Once, when standing at the window of my top floor flat, my friend and I staring out at the dreary metropolis that is Aberdeen – the rain creating a new kind of greyness that is truly endemic to the city – my friend remarked: “Aberdeen really is a beautiful city in the sun.”
He looked on, serenity and hope in his eyes, while I gave him a completely unnoticed sideways glance and sipped my tea, leaving the post-apocalyptic watercolour in front of us to convey the blatant irony.
But, a few months on, as we stroll into Hazlehead with the sun beaming down, I am reminded of this brief and humorous moment – humorous now for different reasons. Because though I opted not to remind him of his optimistic affirmation – his ego is inflated enough as it is – it is me that wears the stupidly serene expression.
Aberdeen’s Enjoy Music Festival 2018 is drenched in sun. And it is beautiful.
Most of our day is spent lying on the grass as the empty pint cups, fag ends and ketchup stained napkins build up in a compost heap of hedonism around us.
It is a bit too quiet early on the Friday, though this is likely due to people still not finished up from their desperately hurried final shift of the week, and after 6pm – warm orange light now radiating down upon the basking seals we have become – the site soon becomes a bustling grassy beach for weekend warriors to revel in the weather and jubilant atmosphere.
And though the weekend warriors are out, this is still a decidedly family friendly affair. With the deaths of two young revellers at Mutiny Festival near Portsmouth last weekend, there is an inevitable uneasiness in the air; the difference being that the organisers here (and it has to be said Aberdeen residents themselves) make sure that everyone is welcome, and an atmosphere of inclusion and safety feels genuinely paramount.
Last year there were a few hiccups, namely that the festival was three hours late starting, and even more aggravating, there was a severe deficiency of toilets. Thankfully, these issues appear to have been ironed out, with there being no obvious delays in proceedings; and though there isn’t a massive change in toilet arrangements, there are some extra urinals in conjunction with the existing portaloos to – pardon the expression – ease the flow.
As for the music, numerous friends and potential attendees had previously voiced their ambivalence at what they regarded as a lacklustre line-up, none of the acts this year superseding the musical brawn of Primal Scream last year.
Unfortunately, this is reflected in the fact that not many of the acts get much of a crowd on the Friday, at least until 90s rock band Cast take the main stage (with lead guitarist Liam Tyson setting the bar with one of the most beautiful and virtuosic live performances of guitar playing I’ve ever seen) and then the DJ set from Faithless – whose anthemic dance tunes dutifully fulfil the role of setting the crowd on fire . . . before letting the embers flit away into the (rare) balmy Aberdeen night – ready to rise again for the next day.