THE HARDCORE FESTIVAL GUIDE PART ONE
What is Hardcore?
Hardcore: it isn't just a kind of porn, music or gravel, it's more than that. It's a way of life, a philosophy if you will, the Zen of an all or nothing, clinically bipolar, will-driven daily fight to be nothing less than Hardcore in everything that you do and think. Join me or die; can you do any less?
At one end of the spectrum is the true Hardcore. At the other end is the enemy, The Hippy. Between them are The Rest, be they Townies, Kerrang! Kids or Wuss Rockers etc. All have the ability to succeed and become Hardcore and avoiding the horrifying likelihood of falling in to Hippydom and becoming less than the very dirt beneath your feet which the Hippy worships. The tragedy of humanity is free will. Part One of this guide is here to help you get started choosing wisely. It might hurt, but if it didn't, how would you know you were doing it right?
Which Festivals to Attend
It is difficult to be Hardcore at your first festival, so I suggest the Andy Future Under Age Virgins festival guide to be read in addition to this if it's your first time, take his points onboard in addition to these important ones...
Glastonbury is a Hippy festival: Here you will find yourself, as a member of the Hardcore, far outnumbered by Hippies. While this is of no immediate problem you do have to beware of falling into Hippy modes of living, so avoid the temptation to buy Hippy crap from the stalls. Also watch out for the so-called 'chilled vibe' that some report. This is a vibe specifically designed to sap your Hardcore Spirit with a haze of the cannabis smoke making you lose your edge. Beware! There had better be some Hardcore bands to justify you going.
Dance festivals are not real festivals: While you will find a healthy shortage of Hippies at such events, you will also be one of the few Hardcore at such an event. Dance festivals are shorter than real festivals and, well, they're just not real festivals. Furthermore they require the taking of drugs that sit dangerously close to the Hippy end of the spectrum to endure the event, so really the Hardcore should stay well away.
Reading is the best corporate festival: sure you've got the V festivals and even Leeds, but while they've sold out about as much as the Reading end of the Carling Weekend (selling out is not a problem for the Hardcore as we are above such things) they don't have the Hardcore Vibe for a number of reasons. Reading has good logical structure in its circle of stages surrounded by the camp site and while it is in a field (on a farm no less) the Hippy count is happily low (due to the corporate nature of it) and its city location gives easy access for transport and even, for the less Hardcore, a trip into town for facilities and food. A good mix of big and little bands and food options could just make Reading the best overall festival to hit.
Indie Festivals are great/terrible: As befits the bipolar nature of the Hardcore ethos, an Indie festival such as Truck or All Tomorrow's Parties is both a great and terrible place to be depending on a number of things. Hippies are as likely to be around as the Hardcore (if not more likely, due to lack of corporate involvement), however the Hardcore exclusivity of having to find out about what's going on and make your own way there are a definite bonus. This might also be the only place that you will be able to see your favourite Hardcore band, other festivals being too wussy to put them on, or the band being too Hardcore to bow to going to a Hippy festival etc. Beware of Wussrock bands however. Indie record and 'zine people have a worrying like for them and you might have to spend valuable time dodging them in order to see the few Hardcore bands that will be there.
Remember to get to the campsite early, Hippies have a worrying (but expected) tendency to travel faster than the Hardcore where dirt is involved, and as everyone knows, in a camping environment bongo drums and acoustic guitars are to be used as weapons, not instruments. You do not want to be camped next to a Hippy area, for their safety if nothing else.
Also while generally heeding Future's sage campsite advice, you want to be situated close to a wooded area - not too close, mind, as they are turned into toilets quickly. This is for atmosphere as well as more practical personal use of it for toilet reasons. Wide open space is a bad thing, it takes you further away from the natural urban/enclosed environment of the Hardcore.
The campsite should consist of a number of vital ingredients. The tents should be at least 3 as the ideal number; if more, the 3 tent pattern should be copied in a daisy-chain formation. All 3 tents should face inwards forming a closed centre area to use as a mustering point for the morning and nighttime activities of food/drinking etc. The most important part of the camping is camouflage, a 10 meter x 10 meter cammo net should be enough for one set of 3 tents. These essential pieces of kit can be picked up at army surplus shops or web sites all over the UK, these places are also full of Hardcore equipment and clothing to take along. Being Hardcore is being prepared.
While making Hardcore army surplus purchases you might also wish to pick up a flag to mark out your tent. To be Hardcore this should have a suitably military angle to it, perhaps NATO or more properly the UN, an organisation that needs all the Hardcore support it can get after the mess Hippies have made it become. A crappy England flag is not Hardcore.
Which Bands To See
Hardcore bands obviously. Remember, just because a band has sold out does not immediately stop them being Hardcore, nor does a band being unheard of instantly make them Hardcore, so while personal preference makes up a lot of this section, here are some Hardcore pointers:
Which Stage?: Festivals usually have 2 to 5 stages and tents so you'll have a lot to choose from, your best bet is to hit the 'New Bands Tent' or whatever it's called at the festival, many of these bands will be Hardcore, also few people will watch them, so you can claim they were Hardcore even if they weren't. You'll know what the bands playing the Main Stage will be like, so that one's easy. The most Hardcore bands will likely be on early or late - Hardcore guitar bands don't do mid afternoons. The Dance Tent will not be that Hardcore. Dance really doesn't fit into a live festival environment. There might be some intense Hardcore bands making a showing though, so don't write it off without checking. Remember to check out the specialist stages that only appear for a day at some festivals, specialisation = Hardcore.
Never Stop: This is music festival, don't go back to your tent unless there is a dire lack of Hardcore bands on, at least get some Hardcore food and wait it out until something comes on. You're here for the music, anyone can sit in a field for a weekend, they're called Hippies, the Hardcore are here for the music and try to spot members of obscure bands for 12 hours a day. Remember, pain is just weakness leaving the body, you can rest after the festival, you've spent large sums of money getting in, don't wuss out, you're Hardcore aren't you?
Get To The Front: Like a shotgun, music is more Hardcore the closer you get, if you're not in the front few rows you won't get the same effect. Hardcore clothing and equipment can help in this but you have to make the effort. Sitting miles away is wussy, you can watch bands on MTV if you don't care about getting in there, when was the last time someone got trampled by Hippies eh? Getting in there = Hardcore.
That's you started, as for the matter of Hardcore festival food, drink, clothing and equipment, check back soon for the next instalment. Trust me, it'll be Hardcore.