Badfest or Bust? – July 2005

Twinwoods Arena, Clapham

Words by Donegal Paul
Pics by Donegal and Stuosaurus

Badfest or Bust?

In the same way as “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”

so I should point out that “one man’s review is another man’s load of shite”.

The following are my own views on the first Badfest and if you don’t agree and want to read a rosy review then you can find one on the BBC website at and search for badfest.

And so it was on the 29th July 2005 the pilgrims did arrive for Badfest, well how could we not? It’s like a rally on your doorstep for us lot!
It promised to be a great weekend what with the months of publicity. All those great bands and DJ’s, the huge stage that would have two bands on at once, with one setting up as the other finished their set thus allowing little or no gap in the music. How bloody great was this going to be!!

Well, let’s see shall we?
What about the access?
A one mile track, not a dirt track no, a hardcore track, bad enough on a car never mind my old tatty scooter, I certainly wouldn’t want to have been taking a custom scooter or freshly painted one up there. You wouldn’t get a stone chip, you’d be feckin’ pebble dashed! But as I understand it it’s always been like that, and what the hell, once your on site you’re not likely to be leaving for anything are you?

Despite the fact that the weather all week had been a bit naff to say the least, when it came to arriving to the campsite on the day we were surprised to find that it was in fact quite dry, not a waterlogged corner in site!! Excellent, things were looking up already.

Time to pitch the tents.

Quincy organised us into a position where we all faced our tents towards each other so we could have a central sitting and eating and drinking area, sure he’s been a foreman on a site somewhere that bloke!
Facilities on the site seemed ok with showers which we’d later find ran from cold to warm to hot and you would have to dodge in and out to avoid being frozen or boiled alive, there were plenty of portaloos too and all credit were it’s due, the organisers kept them clean as much as possible, certainly a damn site better than the facilities at Skegness Rally’s campsite earlier that year.
Right, onto more important matters and from a practical point of view it was already arranged that we’d get beer and food from the local wholesaler, thanks to Big Rob and his connections and cans worked out at about 50p each!! Better than the £2.50 a pint or bottle at the do’s we were to discover later!
However, there was a kink in the plan which we discovered when we reached the security gate for the long walk to the music and stalls.
What’s that? Yes the loooooonnng walk to the event. Didn’t I say? Thought I’d mentioned it. Well as you’re asking……

While sussing out the site facilities and where to pitch, we noticed something odd about the huge stage within the proposed arena. It wasn’t there! So on further investigation we discovered that things were not as they should have been. They had sold quite a few less tickets than expected and it appears that corners were cut at a late stage. Speaking of which, where was it? Yes, it was ¾ of a mile away!! Not the convenience that had been spoken about for several months that’s for sure! Still, ok, a couple of deep breaths and what the heck, it’s only a wander, that’ll be fine, bring a can with you and off you go.

Which reminds me, what was I saying when you put me off my flow? Ah, yes, the cheap beers plan. Well, strangely enough they wouldn’t allow you to bring your own past the security gate, probably in an attempt to boost their profits, especially as the only beer on tap was that cheap bloody Crest brewed here in Bedford, at £2.50 a pint too! Anyway the excuse was that it was for security purposes. To be fair I knew in advance that you weren’t allowed glass bottles etc, but for god’s sake, how is a tin a security risk! So we guzzled down our tins and headed up to the main events looking forward to checking out the facilities, the hog roast and the many promised stalls!

Ummmmmmmm. Ok, they must be well camouflaged. Oh, noooo. They’re just not there. All that was present was a bouncy castle and a small 5 a side footy pitch for the kids instead of the promised funfair, about 10 smallish stalls all outside, no indoor dealers at all as promised, and then the venue with a few food stalls and one selling overpriced merchandise. The hog roast was indeed selling roast pork but was I the only one to think that there would be a pig on a spit and was subsequently disappointed? Maybe, though the only other choice was those French crepes at £3 each or a small tray of chips at £2.50! There was more than one occasion during this weekend that I felt we were being fleeced.

While taking this all in and the crowds were gathering, it was quite relaxing listening to the music blaring out over the speakers, though again disappointment awaited, it was only a repeating tape as opposed to a DJ. Though when the first acts appeared there was certainly anticipation rustling through those gathered.

Eddie Tenpole Tudor, the Beat and the Blockheads were the bands for the first evening and all were excellent in their own way. The thing with this festival is that while one act might do nothing for you there would be another along soon, so something for everyone. It was a shame though that by using the little makeshift stage, rather than the promised arena, they really looked squeezed in and there was a fairly frequent feedback squeak via the speakers at times. Mind you, by the time the Blockheads were on it was sorted.

Everything wound down about 11.30 so we all made our way back to the site and cranked up the BBQ and beers having a right old laugh with some going to bed earlier than others! I was one of the late goers along with a few others having a good old laugh until the early hours. Mind you it was about 2.30am when we heard Stu coming out of his tent. He’d had a real skinful that day (not unlike several of us) and we weren’t sure whether he was after more beer. So we sat quiet and still, figuring his vision would be based like that of the T Rex, on movement. It worked, he came out, had a piss and went back into his tent to settle down, and so Stu-osaurus was born!

Saturday morning started with a hangover, not surprisingly, but hey; without the bad, the good wouldn’t taste so swee!. There was much discussion about the night before and plans for the day and before long it was time to trek up to the music again with the 5,6,7,8’s due to be on first. But what to do about refreshments?

Seeing as you seemed to be allowed small plastic bottles of water a few of the girls took advantage of this by filling them with vodka. As for tins, it was a game of distraction. We simply walked up to the gates finishing off a can and drank the last of it when we were challenged. Then once through the gate and up the lane 20 or 30 yards it was a simple matter to get the can each we’d secreted in our pockets.

The tape from the previous day was playing as we got there though it wasn’t long until the 5,6,7,8’s came on for their set. I have to say, I enjoyed them immensely though I suspect many had never heard of them other than their song from the Tarantino film Kill Bill. By the time they’d finished it was time to look forward to another hour of tape playing and as I was feeling a bit delicate at this point, I and a few others headed back to the tents for some food and drink to relax. While gone though, I am reliably informed by Woody and others that The Meteors were brilliant!

Later it was time to head back up for Bad Manners, to see the man himself, who hadn’t been seen so far all weekend! But before that we had to figure a way to get more cans to the gig. Enter…………the Beer Mule!
Oh yes, the Beer Mule (aka Julie) managed to secrete seven full cans of beer about her person. Her breasts haven’t been that pert since 1986!!!

Arriving with our stock of beer and having never seen Bad Manners before I wasn’t sure what to expect I admit, but I wasn’t disappointed, with Buster and the lads putting on a great set over the next hour and a half and getting the crowd going.

Back to base by midnight and it was food and beer all round again before settling down at about 2am when tonight the organisers switched off all the generators only leaving us with our torches to drink beer by so we settled down to sleep and be (fairly) refreshed for the next days music. But that’s when the weekend took a bit of a turn unfortunately. Some of our neighbours had restarted one of the generators near them and as we were settling down for the night cranked up the music even louder. Still you gotta expect some antics camping at a rally, at least it’s not the ’80’s eh?

Or is it? Next thing I knew we could see a shadow on our tent of someone sneaking about and then something being poured all over our tent, we had no idea at the time what it was, could have been anything from lemonade to fucking petrol for all we knew! Myself and Big Rob got up to find out what was going on, went to the perpetrators being blinded by the genny lights and then Rob tripped on a gas cooker nearly setting himself alight! Then one of their party flipped and that was that, there was no holding them back as 2 or 3 of them decided to use Rob as a punchbag! Not much else to say about this other than the rozzers were called, despite calls from them that they didn’t care, and security arrived within a couple of minutes which consisted of 5 lads with acne for feck’s sake. And it was sooo obvious they’d been on a course. Tits, the lot of them.

By the time the police had arrived and names taken Rob went to A&E, thankfully no major damage, and one of the lads from their lot was arrested despite pleas of “not in front of my 11 year old daughter”. It was then he decided to counter claim saying Rob hit him too so of course Rob was also taken in after being seen in A&E.

All worked out in the end despite the security lads being complete arseholes and asking us not to antagonise the situation as we are sat outside drinking our coffee wondering if there would be more hassle from our neighbours and if it was safe to even stay on site. Even as they’re asking us to behave we and they can hear taunts from across the field!!

Eventually we settled down for the night but really that was the icing on the cake for the weekend, I really thought the ’80’s were over.

Next day, well with a cloud now over the weekend at least by now we had heard from Rob and Pam and that they were ok and would be back up to the site soon. The plan for the day was basically to break camp and do our own thing. And that’s exactly what we did with myself and a few others leaving everything in the car while we went and watched the bands for an hour or so before deciding to call it a day and get out of there before Musical Youth and Chas and Dave got on stage.

As I read back over what I’ve just written I realise that the question of Badfest or Bust seems a moot one now. The whole thing reads like we had a shite weekend, that’s not true but it didn’t feel like we got what we were led to believe either and that’s the disappointment. Obviously there are plans for a Badfest 2006, 2007, etc but honestly? I can’t see it coming off without a lot of work.

So…………Badfest or Bust?

For this scooterist? Bust!