Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset: the eyes of the world are upon you. Again.
I’ve read about 742 blogs and articles with titles like “The Worst Kind Of Person At A Festival”, or “Nine Wankers To Avoid At Glastonbury”, or “Why Glasto Is Shit”. Reading the first of these, a couple of years ago, I did raise a chuckle, and nod in agreement: I also dislike mainstream rock bands and obnoxious people in crowds. So, if you’re looking for someone to make you feel better about not going, maybe google one of the titles above. (NB: each of these articles is less witty and amusing than the last.)
So, this is neither a “Ugh! Shut UP about Glastonbury it’s rubbish I’m soooo glad I’m not there the line-up is shit” or a “LOVE GLASTO #glasters” facebook status, a “H8ers gon’ H8” tweet, or a “Who’s going on Thursday? Any space in the car for meee?” plea.
For the record, I’m not going this year, but I have been there, and I don’t think it’s The Best Thing Ever or The Worst Thing Ever.
For example, from a personal point of view, Glastonbury 2009 was mixed, at times a bit crap and underwhelming – but I’ll always remember a great gig in Greg’s little venue (which I emptied and then filled again – oh yes) in Shang-Gri-La, and drinking with Glen after. However, above all else, I’ll always remember it as the time and place I first encountered The People’s Front Room. I remember Sarah looking at me the way I have seen her look at many others, presumably thinking: Oh yeah, a dude with an acoustic guitar, that’s interesting. And what makes you so special? I remember Robbie scratching his naked belly and heckling me obnoxiously – and then him and Brian feeding me shots of some foul-tasting spirit immediately after my set. Oh Yes, I loved the place from the start.
Glastonbury 2010, on the other hand, was possibly my best ever festival experience (probably joint winner with Shambala 2013); The PFR in full effect, blazing sunshine throughout, great company, beautiful sunrise/sunsets, some superb music, and all capped by dancing my cute and sober little ass off at the Pyramid Stage with Stevie Wonder and a million others, and then heading straight to Arcadia for the big fire show.
(Also, Germany humped England in the World Cup, which is pretty good fun for a Scotland fan.)
Every other year I’ve been has been better than ’09, but not quite as good as ’10.
The Glastonbury Festival for Contemporary Performing Arts is a lot like London:
it's big, it's exciting, it's dirty, it smells, it takes an hour to get anywhere, you know loads of people there but never see any of them, everyone elsewhere wants to be there without realising what it's actually like, it’s crowded but can be very lonely, the very best and very worst of humanity is on display (though the best tends to be quieter than the worst), there's some really great bands, some really terrible bands - and an endless supply of very average, very ambitious bands.
It’s Rome, all roads lead to it, it’s the British Empire on which the sun never sets, it’s puffed up on its own importance (and cocaine), it’s the centre of everything – and there is plenty of sex, drugs, rock, roll, disillusionment, vomiting, bad trips, good trips, political indifference/naivety/apathy/radicalism, drunken twats, hilarious, people, big-hearted, generous people, big groups of friends who don’t talk to people they aren’t already friends with, sound systems, record company wankers, over-priced food, stupid hats, people saying It’s Not As Good As It Was Ten Years Ago, It’s A Nightmare Now and horrible public toilets to go round.
It’s full of its own significance – a significance which is, from the outside, recognised and resented in equal measure.
It’s on the BBC morning, noon and night, and 99% of the coverage is focussed on the bland or obnoxious, even though anyone who has been there knows there is an almost infinite supply of interesting people and experiences to meet/have/talk about.
And that's my review of the recent years of Glastonbury.
Obviously, my experience of London was very similar to the above. With regard to both places, I’m glad I was there, I enjoyed myself a lot, had some great times and some awful times, some thoroughly underwhelming and wonderfully overwhelming experiences, met some interesting and/or lovely people (and, of course, a few really awful people – a very, very small proportion, it must be said) and made friends with some of them, marvelled at the human capacity for drugs, parties, sexual tension, public idiocy, love, greed, repression, indifference, extreme twattishness, joyous co-mingling, and everything else we might reasonably expect in a place crowded with humans from a wide variety of backgrounds.
It was everything that’s good and a lot of what is not so good about being alive in this place at this time. I spent much of it in a smoky haze, and I was younger and less healthy. And I am glad to be in a calmer place (both physically and mentally) now.
It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to be there all the time….anything that big and varied can’t be just one thing (or, at least, not for very long).
I like Glastonbury a lot but I felt like a break was over/due: I’ve been to the last five, and they were mostly really good, but it is all pretty hectic. I’ve found that as I get older, as much as I like a drink, it’s more fun if I do it a bit less….so, it’s kind of like that, which is why this year I went away for a great trip (more on that later) that over-lapped Glasto just slightly. If I’d really really wanted, I could have done both, but it would have been hassle, so it seemed like a good time to sit one out. Hopefully I’ll be able to go next year and will have the old excitement back.
If you’re there, hope you’re having a great time.
If you’re not there, hope you’re having a great time.