BOATY WEEKENDER Diary – Day 3. Sardinia, Sunstroke and Syndromes (and more BUZZCOCKS)



8:15am: Our restraint last night is going to pay off, won’t it? I mean, while the rest of the ship either sleeps through our port of call Cagliari, Sardinia, or wanders up the road to the town or flops on an overrun beach, me, the boy and 6 other adventurous souls have decided to take an 8-hour-holy-crap-what-were-we-thinking? of this amazing island located just 180km north of Africa.

Playing music on stone in Sardinia, photo Mikala FolbIt feels like Africa outside. I would also, quoting Toto, very much like to bless the rains down here, because I’m fairly certain we’re going to die in the heat. It’s 35-40C/95-100F degrees and my skin is falling off my skeleton. But southern Sardinia is beautiful: it’s a flat, agricultural land, fertile thanks to underground springs, and centuries of farming. Our first stop is the artistic small rural town of San Sperate, known for its peaches, its murals – beautiful art is everywhere – and Pinuccio Sciola, an artist who created its “Sound Garden” (“No, not the band,” laughs our guide Fabio. Of course his name is Fabio), of giant carved basalt and limestone rocks that either move, or resonate, or make real, live, actual music when “played” with a flat rock.

From San Sperate our small group heads over to a 17th Century BCE UNESCO Heritage site of Su Nuraxi, an ancient settlement and bastion/towers that were uncovered in the 1950s. It’s Dante’s Inferno-level roasting out, but up we go to climb massive rocks, and duck into skinny pathways and towers still standing exactly as they were THOUSANDS of  years ago, unfettered by modern renovations.

We board the bus to head next door for lunch, and the onboard thermometer reads what we’ve all been thinking: it’s ACTUALLY FUCKING 47C/116F.

Food in Sardinia, photo by Mikala FolbLunch at the Cavallino della Giara is made up of Sardinian hits: local olives (the area is known for them), hams and creamed Pecorino cheese, fregola pasta (and gluten-free gnocchi for me) in wine, then a slow-stewed pork served with heaping plate of every raw vegetable grown nearby. The red wine is fresh, the indoor air conditioning (a fine-mist sprinkler) is delightful and we all chat about music around the table. We’re a microcosm of the Boaty Weekender: one person is from China, another from Japan, with her friend from Liverpool, England. Paul is from Chicago, there’s a couple from Cleveland, and an Englishman who now lives in Melbourne, plus us two from Canada’s West Coast. All united around a dining table, talking about our best sets so far, and gushing about the experience.Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb Pairing music with travel is one of life’s great joys – and it’s a gift and a true honour to able to experience all of it.

After a quick gelato in the town of Cagliari, we’re back on the boat! The Cava is calling!

7pm: The booze buzz is back just in time for the Buzzcocks, this time with friends: the bands on the boat are going to be giving Diggle and Co. a lift. They start with a few on their own, “Fast Cars,” “Promises”, “Autonomy”, “Why She’s A Girl from the Chainstore,” before Ira, James and Georgia from Yo La Tengo hop up to read their lyrics through “Boredom” and “Time’s Up.” They look a bit out of sorts, but I’m gobsmacked. Where else can you see some of your favourite bands actually play with each other? Camera Obscura help out on “Love You More,” and Frances and Eugene Vaselines do “Fiction Romance.”

Yo La Tengo with the Buzzcocks, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

But – and I’m not just saying this – it’s Stuart from Belle and Sebastian that sets the gig on an epic course. The booze has kicked in, I’m covered in my own sweat and it’s time to rock. Wearing a Pete Shelley tribute shirt and a face beaming smiles and excitement, he rips into “What Do I Get?” like a pro, all bobbing and weaving. It’s fantastic and he just looks…so happy. We can’t not be, either.

Steve Diggle and Stuart Murdoch, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

Django Django’s Vinny Neff’s got a hard act to follow but is also excited. “I can’t believe I’m on stage with the fucking Buzzcocks,” he says off the top, and tears through a pretty respectable “Something’s Gone Wrong Again.” From here, it’s a slightly nervous-looking Molly from Alvvays who handles “Noise Annoys” followed by a Belle & Buzzcocks supergroup rendition of “Sixteen Again” and a mixed bag plus Vaselines wrap up the collabs with “You Say You Don’t Love Me.”

Buzzcocks and Vinny Neff from Django Django, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

Then it’s over to the Buzzcocks themselves and this time “Harmony In My Head” sounds about 50% more rollicking than it did the day before. “Orgasm Addict”, “I Don’t Mind” and “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’tve)” have Buzzcocks at their more glorious. They’d captured the party, the energy and the joy and friendship of the boat, and this was my favourite set of the trip.

.Steve Diggle, Buzzcocks, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

8:30pm: I’ve barely caught my breath before it’s time for another round of Yo La Tengo! They open with “You Are Here” (indeed, indeed we are), before getting to a few of my faves: the James McNew-led “Black Flowers”, a crunchy “From a Motel 6” where the guitars bend and wail, and a super-rad “Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)”. YES!

10:00pm: I have a bit of sunstroke and, with a fairly unforgiving chronic illness that comes with six associated pain syndromes, I’m starting to hit the wall. For most of the folks on board this is their whole holiday – we’ve already been caning it across Barcelona for the week before and the pace – and Cava – is starting to take its toll. We catch some of the Belle  and Sebastian show on the Pool Deck, but then have to retreat to our rooms. I know Stuart Murdoch can relate and hopefully forgive – I recently learned that he’s also challenged by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I stubbornly try to make it through, but my partner takes one look at me and suggests that I won’t manage a full day tomorrow if I don’t rest. But our room is located conveniently underneath/close to the stage, so I listen to the whole thing from our balcony and bliss out as the dark waters woosh past. A cover of “Eleanor Rigby” sounds lush in the night sky, I bop around on the balcony to “If you’re feeling sinister”, and what’s this? Little Daniel – a 12-year-old who gamely put his best foot forward during (Belles’) Stevie Jackson’s Open Mic on Day 2 –  has been invited up to do his Queen song (“Don’t Stop Me Now”) in front of the entire boat. Bless ‘im! And HINDS, probably still refreshed from the day before, get a chance to play the main stage, and run through “The Party Line”.



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