Backstage - Here comes the sun

    Sunny skies and opinionated musicians at Glastonbury 2010.
    Comment, Broadcast Business

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    S&S read news coverage of this year’s Glastonbury festival with even more envy than usual.

    Generally we can fool ourselves into thinking that we haven’t really missed anything as we scroll through photos of punters wading through mud, covered in muck and enduring yet another downpour. But this year’s sunshine and relatively dry conditions proved a kink in our plan to keep the green-eyed monster at bay.

    Sales of sun-block and ice went through the roof as festival-goers fought to stay cool in the 30-plus degree temperatures; and heat, rather than constant rain, was the challenge for those manning audio, visual and lighting equipment.

    A sighting of a man seeking shade from the sun under a paper-mache elephant and an uncomfortable amount of nudity just highlighted how rare a weekend of hot, dry weather in the UK in June really is – the hottest, in fact, in the festivals history. There wasn’t a pair of wellies in sight.

    More often than not, though, it’s not the heat wreaking havoc on events like this and, much to the dismay of event organisers and crew, there’s often not a lot that can be done about it.

    A friend once went to Belgium’s famous Pukkelpop festival and after a night of revelry camped out in a field of tents. She woke up the next morning, floating on her li-lo in about a foot of water.

    An overnight storm had flooded the camping and performance areas, leaving a floating sea of cables, kit and camping gear. It would have made for an interesting photo had her camera not have drowned along with her passport and cash.

    Of course, there are often much more serious consequences. Last month, wild weather was to blame for collapsed stages and tents at three events - the Black Cross festival in the Netherlands, a Peter Frampton concert in the US and the opening ceremony for the Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico.

    Although rumours persist that some potentially unsafe rigging at Frampton’s gig may have contributed to the damage caused, organiser’s at all three events say the winds that caused the chaos were freak events they couldn’t have predicted.

    The incidents left eleven people injured – and according to reports, all were crew who were setting up the events.

    Bad weather aside, S&S, like most, is hoping for sunny skies at Glastonbury 2011 and so are the organisers – though for much greener reasons. Next year’s event is set to be powered on solar energy, with organiser and creator Michael Eavis investing in 1500 square metres of panels to be installed this month.

    If the weather is anything like this year, 2011 could see 200 kilowatts of energy produced every day.

    S&S just hopes we’re there to see it in person.

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