On to the final straight – my fifth gig of the festival, and the third with Sunday Driver. In a nice bit of symmetry, we were back on the Gaia stage – exactly where I’d started on Friday with the Shadow Orchestra.
Rain was threatening and the festival site was starting to empty out, but we got a decent crowd on the stage and avoided a cloudburst. Huge thanks to the guys from the Gentle Mystics, who played before us, for their enthusiastic dancing. And I loved their set too.
New tabla player Amit came for this gig, along with his mum (hello, Amit’s mum!), and we kicked off the set with a bit of classical sitar and tabla:
By this point I thought I was bearing up OK, but the photographic evidence would suggest otherwise. Introducing the Zombie Harpist:
Witness the cold, dead eyes of someone who has barely slept for three days and urgently needs a wash.
I also had an awkward situation just before the gig. Using a portaloo at a festival is traumatic at the best of times (more of that in a future post), but trying to do it while wearing a tightly-laced corset and full net petticoat is extremely testing. One of the low points of the weekend.
Before I knew it, we were finished. I bundled the harp and all my camping stuff into a minibus and was shipped back to the carpark to commence the drive home, fuelled by espresso and Radio 4. I felt genuinely sad to be leaving the site, and gazed wistfully at the fluttering banners retreating in my rear view mirror. But the itch of straw in my socks and the dog-like pong of my unwashed hair soon had me yearning for home.
Overall, I had a great time at the Secret Garden Party, and can’t wait to go again next year. It was full of lovely people, run by people who clearly care a lot about what they’re doing, and really well organised – although I hear the traffic management on Monday morning was utter chaos as everyone tried to leave at once.
And finally, huge thanks are due to Sunday Driver’s sound engineer, Rainbow Joe. Without him we’d have sounded a lot worse, and wasted most of our set times soundchecking.