A Discordian Happening At Festival 23
WRITTEN BY JOSH RAY – JULY 2016
Half a century on from the massive countercultural explosion in the mid-1960s, it appears as though we’re on the precipice of a new movement. Spiritually redundant and corrupted to the core, it’s unsurprising to see more and more people rejecting the increasingly bland and confused norms imposed on them, instead seeking to build their own culture, that makes sense to their own lives.
As soon as the Super Weird crew arrived at Festival 23, it was immediately clear that we were witnessing a microcosm of what’s happening in the world on a wider scale. On both sides of the Atlantic, radical ideas are beginning to resurface and get talked about, most interestingly in this case, Discordianism, the spoof religion with roots in 1950’s California that venerates the Greek Goddess of chaos, Eris. You need only turn to a 24 hour news channel to see why she’s so relevant to today’s world.
Upon entering the festival situated in the picturesque Yorkshire countryside, we were first greeted by Jimmy Cauty’s ‘Aftermath Discolation Principle‘ installation, which perfectly set the tone. The intricately designed dystopian British landscape fit inside the confines of an industrial shipping container is one of the most creative comments on the direction our society is heading – providing, in our opinion, one of the great art statements of our time.
Arriving with a limited run of 223 CDs containing 2014’s ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field‘ mixtape and the freshly printed first edition of our ‘Beneath The Manhole Cover’ zine we placed them alongside the bundles of Alan Moore’s ‘Dodgem Logic’ magazines – eight free copies for everyone at the festival. This was fitting as it was Alan Moore who made the suggestion of people putting together their own basic knockabout photocopied fanzines at the ‘Under The Austerity’ gathering in Northampton last November, so it would have been rude for us not to chip in with our own.
At 500 capacity, the festival had a real community spirit to it, and, like a cult following, those that were there had bags of energy and enthusiasm, ready to engage fully with every experience presented to them. On the first night, the festival unveiled the mind-expanding interview Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge conducted with Alan Moore, touching on Discordianism and counterculture, his upcoming book ‘Jerusalem‘, the view that art and magic are the same thing and various themes raised in his prophectic 2003 interview, ‘The Mindscape Of Alan Moore‘ – which has had a big influence on us at SWS.
The majority of the Super Weird crew arrived on the Saturday ready for Greg’s DJ set, which closed the main Pyramind stage. Playing to an eager, open-minded crowd, Greg was able to make the connection to what went before in a way that powerfully resonated with the here and now – by the time we reached the climax, there was an intense white heat of energy filling the tent, which he remarked had taken his breath away. The recording is available on Soundcloud to stream/download.
With complete and utter abandon, the crowd sweated out all the troubles of the outside world on the dancefloor to what, a number of his friends and followers said, was one of Greg’s finest sets, culimating in an epic remix of Jeff Wayne’s ‘War Of The Worlds’ and David Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’. Not content with that, the crowd coaxed another two tracks out of him; Prince’s ‘Sign Of The Times’ and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Cupid’ – exactly five years on from her tragic death, love had the final word.
Taking the vibes out into the campfire, Kermit and The Reynolds set up around The Reverend Cleve Freckleton on his keyboard, and initiated a sing-along. They sang an impromptu collection of music for the soul from the likes of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Bob Marley and The Mamas And The Papas. The Reynolds were joined by Tracey Carmen and Sam Heller to sing some of their The Night and Days swing as well as a few Super Weird Society selections including the heartfelt prayer, ‘Lord Don’t Fuck Me Up’. Later they opened up the mic, with Terry Logan breaking the ice with her take on ‘Ain’t Nobody’, whilst Tommy Calderbank’s unexpected rendition of ‘Blanket On The Ground’ rounded things off nicely.
The Super Weird Society took to the Pyramind stage the following day, playing a dynamic performance. Drawing from the energy of the previous night, The Reynolds, The Reverend Cleve and Kermit re-energised the room, working through tracks new and old. Apart from a private event, this was the first time that the crew had performed in this format, with the latest material including the Festival 23 inspired, ‘Find The Others’ – which they most certainly did.
With all that, on top of engaging and enlightening talks and performances from the likes of John Higgs, Alistair Fruish, the Cosmic Trigger crew, Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent, SHARDCORE and a whole host of other contributions, the Festival was a resounding success. Festival 23 sought to pick up the baton after 2014’s Cosmic Trigger play and that’s exactly what it did – it reconnected the others at a crucial time, and I think it’s fair to see the festival as an essential cog in the mechanisms of a wider movement that’s beginning to manifest itself.
PHOTOS BY TIM COLLINS AND BEN HARRISON