Getting Tricked Into Strip Shows And Losing Your Sight: Theme Park’s Festival Stories

Marcus from Theme Park tells us about being duped into seedy after-parties and how his mate lost his vision at the first festival they went to.

07 September 2016, 4:30pm

As part of a sponsored collaboration with the folks at Jågerhaus – the best festival-based house you’ve ever been in – we spoke to Marcus from Theme Park about being duped into seedy after-parties and how his mate lost his vision at the first festival they went to.

When most people talk about festivals they pinpoint that out-of-body transformation they go through the moment the wellies are on; that first step through those festival gates; the penny that drops hammering in that last tent peg – but not me. You see, I’m a ridiculous man at all times. Someone who dances, parties and shames themselves as often in real life as they do in the festival universe. I knew this after my maiden voyage to a weekend festival when I was at school.

I’d been losing my shit for months on account of the line-up but, with less than a week to go, I got a text from this girl I really fancied that pretty much gazumped it. She was asking if she could share my tent with me and, obviously, I said yes: I was fifteen for God’s sake.

And after spending the following week ticking off days, doing sit-ups and reading countless AskMen articles, I was ready. I’d go off to the middle of Berkshire a boy and come home a man. So the first night I’m cracking jokes left, right and centre like a young James Bond and, though nothing happens, the foundations are laid. Night number two, things are going great. We’re all sat around our campfire and she wants a drink, so I head back to the tent and fix us up some fine cocktails: tepid cans – shaken, not stirred. When I appear out of my tent, can in each hand, I realise she probably has different ideas. She’s sat there, making out with one of my friends. So I’m like, “Fair enough, fuck this!” and jet off with another mate to the main stage to see one of my favourite bands, Arcade Fire.

Young hearts are fickle and things are pretty great until about three songs in when my mate inexplicably starts losing his sight. The selfish prick soon can’t see anything, so I decide it is probably best he goes to the medical tent. Leading him by the hand through the crowd, all these older festival-goers are making these disparaging comments, shaking their heads and suspecting foul play from these two teenagers, but we’d done absolutely nothing wrong! Anyway the medics take one look and say, “He’s going to be fine.” They force some biscuits down his neck and send us on our way. Trawling through the mud a few minutes later, he grabs onto me and yells, “My sight’s coming back!” And he comes to as Arcade Fire distantly play their last encore ‘Wake Up’ with his first sight being my dirty, disappointed face.

So that was my first festival experience and, while it may sound a little off-putting, it was enough to get me hooked. Though things do change a bit when you start playing at them. Going behind the curtain can become a mundane or repetitive thing for a lot of bands, but that’s never happened for us. From playing a set in the shadow of a terrifying wooden rollercoaster to waking up dry-mouthed after a show in Ibiza, crawling to the cupboard to grab some water and discovering a friend from the night before literally asleep inside of it, our experiences have become increasingly outlandish.

Just imagine being sat with a bevvy at Latitude, satisfied at having just played, when Lily Allen’s manager paces over. He explains rapidly that Two Door Cinema Club have dropped out of their headline, Lily is stepping in last minute and wants to play a cover of theirs. So he’s asking whether you’d be up for learning a song you’ve never played before and singing it with Lily Allen to 30-odd thousand people that night. You have a beer in one hand and a guitar in the other: which one do you choose? Obviously you go for the guitar because, no matter how wavy it’s gonna be, you can spend the rest of your life bragging about headlining Latitude via a set of stringent proxies.

But there’s one story that tops the rest. We were playing at this festival in Jakarta, Indonesia and it was fucking lovely. No mud, mess or torrential rain for us as we – along with all the other bands – had been put up in this five-star hotel around the corner. One night after our show, we’re hanging out by the pool in this intense heat, and I’m sipping at some sort of iridescent cocktail when someone starts singing to me from over the fence. It was dark and I was swimming, so didn’t really think anything of it. But after a while I realise they’re singing the “I love yah” bit of ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie over and over again, and I start giggling. So I tell the voice to come around and it’s this lovely 60 year-old woman. She starts explaining how she’s the head of the scene here and that we should go out with her to get a real sense of the place; to get in with the cool Jakarta people. The lady says the best opportunity to do this would be to attend the catwalk show hosted by her best mate – who is the city’s “top Fashion Designer” – later that night.

So after much deliberation, we slip on our finest garb and get in a cab with her. Eventually we rock up to this dingy, dark place where people are just stood around. Not noticing any red carpet, I ask, “Where’s the fashion?” and she’s like, “It will come, it will come.” Half an hour later, these massive smoke machines go off and we’re thinking: “Here we go.” All of a sudden, dozens of women run out in these fluorescent, garish outfits that look more George by Asda than John Galliano. And when they start ripping them off we realise we’ve been duped into a full-on strip show. Leaving and laughing in disbelief we ask the lady, “Where’s the fashion show?” to which she replies, “It’s in a few weeks.” Safe to say, we never went back. And you can bet your bottom dollar on that.

Theme Park are playing at Bestival on the Jågerhaus stage at 10.30pm on Sunday September 11.