Glastonbury 2013 – A Reflection
The saying goes, you can't pick your audience.
I still expect a lot from Glastonbury, even after all these years and rightly so. Through the wind, mud, rain, sunshine, tears, sweat, late nights and long days it has always delivered in ways which are at times unexplainable. This year was the same, it just felt like you had to work harder for it.
festival [?f?st?v?l] n
1. a day or period set aside for celebration or feasting, esp one of religious significance
2. any occasion for celebration, esp one which commemorates an anniversary or other significant event
3. an organized series of special events and performances, usually in one place a festival of drama
4. Archaic, a time of revelry; merrymaking
5. (modifier) relating to or characteristic of a festival
A festival or gala is an event ordinarily staged by a local community, which centres on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival. Among many religions, a feast is a set of celebrations in honour of God or gods. A feast and a festival are historically interchangeable. However, the term "feast" has also entered common secular parlance as a synonym for any large or elaborate meal.
A day doesn't begin and end at Glastonbury… it just goes on. Theres an excellent review by Clive Martin from Vice as a Glastonbury virgin widely construed as a negative reflection – not true – examining the festival as not actually being a festival. It most definitely is not in the conventional use of the word – from what has become known as a festival these days. It is its own living and breathing (not so) micro-community for 6 days of the year and more a reference to the above definitions than life – or a festival – as we know it
I approach the festival from somewhat of a different angle. I'm not a Glastonbury virgin, but more of a floozy. Ive been going for about 30 years now and have constantly banged on to friends – and anyone whod listen – how my mum and dad used to have a stall selling airbrushed shit from when I was 5. I remember when there was no fence around the Pyramid Stage etc. etc. – repeat to bore. That dewy-eyed nostalgia is something that has lived with me my whole adult life but eventually that rose-tinted view begins to hamper your enjoyment of the now. On top of all that its just quite boring to listen to… and to read – you have to move forwards. Having seen the festival morph into something altogether different, cerebral yet still eye-wateringly exciting, I think its finally time to put that to bed and put to bed that the people who used to take piss out of me in my teenage years attending the festival are now the evangelists of it – and move on with enjoying the great things this makeshift small town has to offer.
This is a review of everything good that Glastonbury has to offer, as well as some aspects, which it needs to work on as part of its ever-evolving and mutating transition forwards. Ive broken this into Heaven & Hell, this years theme for the Shangri La area.
- Block 9 The piece de resistance of the nocturnal activities in the East Corner. The addition of the outdoor futuro Genosys stage with the likes of Greg Wilson busting moves and the prospect of the now near-institution NYC Downlow replete with trannies and incredible disco courtesy of Horse Meat Disco, Luke Solomon & Rob Mello, Dan Beaumont and so many more – this pretty much made the festival for us.
- Circus Field
- Why haven't I ever spent more time in here before? Completely crackers; roadworks in the field, tight-rope walking, Eric Idle style juggling, freeform mime and much, much more.
- The Park Village – this area has grown into a complete living entity with late-night Stonebridge Bar, secret gig Crows Nest atop the hill, Silent Disco and the likes of Steve Mason, Solange Knowles, Fuck Buttons on the superbly programmed main stage.
- Food & Drink – Goan Fish Curry, Late-night Vege Burritos in The Park area, Thali Caf as ever, Brazilian Minute Steaks in the almost but not quite Glasto Latino area (move it further into the throng next year), Organic Wine stall, Real Ale stalls aplenty, Brothers Cider as ever and a lot else besides. Glastonbury's culinary delights have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Even the grease in a tray is almost edible these days.
- West Holts morphed from Jazz World stage over the last few years into West Holts replete with diversity of programming and better and better food.
- Festival Republic departing – Having to dance with the perceived devil to ensure the festival continued 10 years ago Glastonbury is now out of its deal and is now a fully functioning independent entity again.
Greenpeace Fieldsnowball fights (yes really), installations and farmers markets.
Mass Tomato Fight – Sunday afternoon tomato fights in the Bullring. Look at the image carefully, look at a lot of tomatoes in the air. We did not partake.
Finding out a mate was working on a real ale stall.
Beat Hotel – Based at the site of the old Guardian tent, Beat Hotel has come to offer an alternative to the at times overrun West Corners more variable other main stages.
Walking – If you like to walk, this is the place to do it. Spanning over 100 acres this is the beauty – and its downfall for those of us who think we can do it all – of the place. You can literally just walk and walk and walk and still come across something new to see, do, eat, drink and hump.
Queuing / Sequential Access Management System
it is NOT a queue! Shangri La queuing system reminded me of Temple Grandin, an amazing autistic lady who invented a system to get cows into the abattoir without them freaking out. If you are following a curve you feel like you are continuously moving. Ah, the psychology of queues! LC.
This seemed to feature rather heavily this year over all areas of the site, for various features. Over-crowding had been a problem in previous years but it seemed to affect things even more heavily this year, especially at the stroke of midnight when the hordes would scamper from the last chord of the headline acts on the Main stages, and descend onto the nocturnal activities at Block 9, Shangri La, Rabbit Hole, Silent & Roller Discos. If you wanted to get in you had to get down, early – or very late – or face Sequential Access Management. The cohort was even out-queued for Professor Brian Cox at 2pm in the afternoon at the Crows Nest. And she loves a bit of Cox.
- Mumford and Sons nothing more to say on the matter.
Shanrgi-La – over the past few years has been an awe-inspiring mind blowing experience, alluring you into its Shanty-town style madness, steeped with detail and mysterious little door ways. This year, once you got past the queues it felt a bit of a let down. The best part was having a posh-poo in Heaven.
- Tuborg as the chosen beer of choice for the festival. I actually think I'd take Carling or Fosters over this. Praise be for Real Ale, Brothers and the trusty Cider Bus. Sure the masses loved it.
No naked freaks on bikes / not enough random randomness around the main areas of the site in general.
Flags – I don't think I've ever seen so many view-hampering, badly tailored/sloganed piece of cloth in one place.
…and now for the music (not classed in Hell).
Whilst some argued this year that the programming wasn't as sharp as previous years there was still some excellent music to be seen and heard.
Atoms For Peace are the secret guest on the Other Stage in the morning… so goes the ever rolling Glastonbury rumour mill. They're not, it's fucking Beady Eye. Thank Christ I stayed in my tent up on the hill and watched that unfold rather than legging it down there. Shame Id spent the night before hyping this rumour up to a man of a hot nature. Cue confused morning texts.
In fact all this reviewing of bands is pretty pointless when you can watch it all on TV and make your mind up for yourself. Here was our pick of the good stuff anyway:
Goat My first encounter with their polished swedish psychefunk. Proper costumes them. Like if Chrome Hoof had swalloed a bit of Gaggle but in a good way.
Buy or sell any tickets… my friend Danno can't seem to wear any of my jackets without looking like a ticket tout. But that's another story entirely.
Savages – at another new stage; Willam's Green – can't get in the tent. Sound good tho. Nice tent
Tom Tom Club – old, bit cringey, pumped up on Brother's Cider they sound ace.
Back to the tent for a quick pit stop and zzzzz oops 2am, missed the headliners
Chic – I heard they were good… as covers bands go.
Portishead – heard they were amazing. They looked good on TV. It all does on TV.
The Orb lying in a field of mushrooms, theyre an amazing accompaniment. 20 years on from when I last saw them in these fields (there you go again on the nostalgia) it feels odd to be hearing them in the sunshine… but no less great.
Tim Burgess DJs Crazy In Love really needs to work on that haircut.
Rodriguez gets dragged off stage for rambling drunken nonsense or so I understood.
Stones Quo – like listening to a covers band stood at the back of a field, staring at a video screen while they fart out of your dads car stereo.
Fk this I know everyone said they were amazing but we choose to wander off into a deserted site as Miss You echoes in the background and sounds a million times better than where we had previously been standing – and to West Holts where Public Enemy play Don't Believe The Hype and Fight The Power in quick succession. Happy, move on. Fuck Buttons playing to about 400 people on The Park Stage… "Shouldn't you be at the Stones?" they ask… no ta, we reply. Mind-melting goodness for a Saturday evening closer.
Public Image Ltd – "Not such a sell out after all" Tho to be fair he does look like he's consumed a little too much Countrylife of late. But he's right, they're not and they're on fine form.
Steve Mason "It's all very nice up here out of the way of Mumford and Sons". Steve Mason just gets on and does his thing. With an amazing new album from this year – which he only seems to touch on with this gig – hes a legend and a distinct highlight of the weekend. I could listen to him all day. We miss his Crows Nest secret gig later, in turn missing an acoustic Dry The Rain dont know what to say about that other than I am sad.
Smashing Pumpkins – Ladies and Gentleman, this is the end of the show. God Bless you and God Bless America. Thanks Billy but we're in a field in Somerset and I dont know what I feel about God so can we just give it a rest please.
Bobby Womack – cohort highlight. Again, looked good watching him back on telly like.
Phoenix Power Pop goodness festival closers. They dont play If Ever Feel Better tho thats a shame. But then I guess the rest of their catalogue is good enough to stand up on its own these days.
Feedback from another R$N-er
I only managed to get into late night Shangri-la once. I didn't think moving Arcadia was going to work but I think it was wise to move it and really liked the new places they put in its place.
Musical highlights for me were Fuck Buttons, Jagwar Ma, Goat, Savages, Chic, TOY, The scream n some hippy stuff at Taddy. I tend to avoid the main stage, it's too much man, I camp on Pennard Hill so nice slot in between the Park and other stage. I don't think it's the festival that's the problem, it's the people, they should fuck off back to V, I recall shouting this at people LOTS. Luckily they don't veer beyond the stuff they see on the TV footage so they didn't find the cool shebeens area playing dubby drum n' bass or see some twee acoustic acts in the green fields. I think some areas have lost it, previously the Bez's acid house was just that, acid and house classics from the late 80s/early 90s. The 2 times i failed to get in there, i didn't hear any acid, it was all current stuff, like someone had quickly downloaded a load of electro house shit off beatport and played it there, what's acid about that?
These Mumford fans are just Robbie Williams fans who think they're being ultra edgy by listening to something they think is indie. I've only managed to hear 1 or 2 tracks by them and they make me ill. I do like the story of them being Glastonbury sons though, they started at the Tadpole stage and gradually moved up to headliners over the years…..yeah that's nice, but they still sound shit. But who else is big enough to headline? It's the same old same old, Kasabian, Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon. I'd be like a dog with 2 dicks if Hookworms headlined it but it aint happening! That said, I've come back re-energised to sort out a new job, in fact I'm on the verge of going fuck it and just resigning, it'll be the push that I need to get out there and get a job I don't despise. CT
So Glastonbury 2013; incredible, awe-inspiring amazingness with a level of production unseen anywhere else in pretty much the whole world but you could almost sell tickets to the East Corner (including The Park stage) as a separate festival these days, such is the separation in crowds.
The detail, production and magic is all there, you just have to look a bit further and queue for it! Id also like to think that the days of sharing moments with friends you've just not met yet arent over either… but am I romanticising the whole thing a little too much again?!
Glastonbury adapts to the times it exists in. The mainstreaming of the festival is an inevitability, but the original outsider spirit lives on in the imaginative fringes. Accepting that fact enables you to curate your own festival, and enjoy it.
anyone going next year take your fucking tents home… I dont care if you say the clean up people will give them to charity to send overseas.
Pick them up and do that yourself.
What sort of a nation have we brought up?!
If you partook in this activity this year, take a look at yourself and make some changes for next year.
Viva Glastonbury you still have my heart just in a different way now.
Peace, love and biscuits… very good biscuits. xx
A small city somewhere in Somerset…
Boats and balls…