Penn Fest 2018. A day filled with great music, lots of glitter and sat in dust at the barrier. It might be one of the strangest days of my life but it was brilliant.
I got there pretty early with a pal and it quickly became evident that there was no need as we queued and then leisurely walked to the barrier once doors opened. I don’t think I have ever walked to a barrier before. A group of six of us stood there and realised that not one person followed us. Weird.
It did mean that we could relax for the time being before the crowd got rowdy later on in proceedings and the mosh pits begun. I suspect that going on a Friday meant the crowd was small to begin with because of work and similar commitments but when the more known acts were on later in the day there was a great atmosphere.
The seven acts I saw were: L.A.D, Kid Galahad, Akiva, The Bluetones, Example, Feeder and Kaiser Chiefs. Any regular readers of the blog can probably guess who I went to see…maybe. But I tell you what, there was not one act that I didn’t enjoy. There was a real variety but I simply enjoyed the buzz of it all. From the 80s sound of L.A.D to the heavy guitar of Feeder I definitely did a lot of head nodding and foot tapping.
I surprised myself at the energy I managed to find throughout the day. I had only two hours sleep the night before and arrived feeling incredibly nauseous which I think I could put down to two reasons: tiredness and anxiety. It has been a while since I have been anxious leading up to a gig but I definitely was on Thursday and Friday. It is difficult to explain as to why that was the case but I was. I know the reason but it isn’t something that I am willing to share so openly online. Thankfully the great company I had and some chill out time before the gates opened really helped but I knew the ten hour wait at the barrier would be hard and it certainly was.
This post isn’t actually going to focus that much on the particular artists who played but I have made a Spotify Playlist which I will link to at the end which has tracks from all the artists I saw which you should check out! Show them some support.
So, you might be wondering if I am not focussing on the artists then what is this all about? If you follow me on Twitter you might know or have guessed but basically I am proud of myself. Why? For breaking some personal barriers.
Starting off with a simple one…wearing shorts. It had been years since I last wore a pair of shorts but the day before the festival my pal managed to persuade me to buy a pair rather than wear the black skinny jeans I had brought with me. Good decision. The reason I don’t wear shorts is because I am insecure about my legs and especially my thighs. It isn’t the size of them, please I don’t need a lecture I know I am too skinny, but the scarring on them. But the shorts I bought went down to my knees not showing my thighs, so it was okay. But without my friend persuading me that it was okay I would have roasted in jeans.
How have I coped in this two-month heatwave that we have had here in England? Well…I haven’t. Not really. Just put jeans on and didn’t complain basically but now I feel like maybe I can wear shorts…maybe. Although, I haven’t worn them since. It is going to take another step to wear them on a more regular basis and it will probably be pissing down with rain by then.
Next on the list of breakthroughs is not being scared of standing out. Usually, I try to blend in as much as possible to avoid people’s stares and comments. I hate being noticed and I’d much rather just hide in plain sight…if that makes sense? But when my friend came back from getting food without any food but instead glitter on his face I didn’t even hesitate about following suit. Who doesn’t want rainbow glitter on their face at a festival? Best eight quid I’ve ever spent.
Oh yes it was bright! And we both had people commenting on how it looked both at the festival and on public transport going home which was very strange for me. It is stereotypical that no-one talks to each other on the tube in London yet people weren’t refraining in doing so. I think maybe I wasn’t scared about standing out in this way because I wasn’t the first to do it and there were two of us the same. Safety in numbers.
This leads nicely into the last reason. Not hiding my sexuality.
Yes, that’s right, I am pansexual which I have written about in a previous post which you can read here.
I think it is fair to say that I am terrified generally about displaying that in public because of people’s prejudices and risk to my safety. But just before the Kaiser Chiefs came on stage to close the night, my pal and I draped two LGBT+ flags over the barrier: the gay and pansexual flags. When we put them out and woman next to me asked what they were about and momentarily I felt sick but I answered her and she just shrugged. Unbothered. That’s the way it should be.
We both have a lot of trust in the band so we knew that they wouldn’t have an issue of it because they are incredibly laidback and simply genuine people with accepting attitudes of the LGBT+ community. Most of the set they stayed on the barrier but during a song – I think Hole In My Soul – when frontman Ricky Wilson stood in front of us singing we waved them about a bit earning a grin. He’s chill. They are chill.
You might have read this post and thought “what is the massive deal” or something. Which is fair enough and good for you if you don’t have any of these issues or insecurities. You are very lucky. I know that I am not the only one to feel like this and if you are reading this with any of these problems then I wish you luck in combating them.
I am not saying that these difficulties of mine are solved. Far from it. But it was a day of relief that I could be myself with some close friends and not hide. Hopefully there will be many other days like this in the future.
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