I didn't come to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, and I haven't invested much time in it, but my first impressions are that it's fucking terrible. It brings in flocks of people to crowd the street and obscures the beauty of the city (see video). It's everything you hate, all together, all at once. There're jugglers and face painters and balloon benders and earnest dance acts, feigning death. There's sub-Shakespeare-in-the-Park calibre Shakespeare, without the park but with McDonalds Drive-thru headsets. There're barbershop quartets and jive-bands performing in front of a banner that reads Say Yes to Life and No to Drugs. And down the main street the crowds hustle you off the streets into oncoming traffic (coming from a direction you're not used to). It looks like a bad mardi gras parade except everyone is dressed up to advertise their performance and pleading with you to come to their their gig. I turned down more handbills in one afternoon than in my entire life before this day. It's like being chased down by a thousand mimes.
However, this evening we went to see Kristin Hersh's performance, which alone would be worth the train ride(s) into town. More on this soon.