With so many music festivals around at the moment (including my personal favourite, The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival held this month), it’s commendable that organisers are starting to look outside the box. What with the growth in popularity of so-called boutique festivals, people want more from their festival experience, they want to know they’re experiencing something unique as well as the onset of trench foot from camping during a typical British ‘summer’. So, on paper ZOO8, set within the grounds of Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, looked like a winner. People like festivals right? Yep. People like zoos? Of course they do. So why not put a festival in a zoo and stand back and watch the cash roll in.
The only problem, of course, is that ZOO8 was, like many new festivals, beset with problems from the start. Firstly, revellers arrived at the site at 12.30pm on the Friday only to be left standing, tent in hand and warm beer in belly, until 16.30pm. Having finally managed to set up camp people were then forced to deal with a lack of “drinkable water” and “campsite overcrowding” (quotes taken from the festival website itself). Once out in the main field, things started to get worse as the second stage was closed (twice), perimeter fences blew down, performance schedules were changed at the last minute and major acts including current number one Dizzee Rascal, Roni Size and The Rascals all pulled out having been told there was no cash to pay them. OK, so Athlete didn’t play either, proving the old adage, ‘every cloud…’
At one point Irish rockers Ash were unsure if their set was going to go ahead, and it was only when the Zoo (or Wild Animal Park, but Wild Animal Park08 doesn’t really work does it?) stepped in with the cash, that the event was able to continue. Disgruntled music fans- and some poor lost souls still pining for Athlete- made their anger known via the usual method of a facebook group, brilliantly entitled Boo Thousand, referring to ZOO8 as “badly organised”, the staff as “very rude” and the toilets as “just way too grim”. Personally, I think the state of the toilets at a festival is pretty non-negotiable, you don’t go expecting a pleasant lavatory experience. In a wonderful show of defiance (read delusion) organisers called the festival a “qualified success”. One punter dared to disagree, referring to ZOO8 as the “worst fest ever” (‘fest’ is kids speak for festival. Kids will literally shorten any wrd thse dys).
Unfortunately, ZOO8 isn’t alone when it comes to providing a ‘unique’ festival experience. As recently as three weeks ago another new festival, Wild In The Country was cancelled two days before it was due to start following financial problems and concern from headliner Bjork regarding production issues. Last year, the inaugural Field Day, held in Victoria Park, East London was criticised for its lack of toilet facilities, its apparent disregard for anyone of a vegetarian persuasion and the fact that the sound levels were so low you could practically hear the creaking of skinny jeans as people left. It’s claimed that ZOO8 will be back next year but will in fact be called ZOO9.
The only glimpse of hope all weekend came in the shape of this lot:
They are called Brigadier Ambrose and can be heard here
During their set they were interrupted by Jose, an escaped gorilla and Ian Brown fan.