I judge the free love magic factor of any UK festival on the frequency with which strangers hand me back the valuables that I tend to leave about the place, like a drunken Gretel distributing iPhone-shaped breadcrumbs.
And so after I spent 2 hours at Glade mourning the loss of my purse breadcrumb containing all my physical wealth within Glade’s beautifully forested and remote Houghton Hall site, only to have it given back to me by relative strangers we happened to bump into at a completely different stage, it was clear that Glade is a stronger, more fanciful beast for its new streamlined size and site plan.
Though the Norwich-based festival is under new management of the theatrically-bent Secret Productions, it would have been difficult for the producers of Glade to engineer my perplexing and wonderful stroke of fortune, but considering the pleasant composition of the (only 6000 strong) crowd that braved overly pessimistic weather forecasts, they played some small part in my joy.
And with some seriously well engineered staging, and a deft line up, music and magic at Glade were not in short supply.
The newly created Meteor Stage was something of a jewel in Glade’s production crown this year, and the steady queues down into this sunken forested den were rewarded for their efforts. Dug into the earth with bass bins submerged underneath the dancefloor, overlooked by a luminescent DJ booth spaceship ready to trip people the fuck out with its rotary lightshow, this addition to Glade’s design was a feat of ingenuity.
However interesting and bassy Meteor might have been, top marks for best stage has to go to the sonic marvel that was the Pyromid. Comprising one of the crispest outdoor festival stages I’ve ever heard thanks to a 360 degree speaker stack configuration, hearing the crystalline sounds of Arkist’s ‘Fill Your Coffee’ on the Friday night was a transcendent moment, followed by more raucous fare from Mosca and Appleblim. Eats Everything felt that his Saturday night set was one of his best yet, and with this stage forming a centre of gravity for the house heads of Glade, we could see why.
The majority of line up spend was located on the Glade Stage, but unfortunately this main tent didn’t have quite the same acoustic punch. Cocoon headliners Extrawelt represented their transfixing, intense live techno show as well as ever, with a certain sense of triumph considering they were top billing for Glade’s 2010 cancelled weekend. But if they had been able to exploit anything near the sound quality of their recent show in Fabric’s room 2, I would have put pretty pennies on their stealing the show from label boss and main festival headliner Sven Vath.
And of course, for those 9 in the morning occasions when any music will do, Glade’s sizeable hippy population is on hand to deliver limitless psy-trance for those who live and die by the motto ‘go hard or go home’. Thankfully however, the stunning, hallucingenic spectacle that was the Origin stage broke away from its psy-trance sanctum to be closed by a spell-binding finale set of hollow, honeyed techno from Max Cooper.
Off-schedule and eccentric entertainment was plentiful. The Rabbit Hole and its secretive stage accessible by winding, claustrophobic tunnels was particularly amusing for battered guardians to the secret entrance getting their riddles in a twist, and Bathing Under The Sky provided the unique opportunity to jump in a hot tub in forest. Although at £20 a dip we opted for the sauna, which is enjoyably interesting when your diet for the weekend resembles an Amnesty bin. Another highlight was renowned busker the DruMachine, transfixing crowds with his demonic, relentless skill on the drum kit.
Now Glade has back on fighting form after its 2010 cancellation, festival freaks should get behind it next summer. Glade is everything a British festival should be: intimate, musically diverse, visually stunning, and full of hippies shaking percussion sticks.