Xtra Mile summer festival survival guide

Featuring Dan Andriano, Oxygen Thief, Beans On Toast and Frank Turner

- 30/06/2015 -

Festival season has already broken upon us like the ocean upon the shore. How can it be July already? But we still have tons of great festivals ahead of us with so many incredible artists (many of which belong to the Xtra Mile Recordings family) waiting to play for you. Most festivals, especially ones in the UK and Europe, are camper style festivals, which, if you’re from a big city in America (like me) can be a little daunting. I’m going to my third English festival this summer and still didn’t feel amazingly prepared for what I was going to experience so I called out for some help. Thankfully, I was not disappointed! Read below for some Grade A festival survival tips, must-haves, advice, and stories from our artists and friends.

- Valerie Gritsch, Social Media Magician and Guest of Honour at Summer In The City -

Barry Dolan (Oxygen Thief) — Xtra Mile artist

Oxygen Thief's latest album The Half-Life of Facts is out now, and it is like well good.

My first proper festival was Reading 1999; I had picked up my GCSE results that morning*, got in my friend's car, sat there for ages waiting for another of his pals to finish work, then arrived at the campsite a good 12 hours after everyone else which meant that we had to pitch our tent in about three inches of water, miles from the arena. How we didn't drown in our sleep, I'll never know.

Sogginess aside it was an incredible weekend, and there haven't been many years that I haven't been to a festival since; some performing, others going along for the joy of seeing a load of bands and hanging out with people in a field. Some things like suncream, loo roll, water, hand sanitiser, wet wipes are pretty standard, so here are a few other things that I never go to a festival without:

Bin bags: You can use them to sit on, fashion an impromptu rain poncho/skirt combo if (alright, when) it rains, or even (shock horror), fill them with rubbish.

3 tins of Heinz Tomato Soup, a multipack of Hula Hoops, some spoons: Why? Well: open tin of soup, open pack of Hula Hoops. Pour Hoops into can of soup. Mix with spoon. Eat, and revel in the joyous taste of cold Heinz Tomato Soup with Hula Hoop croutons, and the look of sheer horror on your friends' and wife's faces.

Sleep: As fun as it may be to stay up all night playing drunk covers and shouting "BOLLOCKS", there will be a point where you will regret doing so; either because you feel like utter shite the next day and so don't enjoy the bands as much, or because someone has pissed all over your tent in revenge for being kept awake (I haven't done this, incidentally).**

One of those portable phone battery charger things: There's not going to be a single bar of phone signal anywhere on site, but you'll want to take a bunch of drunken selfies and will probably forget to put your phone on airplane mode which will run the battery flat by the simple act of it trying to connect to a non-existent network all the time. They're pretty cheap, are useful for long train journeys, and nights out too.

A good look around at all the food options early on: There's nothing worse than spending £7 on a lame burger and limp fries, only to find there's a Pieminister around the corner.

Checking out a band that I've never heard of before: Although I try to do my homework before a festival, there are always some bands that are worth taking a punt on.

And finally: Don't do what I did at my first 2000 Trees and spend 12 hours alternating between cans of Strongbow and cans of Carling, without having any water or food because:
a) Those drinks are horrid, you deserve better.
2) The 12 hour internal Snakebite will NOT make you feel very well the next day. At all.
and d) If you're thinking "but the experience might make a fun basis for a song" — too late buddy.

See you at 2000 Trees and ArcTanGent!
Barry OT

* If you're interested: 1 A star, 5 x A, 3 x B, and a D. An anagram of which is "Baa-Baa's Bra Data", whatever that means.
** The idea only just occurred to me if I'm honest; can't promise it won't happen this year. Related: it's too long a story for this, but if you see me at a festival ask me to tell you about "scousers", "paracetamol" and "Glastonbury".

Some people at a festival - photo by Ben Morse

Some people at a festival - photo by Ben Morse

Ben Morse — photographer, director


Click the URL to watch and oggle Ben's latest work including the video for Frank Turner's 'The Next Storm' featuring ex-WWE wrestler, current UFC signee and Marvel Comics author, CM Punk. 

Prepare properly! 

Comfortable shoes. No, maybe they're not that cool. But you know what? Your cool shoes will be at best stinky and at worst utterly wrecked. Plus, if you get blisters on a festival site you're opening yourself up to trench foot, scurvy, diptheria or at the very least black lung or some other medieval disease. Festival sites are essentially the Middle Ages.

On that note — SUNSCREEN AND WATER. Jesus. Don't be *that* guy or girl, partied out and burned to a crisp on day one, weeping and dabbing at gooey wounds for the remaining two days, afraid to get in the pit or trek across the campsite for fear of melting. Remember the shoes thing? Apply that to skin problems. Gross.

If you're the sort of person that likes to go nuts at a festival — take protection. True story: my second Reading, we ended up camping next to the same people that my buddy had hooked up with the year before. One of them wasn't there though, because she had a three-month-old baby to take care of at home. THAT led to some hilarious exchanges, let me tell you. Not for him, I'm sure. We still don't know if it's his. A cautionary tale for either gender though.

Essentially, you can safely lose your mind at a festival, if you packed right. Have fun!
- Ben Morse -

Beans On Toast — Xtra Mile artist

Good ole' Beans plays a bunch of summer festivals in 2015 (see poster below) and his latest album The Grand Scheme of Things is out now for all you romantics out there.

Beans does summer

Beans does summer

6 Festival tips:

It's hard to explain why this will help you have a good time, but trust me, it will. If you wanna spend a weekend in a field, it’s best to show some respect to the land you're dancing on.

Don't be afraid to walk around festivals by yourself. You will meet more people and see / hear more new things. You can always meet up with your mates later, or just make new ones.

Yes, you probably need a tent and some waterproofs, but apart from that remember it's only a few nights away and you’re gonna have to carry all that shit around. Think about things like: booze (beer is heavy, you need a shit load of it and it tastes bad warm — wine or spirits don't), toilet paper (can be found in the form of napkins at every food van), food (are you really gonna eat all that?).

Anyone who said you can't have sex in a tent or that sex at festivals is rubbish is doing it wrong.

If you really like festivals, don't forget it takes thousands of people to put them on and that jobs within festivals are pretty easy to score: anything from litter picking, serving food and stewarding to crewing, production or performing. I'd say it's easier to get in a festival than it is in a job centre and you could quite likely end up with a summer outside traveling and partying around the country. Just have a think about what you'd like to do and have a chat to those who are doing it.

clean your house/ flat / bedroom before you leave. Come Monday, you will appreciate it.

Dan Andriano — Xtra Mile artist

Under the guise of Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room, his second solo album is out 17 July 2015 on CD, vinyl and download. Get it, or may your videos always be wonky.

Hello out there in festival-land! I know, festivals are some of the best opportunities we have to see and hear tons of great bands we love, and also get to check out new stuff that we may get turned on to. That’s a lot of memories to make, right? So, as much as I’d love to see everyone put their phones down and just live in the moment, I understand why we feel the need to stick ‘em up in the air and try to capture some brilliant footage. If you insist on watching a once-in-a-lifetime performance through your five and a half inch screen (you know you’re never gonna watch this shit again, but maybe one time), PLEASE turn your camera to landscape view! Nobody has a vertical television, and I sure as fuck hope that no one ever does! People have tried to show me videos they’ve "shot" before. They’d be all “check out this footage I got of The Replacements doing 'Color Me Impressed' last month”. But alas, it’s an odd looking portrait-style video on a big beautiful widescreen. I just have to walk away sad, because I love that song. Friendship cancelled.

Have a bitchin’ summer everybody, enjoy the tunes, enjoy the view, enjoy the moment, and if you must, take the extra .02 seconds to turn your phone 90º

Peace and Love, Dan Andriano

Frank Turner's festival tips video

Words of wisdom from 2000trees’ Camp Turner

A group of Frank Turner fans decided a few years ago that camping with like-minded people was the best way to maximize their festival experience. We tapped their collective shoulders and asked for some festival must-haves and general survival tips. This sparring collection of suggestions takes place below:

Paul Nicholas: Padlocks for your tent!
Hannah Boast: Earplugs for sleeping. If you have a double skinned tent, put a foil blanket between the inner and outer to keep it cool. Hydration packs (like what cyclists use) are great to keep hydrated but don't attach the hose to a box of wine (I saw a chap at a festival redecorate the first aid post, once he slept it off he had a lot of cleaning to do)
Gilxs Wendes: Solar shower. Folding bike. Guitar(s)/strings. Yurt. BIG CAR.
Jake Stothard: Trolley/collapsible wheelbarrow to carry everything from the bus/car. Lift share if possible; save money and the world! :) Make sure you pack your tent pegs or that your tent comes with them. Too many times I've seen people not bring tent pegs! Bring your own drinks; yes it may get hot but it's a damn sight cheaper than the stuff there, save that for special occasions or an occasional drink. Don't pack tinned food; personally I only recommend bringing food for one or two nights anyway as it is so difficult to keep fresh, but tins are way too heavy. The best food to bring are the dehydrated foods; your Pot Noodles, Bean Feasts, Cuppa Soups, the just-add-water variety. Not heavy, and quick to prepare (but bring some form of kettle/hob) and can be very nutritious, even if just used as a snack! Other great food to get you through a hot and sweaty day are sugary foods. Biscuits are good but malt loaf is better; great way to give you that little boost of energy, and better yet they don't melt in the sun! Also, don't bring too much alcohol. Pace yourself and 'buddy' with a friend who will look after you if you get ill and tell you when to stop drinking if you are a little worse for wear. The sun is a *insert profanity here* when drinking, so watch out!

The Camp Turner massive

The Camp Turner massive

Gilxs Wendes: Meet people on the internet before you go! :)
Jake Stothard: Ooh cheap festival phone is a fantastic suggestion! Battery long enough to last the weekend, no one will nick it, if it get broken it's only a tenner. Generally there isn't reception in the middle of a field anyway!
Rob Winterbourne: Never put the wristband on your wiping hand.
Hannah Boast: I keep my stealable things in my pillowcase at night. They ain't getting it unless they lift my head and no matter how many drinks I've had, that'd wake me up.
Jake Stothard: Keeping them in the sleeping bag is also a great way to protect them too!
Paul Nicholas: "Resolve" sachets ... breakfast of the the festival gods!
Jack Stargatt: Painkillers for the hangover. Although remember not to take ibuprofen or paracetamol on an empty stomach.
Isabelle Holt: I used rubble sacks cause they are thicker so don't rip so easily & make great rucksack liners/covers as well
Jack Endley: Take as much as you can in the way of fags and booze. Even if you don't drink or smoke, it is basically festival currency.
Tracy Arnold: Duct tape fixes most things. Make friends with your neighbours so you and they know whose tent it is. Wet wipes. Keep a change of clothes in the car for the way home or as back-up, and put your stealables in the bottom of your sleeping bag when you go to sleep! Oh, and keep your tent as messy as possible; thieves don't want to move your underwear and other detritus to find stuff!

The not-at-all elusive Josh Foote

The not-at-all elusive Josh Foote

Camp Turner’s own Josh Foote with his ultimate survival check-list:
This is my list I post every year, covers all the essentials:

Sleeping bag and tent — For the love of God DO NOT forget these. I like to pack my bags a good day before to make sure that things like these are never forgotten.
Toilet paper — Some festivals provide this but I always manage to bring some with me, and guard it with your life!
Hand sanitiser — With all the junk food and lack of proper showers, festivals are germ heaven so I always bring one of these to use after toilet trips, and before and after eating.
Towels and waterproofs — It may rain so coats or thick hoodies are needed. Towels are so you can dry yourself off in case your waterproofs aren't that water proof. And while we're on the subject of wetness...
Wellies — With rain comes mud and with mud comes inevitable slipping. A decent pair of thick boots or wellies are needed so you can traverse the festival grounds safely.
Enough clothes to last 2 days more than your stay — If anything gets wet, from either rain or a burst can in your case, it's wise to always over-pack on clothes.
Snacks and booze — Being a festival, food and drink are very expensive so always pack some nibbly foods to save expensive snacking at the burger vans, and some cans in your bags if you have a fire. That being said NEVER bring glass bottles. They will be confiscated at the gates and you'll have thrown money down the toilet.
Money and cards — I always put money away for any festival but the amount always varies. Usually I take between £50 to £150 depending on how much I've packed. Festival meals are usually 4–7 quid each so if you want a breakfast, dinner and snack that can range from 12–21 quid a day, so be wise with your money.
Headache pills — Because nobody wants to miss a set due to a hangover. Take a small pack of Nurofen and avoid booze for the day. It's got me out of many potential disasters.
Also — bin bags for days, because they make cheap coats and keeps your tent extra tidy! And do what I do and bring an old suitcase. Means you've got wheels to travel on the grass and have enough compartments for all your needs.

For even more festival help, you can check out our board on Pinterest. Got any useful or unusual festival survival tips? How about for those ATP-style chalet or apartment festivals? Inner-city festivals? Let us know via Facebook, on Twitter @Xtra_Mile or even by email: contributions[at]xtramilerecordings[dot]com. Wanna tell us about your festival experiences this summer? Do. We may publish them right here for you to brag about to all your friends (Twitter followers).