THE first thing that I noticed was the mud. Great, runny pools of it. Caking the bottom of everyone’s pants, crusting the edges of their boots. The worst of it was in one hellacious patch in the middle of the performers’ campsite, practically boiling. I looked at another comedians.

“Did it rain last night?” I asked.

“No. It’s all… something else.”


T in the Park had apparently been on for 20 years, but the 2013 iteration wasn’t just my first time at the Kinross-based cesspool – it was my first time at any music festival, period.

Between the exhausted staff, the locomotive-loud attendees and the overwhelmed performers, there were 255,000 people celebrating T’s 20th anniversary.

And nearly all of them were steaming drunk. The whole place stank of alcohol, which makes sense because it was leaking from everyone’s pores.

It wasn’t just the punters. The stewards were drunk. The musicians were drunk. I’m a slightly unreliable narrator here, by the way. I was drunk as well.

Twenty minutes after arriving, my shoes already lost to mud that went up past my ankles, I saw a cop – swaying suspiciously, himself – chasing a nearly naked man while a bunch of fellow alcoholics cheered them on, and I thought: “All music festivals must be like this.” Nope.

Just the ones in Scotland. I met an intoxicated sword swallower who was desperately trying to sober up before going onstage. I feel like you want to be clear-eyed for that.

Glasgow Times:

The guy who had driven me to the festival campsite from the airport – Frodo – was also the comedy booker. He had offered all sorts of useful advice and advance warnings, but I had ignored most of it, still jet-lagged. Bad decision by me, because I was by myself and way out of my depth.

Frodo had said that the crowds could be “a bit lairy”, but honestly, they were hellacious. People screamed, threw things, vomited. It was like performing in Mordor. During one of my three sets that weekend, the tent next door hosted skateboard rappers Odd Future and the vicious sound bleed meant that my act was soundtracked by Bronx teenagers screaming lyrics that are unprintable for a variety of good reasons.

During another set, a guy asleep at the edge of the tent turned out not to be sleeping and I tried my best to do my act as paramedics frantically worked to save his life. I have no idea if they succeeded, and frankly, given how I felt about the crowd, I wasn’t sure I wanted them to. The third set was fine. Because the audience mostly consisted of people sleeping off their illicit substances.

But there was good stuff. Great stuff. Odd Future had decided to burn a picnic table and among the folks I met around the fire were two guys named Ryan and Nick, who gave me a bike that, in retrospect, they had clearly stolen from somewhere.

I spent the rest of the festival cruising around on it. I’m in touch with both of them still, seven years later.

And I saw more music than I had ever seen in my life. It was spectacular. Hometown favourites like Travis and The Proclaimers played their biggest hits with a joy they must only actually feel when they’re in Scotland. Frightened Rabbit did a set that I thought about fondly for years and now makes me impossibly sad. Rihanna headlined, which was incredible, at the same time Beady Eye – Liam Gallagher’s band at the time – played on the second stage.

Because everyone was keen to see Rihanna, there were literally a few dozen people watching Beady Eye, including one of the other comedians, who sent recordings of Gallagher’s bitter complaints around in a group text thread. Hilarious. Funnier still was Snoop Dogg, who repeatedly said “thank you, Glasgow” to absolute roars of indignation.

The real discovery was young men and women my age – my age! – doing music.

Bands I had never seen or heard of like The 1975, Chvrches, Bastille, Haim, FIDLAR, Jake Bugg – who seemed primarily interested in ping-pong, actually – and MS MR, fronted by a woman named Lizzy Plapinger.

They all milled around the artists’ village, sharing alcohol, going off in clumps together to watch Phoenix and The Killers. Everyone became fast friends.

On Sunday night, I leaned on my stolen bike, covered in mud, having had three of the weirdest gigs of my life, happy as I’d ever been, as I watched two police officers – sober ones – trying to subdue one of the 91 people that were arrested that year. Ninety-one. Enough to fill a Beady Eye gig twice over.

As you may well know, T in the Park is gone now. But I’ll remember it always as my introduction to music festivals, Scottish people and great music.

Rest in hell, you awful monster. God bless you.

Alex Edelman is at the Stand on Sunday.