If you didn’t make it to Worthy Farm this year, then Louder Than War’s Keith Goldhanger has you covered with this, his extensive overview.
“You don’t have to be here to enjoy the festival” says Chris Evans in front of a camera whilst promoting some forthcoming TV coverage (“The One Show” apparently).
“And this is one reason why you actually do have to be here to enjoy the festival” screams a passing punter showing the only sign of aggression seen all weekend as he points at the ginger haired man’s face, annoying him greatly whilst continuing his way down the hill without stopping and indicating with his fingers that WE the paying public do have the chance to walk away from such atrocities whilst you, at home, having your dinner, have to arm wrestle the remote away from your gran to hit the red button in order to catch the bits that we’re all dancing stupidly to.
The BBC “Studio” at the top of the hill hosts various artists ascending up to the high bit of the site to play sometimes their second or third performances of the weekend, but this time for the telly people and it feels at times that it’s organisations like the BBC that are telling you what you should be paying attention to.
It’s these people who try to make us feel inadequate due to not knowing who people like KANYE WEST are. It is how things used to be and some people still think life is still like this. These are the people who make a few shillings out of this music industry lark. Not you or I with our mp3 ripping software and youtube accounts who dream all year of seeing our favourites amongst the masses so we can lose ourselves, throw our arms in the air and act like the fools we pretend we’re not back in the world we usually inhabit as we graft away in order to be able to even contemplate being able to afford attending this event. Some of us are wearing our crap hats, baggy trousers and dirty shirts in the hope that no one else is watching (or filming) and identifying the mud covered, sun burned ale drinking people that consider these tunes an important soundtrack in our current lives.
EAST INDIA YOUTH, for example played in front of a couple of dozen people two years ago (back in that world we usually inhabit, The review of which can be read here) and we went home happy to have simply just tapped our feet. This weekend, for the 2nd year running we are launching our arms in the air and celebrating his glorious music without a care in the world whilst young William Doyle presses buttons and bangs his head high up on The Williams Green stage unaware that he’s about our twentieth favorite artist this weekend.
This is our cup final.
Dozens of cup finals over a single weekend when our favourites win every time. We’ve done all the qualifying rounds where we stood motionless, trying and succeeding in keeping our mouths closed and not sing along before retiring to the bar and expressing a desire to see what we’ve just seen again one day. This weekend we’re not just celebrating our own good fortunes of being in the presence of a fast refresh button and high speed internet connection, but the fortunes of those up on stage who have managed to achieve more than we ever did. Mention to some of us SONGHOY BLUES, JUNGLE or The fabulous YOUNG FATHERS and we’ll find ourselves standing in the blazing sun just after breakfast ready to dance. We’re there for all our favourites over the weekend and during the quieter moments we’ll stand and witness other peoples hero’s, the one’s our mates have been going to see throughout the year or the bands who have a song or two that you whistle on the way home from the pub at night (That FUTURE ISLANDS one.)
You’ll hear us say that Glastonbury isn’t all about the music but for the purposes of the next few minutes I’ll just assume you’re not interested in the amount of ice creams consumed or blisters gained due to, amongst other things, following a brass band across a couple of fields like a rat following the Pied Piper.
Now’s a good time to tell you about a trio from Leeds called MIK ARTISTIK’s EGO TRIP who entertained about three people inside a tent containing a couple of hundred weary punters late Wednesday evening. A comedy version of the SLEAFORD MODS we said.
“Everyone put your hands in the air”, he’d scream, before asking…
“What you fooking doin’ that for ?”
“It looks fookin’ stupid ! ”
Less than 24 hrs later he’s performing in front of hundreds of revellers that all know the words, the catchphrases and a star in the little world we inhabit is born.
What a difference a day makes and “What a difference advertising your gig makes too !” he tells us.
It feels that everyone who’s coming to this annual shin dig arrives early nowadays. Wednesdays are for sitting on the grass to unwittingly prepare for the start of not giving a fuck for a few days.
Thursdays are for finding the smallest tent you can fit MIKE SKINNER into and surround it with people pointing at the tent telling everyone stuck outside that inside is Mike Skinner and complaining it’s not loud enough.
Walking through Worthy Farm on these days is similar to walking through a shopping centre, full of fairly conventionally dressed people finding their feet but without people coming up to you every five minutes trying to sell you a Sky subscription or home insurance. Unless you happen to stroll past the Greenpeace tent where dozens of youths on weekend freebies are there to collar you and get you to sign up there and then.
The first Scooby Doo outfit wins.
Every other costume thereafter feels as normal as a fifth trip to the bar and we establish without being told by anyone else that if some of us behaved like we do in Shoreditch or Camden on a wet Tuesday evening like we do here then we’d probably be living very lonely lives.
Glastonbury for some of us is for losing your shit, dancing from 11 AM whilst eating drinking and smoking anything available and sleeping only when you happen to find yourself in a tent (anyone’s) after the silent disco has long finished.
Those dreams we had earlier this year of going ape to EVERYTHING EVERYTHING’s “Distant Past” or JAMIE XX “Loud Places”, ASYLUMS “Joy In A Small Wage”, F.F.S‘s “Johnny Delusional” ,YOUNG FATHERS “Shame” or JUNGLE playing “Platoon”(with an eight year old break dancer) have now become a reality.
The food is ace, the meat is organic which I assume means they stroked and cuddled it before ripping the heart out, chopping off the limbs and putting the remains in an air tight bag before burning it and sticking some rice on the top. The veggie options are so good that it’s a wonder why the site even has to have stalls selling Cows, Pigs, Ostriches and Chicken.
The assumed successful banning of glass on site means we feel we can walk around without any shoes, confident of still having ten toes at the end of it but the allowance of E Cigarettes (Glass?) seems to be condoned and noticeably something that we didn’t see any of five years ago and very little even twelve months previously. Not one scary person is backed off from all week unless you bumped into me or managed to be in earshot of the bloke who seemed to know all the words to all the songs by EVERYTHING EVERYTHING (actually come to think of it he was on stage with a microphone). I personally saw no one throwing up and NO ONE OFFERED ME DRUGS THIS YEAR !
Not one person!
Years ago people were advertising their supplies with neon lights (OK then, cardboard boxes).
Then there was KANYE WEST, a man under a sunbed being watched by thousands singing along very badly to Queen songs who all just want to be in a field full of more people one can ever witness with ones own eyes.
Some of us gave up on this after forty minutes to go and see SUEDE.
FUCKING SUEDE !! Imagine that !
“So bad I’ll go and see SUEDE !!!”
However the reality hit us the closer we got. Suede were mumbling on about pretending to be Pigs and therefore that meant LEFTFIELD, DEADMAU5 and PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING. Where else do you get these choices ? I doubt even the red button in your living room could even have done that
SLEAFORD MODS, YOUNG FATHERS, ASYLUMS, SPECTOR and GAZ COOMBES all being on at the same time proves that no one asked me about the scheduling this year and the belief that I’d actually get out of bed in order to see THE FAT WHITE FAMILY at 04.00 hrs (thus eradicating any decision the following day involving Lionel Richie) is one that even I cannot believe was considered a few days later.Pick a random person on Sunday morning wearing a FAT WHITE FAMILY T-shirt to attempt to establish what this person hero’s were like eight hours previously on that 4am shift and how messed up the gig may have been whilst someone was asleep in his tent still wearing wellies and the chances of a straight answer may be slim. The person with the T-shirt wearing man was Mrs Saoudi, mother of Singer Lias which killed any drug related conversations dead. She couldn’t be found later on when I wanted to gauge her reaction towards her son revealing on Sunday afternoon whatever it was that should have remained in his trousers in front of thousands on the Park Stage never mind the TV viewing public “Sat at home on mushrooms in front of the TV set” to quote the magnificent FATHER JOHN MISTY, another new find for one or two of us.
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING told us it’s OK to “Feel like a fat kid in a pushchair old enough to run” and some old bloke mentioned something about dying before he got old.
CASSETTE BOY took some Top Gear clips and spliced them together, SLAVES were looking for their mates car and NADINE SHAH (who wore the same outfit as PERFUME GENIUS – the second outfit clash of the weekend after noting that EVERYTHING EVERYTHING and The DALI LAMA had not discussed a possible duplicate clash either) dreamed of Stealing them. No doubt LIONEL RICHIE said “Hello….” SLEAFORD MODS told everybody within earshot to fuck off whilst a more polite F.F.S. simply asked us to “Piss Off”. MIK ARTISTIK sang something about a “Fat Bob Dylan and a fat Nick Cave”, Mark E Smith of THE FALL appeared to urinate without removing his trousers and PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING allowed us to shout GO ! in all the right places. Someone gave me a new tent. Someone (no doubt whilst “Dancing at the disco bumper to bumper”) lost a colourful jumper outside the John Peel tent (claim it now, I’ll send it on) and some people lost a few ounces with all the walking (averaged 13 miles a day according to my cheap pedometer) whilst probably gaining weight from all the Moroccan curries being scoffed up. One man learned that buying a sheepskin coat at 3am at Glastonbury was a great idea if you want to look like John Motson in the middle of the night and woo the odd lady onto the dance floor, however wearing it on the tube across London on the hottest day of the year was probably not. LONELADY on Friday lunchtime were an utter delight, ASYLUMS in the BBC Introducing tent played a set of songs you may get to hear on a bigger platform next time and YOUNG FATHERS made us dance and cry with delight in the afternoon sun. Unfortunately for the 2002 Pop Idol runner up (currently appearing as one of Three little pigs “for the over three’s in a theatre near you”) the Young Fathers performance on TV was just too much to watch on the telly…
Watching Glastonbury… Bands like 'Young Fathers' offend me. Is this talent? Is this musicianship? No. It's shit.
— Gareth Gates (@Gareth_Gates) June 27, 2015
LA ROUX weren’t quite Eurovision and not quite cheesy but a thumping good electro pop hour was had by all.
PEACE sung “Park life”, HOT CHIP did “Dancing In The Dark” (which may piss off Woman’s Hour a little) and BURT BACHARAT did every cover version in the world with the excuse that he did actually write these himself.
It rained , it got muddy, it was hot, we got burnt a little, SLEAFORD MODS told everyone to fuck off again but with the backing of LEFTFIELD and whoever had the idea of putting SPARKS and FRANZ FERDINAND on a stage together also deserves a medal.
SONGHOY BLUES Blues Aliou Toure danced as fantastic as YOUNG FATHERS Alloysious Massaquoi. That bloke from FUTURE ISLANDS was at it again, reminding us of that wedding we went to as an eleven year old when Uncle Jim got drunk and danced non stop for four hours whilst everyone else made pretend it wasn’t happening. Or maybe his dancing simply reminding those watching of me, also dancing very badly to anything and everything that changed about every five yards around the site.
Author Lois Pryce, who I’d met once down the pub where she told me she’d ridden a motorbike to South Africa (And wrote a decent book about it) was seen in a bluegrass band called THE JOLENES, THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING were superb and managed to have our own John Robb get his pencil sharpened to save me the bother of making more unintentional insulting notes in an attempt to understand the hugely obscure Victorian references with Captain Pugwash verse bits that sound like the old Country life advert amongst the doom metal interludes that hundreds continue to lap up.
BEANS ON TOAST entered the arena of The Hell stage claiming “it’s already the best gig I’ve ever done” without playing a single note in front of the thousands here. FAT BOY SLIM played in a bar in between bands near the Park Stage when we were hoping for a restful hour and MOTORHEAD played Ace of Spades on the pyramid stage for the first time.
THE LIBERTINES turned up and we cheered, sang along to their Captain Pugwash ditties grateful that BASTILLE were elsewhere on the site and dinner was eaten to a background of fast exciting songs by the MACCABEES and JAMIE T (together one evening, separate on others).
PUSSY RIOT sat on a sofa with an AK47, KEN LIVINGSTONE sat on a sofa with everyone and BILLY BRAGG, yet again was everywhere.
One bloke, up in a shed on a hill had a team of people handing out note pads and pencils whilst encouraging us to draw the birds we were listening to amplified through his mobile phone.
This bloke was proper shit.
We were woken up in the most glorious way Sunday morning near the John Peel stage by a throbbing synth that slowly came fading in like our alarm clocks at home. When suddenly the synth was complemented with the voices of Russell Mael and Alex Kapranos (F.F.S) sound checking “Number One Song In Heaven” some of us actually cheered. When was the last time anyone woke up in such a euphoric way to begin the day like this before donning our boots in an attempt to see Mali band SONGHOY BLUES do what we saw them do at the Barfly earlier this year but on a much larger scale ?
This is just one of many examples of how our years have been panning out this decade. Bands we’ve stood in small dark rooms across the Capital on midweek evenings now performing in front of thousands.
Tens of thousands in some cases.
These small venues across the country are the life blood to weekends such as these. The Buffalo Bar, The Bull and Gate or the Purple Turtle (all In London) to name just three venues recently closed down have been the stepping stone for many of these people we watched this weekend. Those quiet nights in Tooting, Camden, Dalston or Shoreditch some of us frequent on a regular basis continue to offer us high quality performances by bands that are of such a high standard that it never seems to surprise us once they turn up in these fields followed by thousands of flag waving punters.
That bloke on the One Show who usually rides around on that big motorbike chasing dodgy builders would do better if he stayed out of the fucking Green fields during Glastonbury and stayed in London standing outside these small disused basement bars around the UK that we need in order to continue this great institution. Explaining to the public what the suits in our country are doing to screw up our greatest assets wouldn’t do any harm.
Ah ! Yeah, sorry, you are the suits.
Leave the dodgy builders to the police, stop talking about the Royal Family, Wimbledon, the Grand National, the bloody football and fuckin’ Pop idol and recognise there are a lot of people committing a huge part of their existence on being here whether to climb these stages for us all to wave our flags, arms and cans of beer to or to be in the crowd, selling the food, picking up the litter etc. Focus on the good examples on display here that highlight peoples hard work, commitment and being good people and recognise that this is just as important as kissing Mark bloody Ronson’s arse on live TV or being in a position where you’ve prostituted yourself on a TV show and won’t ever know what it’s like to sing one of your own songs and gain respect from those of us that appreciate such things (I’m looking at you Gates).
Glastonbury’s still great, could still be better and will always beat sitting an orange aeroplane aiming for a beach complaining about the tea and squirting Timothy Whites suncream all over your flabby white body because you overdid it on the first day…
We’ll be back.
I doubt Kanye will.
- Top Photo by GARY O’BRIEN
- Pyramid Stage Litter by STEVE RIGGS
- Young Fathers by KEITH GOLDHANGER
- Mik Artistik by KEITH GOLDHANGER
- Pyramid Stage After the Clean Up by STEVE RIGGS
- Other Stage by CHRIS SAVVAS
- Fat White Family by MANDY ASHTON
- Nadine Shah by KEITH GOLDHANGER
- The Jolenes by KEITH GOLDHANGER
Thanks also to those on “Glasto Chat” that donated pictures when I requested some and apologies I didn’t use them all.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More from Keith can be found at his Louder Than War Author’s Archive.