HebCelt Fest 2013
This was my 5th year at the 18th annual Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway. It doesn’t seem like a year ago, more like 12 months. I remember my English teacher Mr Binnie telling me an anecdote about a critic who wrote the same dramatic performance review year after year, only to be caught out one year when the venue burnt down mid-performance. There will be none of that here.
I lost the mental energy to complete this blog day-to-day, and as a result of typing bits of it retrospectively, the whole week has kind of mashed itself into one continuous blur of music, lights, sore feet, tools going walkies, alcohol, Berocca, fry-ups and Churros & Chocolate.
I may have worn a slightly offensive t-shirt, and may also have a claim to fame: unintentionally offending KT Tunstall backstage. I sure as hell didn’t want the same to happen with Van Morrison; who not only allegedly suffers from stage fright, doesn’t like anyone looking at him and owns the tech company that was supplying the festival.
Monday 15th: 10am: I’m on the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway after 3 hours of sleep and anxious as ever.
We are sailing… We are sailing… Making waves…
I’m off for a little whisky in McNeill’s before I check into my accommodation.
It’s Monday 15th: 8pm and I’m in Mcneill’s bar aka Tech Crew HQ for the team-building meet-up. I’ve calculated that I can have several JD & Cokes, 3 Guinness mixed with 3 Caffreys (on the advice of Salty Dog pub buddy Scrim) and 3 Bowmores and be fit enough to work the next day with only a Berocca and bacon & egg roll. Happy days. It’s me, but on a good day.
It was both odd and relieving to arrive on site on Tuesday 16th to find that both the main tent and Islands tent had been erected. There was a bit of waiting due to the stage decking being delayed as the ferry had broken down.
I had one of those shutdowns again (like a CPU jammed at 100%), it’s a very confusing and bewildering state. A quick break and an iPod on Kill usually helps alleviate it. One could argue that since having being diagnosed, I’m more aware of problems I encounter, which can only make the problems worse because I’m worrying about worrying about them. It would therefore seem odd that I’d want to work in a loud environment, but there’s a crucial difference between noise, and loudness.
It’s quite elating when on Wednesday 17th the lampies and LD remember your name from years before and are very open, friendly and engaging. Time constraints meant that I was unable to get involved with everything I wanted to, but I managed to be involved with one passion: lights. We had the usual SunStrips, Molefays, PAR64s, Robe MMXs, High End X-Spots and Studio Beams, but sadly no strobe lighting was to be used in this performance…
As I opted to stay behind to help the lampies set up the remaining lighting trusses and fixtures, I was glad to get the pub an hour before closing. If only I hadn’t got the blame for some twit spilling a drink and breaking a glass it would have been the perfect night. I got back to the flat and made an egg & bacon sandwich that looked like a train wreck. But it was delicious.
It’s Thursday 18th and I have discovered that taking a 15 minute “Time Out” at the side of my AV control island really helps me return to full-focus. It’s just a pity that full-focus didn’t alert me to one of our number making the decision to use the wrong projection screen, something we only discovered after erecting the screen scaffolds.
This year we had a camera placed atop Lews Castle, looking down upon the festival green. This was kinda cool as it gave me a bit of flexibility to mix into at the end of a band’s set. It also allowed me to superimpose public information and titles (via luminance-key effects) upon a real-time overview (where you could see festival-goers walking and lying around on the green) via the video mixer, which was pretty neat.
On Saturday 20th, imagine my surprise of being greeted by the engineer from audioWAVE PA Hire (Dundee) who had been booked to mix FOH for Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward & Fisher (AMWWF) on the Islands Stage. I have to admit, I prefer the acts playing on the Islands Stage. It’s a bit intimate and groovy.
As fellow Tech Crew member Andreas said: it feels great to be able to say “I helped make this happen”.
Sunday 21st saw me returning to the semi-official position of HebCelt Tech Crew Cocktailologist, I had some help/competition…
Monday 22nd: As usual, I had too much to drink. Not a problem in itself, but we had all the staging to dismantle.
It’s Tuesday 23rd and I’m having a chill-out day to - you guessed it - chill out. I fantasised about finding work here and never leaving.
Wednesday 24th: Goodbye Stornoway
Time enough before the ferry for one for the road in McNeill’s. I’m having Deja Vu from last year, as neither McNeill’s, Cromwell Street or the weather have changed. Actually, I couldn’t wait for McNeill’s to open, So I headed to The Criterion instead.
If memory serves, I did get more lx tape, my boots no longer hurt my feet, I forgot to order more spanners and left my SVGA cable at home. My involvement in Permaculture helped negate the need for a gym membership. Needless to say: I also had my fill of Churros & Chocolate.
I’ve been listening to a lot of appropriate music: Niteworks, Peatbog Faeries, Stuttgart Traffic, The Battlefield Band/Neonach, The Levellers, Runrig, KT Tunstall & Motörhead.
Time to find more gigs…