Archive for the 'festivals' Category

Glastonbury, See Tickets fail & Twitter win

The crazy Sunday morning browser refresh panic returned after a year off with the sale of 150,000 tickets to an estimated 750,000 punters. The promise of a beefed-up system (after it took 4 hours to sell out last time, to a number which did not include me) soon evaporated and even getting to the “holding page” seemed like a victory.

The next page was the “registration entry” where you added the numbers and postcodes. Naïvely, we thought we had succeeded the first time we got this far. Sadly, “0% uploaded” was as far as we got before being thrown off again.

Luckily for me, I was watching the twitter #glasto feed in another window. After about 40 minutes, somebody tweeted a hack – a line to add to your hosts file – which would get you through to the See Ticket servers. I didn’t really believe it, but had nothing better to do so gave it a go. Result! Straight through and tickets bought.

So how did that work? It was an error by See Tickets with their DNS entry.

For the non-technical: DNS (Domain Name System) is the “phone book” of the Internet. (For younger readers, a phone book was a list of people’s land line phone numbers listed alphabetically by their surnames, printed out every year and delivered to the house of everybody who had a phone – hard to believe, I know.) When you type “” in your browser, the browser asks your Domain Name Server for the IP address, and the server returns a number like “”.

Anticipating the demand, See Tickets had, to their credit, set up two servers. Both the addresses should have been entered in the DNS records, and thus 50% of the punters looking for tickets should have gone to each server. Sadly, somebody mistyped one of the addresses, putting 192 instead of 194. Thus half the queries failed, and the other server was hit by every sales request.

On your PC the hosts file is like a small, local Domain Name Server where your browser looks first to see if it knows the IP address of a name. Adding the actual address of the “spare” server in that file meant that you avoided the queue and walked directly up to the almost unused counter next door. Apparently, See Tickets did notice the very unbalanced load on their servers and fixed the DNS record after about 10:00am. The nature of DNS meant that it still took quite a while after that for the change to work its way through the Internet.

How was the error (and fix) discovered? It was because of the actual IP address numbers involved. Addresses starting 192 (or 172 or 10) are reserved for private networks. If you have a network at home, it will start with one of these numbers. Somebody trying to connect to See Tickets was doing it from work on a network which just happened to have a machine with the mistyped address. Instead of the same “could not connect” error that everybody else was getting, they saw a web page from a computer on their own network. So they looked up the numbers, worked out what the error was and shared the solution via Twitter.

Thank you, anonymous hacker, for getting me my tickets to Glastonbury.

Latitude, attitude: Part 1

With Glastonbury taking a year off, Latitude was an easy choice this year. After last year’s rain, it was bound to be sunny in 2012, right? We bought pre-sale cheap(er) tickets in October and were well chuffed when Elbow were announced as headliners.

42/365 20120712First BeerThursday was sunny. We set up camp and waited for Latitude to open so we could get a beer.

It started raining around 11pm, and there wasn’t much on so we retired around 11:45. None too soon, because it absolutely tipped it down and earplugs, always useful when sleeping at festivals, became a necessity to deaden the sound of rain on canvas.  I woke up at 3:45 to turn over (I hate sleeping bags) and noticed that the inner door on the tent was open. I had this ridiculous idea that Wen might have opened it because she was too hot, but she said it wasn’t her. I looked outside and the side door to the tent was open too. Waking up a little, I saw something on the floor: my trousers, which had been next to me in the inner tent. The wallet in my pocket was gone.

Robbed! Professionally, too – on the first night when we had all our money for beer and food for the weekend. They didn’t take my phone or Wen’s purse, so we started testing the various credit and bank cards out-of-hours stolen card support lines. (Winner: the police lady on “101” who fished her Barclaycard out of her own bag to read us the number; Loser: Barclaycard, who asked three times for the card number from a dodgy line to an Indian call centre. I don’t know – it’s been stolen!)

Coffee and TeaI got a call on my mobile in the morning from a bloke just a few tents away (the flag was useful again) who had found my wallet. All the credit cards were still inside. But worthless. We only had enough money for one day’s food and beer.

Luckily, Tim was coming to Latitude, but not until Friday afternoon. We called him at work and asked to borrow £150. We might eat yet! And it had almost stopped raining. Time for a nice cuppa before we popped into the arena and into the Comedy Tent and the Finalists for the Chortle Student Comedy Awards, who were surprisingly good.

The rest of the day we saw LLoyd Cole, Punch Brothers, The Antlers, Mark Watson, Janelle Monáe, Lana Del Ray, Metronomy, White Lies and John Hegley.
Lloyd ColePunch BrothersThe AntlersMark Watson43/365 20120713Lana Del RayMetronomyWhite LiesJohn Hegley
And in the afternoon we met Tim who lent us enough money to eat and drink like kings.

Glastonbury 2009

It was tremendously fab.

We had a horror journey there (12 hours on the coach) and so had to put the tent up in the dark when there wasn’t much room left, but that was soon forgotten.

We ate Fish’n’Chips, Green Chicken Curry, Pommes de Terres d’Or, proper Sausages, bacon roll with rocket, fruit salad, Yeo Ice Cream and Yoghurt, tempura and noodles, organic jacket potatoes, never the same thing twice, and all the food was splendid. We drank beer, strawberry pear cider, lager, freshly squeezed fruits and lots of water – as it was, with the exception of Friday morning, exceptionally hot. The Calais Capes did get an hour’s use as capes, and many more as groundsheets!

We watched lightning flash across the valley from the safety of our tent.

Bruce was best. Not only his pyramid stage gig on Saturday (2 1/2 hours), but we also went to see The Gaslight Anthem in the John Peel tent, and he popped in there for a spot of guest guitar playing and chorus singing. The smallish crowd went berserk, and Wen nearly fainted.

We were at the front for Lily Allen, The Specials, The Gaslight Anthem, Kasabian, Bruce and Tom Jones; and near the front for Nick Cave and Blur, and in the arena for Spinal Tap, Tony Christie, Bjorn Again, Fleet Foxes, Madness, The Script, Paolo Nutini, The Maccabees, The Ting Tings and Bloc Party.

Rolf Harris was major and had the biggest crowd that Jazz World has ever seen. We saw and danced to a groovy old band on the Bandstand called Biggles Wartime Band (we only stopped because they had a tuba player in a tiger suit) who covered Bear Necessities and finished with their own composition called “Gluesniffin”. We danced some salsa in the Parlure, watched Banjo Circus (the smallest banjo orchestra with circus tricks in the world) in the Circus Outside, heard that Michael Jackson was dead from some kid with a mobile phone in The Glades, grooved to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a Kidney Donor disco in Shangri-La, watched giant metal heads play music with firejets in Trash City, and walked miles and fucking miles.

That’s how fab it was. Next year is the 40th anniversary. It’ll be awesome.

Glastonbury, finally

Finally I get around to mentioning it, and finally I went to it. Prompted by this cute embedded Flickr file viewer.

V Festival 2006 – Sunday

The next tent only talked ’til 4:30am this time, so an early night.

Went down to the arena, in the not rain, and discovered where we should have had breakfast yesterday. Then back to the tent to sleep and listen to the Archers on the radio in my mobile phone.

Daniel Powter was playing his last track (“Bad Day”) as we wandered past.

It was getting a lot busier over at the 4 stage where the Saw Doctors The Saw Doctors were very entertaining, particularly “Doncha wish your boyfriend was OLD like me”.

Zen & Now

Time for more noodles from Zen & Now, our favourites at The Strawberry Fair for many a year, before The Divine Comedy sang “a song about a bus” and other excellent tunes, including his now current single “A Lady of a Certain AgeThe Divine Comedy

After that we caught a v. small amount of Kula Shaka but enormous crowds just sitting made us abandon plans to see Orson for a sit down in front of The Magic Numbers.The Magic Numbers They were very boring. We decided to try the crowds at Orson after all. He Orson was wearing his hat. We dropped into the tent and saw The Young Knives finish their promising set. We gave Bloc Party a miss (too bland) in favour of a nice cup of tea and a sit down, and as luck would have it, shelter from a passing shower. Got back in time to be at the front for Keane, who really were a pleasure to listen to (and sing along with).Keane We heard a rumour that Fat Boy Slim was starting early, but when we got to the tent it was just Girls Aloud and a very big crowd. Opted for a beer and an empty stage where the Ordinary Boys should have been. The Editors came on next, and we were sorry to leave but we had to go and get a good spot for Radiohead.Radiohead They played “Creep”! They played lots of classic songs, many of which we didn’t think had words but the rest of the crowd knew them and everybody joined in. A superb finale.

The weekend finished in chaos as only one booth in the entire arena was giving beer token refunds. We retired to the tent, planning on an early departure to beat the crowds. Ha ha! Up and packed by 7am, we trudged miles through the return of the rain and then it took us 2 hours just to leave the field we were parked in.

V Festival 2006 – Saturday

The bacon roll and tea at the campsite burger van were disgusting, so a lesson was learnt there. Having failed to show anybody our tickets last night we set off in search of wristbands and programmes so we knew who was on when. And I had £10 burning a hole in my pocket, which was lucky as that’s exactly how much it cost.


We had a beer in the Carlsberg tent, and singing along to the DJ was our first taste of music. Back to the tent for a lie-down to wait for the bands and the rain to start.

Our flag was nicked on Sunday, but by then I knew where the tent was and Wen nearly did.

First up were The Rifles, who were very good. Planned next were Hayseed Dixie, but everyone else thought that too and the Cider House was too small.


The RiflesHayseed DixieWe briefly saw The Dandy Warhols while we wandered around and a band called Lorraine who came on while we sat in the JJB tent to escape the rain. The Feeling were excellent and we liked The FeelingHard-Fi a lot. Then the rain made us seek out a Teepee for a cup of tea and a sit-down until it was time to head back to the main stage, pausing to hear a couple of songs from Starsailor, Faithlessand work our way to Starsailorthe front for Faithless -superb as always and bouncing up and down is required.

We needed beer to recover and we walked past Morissey (as did almost everyone else) to see Morissey RazorlightRazorlight, who disappointed even though it finally stopped raining – too late for the paths which were now Glastonbury- style mud.

V Festival 2006 – Friday

This is the first festival I have been to since Reading in 1979, and it was Wen’s first. Faithless were the main attraction, and with Radiohead added we were sold. We couldn’t get into Chelmsford, it sold out before we could get onto the website, so we set off to Weston Park in Staffordshire after lunch on Friday.


Too late, as it happens. We got close to the junction on the M6 at about 6pm. 45 minutes later we reached the roundabout.  Amazingly, there were touts walking up and down the queue trying to flog tickets. Do people really drive all that way and queue for hours when they don’t have tickets?


Then they cheekily charged another £7 for car parking, which was just a nearby field. It took us almost an hour to walk to the campsite, and that double airbed got mighty heavy.

Still, the tent was pitched, the airbed inflated and the beer (via tokens) purchased. And it wasn’t actually raining.

If the bloke in the next tent hadn’t wittered on in a ludicrously loud voice until 6:00am in the morning we might even have had a good night’s kip.