Friday, September 2, 2011

Glastonbury 2011

In 2011 I completed my life dream: to attend Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts. It may be almost 3 months later but the wrist band is still on and I haven’t forgotten the experience.

Getting to the festival was, I can not put it any other way, fucking miserable. It poured rain and my boots were soaked through, I ended up having to splurge on a pair of wellies. We camped in ‘South Park,’ also known as the middle of fucking nowhere on a hill. Our Tesco tent did surprisingly well in the torrential downpours that ensued but getting around proved difficult as the mud slowed everyone down.

Thursday we managed to get a little bit of sunshine and spent the day exploring the campsite, and by that I mean we sat in front of the Nelson Mandela bar and got drunk. We decided to hit an early night so we would be well rested the next day.

The rain returned on Friday, but this time I was more prepared with a poncho and a pair of wellies. We started the day at the famous Pyramid Stage where Metronomy where playing. Their new album ‘The English Riviera’ is pretty spectacular. While it may not be as danced fueled as the previous record, one only has to listen to the bass line on ‘The Bay’ to realize how instrumentally gifted this group is. My only complaint about the performance is that Metronomy should have either played in a tent or at night because their fancy light shows couldn’t be seen in the afternoon.

Next up was Indie rockers ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ who had a lot more energy than I thought. Lead singer Alex Trimble actually has a lot of charisma even with his ginger complexion working against him. At one point in the set he had everyone get on each other’s shoulders which finally gave me a view of the stage.

Wu-Tang Clan were up next and call me cynical but watching live hip hop is about as exciting as watching paint dry. First off, hip hop is not really my genre of music but I also find it difficult to enjoy watching 8 guys jump up and down and scream into a microphone. My friend Sam says its not about the talent, it is just about the feeling you get. I didn’t feel anything.

Legend B.B. King was up next, and I would have hated myself if I had missed this blues legend. After a quick trip to the Nelson Mandela bar, we relaxed and listened to King’s master craftsmanship on his famous guitar ‘Lucille.’
We climbed close to the stage to listen to Smith’s front man Morrissey and even though the performance was fabulous and his voice is still perfectly intact, Morrissey seemed like he didn’t want to be there. He insulted the crowd several times and of course did not forget to blast everyone on the planet who once had a burger. Apparently the Glastonbury site stopped serving meat during his set to honor him, it was more likely so he wouldn’t storm off the stage.

We skipped U2 and went over to the ‘Silent Disco.’ Which is totally the best thing ever. You are given a pair of headphones and taken onto the dance floor. There are 2 channels on the head phones, so everyone is sort of listening to something different. The best part is when you see everyone react and you switch over to the other channel and it’s a tune! Then you can take your headphones off and all you hear is everyone singing along.

Saturday warmed up a little so we had a bit of a lie in and arrived at the Pyramid Stage to see Gaslight Anthem finishing up their set. We walked over to the Circus and finally got a good tour of the site. We went to the Park stage to see who the special guests were and it turned out to be Pulp, who were definitely one of the highlights on the festival. I didn’t know much about Pulp before seeing them live, but Jarvis Cocker is so talented and ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 3000’ definitely rubbed off on me. I just wish I had known more about them before I saw them so I could have enjoyed it more.

Saturday night was Chemical Brothers! We sat towards the back so we could get a better view of the light show and it did not disappoint. Their set was pure ecstasy.

Sunday heated up fast, and it was actually hot, probably the hottest day of the year in the UK. I finally got to walk around in my bikini, proper festival style! We started the day out with Don McLean on the Pyramid stage and he is an amazing guitarist. Obviously ‘American Pie’ was a highlight and everyone sang along as he started the song back from the beginning.

We basked in the sun throughout Laura Marling’s set while we waited for another legend, Paul Simon, to approach the stage. Simon was amazing and his new album is fantastic, probably the best since ‘Graceland.’ The only disappointment was that he didn’t play any Simon and Garfunkel songs.
The mud was finally drying up so we walked over to the West Holts stage to watch The Go Team!, another highlight of the festival. There weren’t many people so we got right up close. Any lethargy I had felt before was gone once the lead singer, Ninja came on stage. I have never seen anyone with so much energy who enjoyed performing so much. It wasn’t just her though, the entire band had charisma. As the sun set, we sat in the West Holts bar and watched The Smoke Feathers, an unsigned band from London and they were incredible as well. I think everyone in the bar bought their record.

We ended the festival with Queens of the Stone Age, definitely the right choice, especially over Beyonce. People raved about her performance but I hate her so I imagine I would not have enjoyed it very much. Along with the wicked light show, Josh Homme’s amazing guitar skills prove that Queens of the Stone Age could be one of the last great bands on Earth, to me the true headliners.

So Glastonbury was over and it was quite surreal getting back in the car. Monday was almost 90 degrees in England and I had to leave the next day for America. I have one more festival this year in the UK with Bestival in the Isle of Wight and I am just praying to god that it doesn't rain.

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