The sea was angry that weekend, eager to thrust up and meet the rain even as it fell, threatening to swallow up the town, peeling paint, rusted signs, and faded children’s characters and all. The scent of salt and someone else’s thirty-year-old childhood holiday memories mingled with this desolate backdrop, fraying the edges of expectation and hope. Something narcotic and bitter spewed from the winds, tempting us into belief that this is, infact, not the edge of the world, that reason had not abandoned us completely after all, even after the covetous seagulls seemingly had the good sense to move on. The cruel air whipped us senseless so that we retreated into battered denial, and hoped that there was something glittering here still, that deserved more attention than the congealed food from someone else’s long-gone meal.
In the shelter of the venue lingered the scent of years of ground-in hotdogs and vomited pick-and-mix, melded in with stale beer and that unmistakable fragrance that only ever originates in a crowd of sweating humans. The lights too garish to leave even a corner in questionable mystery. Flashing and squealing arcade machines begged for our attention, drawing us away from their unwanted, untended and dysfunctional siblings. Artless, vacant images hung in a grotesque attempt at glamour, fall too short even for another century.
And then there was the music.
Aural art washed over us all and the collective mood shifted. The brush of ambience tinting over the tatty paint, granting a spell promising to make us forget. The voices of the instruments, human and otherwise, telling intricate stories, one by one, of their lives. The stages shifted from delicacy to aggression, fury to candour, and all the while, taking us further and further into the abyss that we were brought here to experience. Three days of pulsing lights, throbbing with each beat, tapping out a code, a key to survival. The wild and restrained coalesced and in that moment, we were all alive. Spiralling relentless and earth-shaking bass lines that left us feeling like the world around us had liquified and drowned itself, and even in the afterglow we hear the lapping of the current overhead where the gales had every right to be.