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Day one (Southside Festival):
So the day started like any other for us: waking up in our bunks on the tour bus feeling the roll of the tyres over the road beneath our half asleep bodies. During this brief period of waking, realising where we are, and what we have in store for the day, we usually get very excited, and in our heads we start planning and imagining how the day ahead will turn out. The prime thought on these sorts of days on tour is always a celebratory one: "Today we're going to be singing, bouncing and playing our instruments together onstage in front of all those beautiful and happy faces!" But not today...
Even before climbing into our bunks the night before, we knew that Southside might not be happening, and within the first ten seconds of waking the next day I hard these dreadful words of our tour manager explaining to Charlotte: "Southside is cancelled. The storms have been too dangerous for it to go ahead." My first thought was immediately of the fans - over the last few years there have been too many terrible incidents at festivals when storms have hit and people have been very badly hurt. Luckily this time there were no major casualties, and the feeling we got from reports from the site was that the festivals organisers, the helpers, the stewards and the fans were all incredible in making sure the safety of all was paramount.
In light of the festival being cancelled, we found a hotel near the Hurricane site and all (with heavy hearts) sat and watched the Euros on TV whilst all the while lamenting the cancellation of a fantastic festival and also the awful result of the British EU Referendum. This was not a good day, my friends.
Day two (Hurricane Festival):
With still no 100% confirmation that Hurricane was going ahead, we all hopped aboard the tour bus at a bright and breezy 7am, and made our way to the festival site. As soon as we arrived we could feel the atmosphere buzzing around us, and we knew that today was a GO! We were told by the organisers that the spirit of the fans the whole weekend (even though the weather was awful and so many of their favourite bands couldn't play) was inspiring and incredible. This is why we love Germany; this is why we love Europe! We settled into our dressing rooms and quickly went to catering to grab some food for the day.
I wanted to get out into the arena and feel for myself the vibrant atmosphere, so I strapped on my wellies, and with a coffee in my hand, I trekked across the muddy ground and soaked up the congenial atmosphere. We always prefer to take the chance we get at festivals to watch the other bands from the front of the stage rather than from the side, and whilst I was out there I managed to catch half of Blossoms' fantastic set before sneaking off to get some warm-ups done on my guitar backstage. I say "backstage", but it wasn't quite so - I managed to find a wooded area just outside the artists' camp, and so I went in amongst the trees and sang and played guitar to nature. Each time I took the trip out to practise my singing and guitar playing in the woods, the security man guarding the artists' camp entrance would joke "singing to the trees and the animals again!"
Eventually it was our time to play, and we walked out onstage to all those beautiful smiling faces and smashed into our first song, Oh Yeah. I could see from Charlotte's smile that she was having the time of her life, and Josh was like an animal, releasing the pent up energy of yesterday's cancelled performance. The crowd, as usual, were INSANE. At one point, during Turnaround, I counted sixteen circle pits all going round at the same time. Towards the end of the set I was beginning to lose control of the tuning of my guitar (the sun kept coming out and then hiding away behind the clouds, causing the air to quickly heat and then cool, thus stretching and constricting my guitar strings) and someone threw a mudball at me during It's A Party. Getting into the spirit of the weekend, I threw my out-of-tune guitar down, ran down to the crowd, crowdsurfed, and then somersaulted into the mudpit. A muddy mess, I was delivered back onstage by security and we ended our set with Rock & Roll Queen - and by smashing up Josh’s drum kit in celebration.
After the gig, we had a lovely signing session for the fans. Some were understandably very drunk! And not long after that we were on a Ferris wheel to record a 360 camera acoustic performance of Dirty Muddy Paws, which was tough because I just wanted to sing to along to The Wombats who were playing somewhere in the distance. We then ran backstage to convene with our Delta Radio meet and greeters. One of them was wearing some cool tights, and I told her so. She then said that she had a spare pair in her bag, and I could not refuse them once she offered to give them to me. I wore them all the way back to England! Very swanky!
This weekend will live with us forever!
Hurricane Festival, we thank you. And happy 20th birthday! Southside: we’ll see you again, and we'll give you 1,000,000,000%.
Billy Lunn (The Subways)