play for one hour, some might play for three – you can do whatever you want. Third – it doesn’t matter if the bands or artists or alive or dead. Fourth…. there is no limit on genre or style of music. Fifth – it’s not a 24 hour festival, let’s say we’ll play from 10.00am to Midnight each day. Sixth… is there a sixth? Yeah, no breaks between artists I guess, so as soon as one ends, the next starts. I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go along.
I’ll give a few notes about why I’ve picked each artist and why I’ve put them where I have. You’ll probably be able to guess a few of my picks if you’ve been reading for a while. You have your ticket to come and enjoy – if you don’t like any of the artists then go and grab a drink or some snacks at one of the many booze and grub establishments which are sure to be in attendance. Even better, take a wander around the venue and ‘discover yourself’. Yes, my Fantasy Festival is mimicking the look of Glastonbury – though not as gargantuan. There’s only one main stage, but a variety of fields, forests, glades, and hills to ramble through and you may even stumble upon other artists playing impromptu gigs or DJs setting up for some after hours raving (hint – only such soothing minstrels as The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, and Public Enemy will be invited). Obviously I can’t possibly cover all of the artists I’d want to see – the eagle-eyed among you will notice that quite a few of my all time favourite artists don’t feature here, but who knows – if the Festival is a success we might have a sequel!
Well, that’s enough of that. You’ve zipped up your tent, you’ve shared a box of pop tarts with some guy called Ken, and you’ve stocked up on cider. The sun’s out, the shades are on, and oh look – the show’s about to start.
10 – 11: Koji Kondo’s Nintendo Orchestra
11 – 12: Haven
12 – 2: The Music
2 – 4: Nightwish
4 – 6: Radiohead
6 – 8: Manic Street Preachers
8 – 10: Alice Cooper
10 – 12: Nirvana
In my experience of festivals, the early morning gig is something relaxing, or unusual, or light and breezy to get the show off to a gentle yet entertaining start. Think Rolf Harris at Glastonbury. Or maybe not… yeah, don’t do that. People are sort of milling around, getting a feel for the place, sorting out their internal radar so they know where the nearest bar/food joint/toilet is located, the atmosphere hasn’t quite become tactile, yet there is a buzz of excitement in the air. We kick things off with some tunes that everyone will know – even if you don’t recognize the name. Koji Kondo is the man behind the most memorable tunes from Nintendo games – think every early Mario and Zelda game. The guy was twenty three when he worked on Mario, creating numerous tunes which are beyond iconic and essentially bringing legitimacy to the art form. It’s not just him though; no, he’s brought some pals who created or worked on the scores of other hit Nintendo games – it’s an hour of some of the most joyous compositions in recent memory.
Have I Seen Them: N/A
The first band of the weekend are no more; Haven came and went in a brief five year period during which they released two albums and generated a few Top 40 singles. They’re the band which should have filled the gap in the market which Coldplay did, followed by wank like Snow Patrol and Keane. I’m not a big fan of Coldplay, but during that time they cornered the soft rock market. Haven had that Manchester swagger and influence but were essentially mellow rock balladeers, led by Gary Briggs who I still consider to have one of the best voices in rock. I saw them at Glastonbury and their brand of emotive guitar led anthems are a perfect way to kick the morning into the next gear – nothing too offensive, but songs custom built for large crowd singalongs.
Have I Seen Them: Yes – Glastonbury
The Music are the perfect festival band – I think they needed another hit album to cement them as true headliners, but their energetic body of work ensures they can fit anywhere on any bill. I was torn between them hitting the coveted sunset slot, but in the end I decided to put them on in the middle of the day because they put on such an upbeat, up-tempo show. If you haven’t caught their second album – I consider it (still) the best album since 2000. Across their three albums and their many B-Sides and rarities they have must which you can dance to just as much as you can head-bang to. It’s groovy rock with insane vocals and the songs can easily breakdown into instrumental freak-outs ideal for drunken, stoned group dance-offs.
Have I Seen Them: Yes – Glastonbury
Nightwish are of course headliners in their own right, but that’s something you’re always going to get in any discussion like this – 10 bands, 10 headliners. As we’re in fantasy mode, I’m going to take things up a notch by saying this is Nightwish with all three vocalists – Tarja, Annette, and Floor. Nightwish have always been a band of excess, of epic scope, so why not throw all three in – the original with Tarja, the transition with Annette, and the current with Floor. I know this sort of thing rarely works – you could have each singer tackling the songs written with them in mind, you could have three singers all taking different parts and laying harmonies, or have Tarja tackle songs written long after she left. The band get the heavier side of the festival going and set things up for a potentially exhausting night.
Have I Seen Them: Yes – Belfast
No festival worth mentioning in the last thirty years omits Radiohead. They became big with Creep, and followed it up with the many hits from The Bends, but it was their early Glastonbury appearance which truly made them Gods. Say what you will about their post OK Computer work, but they still answer to no-one when it comes to seeing them on stage. Songs which sound relatively tame in the studio take on a completely different life when Thom and co perform them live, and when they unleash the classics they stand in a class of their own. There is no good time to put the band on because there is no bad time to put them on – they should headline any show, but they are perfect for the sunset evening slot, or for afternoon rocking. Essential for anyone’s fantasy.
Have I Seen Them: Yes – Glastonbury, Belfast.
Was there ever any doubt that I would include Manic Street Preachers? Actually, I didn’t have them down originally until I did some switching around to force them in. I was happy leaving them out because I’ve seen them live so many times already that another isn’t really ‘necessary’. However, they’re probably my favourite band of all time so I should have them here rather than in the sequel, and because this is a fantasy I’m going to imagine that Richey has returned. I never saw the band live before Richey vanished, but in my festival he’s back and playing with the rest of the lads, leaping about to Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, and closing out with A Design For Life.
Have I Seen Them: Yes – Glastonbury, Belfast, Dublin
Thinking back, I would really want Alice Cooper to headline so I should have either added more days to my festival or held some artists back so they could headline another year. Well, I’ve started now and there’s no going back. Alice Cooper is one of my longest running inspirations – in music, and in writing. He basically created or cemented a bunch of genres – metal, shock rock, garage, punk – he’s had a hand in all of them and more. For fantasy purposes this Alice Cooper act would feature the original band along with many of the great musicians he’s employed in his solo work over the decades. I think it’s cool he’s following The Manics because they are fans and have covered him before. The only time I saw Alice Cooper live it wasn’t the fool experience. he only played for around an hour as support for Def Leppard (who I had no interest in seeing) and though he had some stage theatrics going on, it felt very rushed. A full two hour show would be jam packed with guillotines, dead babies, and classic song after classic song. It pains me to see how under-appreciated Alice is in music history, when almost every musician in the last 50 years has been influenced by him, whether they know it or not.
Have I Seen Them Live: Yes – Belfast
My headliner for the night is arguably the most important band of my childhood and early teen years. Nirvana, along with Guns ‘N’ Roses were the artists which confirmed my love of rock. Spoiler Alert – I’m not including GNR this year! Gotta save someone I love for another year, right? I never got to see them live – I missed them in Belfast due to being too young to be allowed to go. The Spac Hole Festival brings Kurt and Co back together for one final fuck you – a gloriously chaotic two hour set of smashing and screaming the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the early 90s.
Have I Seen Them Live: No
Off to bed now, you little scamps. Tomorrow’s another day – and it’s going to be a beast.