Wilson will be playing Air-05 at 10:00pm on Friday 19th August, headlining the first night of the festival.
On the floor of the Nene Valley some twelve miles east of Northampton lie the Grendon Lakes. The place is a local beauty spot, popular with fishermen, families and - on occasion - with the more hardcore element of the Racehorse regulars. There is a nice little club house there with a bar, restaurant and all the facilities you could want. A pleasant little patio looks out over the water.
Because of the eponymous lakes, somebody has had the bright idea of staging an extreme sports event here: wakeboarding, skateboarding, BMX, all that sort of thing. Air 05 is to be a three day event with live music, DJs, camping, all that good shit. Wilson have been invited to play the first evening, so here we are, about half a mile off the main road, waiting in a short line of vehicles queuing to clear security. Agent Wilson and I are impressed to see that the people checking the vehicles are in paramilitary garb, some with helmets and goggles. They do take their time, though. It must have something to do with the large and immobile Winnebago parked up about three ahead of us. Eventually we announce ourselves as Wilson: The First Wave and are tooled up with the requisite paperwork to proceed to Security Checkpoint Two. We continue down the track towards the lakes, wondering how many people are going to be queuing up at that gate later in the weekend.
Checkpoint Two succumbs easily to the glamour of our new paperwork and in a minute or two we are pulling up outside the clubhouse. As we load in Rob from The Buzz is at the controls. playing groovy punk, soul and dub sounds to perhaps two or three dozen people milling about on the patio or down by the lake, where the wakeboarders are warming up. Russ tools me up with some fags and leaves me to set up as much kit as I can while he sets off back to NN1 to fetch the Second Wave. Rob Carter buys me a pint of Stella. It is 4:00pm.
At a picnic table high on a hill above the lake under a leaden sky they sit, crow-like. Wilson, minus MC Bot but plus Anita Allbright and her small Soviet flask of brandy, huddle together, safe in the knowledge that a soundcheck has finally been completed. A few last shafts of sunlight break through the looming clouds. Red sky at night: shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning: nuclear war.
We watch the wakeboarders still practising in the fading light. They are getting air all right. It is radical, possibly gnarly even. Stevie G decides that he wants to see some mishap action. Each time one of the talented aquatic daredevils comes speeding by, Steve cries with a passionate intensity: "Foot off!"
A tall, dark figure is coming up the hill towards the picnic table. It is unsteady on its feet and it is gesticulating wildly in a manner that we cannot fully understand. It is MC Bot and he feels like getting naked. Somebody asks what time it is. It is eight o'clock. We are on at ten o'clock. A sort of desperate hilarity breaks out.
I miss the first band on the bill. Rob Carter reckons that they did Stone Roses songs in a Norfolk accent: "The Alan Partridge Project". Mind you, Rob Carter is off his face. They seemed like perfectly decent people to me. I wobble off and sit by the peaceful water's edge. Rob Carter plays Crazy Horses by the Osmonds. While I am still reeling from this, he wanders out of the clubhouse and finds me at the water's edge: "Oi, Buckley - No!"
The second band are very competent and are going down very well with the ten or twelve people who have actually gone into the clubhouse. This is not entirely the band's fault. The room is small and the PA is very large indeed. Those who are in the room are literally pinned along the back wall. This does not, however, sink in at the time. Somehow I reckon it will be different for us. Had you asked me where I thought all the people were coming from, I might have gone a bit quiet, though.
From the moment we take the stage it is chaos. We are really, really loud. MC Bot is really, really off it and really, really up for it at the same time. The stage doesn't even hold him until the first chorus. He's out there. Those who weren''t already pinned against the back wall by the volume are now cowering there in the hope that the crazy singer man's microphone lead won't reach that far. It does, though. Nobody is safe. With Bot spending most of his time in front of the PA, the filthy racket that we are already generating becomes wholesomely larded with swathes of mid-range feedback. The band is playing its teeth out. It's murder.
There is so little room on the stage that I stay pretty much immobile, head down, getting on with it as best I can. I miss lots of what is going on. By the end I pretty much assume that we have cleared the place. So as everyone leaves the stage I get down on the floor and make with a little bit of delay feedback. As the other sounds die away I start to reduce the level, then slow it down to sound like a record slowly running out of speed. It takes ages. I am certain that nobody is paying the slightest attention. As finally I fade the feedback out to silence, for a second you can hear a pin drop. Then about three young girls burst into keen applause. Bless 'em, I think, they were waiting for the ending. A few people come up and say very polite things. Rob Carter reckons it was fantastic. Did I mention that Rob Carter is off his face?
By midnight we are speeding back through the Northamptonshire country lanes, heading for Agent Wilson's. Running the performance back in my head I simply cannot see how we are going to play the Balloon Festival tomorrow without getting fully and comprehensively arrested.