Free stuff is just the best. Walking into Birmingham's new Beyond The Tracks festival on the Sunday we were given four brightly coloured bottles of the new Monster Hydro Drink. While I consider the hyper-calorific hyper-stimulant drinks to be a massive public health problem that is far more dangerous than alcohol, on a day out where I'm likely to need more stimulation and energy I think these are fair game.
I mean its not like I'm going to be drinking these on a daily basis - even if these are the non-carbonated 'hydration' versions. So what makes them special?
It's the next generation of refreshing energy drinks of course! Well, that's what the blurb says. It's only lightly sweetened so it doesn't taste like organ failure anymore, which is nice, but there is still far too much artificial crap in here to be anything other than oily sugar-water. Why bother triple filtering the water when you are adding 11% glucose syrup and coconut and rape seed oil? There are a few token vitamins, but they don't add D for some reason - is that too helpful?
But that's not what these are here for, we aren't supposed to be enjoying the drink or getting nutritional benefits - these are basically legal highs and as an arthritic man at a festival I'm going to require all the stimulation possible to make it through to the main event.
The flavours are "Melon Bacardi Breezer" and "nondescript green" and are both forgettable. Yes - you get a slight initial caffeine buzz like you left the teabag in for too long. Yes - after a while the body metabolises the other caffeine derivatives and the fatigue appears to be gone. I stood at the front (as in right by the barrier) for Wild Beasts and had a good time. There was not much dancing (it's a festival, you always seem to be surrounded by people essentially waiting for the later bands), or knowing of the songs by most people near me, but I had a little sing and recorded some 4K video for later remembering purposes. Thing is, i never once got any pleasure from drinking these. Poccari Sweat is a joy to drink, and even the ones that thought they reduced stress and acted as brain training had interesting flavours. The job of these is to make you not notice that you finished them and to then just crack open the next one and keep gaming (i mean partying with the cool kids - honest).
It's worth mentioning at this point that the festival itself was really well organised and a pleasure to attend. The food on site was cheap for a festival, and even the drinks were good value. I found a little yellow van selling pizza.
£7 for a pizza with real ingredients on it that was freshly cooked and took a lot less time than expected was pretty good. This would have been £10 at Latitude!
Yes - they didn't slice it effectively enough (despite me asking) so it was a faff to eat with my malfunctioning hands in a field but the flavour (club sandwich - chicken AND Bacon) and ingredients were spot on. No complaints. I recommended it so throughly that my partner had one (veggie) before the main event.
Editors are always good live, and while I don't get the same nostalgia hit from the new material they did talk about the old days in Kings Heath and the Flapper so I felt appreciated too. As you can tell from the barrier I'd flashed my wobbly person credentials at security by this point and moved my chair on to the accessibility platform (as there was a lot of space and by this point the Monster had worn off).
I think I drank about 1 1/2 of the Monster bottles and made it through about 4 hours of the festival before crashing which isn't actually all that long. Maybe i'm just too tired, and maybe I needed the extra sugar that the cancer-can versions with all of the unnecessary calories provide.
We gave the other two bottles away to curious work colleagues and I have no intention of ever paying for this. It just wasn't nice or that effective. It's like a more grown-up version of Sunny Delight where there is a lot of things in there to make it a habit forming drink. I'd probably not recommend it to anyone.
Unlike the festival - we should all go on the guitars day again next year - it was fab!