Glastonbury

Jul. 2nd, 2017 10:48 pm
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[personal profile] satyrica

Thursday was a day for energetic, Balkan/ska/brassy bands and catching up with friends. I started with the New York Brass Band (who remain resolutely from Yorkshire, not the US) at The Engine Room, one of a number of small stages given a name that was not then identified anywhere on the easily-accessible information, although my years of experience correctly surmised it was the stage in the Greenpeace field. The NYBB seem to have garnered quite a following over the last couple of years and pleased the crowd with their usual shtick of covering pop songs with their sprawling brass band. I headed down to the similarly obscure Gateway stage (out past the Cabaret field, it turned out) to see Land of the Giants, but they seemed to have been on 20mins earlier than advertised so I only caught the last few songs.

This meant I had a bit of wandering time before coming back up the Avalon Cafe to see Mr. Tea & the Minions, who had a fiddle rather than brass and plenty of swing. I was happily near the Tiny Tea Tent for my traditional rendez-vous with [personal profile] venta and ChrisC, then caught a bit of one-man-and-guitar Andrias Guerin playing covers in the Open Arms, which had taken over from the Fluffy Rock Cafe, distressingly indicating the end of the egg baps, which had been a staple of my Glastonbury diet. I headed back to the Avalon Cafe for Tankus the Henge, who were suitably Tankusy and I caught up with Guy & friends afterwards.

One of the oddities of the Thursday bands is that, with the main areas still closed, all of the smaller fields and venues become really packed out, so heading over to William's Green to try to see the Showhawk Duo, I wasn't able to get anywhere near the tent, however I did manage to meet up with Will and Em etc., who had run into a similar issue. We hung out for a while before I started to trek down to Shangri La, fighting my way through the huge crowd that were gathered around the Truth Stage to watch Napalm Death (one small child emerging, howling from the crowd in a pushchair had clearly just been scarred for life) to meet up with Ben & Bella for my first experience of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing and their highly entertaining Victoriana at the Rocket Lounge. Heading back to camp, I was pretty wiped out and had another early night, hoping I could preserve my energies for the next few days.



I enjoyed being camped just up the Pyramid Stage much more than I was expecting: it was nice and central to get to and from, we were close to water, toilets etc. and we could easily hear the music from our camp, which was most notable with the surprisingly early acts that started up there in the morning (I did have to endure some Craig David when I came back to camp to crash out at one point). Friday started with Hacienda Classical, which kinda did what it said on the tin, and some of us wandered down to sit and watch it.

I headed over to The Other Stage to see Nothing But Thieves, whose swooping vocals got a bit lost in the open air although this didn't put off the small child grooving ecstatically on his Dad's shoulders. I stayed for Circa Waves, whose name I'd heard quite a bit, and were fairly straight down the line indie rock. I also ended up back there with J etc. to see a bit of the more electronic Glass Animals, who sounded pretty good.

I left them to see my current favourites Shame in the Leftfield tent who were good, but rather eclipsed by Kate Tempest who was performing on the West Holts Stage and launched into an intense, epic performance of (what I think was) her piece Brand New Ancients, switching between spoken word and more musical sections. I was back in Leftfield for Cabbage and their snarly irreverence, which impressed me more than at Great Escape. I was still struggling with my energy levels, so wandered back to camp to chill out for a bit before Radiohead started at the Pyramid Stage. I watched them from way up the hill with Will and Em and really enjoyed it, lots of OK Computer which made me happy, even if it was a struggle through their fractured visuals to really get a sense of who you were actually watching.

Determined to try to take advantage of the post-headliner action that makes Glastonbury so special, I wandered over to the Small World Stage, which was operating on its usual vague approach to time-keeping, met up with Guy for a bit and watched the funky, brassy Crinkle Cuts before calling it a night.


I started Saturday down at the Avalon stage where I saw (rather than just heard, as I had done at Great Escape) The Brass Funkeys, another sprawling group, in their case just playing instrumental pieces. Similarly lively and populous were King Porter Stomp back at The Engine Room, with more of a reggae/ska feel, who engendered some enthusiastic dancing. I headed over to the Other Stage and watched some of British Sea Power, who in their day I enjoyed on CD but was always disappointed by live, but what I saw actually came across pretty well this time.

I wandered over to the John Peel and saw a bit of Amazons with Guy but was fairly underwhelmed by them, so I took a trip back to camp and ended up unexpectedly coming back down to John Peel to watch Cabbage again with a couple of the guys. We wandered over to the Other Stage and watched a bit of Kaiser Chiefs but my compadres were impatient with the quality of the sound and we moved on.

I managed to meet up with Jamie & some of his family, who had only arrived on site last night, and spent some time catching up then nobly volunteered to accompany him to watch Katy Perry at the Pyramid Stage, who he thought the kids might be more interested in, although they seemed largely as bemused as I was. I headed back over to Williams Green with Anna and we saw Carl Barat & the Jackals, who did Carl Baraty things but without any particularly stand-out songs, and Rat Boy, who won A over, despite her being much happier when they stuck to guitar songs than when they slip into rap.

At about this point my cough, which had remained pretty constant, started turning into something more convulsive and unpleasant, and I also seemed to do myself some kind of pectoral injury in this manner, which then meant it hurt every time I coughed subsequently. I wandered back to the Pyramid Stage with Jamie and started watching the Foo Fighters: Mr. Grohl seemed to be working the crowd very effectively but I had to retreat to my tent and lie down, starting to seriously think about whether I needed to plan an escape. Our site meant that I at least heard the rest of the set and after crashing out for a few hours I did feel better, in the sense that I had returned to my previous base-level of illness.

Jamie and Anna had been keen for me to come down to the SE Corner to join in their one night of child-free freedom and I was surprisingly functional when I did wake up about 3.30am so I wandered down (the crowds were still queuing to get in) but I couldn't get them by phone or a trawl of the crowds in the Rocket Lounge, so I headed back out and up to the Stone Circle to hang out while it became light, happy to have at least made it there once this year.



After more sleep, I headed down to the John Peel to kick off Sunday with October Drift, who I'd found very thrashy late at night upstairs at a pub for Great Escape but seemed a lot more melodic in the large tent in the early afternoon. I stayed for Sundara Karma, who were almost certainly my favourite new find of the festival: tuneful indie from some unashamedly fey young men from Reading.

I popped into the BBC Introducing tent on the off-chance and was pleasantly surprised by Happy Endings, harmonious songs with two female vocalists (plus a guy who spent the whole set sat on a box, drumming on it with his hands: it was unclear if he was providing actual percussion or was just sat there when they started to play and now felt too embarrassed to move). I headed on to the Other Stage for the Dropkick Murphys, who were okay but had a bit more machismo than I was in the mood for.

There was a not-so-secret guest lined up for the John Peel Stage who I realised I would need to get in position early to see: I hung around outside with Guy to catch a bit of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, but wasn't really feeling focussed enough to do them justice. I went in for Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, who were pretty heavy and full-on: I felt they were very much a good thing [an enjoinder to women-only crowd-surfing] without really being excited by the songs. It did mean I was in a good position for when The Killers came on: they are one of the bands that I've been quite into at some point in my life that I'd never seen live, so I was pretty pleased to catch them as they slickly punched out their songs, even if they inevitably didn't play my favourites, which are mostly off Sam's Town.

I headed round to the Pyramid Stage afterwards and watched most of Biffy Clyro: I hung a long way back for all of the main stage sets I saw, which was fine for Radiohead but for bands like Biffy and the Foos I did feel a bit dislocated from the experience for not being more tightly packed into a crowd.

Another aspect of being ill is that I had very little appetite, so I'd barely taken advantage of Glastonbury's exciting culinary opportunities, struggling even to force down the rolls and pastries I ritualistically take with me for breakfasts and lunches. I knew I should eat though so made myself buy a pork roll which I waded through with difficulty and left me feeling like I might well be sick: I grabbed an empty beer cup in case I actually was and made my way down early to the Acoustic Stage, where I often seem to end my festival, as Ani DiFranco was headlining. Feeling generally sorry for myself I sat on the floor and crumpled like a stringless-puppet while I waited for her to come on.

As the time drew close (after some kind steward had checked I was okay) I managed to sit up and realise that Tilda Swinton, an actress who it would not be inaccurate to say that I'm a tiny bit obsessed with, was stood directly in front of me with her kith and kin, in eager anticipation. I was caught somewhere between delight and the horror that one of the few famous folk that I'm genuinely excited by might only come to be aware of my existence because I threw up behind her into a paper cup.

Happily the feeling passed and I was able to rally sufficiently to enjoy Ani DiFranco: I'm pretty out-of-date with her but it seemed like she played a fair bit of new stuff, with a few old favourites thrown in quite early on. I was definitely done and managed to weave my way against the post-Sheeran crowd back to my tent: resisting the invitations to last-night partying (I have never had so many opportunities to go late-night dancing with people at Glastonbury as the one year I just wasn't up to it), which must have been good judging by the state of some of my camp-mates when I got up the next morning. One of those that had slept, however, had very kindly offered me a lift home (or to a convenient bit of the Met Line at least) and so I slipped away mid-morning on Monday, free from the vagaries of the coach queues, and got home a lot more smoothly and quickly than I would otherwise have done.
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