I’ve now spent more than 60 days camped in those fields in Somerset. All of them have been wonderful. There’s been good times, and better times. Even the hungover miserable times are better than the hungover miserable times any other place. But how was it different this time?
This year, for the first time, I was with camped with friends with camper-vans. So the journey there was much easier than most have been. Six hours or so of sitting in the passenger seat of K’s van, “Girty”, exchanging excited text messages with the folks in the other van, “Puddle Jumper”, about each of our progress along the A303, past Stone Henge and into Wincanton where we pulled into a pub to meet up for the final leg.
And what a lovely pub too, complete with massive garden with zip-lines, see-saws, petting goats, miniature horses and cider.
A good start!
Soon we were driving along those familiar corrugated metal track roads and being directed where to park up and pitch our camp for the long weekend ahead.
Setting up my pitch has been a cinch since investing in a pop up tent and a battery powered air-bed pump. Takes just minutes and being next to people with mostly even less to do, just parking really, means we were walking down the hill towards Pedestrian Gate C and our first entrance to the festival proper in pretty much no time at all.
At the gate the security give me a special nod, and I’m directed for a proper search before we even pick up our wristbands. I have nothing illegal with me yet, and so am almost glad to get the pat-down and check out the thoroughness of the invasive search procedures before actually having anything which they might find. They search through my bag, through not in the semi-hidden zip compartment. They have me empty my pockets and pat me down but don’t really even notice that I forgot to take my gloves out of my coat pockets. So not a thorough search by any stretch.
And then we’re through, in the sun, walking around by the Meeting Point and through the Cabaret and Circus fields. Seeing the excitement on the faces of the newbies who haven’t been before, and the familiar smiles of enjoyment and recognition on those who have.
Our group have a hunger. K and A are hungering for food while me and P are hungering for booze. We walk up through the green fields with the aim to meet A2 and D and others but their movements before we reach them and the hunger in our crew mean this plan is postponed while food is fetched. Big plates of vegetables of some kind, so big that K and A sit down to eat it, exasperating P and me.
We decide to head off around past the Park Bar and meet the food eaters at the stone circle field once they’ve eaten.
Last time P was here at Glasto was quite a few years ago, so long ago that the Park Field wasn’t open back then, so he’s pleased to see how the festival has grown in his absence, noting that the parts we were walking around buying booze in weren’t even inside the outer fence last time he was here. He’d never seen the Park Stage, the Park Tower, the Park Bar. The shear number of Tipi fields was surprising even to me, having grown over even the last two or three years.
Soon we found ourselves both in more familiar position though: Drinking cyder at the top of the Stone Circle field, looking past all the colourful and happy festival crowd, listening to the drumming already started in the middle which would no doubt continue without stopping for the next four or five days. And with a phoenix effigy behind us, waiting the darkness so it can be lit.
A2 and D and a couple of their friends joined us there after a while, and the food eating crew shortly afterwards. C and L were doing as they were told and not turning back to look down the hill till they reached the top. A2 insists that even the top of the Stone Circle field isn’t high enough, they must get HIGHER, up into the top of the Park fields before they turn around.
So we walk up there before they turn around to look at the whole expanse of that huge greenfield and canvas city that pops up for just a week, eight times a decade.
They appeared impressed. It would be surprising if they weren’t impressed since the view still impresses me, growing every time I’ve visited since my first more than twenty years ago.
Soon our drinks are drunk, and since we aren’t yet drunk ourselves we wonder down the hill to get more and to mooch around looking at the extravagant, delightful and often borderline insane constructions covering the fields. We pass futuristic mechanisations, max-max style post-apocalyptic armoured cars, bars, decorations, costumed people and A2’s friends construction a “Tree Of Life” with a revolving top. This latter had a White Rabbit character at the top, and the whole area was covered by the court of a Red Queen on stilts who was being escorted around the site by Alice and her Rabbit etc.
While the others waited outside, I wondered into the Bimble Inn to buy booze. The stage inside has a guy playing guitar, fast paced acoustic numbers, rock without the amps, as a small child dances on stage. While he referrers to the child as his ‘co-star’, it’s clearly just one of the audience doing a stage invasion, and he disappears after a song or two.
I’m enjoying this guy’s rough bearded voice as he sings, but not so much the queue at the bar which seems like four people deep. So I’m happily distracted when White Rabbit enters, his little megaphone wailing “Make Way For The Queen”. He talks for a while to the guy on stage, who’s clearly happy. since his ‘co-star’ has disappeared, to have another one chance by, threatening to dance in costume.
He tells us that he has a song about a rabbit, which he wasn’t going to play. But, hey, if the White Rabbit and his entourage are going to be dancing around on stage then why not?
The rabbit song is fun, the whole Alice In Wonderland crew squash onto the tiny stage but manage to keep dancing and smiling the whole time. Only the queen herself, with a dress the size of my popup tent and stilts so high she’s having to duck to avoid hitting her head as it is, doesn’t actually climb on stage.
This is certainly shaping up to be a fun little wait at the bar, but even as long as it is, it couldn’t last so I take the booze back outside and we carry on exploring the site.
Sunset is upon us by now, and the clothes we are all wearing may not be warm enough for night-time adventures, so we head back. Somehow I lose the rest of the crowd during a toilet visit and so have to head back on my own. I figure I’ll probably make faster time that was frankly. A singleton moves much faster than a group at a festival, and this one has more distractions and distance than most.
As I say, I’ve been coming to Glasto for more than 20 years. While the site has grown, my mental map of it has grown alongside and I have no difficulty finding my way to Pedestrian Gate C.
However, I’ve barely spent any time outside the fence at all. And clearly wasn’t paying enough attention as we walked from camp to the gates. I miss a turning and take some time to even notice I’ve done so, and have to turn around and figure out where the hell I went wrong. By the time I get back to camp I’ve walked three times further than I’d hoped, and arrive last rather than first.
I whine about this, of course. Whining is fun.
With warmer clothes on our backs, we go back into the site and I buy some pizza which takes a while to cook but is nice enough. I try and subtlety herd the crowd back towards the stone circles as we wonder through the site, taking in the sites and the sounds and the atmosphere. For I have a plan….
We don’t quite get there though before my friends decide to head home to bed. Heading home to bed sounds nice, but unless I manage to execute my plan there’ll be no pre-mattress joints to smoke. I agree to split, head up to the stone circle, find a spot and sit down to wait to be offered the essential ingredient I need.
It doesn’t take long. A group of about four teens are walking around, one asking people if they would like to buy and another supplying those who say yes. They offer this tiny little blim of grass for 20 quid. Almost an insulting price frankly. But, desperate and tired, I agree to pay it anyway, cursing having to buy at retail prices. One of the kids repeats my ‘retail price’ quip as they leave, and I get up to walk back once more to the camper van fields.
During this walk I really notice how far away those camper-van fields are. From where I started, in the stone circle, I have to walk down the hill into the green fields, through the Healing Fields, from there through the Green fields and over the old railway, down past the old Jazz Stage (now called West Holts, a name I do not prefer), through the theatre and circus area, past the Cabaret tent, and Williams Green, right at the Kids Fields and past Pilton Palais jut to get to the gate. From there it’s as far again, maybe more, to get to where the camper vans await.
My legs are hurting from all the walking and it’s only Wednesday night. I swear an oath not to do that damned journey twice a day from then on. No sunset-camp-visits this year I fear. I’ll be needing to take out everything I need for the day with me when I leave camp in the morning.
The festival proper doesn’t get going until the Friday, but the little outer stages begin their warm-up acts earlier than that. Some were even running before our crew was meeting in the pub in Wincanton to drive in together. So there should be plenty in our program for Thursday.
Sure enough, C wants to head to what her phone is calling the “Green Futures T…”, but she’s gone before I’m likely to be ready so I head out after with P to track them down.
The Green Futures field has many interesting looking tents. We walk around it wondering which of these is the “Green Futures T…” mentioned in C’s phone. Hopefully not the one with the wailing hippies singing about peace and love? Can’t see them around so must be one of these other tents. We walk around the field, checking out each one. None of them seem to really fit the bill of what we’re looking for and none of them seem to have our friends outside.
Telephony to the rescue! I check my phone, looking for at least the name of this band we were hoping to find them next to. My phone has more screen real estate than C’s it seems for I get the full name of the tent, the “Green Futures Toad”, and the name of the people we’re trying to see, “Anthea Neads & Andy Prince”. It turns out that the first tent we looked at is indeed the Toad Hall, and our friends are hiding sat down near the edge of the tent.
We listen for a while, P commenting that the song-writing technique Anthea seems to favour is to find a single line of about half a dozen words, ideally something like “Come together love and peace” or “World love and flowers for all”, then sing it over and over again. And over again. Lyrical diversity is certainly not their forte. I don’t mind the actual sounds they’re making much but it’s certainly grating on P. Luckily they finish not too long after we get there.
Turns out this is the first time that the crew have made it down to see the band who were eating at their cafe often during a previous festival a few weeks back. They are friends, rather than fans, of this little acoustic hippy outfit.
The rest of the early afternoon we spend wondering around in a festival haze. Watching the crowds, admiring the artwork, getting lost and then found again. Drinking and smoking and smiling and laughing.
The rain starts to spot down as we walk over to the Pyramid Stage to meet with E, under a big “oak” tree (which turns out not to be an oak). My umbrella is out in full by the time we get there, but the tree gives us some shelter from the rain and a large group of us meet there to say hello to E before his shift and meet his fellow workers.
They will need to eat before they start work so we all head out into the wet to find something worthy of our tongues.
“Gourmet Burgers!” says a sign above a little burger cabin. That sounds okay, I like Gourmet, it sounds much nicer than “Rubbish festival burger” so we give that a go.
It’s actually probably the worst burger I’ve ever had. Worse than McDonalds, worse than greasy kebab-shop burger. Tasteless and wrapped in dull white bread with no relish or salad to speak of.
I suspect the actual “dirty burger” sold elsewhere would be far far better.
Of course I wolf it down anyway. You taste less of these things if you eat them quickly I figure.
Even with umbrella this rain is getting a bit silly, and the mud is starting to pile up so we decide to head back to camp and join the Puddle Jumper party. Looks like I *am* going to end up doing the festival-to-camp-and-back journey twice today after all, for even if the rain keeps on going I’ll need some more food later.
I’m glad I do though. The Puddle Jumper Party ends up being great. Eight of us crowded into it’s little seats, chatting and playing games and drinking and smoking. Puddle Jumper is a decent sized van. It might be slow, but it’s well stocked with care and attention to decoration and entertainment. We stay till gone sundown.
My final trip out that evening was relatively uneventful. I had forgettable food, scored some more reasonably priced stuff than before, and stumble home so drunkenly to bed that I don’t even remember doing it.
That may be the way to treat that walk home!
On Glasto Friday all the stages finally start to pump out more acts every hour than a single person could watch in a day. Things really do begin to kick off.
I head down with H and K to the Pyramid stage. Traditionalist that I am, I like to see that big old Pyramid hosting the first act. Feels like a proper opening of the festival. On this occasion it seems the Pyramid Stage is playing host to a different African band every morning, in solidarity with some foolish government in Mali banning music. Banning music? Really!
“Jupiter & Okwess International”, it seems they were called, and their music is recognisably African without being nothing but drums and hooting, which is nice.
H and K seem to enjoy it too, the sun shines down and the stage looks as awesome and filled with great memories as that pyramid stage always does. Great work.
We walk up from there to Croissant Neuf where the longest running act in the festival are playing: The Wells Vicars Choral Choir. Their little group has, they reckon, been together for twelve hundred years at the moment. Presumably having been founded back in the year 800 when Vikings were raiding the north. Meanwhile the vicars in Wells were setting up a little choir.
They perform well, the guy on the far right is particularly entertaining, using his body as much as his voice to express the music. Really getting into it. Jiving. They perform a few covers, things I would think the vicars who set up the band 1200 years ago wouldn’t have expected to be happening at all.
While it was entertaining however, it wasn’t rock enough so after their Beatles cover I went over to join P and L at the stage next door: The Avalon Stage.
There, right in the middle of the tent, were P and L watching skiffle band Hobo Jones, who have been running for quite some many years but not quite as many as 1200. They perform a song for a sick friend of theirs, getting the whole tent full of people to raise a glass to the health of someone from a band who inspired them.
This inspiring band are, it turns out, P’s Dad’s band. Though P’s Dad is not the sick one.
They play some great tunes, with a wash-board and a string in a stick for bass and a single guitar player on the right. They all look suitably west-country, scarecrow hair, bushy beards, toothy smiles. They appear to be having a great time on stage and I know I’m having a great time off the stage. The Cyder they sold in this field was the driest and most scrumpy of all the ciders I drank this weekend. Yummy! I approve.
Many years ago, when the crowd of friends at Glasto contained a friend who loves stand-up, we seemed to spend hours upon hours at the Cabaret tent being entertained by the stand up comics that he so loved and wanted to be like.
It seems that 2013 is a repeat of this, to some lesser degree, and we find ourselves walking over to the Circus fields to watch Atila The Stockbroker perform some poetry for us. This time, for a change, with a broken leg! His poems are right-on and left-wing and all seem to end with the word “Cheers”, which somehow works out as the cue for exactly the cheers he gets.
Those circus fields are filled with walk about acts doing crazy things. Girls wearing huge bell shaped trouser costumes. A man on the stage is being wrapped tightly head to toe in cling-film in order to escape it. A Chinese dragon dances it’s dance further up the hill in the distance and a Bollywood style band dressed in purple play Indian music at us.
While L heads to the toilet, or for food, or whatever it was she was doing the Bollywood star herself walks over to us, offering P a Henna Tattoo.
Much to my surprise, he accepts, rolling up his sleeve as she produces a stamp and pushes it towards his arm.
As the ink hits his skin, the Bollywood star suggests, “That’ll be two pounds please”, which makes me laugh heartily. P must be in a good mood for, though he refuses this silly charge for a service offered without a price-tag, he does give her some money to make her go away.
Wise to her trick, I refuse when she offers the same thing to me.
Staying around the Cabaret tent seems like a good idea as yet more friends join us so that we can watch the awesome “4 poofs and a piano”, who of course fill the tent since they have been on Telly.
The four poof’s reworking of show tunes with an EVEN MORE gay slant than the originals fills the tent with laughter. I wonder what those banning music in Mali would think of these acts. I suspect that this is exactly the kind of thing that music ban is designed to prevent, the bottom of the slippery slope they fear.
I fear it not though. It’s funny and witty and occasionally outrageous. Yay for music. Yay for queers.
Once they finish there’s time for more aimless bimbling around the site. Some go back for coats and warmer clothes but I have become fore-warned about these things and expect only to need to head back if the weather forecast turns out to be wrong. That journey isn’t something I wanna do every day, not by a long shot.
That old hero Billy Bragg has been coming to Glastonbury for many years longer than I. I suspect he’s played on one stage or another pretty much every one of the sixty or so days in total I’ve spent in this green (or, often, brown) valley. For the last few years (probably many, you lose track) he basically runs his own stage: The Left Field. And this, I think, on the political epicentre of the site, is the proper place to see him play his songs and rant his rants. So that’s exactly what we do.
Though I’ve never owned a Bragg Record, though I’ve never seen him play anywhere other than at festivals, his songs are still warm and sensible and political and fun. He sings telling us that he doesn’t “want to change the world“, he’s “not looking for a new England“, he’s “just looking for another girl“, but we all know he’s lying. The Left Field stage isn’t an attempt to get laid.
Last time I was here at Glasto, the Arcadia Stage was down in the South East Corner, with the Shangri-la and the Block 9 and other wicked installation stages. Having them all together down there makes for one hell of a crowded session after the main stages finish, so I was glad earlier in the day to see that the Arcadia stage is, this year, working in the Other Stage field.
If you’re stood in the Other Field watching the last act all you need do to get to Arcadia when it starts just after is turn about 45 degrees to the right.
Keen to see an act at that Arcadia stage, and being at the Left Field when Billy Brag finished, even P agreed that heading that way immediately was a good idea, which meant catching some of the Portishead set as they finished up.
I don’t pay much attention to the music scene these days. Portishead are, as far as I’m aware, a band from around the time I first came to Glasto twenty years ago. If they did anything since, it didn’t get through my hard exterior shell of never buying any new music or listening to the radio or anything any more. It seems, however, that despite a hiatus they are in fact still writing new music. New to me at least. A noisey durge, a wall of noise with Beth’s (yes, I just looked that name up) vocals sampled and distorted and grating all over them.
If I’m honest I don’t remember the set well, it’s possible we missed most of it, maybe even all of it. Maybe it just wasn’t as memorable as the crazy light shows going on around us.
I do remember the two guys standing on Tesla coils in Faraday suits, fighting each other with electricity firing out of their arms. Blue would shoot his lightning at Red, who’d retaliate by bowing and shooting it from his head. Blue then turns around and literally farts lightning out of his bum back at the other guy, all the time the air sparking, burning, cracking with noise and light.
They were awesome.
The Arcadia stage looks like a giant metal spider, a little like the machines in the War Of The Worlds, straddling the path around the Other Stage, it’s claws pinched menacingly above it’s head. A countdown timer on it’s legs creeps down from 20 minutes or so after Portishead finish, building the tension before that stage will finally kick off.
In the end they start a few minutes later than the timer indicated, the stage’s claws begin to move. Performers hang from them, hiding inside them, climbing on top of the giant metal robot. Lights and lasers and sounds blast from all over the machine. It’s claws move slowly, deliberately, but menacingly. The whole show is stunning, and over (or at least settled down into repetition) far far too quickly.
But everyone has met up! It’s barely 1am and even though this giant robot has been moved from the South East Corner, the South East Corner is awaiting us.
After shuffling through the early morning crowds we wonder from installation stage to installation stage, lost in seemingly endless warrens of art and music and dancing and lights. Queues alongside many of the stages indicate how much some would like to see the acts inside, but certainly put me off even trying. The whole area is beautiful and constructing these things in the middle of nowhere in the space of a week or so is an awe inspiring ability.
I hang with friends for a while, drinking and marvelling at the number and variety of little dance arenas dotted around these fields until drunkenness and tiredness overtake the fear of the long walk home, then slip through the one-way barriers and stumble home, worrying about the state of my legs.
Saturday starts much later with a trip around the circus again, this time with H and H. We watch a hula-hoop dancer on on outdoor stage for a while as she picks out some people from the audience and has them throw the hoops over her head as she, uh, hulas. Four volunteers, two hoops each, she’s doing it with eight at a time. Claps all around.
From there we wonder over to the John Peel stage. This is a name change that I approve of. John Peel was the man, of course, and his name is just as short as “New Bands” and more meaningful since the bands on there aren’t all new. I saw the Flaming Lips on the “New Bands Tent” once for instance. They were NOT new at the time. If they ever were.
This time we watch the Strypes, but I confess I may have been pretty drunk already by this time since I remember little of that set.
In fact the whole of the Saturday is mostly a blur of brown dry dirt, colourful crowds, food and music and fun to which I paid not nearly enough attention.
Watched Noah and the Whale at the Other stage and made the mistake of heading back to camp again, breaking my aching legs even more, before Primal Scream on the Pyramid.
The drunkenness ensured that although I’m pretty sure we watched Primal Scream, I remember more of their set at my first Glasto back in 1992 than I do of this set. A friend of a friend is their new bassist, and I don’t even remember what she looked like.
After that the Rolling Stones were on stage, and the crowd around us grew and grew and grew. Masses and masses of people. The atmosphere electric, everyone expectant and expecting to enjoy this show.
And they do rock. Really they do. It’s fun. But. Well, somehow missing something. After half an hour or so I become restless. I wonder, if everyone is here, watching the Stones, what’s the rest of the site like? Surely there’s amazing things going on which nobody else is watching!
I tell the people I’m with that I’m off to the toilet and unlikely to head back into this mass of people. So I do that, with a vague intention of sitting around by the Cider bus and listening to the rest of the set from the sidelines.
But that curiosity about the rest of the site gets the better of me. I wonder around. Yeah, I wonder around. I stomp quickly over to the Other stage, and find myself unimpressed and still curious. I wonder to the Jazz stage and it’s all rap and I hate rap. I do a complete circuit of the site, more or less, pacing drunkenly, looking for that thing which is more fun than the Stones, and fail to find it.
This was my biggest mistake. I should have just hung by the Cider bus like I half planned.
I’d have loved it if I did find that awesome thing everyone else missed. But I didn’t. I just got tired and made my legs ache more and. Oh well. Live and learn. Or at least you live anyway.
By the time I met up with Y and G and C and A and many others up at the Rabbit Hole I was barely able to even keep my eyes open so after not very long sitting on the long table outside that tent and admiring the patience of the many people in the queue to go down the Rabbit Hole itself, I decided the only sensible thing was to go to bed.
After the long walk back home I fell into my tent feeling quite exhausted and drunk.
Being so drunk that I barely remember most of Saturday leads to obvious problems that next morning.
I woke up when the sun burned me out of my tent as usual feeling sick, faint, tired and horrible.
I tried washing my hair. Perhaps cleanliness would make me feel better. This involved a trip down to the tap to fill up the big bucket of water, and then much splashing myself wet and a dripping trip back into my tent to soak much of my stuff while fetching the towel I foolishly left inside.
As I finish cleaning myself up P appears from his tent so I follow him down to the Pyramid stage. My intention, to basically find somewhere to lie down and try to sleep and drink water.
We met up with K, and later J, to see Bassekou Kouante, another band banned from their home country due to the crazy folks in power there who think it’s okay to ban music.
We were right at the front, and I was unable to stand. The ground smelled of pee where clearly people unable to get out to visit the toilet had been drenching the floor with human waste. Yet still I couldn’t keep on my feet and had no choice but to lie down and close my eyes to listen to their African beats and incomprehensible vocals, sucking up as much water as I dared and closing my eyes watching the hangover induced patterns behind my eyes.
It would have been pleasant but for the smell, and the nausia, and the faintness and the weakness and the general awful hangover.
We moved backwards to where the ground was less polluted and the others sat with me during the next set from Swedish band “First Aid Kit”.
J had recommended this band and behind the pain and the hangover I could hear that they were in fact very good. Folky and fun.
I managed to eat a pie and some chips, which made me feel a little better. K said it put a smile on my face but it didn’t cure the evil in my body.
After First Aid Kit finished, we walked down to the front again. Our friend was to be featured on stage. Not as an act, but as the person tuning the piano for the act next up. She waved at us, we took photos. But inside my veins still ran with wrongness and having to stand for even these few minutes made my legs ache with pain and horror.
I decided that I needed somewhere to sit for a while, ideally somewhere not crowded, and P reckoned that John Otway would be playing at the Cabaret tent and would be followed by Robin Ince, so that’s where we went to sit.
John Otway was funny as usual, but his material is mostly the same as the other times I’ve seen him so it held few surprises and of course the art of comedy involves the unexpected. I enjoyed watching him dive around the stage, mock his roadie, invite Attila back on stage to translate one of his songs, and beam from the stage about how he was a rock star with two hit records.
Before Robin Ince started there was another small act to come. They were called “The Men In Coats” and came from behind a screen on stage in big Parkers. A set piece to a backing track, they used the screen and their own coated bodies to present us with a series of hilarious and silly visual gags. One guy reaching behind the screen where the other guy hid poking his arm from the other side. Things like this.
One poked his head out of the front, in a miniature version of the coats they wore. The other handled the legs poking just barely out of the front so it appeared we were looking at a tiny man who could fly and do insane stretching and yoga type poses. Even fly!
I laughed quite a lot, they were truly a highlight of the weekend, and started to feel slightly more human. It would be time to drink again soon.
But first there was the wonderful Robin Ince. His rationalist rants chime with me, projecting my own prejudices for sanity and rationality back at me with added humour and coherence.
Once Robin had finished we walked over to the Left Field again to join up with the others who were sitting outside gently drinking and listening to a Jewish Canadian act by the name of Geoff Burner. His songs were fun, his stories between the songs right-on and left-wing and entertaining. I enjoyed his act as much for the life returning to my blood as for the actual music and entertainment.
I grabbed some Pizza from over the way and once it was eaten felt more or less back to normal. If still somewhat stiff and tired and unable to walk at my usual pace, slowing down to civilian speed.
Next we went out to the Other Stage to see an act called “Monsters And Men”, who were very good indeed. They are from Iceland and their lead singer looked beautiful and quirky with dark eyes and hair. P reckoned she looked more like Bjork than Bjork. The tunes reminded me of things my recent-ex used to play when she lived with me, bringing smiles and some regret and sadness since she’s moved out now. Most of our group moved in close where the action was but after only half an hour or so of that I couldn’t really manage to continue standing up so P and I headed back out to find somewhere to sit.
On the way out someone shouted “P!” (They used his full name) and some of P’s old friends from years and years ago chatted to him for a while as I basically sat down and let my muscles recover. They seemed surprised to see him even while recounting how the last time they’d seen him was in very similar circumstances, striding across a field at Glastonbury.
Once we regrouped after Monsters and Men finished we went back to the Left Field since Kate Nash was playing. We sat back near the edge of the tent and waited. People wondered off to fetch coats, or food, or booze, all meeting back there at the edge of the tent and by the time everyone had regrouped there was a massive crowd around us, as big a crowd as I’d ever seen here at the Left Field. Clearly Kate Nash is a popular lady.
I expected some acoustic hippy girl-and-a-guitar set and was very pleasantly surprised at how rocky and fast and funky the whole set was. Her band were as beautiful as she was, the bassist’s long blond hair whipping the air as she bounced her head back and forward.
Kate explained that she’d been booted from her record label. “Hurray!” me and P shouted. She went on thanking us for enabling her to operate without one. “Exactly!” we cried out to her, “You don’t need a record label. Nobody does. They aren’t helping.”
Someone later said that not having that record label had enabled her to become more rock, more fun, more free. I agree. Record labels are for idiots. I swear that Handsome Jack’s Showband will never have one. Even if they wanted us.
We catch the end of the Smashing Pumpkins set, which is much as you’d expect it to be, and then walk over to see The Beat at Williams Green. Funky Ska, lots of familiar tunes, I suspect I may have even been dancing a little by the end of that. The hangover nothing but a distant memory.
From there we go over to see what’s going on at the West Holts stage and it’s only half an hour or so after we’ve been sat there that I notice my bag is missing.
The bag contains my hip-flask, my sun-screen, and the most expensive camera I’ve ever owned.
I rush back, hoping to find the bag still on the ground near Williams Green where I left it.
At Williams Green the tent is closed. As I approach someone there tells me that they’re closed and I ask if anyone has by any chance handed in my bag.
Oh well. Nothing can be done about that now I guess so I look around for a few minutes, trying to see the fluro orange glow anywhere in the twilight but it’s not there. Someone has clearly taken it.
So back to meet with K and P and L at the West Holts again and from there we walk up to the South East corner to look around. The other’s haven’t spent any time there yet this year, or indeed at all it’s been so long since they’ve been. So it’s nice to see how impressed they are with the Block 9 setup. It is still very impressive, even a few years after the first time I saw it. Nobody can quite believe that it’s not a permanent structure. It just feels like a solid building, it’s got a damned tube train sticking out of it! There’s a car crashed into the side! But I assure them that it is. These stages are all here for only a week or so and they are SO awesome to look at and comprehend. Unfortunately they are also almost impossible to photograph in the dark.
We wonder through Block 9 and the Unfair Ground and The Common and Shangri-la and over to Glasto Latino where a band are setting up, outnumbering those who sit around watching by a considerable margin.
There are proper seats here. Well, plastic garden seats anyway. Enough for all four of us. They are comfy! We sit and watch the band sound-check. K is sad to have missed some band here that she wanted to see but it turns out that this is in fact that band! Hurray!
They are “Ondtropica” but I think restlessness had set into the others by the time they actually started playing so we didn’t see much of their set. I think K was just pleased to be able to tell her friend that she’d seen them since her friend liked them so much, or had a friend who was in them, or something.
More wondering around the south-east corner marvelling at the effort and lights and shear labyrinthine size of the whole effort before K leaves and a while later we get a text from some others so decide to head down to the Glade to join them.
At the glade, after some searching around, we find the others inside a crew bar hidden inside a TARDIS door.
Here inside the crew area there are nearby toilets, slightly cheaper booze, a DJ known as Luke Stereo and A, C, H and Irish J and, wonder of wonders, more seats!
The final hour or two on site then were spent watching the girls dancing, wondering where the hell they find the energy, smoking and drinking and chatting and thinking back at what a great festival it’s been.
There’s no doubt that I’ll be back here, hopefully get that 60 days in the field up to over a hundred eventually. It’s possible I’ve already had the best Glasto I’ll ever have, three years ago, but that’s certainly no reason not to enjoy the 2nd, 3rd, 12th, even 20th best one yet. For they are all bloody marvellous.