It's the first weekend of June 2004 and all over the UK people are getting themselves overexcited commemorating
the D-Day invasions. And what is happening in Northampton? Why it's overrun with Germans - I love this town!
For this weekend it is Twinfest, where the bands from town get together with bands from our twin towns of
Poitiers and Marburg with a view to putting on three days of loved-up rocking festivity, drunkenness and random
acts of international kindness. Except that the poor old French people, struggling against government cutbacks
at home, can't come this year. So it's just us and the Germans. I feel sorry for the French guys - mais
naturellement - but I can't help feeling how appropriate it is that Brits and Germans should be putting
together this good natured international hoedown at a time when far too many people are reviving far too many
There are, of course, matters of physical endurance to consider at such affairs. After Masters of Budvar on
Friday night and the ensuing suicide mission - sorry, party - Russ and I felt that, if Wilson were ever going
to make it onstage for their appointed hour of Sunday lunchtime, we had better devise a Plan. We found
ourselves obliged to pick up our passes for the festival at a Twinfest gig in the Racehorse garden on Saturday.
Knowing that we needed an early night before our set, we planned to nip down early in the evening, grab the
passes, get blind drunk by half-past-eight and hit the sack around nine or ten.
Half past eight arrives and the Plan is working perfectly. Various members of Wilson are strewn around the pub
garden, passes safely secured, roaring drunkenly at the mighty Shiga Wire, Marburg's very own answer to
Metallica. Only with Josh Homme for a lead singer. Yes, real good.
But, reader, I am sure that by now you have spotted the Flaw in the Plan.
Severely damaged and dressed in our best (just to show it off to maximum effect) we arrive at the pub. It is
11:00am and the sun is shining down like you wouldn't believe. It is a glorious morning in NN1 and we are in no
state to appreciate it.
One of us has not even slept at all.
We make our way to the gates of Becket's Park, where a kindly soul in a yellow "events" tee shirt tells us that
we can't bring our cars onto the festival site. Somewhere deep, deep inside me lurks a thought that (perhaps
happily) I cannot physically articulate: we've only got ourselves into this lamentable state by making an
ill-advised trip to the pub to pick up these STUPID GREAT CAR PASSES THAT YOU SEE BEFORE YOU ON OUR
WINDSCREENS, MISTER C***Y. Patiently, and without making any panic calls on his Walky-Talky (it's the fecking
Digital Revolution and these prats still have the same walky fecking talkies as they used to have in 1978.
Probably handed down lovingly from father to son along with all those useless fecking post-punk Rough Trade
records, then, eh?) he explains to us: "She said no cars on site after eleven thirty."
It is exactly eleven thirty two AM.
Russ disappears into the park to find the great "She" while Kathy and I mill about, trying to stay alive and
watching despondently as some shaven-headed buffoons hack down trees in order to facilitate the building of
more flats for more vain and helpless Hollyoaks beings. Eventually Russ returns with a lady from the council,
who graciously "walks" the car into the park. That's it. That's absolutely right. She walks along in front of
the car, just to let people know that it's on its way. "If she really wants to recreate the golden early days
of motoring," I ask Russ, "Shouldn't she at least have the decency to carry a red flag?"
Nobody dies and we make it to the backstage area. We unload our shit and listen to the first band of the day
soundchecking. We try hard to get warmed up. This involves opening suicidal cans of beer, smoking everything to
hand and hoping for the best.
When we come on there is an audience of perhaps forty people, sitting in the bright sunshine on a big old hill
in front of us. You could have fitted them all right there on the stage with us. If they had been up there,
perhaps they would have heard the beats, because, if SPT (Subsequent Punter Testimony) is anything to go by,
they never heard them out the front.
So, yes, we banged away as best we could, and I guess we played all right; but it's all rather pointless if
people out the front can't hear the drums. I must admit, I was quite flattered at the idea that a few of our
mates thought us capable of deliberately playing without our beats...but, I mean, why would we? Stevie Ward
tried his best to explain shit to the sound man, but he got nowhere. Well, we only submitted our tech-spec six
weeks in advance. What the feck were we thinking?
Of course, we only found all this out later. On stage we had the beats loud and clear (mostly) and we did our
best to hang on tight and play in tune. Russ ran out the front with his djembe on Hippy Shit. I tried to dance
with him, but apparently I came across as a dancing bear in a suit. I have no problem with this, as it goes.
Only the day before, Ben from The Echo Chamber and I had been discussing how you never get to see a good
dancing bear these days. Well out of breath from my dancing bear exertions, I realised that I then had five
consecutive vocal choruses to take care of. At various octaves. Ooh, my little head was pounding
boom-boom-boom, and I thought I was up for the kind of stroke that turns you into Evil Harold. Stevie Ward's
little girl, Holly, came up me afterwards and went "Oy, Ted!" (Yes. I know.) "You were a bit lazy on that
We got through our set, packed up and wandered out onto the hillside to watch Hotel Stern from Marburg. An
acoustic trio, they distinguished themselves by sending their percussionist out into the crowd to distribute
free beer. The sun was shining as hot as you like. Curtis stopped by, looking like Babe Ruth. Hotel Stern
played a song that reminded us of The Murder Mystery by the Velvet Underground. They were unbelievably friendly
and seemed genuinely glad to be in Northampton. Ambassadors for the sport, God bless 'em.
At which point we got clearance to be - that's right - walked out of the park, so that we could ditch our kit.
Russ and I did exactly that, rolled a few cigs for the afternoon to come and slipped down a couple of medicinal
vodkas. It was at about this time that the suspicion began to dawn on us: perhaps nobody at Twinfest ever
really believed that we would turn up at a time like that. Perhaps we had, in fact, been allotted that very
time slot in the fairly sure and certain hope that we wouldn't turn up? Too bad. We'd done our bit for
Twinfest. Now, suitably warmed up, we were going to have some back.
We headed back to the site, where by now a reasonable wee crowd had gathered. We watched Good Cop Bad Cop, who
played a blistering set in blistering sunshine. MC Bot seized the controls from the soundman. Ooh, he's found
the bass! Awesome. Council lady saying time to stop. Baying punters, howling guitars. Steve on top of the drum
kit. Council lady incensed. Audience applauding like the rabid rock dogs of Planet Hoggoth. Best set of the day
by a mile. Trebles all round.
Then it all goes a bit blinking Seurat. Insanely hot sunshine. Unbelievably friendly atmosphere. Really nice
people working on the beer wagon. Music and Germans and that all over the place. For an hour or two on Sunday
afternoon, Becket's Park is a wonderful place to be. We catch Hotel Stern again in the acoustic tent. We watch
Hindsight playing covers. We go to the pub.
This means that we miss the final moments of the festival. Thanks to Andy Skank for this report:
In-Vocal are headlining in the acoustic tent. A fairly large crowd has gathered, but the PA is not equal to the
task (why does that sound familiar?), and the band are barely audible. Except, that is, for the last word of
the last song.
It is, in fact, the last word of a three day, three venue international festival of friendship and truly good
It comes through loud and clear.
And that last word is: "TWAT!"
Ah well. It was such a pleasant event. The bands (none of whom were paid) were sweet, co-operative, friendly
and devoid of any kind of ego nonsense. It's only a shame that thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of some of
the sound engineers (who were paid), the one thing that those bands and their audiences really, really wanted
out this event - the chance to play their shit and be heard doing it - was in many cases denied them.