Glastonbury – Friday
After my second night of “camping”…
(Camping at Glasto is really shorthand for sleeping on the ground in a field while dealing with loud and rude assholes yelling all night, laying on an air mattress that kinda-sorta stays inflated; all the while trying to stay the right temperature alternating between a thin blanket and the thinnest sleeping bag ever manufactured).
Friday morning dawned a bit better. I knew what to expect from the “facilities” now and had a general morning plan for getting ready to face the day. I headed to the efest campsite gathering and sat there and chatted for a couple hours with folks.
I headed out for my first real band on a stage at Glastonbury. The Magic Numbers at the Other Stage. The crowd was not too heavy (most folks were hearing Rolf Harris at the Pyramid). They sounded really good, even though I wasn’t familiar with all their material. However, when they hit one song I did know well “Forever Lost” it really clicked and for the first time I got a taste of the “Glasto Spirit” people keep talking about. Laying in the grass, drinking a soda and listening to a good band. It was a cool moment…maybe one of the first of the Festival so far.
I split for the Pyramid as their set ended and caught the last song of Rolf Harris….”Tie me kangaroo down sport”….the one song by Rolf Harris that I could actually name…so woot for that!
The field cleared a bit and I moved down to the barrier by the stage and listened to Kemi Kuti (son of Fela Kuti). It was an awesome groove of Afro-pop and under the blazing sun hit just the right spot. I also had a great conversation with a fellow about my age who is a biker and who’d ridden his BMW in for the show. He and his mate were a couple cool guys and we chatted a while during the Kuti set…that’s just the sort of random encounters that make Glasto special. Everyone is just there to have a good time and be happy.
So, a couple hours in and I’ve seen two acts and parts of a third and met some cool folks. Exactly what I was hoping to experience.
I wandered to see what I might find next and in the heat, saw a refuge from the sun (huge tent) called the “Queens Head Stage”. It featured an expanse of shade…that was too good to pass up in the blazing midday sun. So, I went inside and plopped down. Checking my schedule I learned that Friction Plane was up next. Oddly, I’d seen them open for the Police a few years ago…a gig I assume they mostly scored based on the fact the lead singer/bass player is named Sumner, and is the son of Sting.
They didn’t make much of an impression on me as an opener a few years ago, but playing a set up close in a cool-ish tent on a hot day seemed to improve the quality of their music. I stayed for most of the set.
Something that I learned early was that you rarely hear an entire set by anyone. There’s just too much to take in and always someplace else to head for to try and catch. I began to think of it as sort of a sampler of tons of music that’s just held in a really big field.
I climbed the hill and walked into the welcome shade of the Acoustic Tent and heard one song by Laura Henwood in the process. Staying there in the shade, I hung out and next heard a group called Danny and the Champions, cool folk-ish stuff, much better than I expected from them based just on the name…(which didn’t impress me, sounds like an oldies revival act.)
They were okay, but I decided to move on before the set ended and headed for West Holts when I stumbled onto a group called Bonobo. They had a great groove (Trip-Hop) and I sat down and listened to them much longer than I’d intended.
Part of the whole wandering thing is taking advantage of the gems that you find. I’d have never set out to see them, but I liked them so much I bought their CD back in London later.
When Bonobo ended I headed back to the Other Stage to catch Phoenix. It was a bit crowded, so I hung to the back and listened to most of their set. Good “indie” pop and they lived up to the hype well enough that I enjoyed them. After their set I climbed the hill to my tent and listened to MGMT from a distance…sadly, I think a further distance might have been better…not very impressed with MGMT live.
I headed back down to see Florence and the Machine and the field at the Other Stage was completely jammed packed. Literally there wasn’t a spot to stand and watch that I could find anywhere. I circulated the edge field and heard a few songs and finally headed off to the chill and charge tent to post quickly on Facebook and to charge my phone.
I headed back for Hot Chip and found a spot close to the barrier. They sounded great and they played a nice selection of tracks off of all their CD’s. My view was a little impeded by the BBC camera jib, but I still had a great spot at the corner of the barrier to watch their sunset lit performance.
Near the end I made a rather bad call, I snuck away and missed the last few songs of a band I was enjoying to see Gorillaz. The crowd for Gorillaz made the packed field for Florence earlier look absolutely spacious. I twisted my way deep into the middle of the crowd there at the Pyramid…literally, there had to have been at least 80k people there.
Gorillaz started playing and frankly the sound sucked out there. The video screens sucked too. They started and stopped and re-started. The Plastic Beach stuff was a cool idea, and had I been a quarter mile closer and able to lean on something or sit down…I might have enjoyed it. As it was, I gave up after 4 songs.
Glasto Tip Three:
Be flexible. If one thing isn’t working, move on. Glastonbury is a bit like life. You’ll get a mix of good and bad. Enjoy the good and leave the bad stuff by moving on. It’s never going to be perfect, so accept it. Overall the good will usually always end up outweighing the bad in the final tally.
I struggled out of the packed field and headed in a random direction. The first stage I reached was the Queens Head again. Inside a decent band was playing. The Bees. I didn’t know a single song by them, but they were really good. “Listening Man” jumped out as my favorite song of the set. I stayed for the whole set and even bought their CD back in London. I’d have never discovered them if I’d have stayed at Gorillaz. So, like life…sometimes the bad things that happen will open the door for something unexpected and good (even better) to be available to you.
After the Bees ended I stopped at the Bourbon Street bar and heard a random band of kids playing funky R&B and blues…never caught their name. But, they were fun and along with the Bees made up for missing the big headliner of the night.
From there I made it West Holts and Kemi Kuti (from the Pyramid earlier) was playing. I caught about half his set (that ended about midnight). Pretty much the same as earlier…but, I liked it earlier, so that was cool.
I went to the Arcadia to see the fire show and hung out for a half an hour or so watching the indescribable and really (weird) show. I can’t begin to describe it, but here’s a sample:
Really tired, I headed out down the track towards my tent. I passed New Model Army cranking out post-punk in the Avalon, but didn’t stop. I crawled into my tent…
…and then was kept awake by loud shouting assholes for most of the night.
Apparently, it’s just amazingly funny to get drunk for the first time and walk through an area where thousands of people are trying to sleep shouting at the top of your lungs. (Who knew?)
I guess in any crowd of that size you’ll always get the jerks….Still a great day of tons of new music.