Sunday, 19 June 2016

I Predict a Riot

I Predict a Riot
I am certain others have written on this topic before, in fact I remember an article by beer-writer, Pete Brown several years ago on the very subject; but what I’m about to write about was brought home to me last night, when my wife and I attended an outdoor gig by the excellent Kaiser Chiefs.

The concert took place at Bedgebury Forest, close to the Kent-Sussex border, to the south-east of Tunbridge Wells. Bedgebury is home to the National Pinetum; a collection of over 10,000 trees growing across 320 acres, which includes rare, endangered and historically important specimens.

As such it is the perfect venue for outdoor concerts, providing the weather holds, of course! Fortunately it did yesterday evening and whilst it was a little chilly, the rain held off. The Kaiser Chief’s performed brilliantly and had the crowd singling along to hits such as Ruby, I Predict a Riot and Oh My God.

Overview of the site, before it started to fill up
We thoroughly enjoyed both the concert and the open air setting in the middle of the forest. We took along plenty to eat, in the form of a picnic, but as I was driving I forewent the pleasure of a few beers in favour of coffee and water. Forestry Commission rules do not permit glass or metal containers, so any drink brought in, including beer, has to be in a plastic container anyway, but there was a bar on site, which I couldn’t help having a quick look at.

The bar, and the abysmal choice of beers on sale there, is the subject of this post and it is a huge thumbs down to the event organisers and the catering company employed. Beer lovers had a choice of either Carling or Worthington Creamflow, served up, of course in a plastic glass. I didn’t see what the cider offer was but I’ve a feeling it was Strongbow.

Enjoying the setting
I realise this choice, if you can call it that, didn’t directly affect me; but there must have been hundreds of people who arrived as passengers, and were therefore able to enjoy the odd beer or three. To be offered just Carling or Worthington Smoothflow, is nothing short of an insult.

These days good beer doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to cask. With decent beer available in key-keg, there is no need to worry about set-up times, and any unsold beer can be kept back for another time. So to be limited to two of the very worst national brands, in a county which is home to over 30 independent breweries is a disgrace, and shows the contempt some of these so-called caterers, who seem to have the outdoor event scene pretty much sown up, have for their customers.

As Pete Brown said three years ago, on the very topic about the poor choice of beer at major festivals, “To go to a festival and be confronted with a range of drinks that any pub in the country would consider too narrow is anathema to the whole experience, and leaves a lingering bad aftertaste.”

I whole-heartedly agree


RedNev said...

It's obvious they've just gone for the easiest and laziest option. I've been to Fairport Convention's Cropredy festival twice and they had a real ale bar. No glasses, but I took along my rarely-used tankard. I can understand the concern about broken glass or discarded tins littering the place or, worse, being used as weapons or missiles, but I wonder whether a tankard would have been banned, seeing that it is something of value that you wouldn't want to lose.

Irrespective of that, there is no reason why real ale couldn't have been provided; losses could be kept to a minimum by running down the number of opened casks towards the end of the event. I suspect the beers they did provide were significantly cheaper than interesting real ales, thus increasing the profit that can be squeezed out of the event. Captive audience = any old slop will do. It's not very respectful, seeing people solely as sources of income, rather than an audience to be catered for.

Paul Bailey said...

I agree Nev, that treating people in this fashion and seeing them purely as a source of income, is certainly disrespectful. Also it doesn’t really fit in with the whole ethos of events like these, which are organised by the Forestry Commission to provide an open air concert in a spectacular forest setting. I suspect it all boils down to price though, in the end.

I’m sure that an empty tankard would have been okay at this particular event, but I do understand the organisers’ ban on anything glass or metal. One thing we did find appalling was the amount of discarded plastic containers, food wrappings and other detritus, simply left on the ground at the end of the concert, so you can imagine what it would be like with broken glass, or empty cans. It amazes me that people can be so lazy or indeed so ignorant, to not take their rubbish with them at the end of the event. There were plenty of large bins situated near the exits, or they could even have taken their litter home with them for disposal there.

If I worked at Bedgebury I would be pretty cheesed off by this sort of “couldn’t care less” behaviour; especially if I had to clear up the mess the following day.

RedNev said...

I've been reliably told that some people just abandon their tents at Glastonbury. Regrettably, there are quite a few slobs around who expect others to clear up after them.