A festival of incongruity

How do we win an audience and get them talking about us, remembering us? Recently, a large mobile network asked us this and our reply was that they needed to get some mud on their wellies.

How do we win an audience and get them talking about us, remembering us? Recently, a large mobile network asked us this and our reply was that they needed to get some mud on their wellies and some poison in their bellies.

The power of the inverse (or ‘poison’) is nowhere so obvious than at a summer festival. City hordes fill fields, appropriating farm work-wear so that wellington boots take on street-style and form part of the ubiquitous festival uniform.

Against an idyllic backdrop of cornfields, hedgerows and hay bales a sprawling city is created, with overflowing rubbish bins, discarded cans and plastic bags, stag and hen parties and associated behaviour… all of which momentarily blights the countryside in a feast of incongruity. It’s loud and exciting, it’s rude and obnoxious… it’s brilliant.

Urban life gatecrashes a rural setting, literally: Block9’s London Underground installation at Glastonbury this year featured a life-size replica of a tube train smashing into a block of flats. It is the incongruity of the festival that excites us, its participants. The apparent contradictions inherent in the experience set our antennae to alert, maximizing its sensory nature, guaranteeing impact.

On Thursday night, the whole of Glastonbury’s Block9 area had to close temporarily because the NYC Downlow installation proved too popular to accommodate the crowds wanting a piece of 1989 New York ‘homo-soul-funk underground’ (in a field in Somerset, remember). Block9’s success clearly demonstrates the power of incongruity. Their audience will totally be talking about the experience and remembering them!

Who: Block 9
What: Block 9 Field, Glastonbury Festival
Where: Picton Farm, Glastonbury, Somerset
Link: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/areas/block9/

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