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Excerpt from "Rock Festivals, Inc" article

by Daniela Soave from Sky Magazine June 1994

 

Evan Dando is striding through a field on a balmy June evening, his blond hair slinting in the dappled sunlight, completely oblivious to the commotion going on behind him. Like rock's answer to Ryan Giggs, he has attracted his own particular following, for cantering along in his wake are a television crew, two radio reporters and a gaggle of journalists. It's a ridiculous sight.

When be becomes aware of the procession, Dando stops, spins around on his heels and faces his pursuers. Instantly the camera starts to roll and a mike is thrust under his nose. One after another, the VJs, DJs and PJs get their own "executive" audience with the chief Lemonhead, asking the same old questions.

We're at last year's Glastonbury festival, and here's the BBC World Service reporter quizzing Mr Beautifully Blown Away about the rumour that he was almost removed from a plane prior to take-off for allegedly harrassing an air hostess. Dando, as always, tells it straight: "I took a buncha downers before I got on and I was feeling kinda mellow. So I took a picture of her [yes, the lucky air hostess] with my Polaroid and then asked her what her mother's name was. I guess she took offence because she called the captain."

Standing behind the reporter (who looks mighty pleased with himself as his machine records Evan's revelations) is a man with long, ginger hair tied back in a ponytail. His eyes have widened in horror and he is shaking his head furiously, drawing a line repeatedly across his throat as he motions for Dando to shut the fuck up. Alex McLeod has good reason to look so grim. He is the famed tour manager from the Nirvana camp and his job is to prevent Evan from getting into scenarios precisely like the one unfolding in front of him.

Except that at rock festivals, where the backstage area is swarming with fellow musicians, assorted members of the media and corporate sponsors, it is impossible to keep a low profile. You can't cough without crashing into a television personality, camera crew in tow, eager to record your views. Or a marketing person from some mega-conglomerate, entreating you to have your photograph taken in front of his logo. Rock festivals are not just about music any more. Now the alternative summer season is also a huge marketing exercise.

Not that it seems to have discouraged potential festival impresario Evan Dando. "I've always wanted to organise my own hippy festival and I've even thought of a name," he burbled after coming off stage at Glastonbury. "Popscapade. What do you think of that, huh? I think it's cool."

 

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