Yes, Glastonbury happened.
In fact it feels long ago in the memory now, but that can’t be helped. Upon returning this year we promptly fell apart, hit down with the mightiest of summer colds, made all the more worse by no longer being able to start the day with a vodka lemo. Then before we knew it we were back on our travels to gigs up and down the country once more. Anyway, rambling aside here’s out little wrap up. We’ve done it a bit differently.
Banjo is a Glastonbury vet with double figures under his belt. The first time he walked upon the now hallowed fields he simply turned up on the day, paid in cash and that was that.
Tom was a Glastonbury virgin, popping that joy filled (and until now, illusive) spot for the first time, so we asked them each for five observations from the opposite ends of their experience.
Confessions of a Glastonbury Virgin
1. What do Scousers know about getting tickets that the rest of the UK don’t? I heard more Liverpool accents at Glasto than I have in Liverpool. No doubt the festival was more…lively, because of it – just grab me a ticket next time, yeah?
2. Glastonbury costs more than just Glastonbury. I’ve never been one for music gigs, instead preferring comedy. Since returning, I’ve become monomaniacal about seeing gigs large and small. Glastonbury lit a fire and clef-shaped flames now lick at my wallet. I hope this doesn’t last long – I don’t really have the money to maintain such an extravagant lifestyle.
3. When I went to Glastonbury for the first time, I wanted to go to Glastonbury and experience all that it means. The sun was nice and all, but give us some rain just for the sake of it? For four days I walked around in the 30 degree heat with wellies on in the misguided hope that I’d get my glorious mud-covered moment. Zilch. Sorry all, I’ll be hoping for rain next time.
4. From the back of the Pyramid field, watching Dave Grohl conduct thousands of people gives you a sense of enormity; the crowd looks gargantuan. However, when you’re in the midst and wildly howling the words to Karma Police, the crowd seems tiny and personal. I loved how much it changed depending on the tone of the set.
5. Going to Glastonbury was a bucket list thing for me. To give you some perspective- the Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon are also on it (only someone working class could be this middle class). I was thinking it would be “one and done”. Despite the sunburn, the piece-of-shit coach that broke down twice on the way home, the new found squatting technique I developed for the long drops and the horrendous clashes – I miss it terribly and two years is simply too long to wait for another. After 6 years of “I haven’t got a ticket” angst, I fear the next time I miss out it’ll be far worse.
Confessions of a Glastonbury Veteran
1. Some things stay the same. Most of the stages, bars, etc. are in the same place each year, which gives the impression of returning to a favourite holiday spot and knowing your way around. Some things do move, such as Arcadia or the John Peel stage, but they tend to move to a new home and stay there. It’s good to go back each year and to be able to visit your favourite parts of the festival easily and to be able to arrange meetings with friends before you arrive.
2. Some things change over time. Now this may just be the griping of an old git, but I think it was better back in the 90s. Before the fence went up and the police came in it was like being caught in a Mad Max movie, with flaming car skeletons being driven around the main areas at night. There was an air of ‘anything can happen’ and I was once in a field when five people got shot. It’s a lot calmer now and it’s a lot harder to buy drugs.
3. The biggest difference is the audience. Before the BBC started broadcasting it the people who went were festival people, who knew their festival etiquette. Now it seems to be populated by people who see it as a chance to get as pissed and off their heads as possible and then stagger around in the crowds, banging into people and not noticing or caring.
4. Glastonbury has more than doubled in size since I first went, back I the heady, hazy days of 1990. These days it isn’t uncommon to walk 18 miles in a day, plus the standing, dancing, etc. It is harder to move between the stages these days, due to both the distance and the number of people between them. Of course the size and scope is what makes Glastonbury what it is, but you know, just saying.
5. Food. Food everywhere! Glastonbury used to have a lot more stalls selling hippy clothes, drug paraphernalia and ridiculous hats. Now these are in the minority and food stalls have taken over. Again, not saying this is a bad thing but where am I supposed to buy that essential jesters hat from now eh?
10. The xx
Could they do it? Doubts were cast over The xx’s high profile booking this year but concerns were quickly dispelled as the amps turned up and the stage exploded into colour. A pleasant surprise from a band who out performed my expectations.
9. Craig David
The prize for person I thought I’d hate but ended up loving goes to… Pure school disco flashbacks and impossible not to enjoy. Massive tunes and I can now official say I know what the TS5 is.
8. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
They’re almost regulars to the fields of Worthy Farm now. With multiple sets spread across the weekend we knew we’d catch them at least once for our obligatory freak out. They get better and better every time I’ve seen them (this being the sixth) and are surely destined to be Glasto greats in the future, with bigger and better stages greeting them year on year.
7. Barry Gibb
Emosh. You could feel the love the crowd still have for the last Bee Gee and Barry couldn’t keep his surprise and reaction under wraps. It was a heartwarming and good spirited dance along.
I can’t think of a band I’d rather listen to in a field on a beautiful summers day. Their light and gentle melodies have the power to create an almost tangible breeze. Early in the day but a lovely way to wake up and have a little lay down in the grass.
5. The National
Confession time. The National are one of those bands that people always ask me if I like, before going on to tell me they think I’d really like them, but for some reason I never really discovered the band until now. Sitting a top the Pyramid hill I was immediately won over by the band and Matt Berninger’s attitude and showmanship. The first records I purchased upon my return and that’s always a compliment. A big band, but a new discovery.
4. Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show
“Lets just go and stay for a bit, then we’ll get off”. Skip to four hours later and we were still boogie-ing away in Shangri La begging for another song. Craig (wearing an incredible aqua blue fedora) had the crowd in the palm of his hand never let the vibe dip below euphoric.
Come on! Chic! The sun came out, the macs came off and Chic continued to prove why Nile Rogers is one of the most influential people in music history. Young or old, everybody knows every word to the songs and dancing is mandatory. Like the best family wedding you’ve ever been to, or are likely to ever attend.
Watching back this set once I got home was a chore and a bore, I barley managed it. Being there however was unforgettable. The feeling of being in the crowd, everyone invested and reacting in the right way, hearing songs you’d never thought you’d hear live. It was a gift that I’ll treasure forever and probably the best musical experience of the week.
1. Foo Fighters
We can only imagine Dave’s pre show checklist went along the lines off… 1. Come on stage 2. Put everyone in a good mood 3. Smash them in the face with three huge tunes. They may as well have kicked off with an encore, which they actually avoided all together which we couldn’t be happier about. A joy from the first minute to the last and just damn good fun. What’s wrong with that?
Worst Piece of Shit Acts
1. Ed Sheeran
Seeing as Ed was the only bad act we saw all weekend, we’ll dispense a few more words. I tried really, really hard to enjoy his set. “I’m at Glastonbury, I’ve paid good money, lets try and have a good time,” my inner monologue was telling me. A few songs in, I became visibly and audibly exasperated. My arms went up in the air and an irrepressible sigh left me. It was just so boring. I have an easier time focusing on nothing while meditating that I did trying to focus on Ed Sheeran. My mind would wander, daydream and all the while surrounded by girls having the time of their lives, with their Dads just behind them singing along too.
Non Musical Highlights of the Weekend
5. Wednesday night tradition. As thousands of others did we spent Wednesday evening climbing to the very tippy top of the site to await the ‘official’ opening of the festival in the form of fireworks. After sitting around for a while and wondering if this was just in fact a rumour we were suitably startled when explosions started behind us. Having Glasto newbies in attendance it was the proper way to start their experience and the display certainly helped them come to the realisation… ‘We’re actually here!’. You’re damn right you are!
4. The circus fields. Is there anything greater than walking around on a sunny day being enthusiastically entertained by people with talents you could only dream of? Anywhere else in the world you’d be temped to roll your eyes when a young, overly personable magician walks up to you gesturing a desk of cards, but not here (and especially not when your lounging in your own personal cushion hut!). Minds blown, tip offered, tip refused and just like that you’ve had a classic Glasto moment.
3. Eating. The food. Fish Finger Butties, the best Mac n Cheese I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a shameful amount), the famous Welsh Oggie, noodles so good we had them twice and told everyone to do the same, full English’s, pizza’s. It was a god damn food-cation of the highest order. Mmmmm MMMm.
2. Tom‘s overly dramatic but very real head in hands reaction to discovering he would have to choose between The Killers ‘secret’ set and the irresistible party that is Chic. Ultimately he settled on seeing half of both. Good choice, I was almost proud.
1. Spending several hours trying to solve the secret Rabbit Hole game that apparently didn’t actually exist, but we gave the staff a good laugh and got googly eyes for our trouble. That’s what happens when you take a bunch of PhD students to a party I suppose.
5. There to be no Oasis rumours
4. Diana Ross
3. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
2. Fleetwood Mac
1. Getting a ticket
Naturally taking a big chunky DSLR camera wasn’t top of our priorities so here are a few disposable snaps of our 2017 Glastonbury experience.