It has now been 126 days since I last went to a gig. It’s the longest I’ve even been without seeing live music in two decades and up until quite recently, I was fine with it. Fine with not shelling out £25 for a lukewarm round in plastic glasses, fine with not getting home at midnight and remembering I’d forgotten to have dinner, fine with not secretly wishing I’d got seating tickets instead of standing and fine with not getting a half of lager to the back of the neck.
But a couple of a days ago something flipped. As lockdown eased and we were allowed to pop to the park and see more than one person at a time I remembered how nice it was to see an array of smiling faces, how nice it was to gather and how nice it was to hear your favourite songs – or what might become them – coming out of something other than a Bluetooth speaker that will do everything in its measly power not to pair with your phone.
It was the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage that pushed me over the edge. Featuring everyone from Stormzy, PJ Harvey and Lana Del Rey to Nick Cave, Little Simz and Mavis Staples – heroes one and all – they whacked up a festival greatest hits online. But what got me even more than the music was the crowd shots; those blissed out, giddy punters flailing about in a field. The bad dancing, the yelling along, that bit where you catch your mate’s eye when you hear that lyric that means everything. I missed it.
In a stroke of wonderful timing, one perfect for prising away my limited lockdown funds, this week tickets for a run of socially distanced drive-in gigs went on sale. Largely featuring a line-up that reads like Alan Partridge-Fest 2020 (Bjorn Again, Tony Hadley and The Lightning Seeds, anyone?) there were a couple of stand-outs; Dizzee Rascal and The Streets. I went for the latter, due to a longstanding Mike Skinner obsession and the fact he was behind the greatest gig of 2018, a show so rowdy that Brixton Academy actually ran out of pint glasses.
Despite the UK having a limited history or experience with all things drive-in – we’ve hardly got the weather for it not least the Grease style glamour – this seems to be the closest we’re going to get to a proper gig in a while and even though I don’t have a car and can’t drive, I have a friend who can.
So, yesterday morning I got to experience that quick thrill that comes with manically refreshing a ticket link before desperately whacking in my debit card details and buying a pair of tickets (or one carload) for a show at an unknown location in the middle of August. My first guess was that it would be taking place in the carpark of the Enfield branch of DFS, but this morning the coordinates came through, like some kind of dodgy pre-Criminal Justice Act rave.
If we’re going by the photos on GoogleMaps, it’s actually a pretty scenic spot. Situated in the wilds of Potters Bar, it looks like I will get to flail around in a field after all. Each car of the 300 allowed will be given its own viewing spot in which you can – within reason and the boundaries of the law – get out of your vehicle and do what the hell you like.
Will it be the same as a sweaty night trying to get a good spot at the Kentish Town Forum? Maybe not, but it’s already better than yet another night in.