Glastonbury: The Ultimate Festival
“If Ever in Doubt Just Wonder”– Glastonbury Festival
A few weeks ago I found myself in a muddy field on a dairy farm, two and half hours outside of London, surrounded by the best music in the world. This was my second year attending Glastonbury, and it has proven to be better than the last. Many friends in America always ask to see if it compares to Coachella or Burning Man. There is nothing else like it. The variety of music curated at the festival can only compare to the vast age ranges the festival attracts, from 8 to 80-years-old, there is literally something for everyone. Many go with no plan at all and only look at the lineup upon arrival, but some like myself, plan ahead. This year my plan was simple: see as many acts possible that I would not otherwise be able to see anywhere else. Of course, I found this very difficult as the festivals always puts all the headliners in the same time slots as to disperse the concentrations of fans at the stages.
Glastonbury is a Marathon. Pace Yourself.
After 46 years the festival now boasts over 900 acres, 200k attendees and over 3,000 individual acts over the course of five days. Although the official festival does not kick off until Friday at 8 AM, Wednesday morning there are plenty of eager festival goers lining up to grab the best camping spots. The first two days of the festival allow people to acclimatize to their new home and find their way around. After a grueling 10-hour journey I arrived to the festival gates by 11 AM. This year I was lucky enough to find one of the many secret locations at the festival that serves a high-end meal at the The Deluxe Diner. The dinner was strictly prepaid, and must be reserved months in advance. Myself and three friends had amazing dishes of lobster, hake, steak and lamb. After I wondered into the Stone Circle where the festival kicks off with fireworks and The Burning of the Falcon.
The whole evening has a feeling of magic as though we were about to embark on a long journey into the sea and needed luck on our side. As the day turns into night you begin to hear the familiar bass coming from all corners as some of the smaller bars and stages begin to open in an area called the South East.
An area with over 30 bars, nightclubs and stages that becomes host to many of the late night DJs and performers such as Artwork, Jamie Jones, Hot Chip Remembers Prince at Block 9, Mark Ronson & Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and so many others. I chose to check out Clancy at the Beat Hotel who delivered a solid set before passing out after a 20-hour day.
On Thursday, things begin to pick up with other areas opening up and throughout the afternoon I find myself dancing to a disco set by Bill Brewster before wondering into The Unfairground of the South East corner and checking out an old school hardcore set by Mark XTC
On Friday at 11 AM is when things fully kick-off. At this point all of the main stages open and from now until the wee hours of Sunday morning the music will be quite literally non-stop.
I grabbed a sandwich and a pint of Glastonbury Milk (Worthy Farm is a true dairy farm the rest of the year), and headed to check out Showhawk. If you aren’t familiar with the duo they play some phenomenal acoustic guitar. They slay all of the trance favorites to Daft Punk to Hip-Hop. After that it was whirlwind of headliners at the Pyramid Stage: Skepta, Two Door Cinema Club and Jess Glynne.
As the sun began to set I made it to Arcadia to check out the legendary Shades of Rhythm that had everyone young and old bouncing up and down to their classics such as Sweet Sensation and Extacy, circa 1991.
The real treat was soon to follow as I grabbed the best spot in the house (field!) at the West Holts Stage to see Underworld! This legendary duo delivered one of the best electronic performances I have ever seen. Although not as popular in the US, their track Born Slippy made famous from the score of the film Trainspotting, defined the emergence of electronic sound for a generation.
The rest of the evening was spent in the South East corner dancing to a DJ set from Hot Chip celebrating the life of Prince at the Block 9 Genosys Stage. We finished the night at the London Underground to an awesome set by Artwork. Exhausted, elated and slightly overwhelmed, I stumbled to my tent to as the sun rose, ready to do it all over again the next day.
I decided to take it easy and missed a few planned acts in the morning, I spent the afternoon at the main stages listening to some British favorites like the ska band Madness and the classic New Order. As the night fell again on Worthy Farm, I was excited to hear some legends such as Fatboy Slim, Tensnake and Andy C. Andy C at Arcadia was by far my favorite of the evening where he effortlessly transitioned from Drum and Bass classics to his remix of Get Free. The whole spectacle of Arcadia made the experience that much more powerful; the lights and the pyrotechnics of the infamous spider and how its syncs with the music should be experienced by everyone. I finished my night by checking out a late night set by Roni Size who kept the dance floor grooving till sunrise.
The final day at Glastonbury was long, wet and exhausting. I did however manage to collect myself by midday and check out Caravan Palace, an electro swing band from France, as well as Years and Years, a young, super energetic group who delivered an awesome performance. Grimes, Todd Terry, Basement Jaxx, Seth Troxler and the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire were also on the to do list. Happy to have discovered Caravan Palace at noon I decided to watch their performance again. I finished off the festival at 4 AM after watching a very intimate set by Bob Moses at the top of The Park area. With many mixed feelings, I got on the 7 AM bus back to London, knowing that I have to shift back into reality. Almost as soon as I recovered I began googling rumors and tickets sales times for October. With fingers crossed for next year I boarded my flight to JFK, hoping to be one of the lucky ones to get a ticket for 2017.
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