After a break of three years, we returned to the Glastonbury Festival and it was one of the best ones yet – the weather for the main days was lovely, the sheer quality and variety of entertainment on offer was mind-boggling, and of course many of our fellow revellers made for a great atmosphere throughout.
Musical highlights included Chic (staggeringly good), the Rolling Stones (epic singalongs), First Aid Kit, Goat, Tame Impala, Jagwar Ma, Ondatropica, Molotov Jukebox, Evan Dando, John Fairhurst and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
Other assorted moments of happiness:
- Seeing the One Minute Disco in the Theatre Field. Basically a completely innocuous white van pulls up in the middle of a bunch of people, the back shutter rolls up and two men in boiler suits scream out ONE MINUTE DISCO! At which point dance music starts blaring out of the van and people run up to have a boogie. Sure enough, more or less one minute later, the music stops, the back shutter rolls back down again and it’s back o to being just a van, leaving a group of very bemused people.
- The view from Flagtopia / the top of the Park field either at day or night was simply staggering.
- Getting into Heaven at Shangri-la and finding not only posh, clean, flush toilets, but also the Snake Pit club, where our eyes were opened by a bondage / dominatrix / pyrotechnic act involving flaming whips and not a lot of clothing.
- Sunny afternoons getting into the spirit of things. Ondatropica at the West Holts stage, with its Colombian salsa, was just the ticket. And the sun coming out on Sunday just as First Aid Kit sang “Emmylou” got me a tad emotional.
- Great food from Goan Fish Curry, MeatLiquor (Dead Hippie burger), Anna Mae’s pesto & bacon mac & cheese, Buddha Bowl veggie curry, Grillstock pulled pork bun. Yum.
- Finding out that my “poo” photo which had been made one of the Amnesty International postcards turned out to be the best-selling one of the festival.
Only “lowlight” was occasional overcrowding and a bit of lairy behaviour in the Pyramid field – but on the whole not much to complain about!
The photos below are just a sample. Many more can be found within my Glastonbury 2013 Flickr Set.
This year’s Bestival (my third visit) had potential to be a washout as the weather forecasts leading up to it were less-than-encouraging (one site saying that Sunday was going to see extended periods of “torrential rain” and 50+ mph wind gusts). In the event it was not quite as bad as all that, and the worst of the weather was saved for the early hours of the last morning, with high winds and rain providing a suitable finale to the festival. We did experience the amusing sight of empty tents blowing and scraping along through the fields, and not a few gazebos flew away into the night.
We were lucky with the weather, then, and so managed to catch the Cure, Bjork, Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash (epic set), Brian Wilson, the Urban Voodoo Machine, Toots and the Maytals, SBTRKT, Health, and a host of smaller acts dotted around tiny stages that we enjoyed despite not having a clue who they were.
This year’s fancy dress theme was Rock Stars and Divas, and there were plenty on show beyond the expected Slashes and Beastie Boys crews.
As usual there were a few quite random acts to see as well, from the “Wall of Death” motorcycle spectacular to the “Lords of Lightning” show featuring two men in chain mail, standing on two huge Tesla coils and fighting – with lightning.
As usual, there are a few more photos to see over on my Bestival 2011 Flickr set…
Last weekend I and 50,000 or so other people boarded ferries, hovercraft or other conveyances and set sail for the Isle of Wight, wherein Rob Da Bank's eclectic music-nerd-fest Bestival was in full swing despite reports of possible unsettled weather on the way. This did not deter me nor the other punters, who bravely incorporated wellies into their obligatory fancy dress costumes and sallied forth. Speaking for myself it was a grand time – although I didn't see that many "checklist" bands, the sheer quality of music that pervaded every nook and cranny (and Drambuie bar) of the Bestival site meant that it was one continuous potpourri of fantastic music all weekend.
My second installment of Glasto 2010 pictures is rather smaller, as I think the heat got to me on the Friday (and the fact it was as bright as blazes and impossible to get good light) and so I didn’t take heaps of pictures. I also elected not to have my SLR with me at night so I relied on the little Canon S90 compact, which I love as a daytime point-and-shoot but hate as a night-time camera. It’s built to take low-light pictures, with a high-sensitivity sensor and a fast F/2.0 lens, but its night-time autofocus is atrociously bad and nearly renders it unusable. But, I digress. I did manage to capture the images below, as well as some more which may be found in the Flickr set here.
Here’s my first set of Glastonbury 2010 pictures. These are from the Thursday before the start of the main festival. This is usually the time that some of the smaller stages start putting on lesser-known bands, and it’s a good time to have a general wander around the massive site to try and get your bearings before the chaos of the music schedule starts to take over your life. On Thursday, after 2 separate trips right across the site to first set up tents and then collect rucksacks, we then had a wander from our campsite in an overflow field near John Peel to the Dance Village, the Other Stage and thence through to the West Holts (formerly Jazzworld) stage where we enjoyed our traditional first pints of Brothers Pear Cider, which at 7% ABV sets one up nicely for a further exploration. We carried on through to the Avalon field, and then onto Arcadia (which was already spitting fire) and thence to Shangri-La, the late-night area / small town where all manner of bizarre side streets and alleyways are honeycombed with bizarre miniature bars and clubs, with subversive street art littered throughout. We finally ended up with a stroll up to the Stone Circle and onto the Park for some tea and cookies (yes, really).
There’s still time – just – to share your views with the BBC Trust through their online consultation here.
I posted this to them earlier today:
I absolutely disagree with the proposed closure of 6 Music.
– It is a standard bearer for exactly the kind of niche programming that the BBC is chartered to provide.
– It is a vital channel for new musicians trying to find exposure
– It is a cultural ambassador for the UK
In the end it is a special thing that should be cherished. I am from the USA, a place where commercial radio has been consolidated and commoditised so much that whole multi-state regions are served by the same bland, corporate, middle of the road mega-stations where innovation is a dirty word, and music from the 1990s is still paraded as “alternative”. BBC 6 Music IS alternative.
The idea of trying to serve the current listeners of 6 Music by channelling them towards Radio 1 and 2 is extremely ill-conceived. Those stations have very distinct demographics and neither their audiences nor the 6 Music audience would be well served by some sort of compromise where the occasional hour or two of “niche” music were squeezed into an otherwise completely different schedule.
Finally I believe the perceived lack of audience (at the original time of the decision) has been discredited by the uptick to over 1 million listeners over the course of the consultation period. Furthermore the listening figures this was based on are suspect A) because young people are less likely to accurately fill their radio surveys and B) because of the still-relatively-small uptake of DAB. If 6 Music were an FM station I believe it would make a massive difference in audience size.
On Friday night my sister Sally, her boyfriend Jake, and myself popped up to the Luminaire in Kilburn to hear a set by surf-rock legend and all around dude, Dick Dale, who melted our faces with a blistering set of machismo and overcranked amps. My ears are still ringing.