In 1986, in order to figure out the state of a country’s economic position without actually bothering to figure it out, The Economist magazine instead invented The Big Mac Index. The idea was to test one currency against another according to the average cost of two beef patties (and extras) in each place. It’s rare you’ll find a Mc Donalds at a music festival so here are a few ways to measure your next weekend bender.
The Burning-man-index: Not burgers but raincoats. Waterproofs. Mackintoshes. Whatever you want to call them, if they’re in plentiful supply, your festival’s probably a washout, weather-wise. But sometimes a high BMI can make your day. Like that time at Burning Man – you remember – the sun burning into our flesh as we danced barefoot in the sand – you were so fucked up, man, covered in pine cones, speaking Paiute – then someone saw the cloud. Like some monumental mother-ship, the cloud crept towards us with the promise of relief. An hour later it finally arrived and 10,000 people danced it across the desert. Diluted suntan lotion made our eyes sting like paper-cuts but we didn’t care. And to be fair, few of us wore macs.
The worst fully-fledged panic attack was probably – ironically enough – at The Big Chill, in that weird late-night comedy tent when the burlesque dancers mistook your drug-induced veneer of bemused incandescence for courage and willing and they pulled you out of the crowd and bade you dance with them, both seductively and comedically, but this was not within your skillset. Then suddenly you were aware of 150 people staring and laughing and something then just snapped in you and froze – just like that time in the school play when you were 8 and instead of delivering your only line, you just literally turned to stone and had to be carried into the garden for birds to shit on. The rest is just a blank.
The missing-the-best-acts-while stuck-in-the-portaloo-Index:
Every festival is a series of choices, some of them good, some of them bad. Except for Glastonbury 2010, when every choice was spectacularly bad. Like somehow managing to choose that portaloo – of all the portaloos – the one in the corner slightly apart from the rest, seconds before it was elevated six feet in the air by a nearby forklift, to be carried to another part of the site, until you squealed like a pig and were freed; and then missing Stevie Wonder, Muse, Faithless, Gorillaz, Shakira and Chase & Status, but managing to catch Rolf Harris, and dancing along to Two Little Boys whilst wearing your Lostprophets MEGALOLZ t-shirt. How were you to know? It was a more innocent time.
There are few disappointments so great as your favourite band letting you down live on stage. It can be so painful that frankly, you’d rather they’d all gone down in a plane. Especially if it’s the first time you’ve seen them live and they’re genuinely so inept that you can’t tell if they’re joking or not. You think, maybe they’re ironically self-shredding for some reason? No, no. They’re just shit. They’re Blink 182 at Reading in 2014, a performance described by one erstwhile fan as like an hour-long stroke. They’re Guns n Roses any time after 1992, with Axl prancing like a tantrum-tossing tit-toddler. They’re the Black-Eyed Peas.
Every festival has a DSMI. It’s one of the main reasons people who don’t like festivals don’t like festivals: the sanitation issue. A lot of these people are the same ones who won’t use the loos at work – neurotic, OCD types who hover over the toilet seat with a hanky over their face. The thought of being locked in a steaming portaloo is terrifying to them. Sometimes they have a point. That time at Green Man. Was it 2007? When half of the portaloos were crushed by a runaway crew truck, and that same night the dump-pumper malfunctioned. By Sunday morning it was like the Battle of the Somme, if by Somme you mean faeces. They called it Brown Man that year. It was the year Robert Plant got a standing ovation for his song Big Log.
If you can, always stay till the very end of a festival, or at least till Monday afternoon. That way you can go beach-combing through what feels like the detritus of some great, surprisingly hedonistic battle. I believe Glastonbury three years ago was the biggest KRGM in festival history. By all accounts. The first 100,000 had left or joined the queue to leave by 9am, the ones for whom ‘leave no trace’ means absolutely nothing. We prayed for their self-centered souls and commenced thereupon to scavenge. We were a team of four. Total haul: 148 baggies or wraps containing small-to-medium amounts of cannabis, marijuana, ketamine, cocaine and MDMA; two beautiful glass bongs; a meth lab; three helicopters full of money and a small island in the Caribbean.