Waveform Festival Review 2010
Waveform is an environmentally-friendly, three day, 24hr psychedelic trance festival. This year the party took place in Suffolk, England and PsypressUK was there to cover the electronica blitz. All photos by Craig Pennell.
Hanging from the middle of the roof in the Happy Hookah’s tent swung several Barbie Dolls, clad in bondage gear and embracing one another in a swing of ecstasy. Below, sat some square, low-riding tables with scatter cushions and rugs strewn across the floor. And there, in a clearing in the centre, lay Fishboy. His body was rigid, his arms locked by his sides, hands and feet flapping at the joints and his head angled up, gasping for water; a sea mammal caught in the magnificent flash-tide of Waveform Festival 2010.
As Craig, Francesco and I puffed gently on a blueberry shisha pipe, passing the two hoses between us and bumping happily along with other Waveform tribes people, an acoustic guitar was being lovingly stroked in the corner of Happy Hookahs. We balloon floated for a while, right until that screaming point reached its apex, thought experiments bringing everybody’s hands and minds together, before the psychedelic trance came weaving into our ears, lifting and carrying us out into the Green Village.
The central dance arena spread round in a semi-circle at one end; Tribe of Frog, Earthheart, Cat’s Cradle and the Electronica stage. A beautiful bubble of musical mayhem. Then, mimicking the Rougham disused airfield on which the festival was sited, Waveform stretched forth in a long line to the far camping fields. Each side lined with little stalls, selling oddities and colours, trinkets and sounds. The flat, Suffolk ground stretched out in every direction for as far as your wonky eyes could fetch. Only a single, old bomb crater broke the land up, at the bottom of which a fire roared strongly for three days, sharing a little warmth with every passerby.
It was on Saturday morning, after a trippy-drop from an ice-drop bottle, that we ran into Raoul Duke; it was as if he’d been plucked straight from the middle of a postmodern motif:
“Raoul!” Craig called out. Duke turned his head, a green poker visor and aviators shading his scatty eyes, a black cigarette holder flapping up and down, up and down, between his lips like a lever on a one-arm bandit. His blazing Hawaiian shirt morphing into many layers against the heady sun. “God damn man!” Duke shouted quietly. “This isn’t a 7/11. Get a grip!” He was right, this was three days of 24 hour partying. Before we could pursue the impossible he was off, taking long, extravagant strides across the bomb crater; half-caricature, half-madman. “Have you seen a Samoan with a knife and a wasted girl? God damn, have you seen him, man?” He called out with a gasp of exasperation and then, he was gone. “Will we see him again do you think? We need a picture!” Craig announced. “Not if he’s working. He’ll be knee deep in water by morning.” – “God damn” we both said.
Security was tight on the outside – beer runs regrettable – and we were plummeting off the Waveform. Sometimes, when you lose most of what your brought to a festival, a moment of despair can take you, whisk you into a hole deep below the surface of reality, making every step a desperation and a gut-wrenching regret. I may never have found my phone if it hadn’t been for Fallyrag’s competition winner Vicky – who in trying to get hold of me tracked my phone back to Happy Hookahs. Thank you Vicky; a visionary angel in the midst of a storm. And then, as if answering that despairing call from the depths, Zaphod landed close by and with a caring, cradling friendship he lifted Craig and I up and dropped us back down onto the green, green fields of Waveform. From then on every knock was healed, every wave ridden, every problem resolved – the tribe of Waveform saw to it.
Saturday night psychedelia in Tribe of Frog was rapid and relentless. The energising music kept Fishboy, Thai and Tom dancing as if they were invoking some pagan God, and out of the mist rose the Frog God. Stomping. Skanking. Dancing. Some arms and heads bent to the sky, to the colourful butterflies floating overhead, others to the floor, crashing out beats and bass with their feet, the rest grooving their bodies round, smiling and catching the faces of all the other tribe; sharing nods, hugs and winks – all and anything to magnify and enlighten the empathy of a sparkling night.
And when that sweaty heat comes to overthrow you and you bimble outside, and the shocking shiver of a cold night runs through you like a knife, a group of hippies close by notice and in a wave they embrace you, form about you, cocoon you, until your inner heat starts pumping and pulsating again. A drink of water from the delicious Thai food stall close by and your restarted; a fresh drop realigns the tent’s reality and you’re back into the trance of a tribal movement. Glancing down to your left, between every step and every dance, a different couple embraced, changing faces loved up by the side, in the throws of ecstasy, soaking up the atmosphere as the star-lit night floats on.
Early morning chill, shops stirring late, ambience gently streaming on the air from Earthheart like thick smoke from a pipe. People sleeping and sparse but the odd acoustic guitar strummed in the sunrise, making bubbles of mid-party rest. A Bob Dylan medley in amongst a circle of trees, over the morning wake-n-bake drink, eases one through the hazy madness and into the new day; breaking open the screens of glazed eyes. Each and every tree was signed with its ancient attributes, for Equinox, for healing, for birth and for sadness: Back to Earth, Save the Earth.
In 2009, Waveform won the Greener Festival award and this year was no exception to their high environmental standard. Strolling, with a wonky edge at early morn, the floor was clear of rubbish, cans, canisters, and even wasted people carked-out on the dry ground like chubby little caterpillars wrapped in rugs. Solar showers and interesting sustainable stalls, were peppered with meetings with interesting people helping the world be a better, cleaner, safer place: “We want to show that a festival can be run with no lasting environmental impact” Steve, my contact, had said to me. And they did – lessons could be learnt by the establishment festivals, with their façade of green consciousness, for Waveform exemplified.
The police had begun the festival by using their poor hypnotized dogs, bent to do the establishments will and a heavy force, whose presence unsettles at the entrance – whether you have reason to be afraid or not. On the first night councillors roamed with little gadgets measuring the sounds. I’m sure it must have been hectic for the residents of the nearby industrial estate – wait, do people live on industrial estates? No matter, they failed to ruin this festival, unlike so many others they’ve destroyed with their reasonless rhymes in the past. Many a conversation about Glade. A stark reminder of how we need to protect our festivals, without needing to bring in sponsorship, establishment attitudes and generic mono-culture, which fix our thoughts and stagnate our minds.
On the Sunday night, when the music had calmed to a delicious stroll and people began to amble through the end of days, Zaphod reappeared and came and sat with us, buying a final floating round in the Happy Hookahs. So, for the last few hours we drifted and discussed the changing scene, the sadness that comes with finality and the baited breaths for next year’s psychedelic festival. We had no need to leave the planet, we should surely stay, though Zaphod still beamed out and away, leaving the night and us stragglers astray. Bless you Waveform – see you next year, aye?
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