“Festivals are about camping, not about music,” states Metronomy linchpin Joseph Mount as he takes in his surroundings in a north London camping shop. A festival veteran both as a punter and as a performer (this year his band will play a handful of festivals across Europe, including All Points East and End of the Road), Mount is here to pick out essentials for any festival virgin, from bumbags to waterproofs, and he’s taking his task very, very seriously. “I don’t want people to take me at my word and realise they’ve been sold a lie,” he says, while fingering the quality of the linings on an assortment of sleeping bags.
So, without further ado, here’s indie-pop’s resident camping expert on what every good festival-goer needs …
I’m quite particular about hats. I would encourage people to bring a jester’s hat, to be honest. Something quite fun. But if I was picking one for me I’d go with this classic bobble hat. I remember the first festivals I went to seeing people with jesters’ hats and not really understanding it. Obviously now I do.
You need a very good tent. I think it’s funny how people think tents are disposable. I’m really good at putting them up. First time I went to Glastonbury was 1998, which was a ridiculously muddy one, and I remember my mum was amazed that I’d managed to bring home a spotless tent. I did it by being sensible with it. I can’t stress enough how much I believe that being sensible is the only thing you should think of doing at a festival.
So you need a sensible, breathable, warm sleeping bag – I’d just wear T-shirt and pants to bed – and I think trying to be cheap means it might not last. I’d be looking for one with a little head pillow. I like a camping mat, or what people now seem to call yoga mats. An airbed is a false economy – they’re heavy, they’re quite sweaty, so if it’s hot you don’t want to have a sweaty bed. It’s always going to be hot when you wake up so you have to think about that. The morning is the worst time at a festival so you have to be prepared: you need to be able to access fresh water, potentially orange juice, maybe coffee and also the toilets.
Would I use a bumbag? I would definitely pick a “stealth waist wallet” over a bumbag, because it’s discreet. If you had a flashy bumbag people would look at it and think: “That’s where he’s keeping his drugs.” Here you can keep all your folding money nice and flat, and close to your body.
It’s not very environmentally friendly is it? This is the Guardian after all. Maybe eat them after you’ve finished with them. I would take a flannel, to be honest. People that have showers at festivals I find very weird. Why would you do that? It depends on your own levels of personal hygiene, but I think you can go two or three days without a shower.
You don’t need a huge rucksack, just a nice compact one you could take on a train. You can strap a tent on the side and your sleeping mat. To me, festivals are about the great outdoors. It’s not about comfort. It’s playing the camping game, so you need to think about things that will pack easily. Also, the first few times I went to Glastonbury I did climb the fence, so you have to be able to run.
I went to the first festivals thinking it would be a good place to meet girls, so I was thinking about how I looked. But with camping and fashion, the two are mutually exclusive. As soon as you put on wellies you lose all sense of style, unless you’re doing the vaguely right-wing man of the country look. But onstage I’d wear my white trainers. That idea of, like, “we’re all out here together in the mud” is just not true. To keep the artifice of performance, you should always be going on stage like you would at any other show.
Even if you’re not a drug dealer at a festival you’ll need as many pockets as possible. You need a jacket that makes you feel bulky. With something like this (pictured above) you’ve got the hood and peak cap, which is useful. You also get a free bag to put it in, which you could repurpose for later. I like this one, the colours are good.
Metronomy will be at All Points East, 24 May to 2 June, and End of the Road, 29 August to 1 September; Joe shopped at Cotswold Outdoor, N1