I love a good festival, I may have mentioned it. beerfestAfter reminiscing over many a weekend in muddy fields, I decided to write about one where I was given the VIP treatment. Yes, this month I’m going to write about the High Voltage Festival of 2011!

How did I get to become a VIP I hear you ask? There was a competition. That year, the festival was holding a beer festival for all the festival goers, and to celebrate they got Brodie’s Fabulous Beers to brew an ale just for High Voltage. The competition? To name the beer.

Now, I’m normally sceptical about these things and I entered as a bit of fun. It was a competition where the winner was whoever got the most ‘likes’ for their name. Being a fan of puns (they’re my secret super power), I suggested ‘High Maltage’. It won. There was some stiff competition. Well, one other person who had 230 likes for his name ‘Denim and Leather’. Saxon weren’t even playing that year and besides, if you’re going to name a beer after a Saxon song you’d call it ‘Heavy Metal Chunder’. The guy accused me of cheating as I had also suggested ‘Thunder ‘sup’ and ‘Motley Brew’ (or something like that) and entrants were only allowed to submit one name. The competition runners overruled it and I miraculously won by 231 ‘likes’.

So what was life like as a VIP? Lots of fun.

My friend and I had already bought our festival tickets; we’d gone the year before and enjoyed it. Luckily, we had some other friends down in London that weekend as we were off to a stag do to Amsterdam on the Monday so we sold our tickets to them!

We had to collect our VIP wristbands from the venue. When we got there, we explained our situation to the man on the booth that we’d won our VIP tickets but our friends had already bought general admission tickets. We asked if there was a possibility of being upgraded. The man took the general admission wristbands and looked over his shoulder. ‘Here’, he said in hushed tones, ‘but don’t tell anyone I did this.’ We were now the proud owners of four VIP tickets.

Me enjoying a pint of High Maltage

As well as winning two VIP tickets, the prize also included as much High Maltage beer as we could drink. When we asked about the free beer wristbands the man called over his colleague. They both started laughing at us ‘He reckons he’s won free beer, can you imagine winning festival tickets and free beer? That’d be the dream!’ They laughed some more and said they couldn’t help me. I made a quick phone call, and within the next ten minutes we had our two free beer wristbands. They came with some strict instructions – we could only drink High Maltage with them and we could only get one pint at a time. We were introduced to the head barman so he knew what was going on – excellent. We thought the day couldn’t get any better, but it had one more surprise for us.

After having a few freebies, the head barman pulled us to one side. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I’ve been getting a lot of customers asking why you’re not paying for beers and I’m getting a bit fed up of explaining it every time. If you want more beer, give me a wave and I’ll bring them out the back for you.’ I am not making this up, we won two VIP tickets, free beer and now we didn’t have to queue for it – at a festival! It’s unheard of, I bet even David Coverdale has to queue for his beer at the musicians bar.

Needless to say, we were very happy and probably a little drunk. By the end of the day we’d drank them out of High Maltage. It wasn’t a bad beer either.

In terms of the festival, the line up was great and we had a very enjoyable time. I got a CD signed by Thunder, the VIP toilets were very nice but the backstage VIP area was a bit overrated.

The Prog Stage

Come the end of the festival, Dream Theatre were closing the weekend and we weren’t too bothered about them. We were all set to leave, but we’d got chatting to some people and one of the girls took my hat and ran off with it. Like Indy, I’m quite attached to my hat and I was determined to get it back. I grabbed one of the guys we’d been chatting to and asked him – ‘Are you her boyfriend?’ He nodded. ‘Right’ I continued, ‘until I get my hat back, you’re my new best friend! Where is she?’

A big wheel made an appearance too

The boyfriend looked a bit worried (maybe I grabbed his shoulder too hard) but he explained that she was a big Dream Theatre fan and she’d more than likely be at the front. He tried phoning her until he realised he had her phone. I sighed; being at the front for a Dream Theatre show was not one of my life’s ambitions.

Off we went, scything our way through the crowd of prog-metallers, dodging head-bangers and mosh pits in search of my hat. Much to my surprise, we found her right at the front and she still had my hat on her head. I grabbed it and she screamed ‘No! It’s not my hat!’ When she saw that I was the rightful owner she smiled and said that she was going to give it back. I thanked the boyfriend for his ‘willing’ support and bid them both farewell.

Afterwards, we all agreed that winning that festival prize was one of the best things that had ever happened to us. It was also agreed that I was never allowed to enter a competition like that again, as we were all quite hungover the next morning as we boarded the Eurostar to Amsterdam…