Ever wondered what it’s like to be backstage at one of the many fabulous festivals of the summer? Last month we were on-site at Hard Rock Calling, on their brand new site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
It’s 8am on a warm and drizzly Friday morning in a gravelly car park, with men in high-vis vests hurtling past on golf buggies, on foot and even on bikes, frantically putting the finishing touches to the stages and VIP areas for this weekend’s Hard Rock Calling Festival.
After spending six years at Hyde park, this year sees the festival setting up for the first time at the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. After months of hard work the site is coming together, with the main stage up, plus two further stages to the lower end of the site and the bandstand, which over the weekend will see a host of new and established acts play to thousands.
A mere six hours later and all dressing rooms have furniture, are labelled with the correct artists’ names and riders have been filled with everything from cans of Tuborg to bottles of pink Veuve de Clique. As the workers head home for the day there is a sense of excitement in the air – tomorrow the acts arrive and the fun really begins.
With the sun bright in the sky from the moment we set foot on site, we gather for the morning prep talk, grab our radios and head out to meet the first of the acts as they arrive. Throughout the day, act after act arrives; from Kasabian to Eliza and the Bear to Paul Weller.
Queries from the artists vary from getting guestlist names to the gates, organising meal tickets and getting their managers set up on wi-fi in the promoters’ tent. All requests are fulfilled, and as Bruce Springsteen takes to the stage to close the festival on Sunday night we look back over a brilliant and successful weekend.
So what was it like to be backstage at a festival? It was hard work, bright sunshine, long days, amazing live music, unusual requests, enough coconut water to fill a bath or two, unusual antics (including the lead singer of Kasabian, Tom Meighan, appearing to attempt some pre-show fence climbing), sitting behind Gaz Coombes in a mini bus, tripping over a guitar stand in front of a band who shall remain nameless, sunburn, watching bands from the side of the stage, press passes and not to mention the many amazing acts – from those just starting out to those headlining – it was an experience not to be forgotten and one we’re unlikely to forget in a hurry.
Roll on next year!