It’s been a while since I’ve visited my old stopping ground at Bramham Park for Leeds fest so I thought I’d go again this year. I volunteered this time though and was part of the Hotbox Events team as a CAT (Campsite Assistant Team) as they call it. You have to work 3 eight hour shifts over the full course of the festival so you do miss a smallish part of the festival but you get free entry so it’s easily worth it and you get to meet many new characters. Volunteering at festivals does have it’s drawbacks but it has more advantages. You get your own little campsite that isn’t a complete war zone and hell on earth and you are camped around the production zone, so very near to the artists performing at the festival – although I didn’t find them.
I didn’t really know anybody once I’d got my tent set up so I went strolling around and eventually found the festival arena real close by – approaching from the complete opposite direction of the main arena entrance for punters. It was a bit odd, no one really told me where anything was so I found myself wondering down roads designed for plant and the transport of materials around the site. I felt like I was on a construction site and maybe could do with a hard hat but they obviously don’t go overboard on the health and safety at the site which I liked. I found the arena area and wondered around whilst everything was still being set up which was different and quite cool.
It got quite fun and entertaining once my shifts started though. Although my first shift was a quite normal and reserved day shift I then got to work on a fire tower with a guy named Tyler on my night shift once the bands had finished in the arena on Friday night. He really made the night for me by being one of the most wasted people to turn up for a shift anywhere…ever! To start with he turned up over an hour and half late and just appeared out of nowhere. I met him when he scaled up the OUTSIDE of the fire tower whilst completely wasted to replace me. We radioed through to him a couple of hours later as we hadn’t heard from him but there was no reply. We walked around and managed to spy him in the darkness flat out asleep on the top deck of the tower. The funny thing is the same thing happened again a couple of hours later after dawn. He was now sleeping in clear day light! At one point we were checking around the tents for fires and he went to put one out with his fire backpack but he aimed the wrong way and tried to put himself out instead!…all that training wasted. I loved that guy. I Missed a great photo opportunity on the tower though as I didn’t want to be seen to be taking photos whilst on lookout. I was on watch for a really nice sunrise where I could see most of the festival and all the mist and steam rising from the tents, it looked pretty stunning and would have been a real nice ‘Sun rises over Leeds Fest 2014’ snap, much better than anything I did manage to take a photo of! Damn my professionalism is all I can say!
My final shift was spent watching over drunks awaiting their ambulances at our zone office (Camper van) recording details and taking names and wristband numbers of suspected thieves/trouble makers. I then got to go out and help put out small bonfires.
I did actually enjoy the bands I got to see too at this festival if you were wondering. The Friday was a good day for me, some great performances on the main stage from Young Guns, A Day To Remember and You Me at Six etc. I also saw Mark Watson on the alternative stage who is a comedian I really like. For Blink 182 I also ended up talking to a guy who had the same name as me, from the same town and who had worked and hung out at half the same places as me, yet I can’t actually remember seeing him before!
I got home to read news of Arctic Monkeys crowd pleasing set (the last for a while apparently) and that of festival goers setting fire to their tents after I had left on the Monday. All in all I really enjoyed it and I must say I was one of the most very professional Leeds Fest team members this year!