Friday, 27 November 2015

Memories of a thousand* gigs #46

(* probably not actually that many, but who’s counting?)

#46: Hawkwind
Summer Daze Festival, Stapleton Farm, Langtree - 27th July 1996
Support: Trip, Captain Rizz, Bates Motel + about 30 other bands and DJs
Also present: MrsRobster (before she became MrsRobster)

I'm sure it must be written in some ancient rock and roll text that every man, woman and child who has ever attended live music events since 1970 must have seen Hawkwind at least once. It is pretty much a given, even if you don't remember it. My one and only experience of the Grandmasters of Space Rock came just a few miles from my house in deepest, darkest North Devon.

Summer Daze was a one-day festival that had run a few times in the area. Its main organiser was a lovely guy called Alex Duncan and the site was his parents' farm. I knew Alex in my capacity as the local music journalist and I'd covered his band Circle Of Hands a few times. A year or so later, I would venture into his recording studio with the band I was playing in at the time and he would produce our demo 'Hubris'. My involvement in the festival aside from writing about it in the rag, was to pen a few programme notes about some of the performers.

The future MrsRobster and I had only been going out for seven months. Being the old romantic that I am, I wondered what possible better way there was to express my love than to take her to see Hawkwind in a field and spend the night in a tent. Yeah, I knew how to spoil her alright. Of course, this meant I was not going to end up like I had done at previous Summer Daze events. One year, I ended up eating most of the chocolate cake I'd baked, and passed out under the mixing desk. It was probably down to a certain ingredient in the cake...

I got thanked! (click to enlarge)
There were three stages - the Main Stage, the Fluid Emissions Stage (curated by a local promoter of young bands) and a dance stage. I flitted between two of them throughout the day, and spent an awful lot of the time talking to people and drinking cider. To be honest, my memories of the day are extremely vague, except for one element: the headliners.

I'd only ever had a passing interest in Hawkwind, but I was captivated by their show. The lights were extraordinary and the music enthralling. It didn't really matter what they played (to me, anyway) as I wasn't familiar with most of their work, and there were a fair few others there I suspect were in the same boat. However, Silver Machine was the one true common denominator and the whole place came alive. I thought one day I would try to see Hawkwind again, but it never happened. It remains the only show of theirs I've ever been to. In fact, it was also the last time MrsRobster and I have spent a night under canvas.

This was the final Summer Daze Festival. There were stories of bikers gatecrashing the site without paying, and of some people trying to wreck the stage. In the end, the main reason was one of money; Alex made a massive loss and ultimately this would prove the death knell for Summer Daze. But he wasn't bitter. As he told me: "It's everyone's dream to have their favourite band playing in their back garden. I actually did it."



  1. Great post Robster. Sadly I never had the chance to see Hawkwind live.

  2. Ah, Hawkwind. As my pal Singing Bear put it '...the dope, the sweat, the hippies and the vomit. Good times'. Rather than bung up your comments section with the lengthy story of a Hawkwind related embarrassment from my youth, please forgive this link to an old post in which I tell the whole sorry tale!
    Great post Robster, even if it did bring back some uncomfortable memories.