Tales from Suburban Bohemia: Creamfields
This post originally appeared on Stumpy Moose on 25 August 2002, and was migrated to PraguePig.com on 28 August 2020.
I was expecting the worst.
Friday is a hellish day at work and I wasn’t in a party mood.
It was 10pm and I was now about to get on a bus and go to a field in the middle of nowhere and stay there all night. On my own.
I’d won a Creamfields ticket on the Prague TV site. When my friend decided not to go, I decided to go it alone.
I’ve been clubbing and I’ve been to big indoor raves but I’ve never been to a dance event on Creamfields’ absurd rock-festival scale. It would be a new experience, even if it was awful.
Things brightened up as soon as I got on the shuttle bus.
By luck, my friend Sean and his girlfriend were on the same bus and were meeting up with a mutual friend.
The atmosphere on the bus was surprising. I’d been expecting all kinds of illicit drug-taking and wild revelry but the mood was one of quiet expectation, more like a school trip.
Less than an hour later we were dropped off on the edge of a large unlit field. We picked our way through the parked cars towards the giant Klieg light marking out the Creamfields site.
After being stripped of our bottled water by security, ensuring that we’d buy Creamfields’ overpriced drinks inside, we arrived in time to catch the second half of the Kosheen set.
I’m not a fan of Kosheen’s moody trip-hop on record, but they were a jaunty live act.
I’m not sure if the band really fits in with Creamfields’ whole electronic music vibe, though – at one point, the lead singer asked us to applaud the cellist. Not very techno.
The festival’s headliners, Underworld, came next.
There’s something about Underworld that rubs me the wrong way. For a techno act, they seem so joyless, and I can’t get into the vocals. Does the music really need someone mithering over the top of it like a drunken post-graduate student?
The show, when it came, wasn’t bad though, despite some technical glitches.
The kids loved Underworld but I’d had enough. I sloped off halfway through the set to have a look around and stumbled upon Paul Oakenfold, DJing in a tent on the outskirts of the festival.
He was wearing a Perfecto tracksuit, and I couldn’t work out whether that was cool or not. After long thought, I decided that it probably wasn’t, but couldn’t rule out doing something similar if I ran my own record label.
Oakenfold deserves his big reputation but I didn’t like the set. He seemed more intent on amusing himself than the audience, switching records every 20 seconds or so and just generally fannying about.
By the time the Oakenfold set ended, my energy was beginning to flag.
I bought a can of Semtex, the energy drink that was sponsoring the event. Despite the terrifying name and numerous warnings on the side of the can, it did little to revive my spirits, though for a while the little finger on my left hand went numb.
My feet were hurting and I was tired, so I sat down. Raves are great places for people-watching. Two games I’d recommend: “What the hell is that person doing here?” and “What the hell do these freaks do during the day?”
Despite all my grousing, I actually had a great time. It’s a huge cliche, of course, but I was surprised by just how good-natured ravers are. There’s much less aggression than at the average alt-rock show, for instance.
Getting home was a nightmare though. The organizers had laid on just three shuttle buses to ferry hundreds of people back to Prague on Saturday morning.
After several hours of waiting to squeeze onto an overcrowded bus, we gave up and got a taxi to the train station.
The train station too was packed with hordes of dazed and confused ravers. A couple was dancing on the tracks to the music in their heads.
It was hard to stay awake on the train, but the views of the swollen Labe river were spectacular – a warning of things to come the following week.
We finally got back to Prague at 10am, after leaving the Creamfields site at 5:30am.
I was exhausted but sometimes it’s good to stay out all night, just to prove that you still can.