Glastonbury Festival 2008

9 Jul

Woah… where the hell do I start? I suppose starting from the beginning would make sense. Sooooo….

WEDNESDAY

I couldn’t sleep the night before as I was far too excited. I hadn’t been to Glastonbury in three years and it is my favourite festival in the world. Plus the weather reports seemed to be a lot more positive than in previous years. Jeeeez, am I talking about the weather already?

I arrived at Paddington at 1 ish and I had already had five beers. By the time I got to Castle Cary station I was smashed. I’m not used to long train journeys. What the hell are you supposed to do? I nearly lost my bag and tent on the train as it was leaning against the door and when we arrived at Swindon, the door opened and everything fell out onto the platform but I just about rescued my tent from falling onto the tracks below. Yes, I am pretty clumsy at the best of times.

So I got to Castle Cary and amongst my excitement decided to talk to pretty much anybody that would listen. I met some lovely people in doing this and it seemed a lot more common to see new Glastonbury goers this year. Also, Glastonbury does attract people from all over but I met so many more scousers and Australians this year than ever before. I haven’t quite worked out why that is… anybody care to help me out with it?

We arrived in our field and I had the easiest set up that I’ve ever had a festival. Pop-up tents are convenient to put up but they are a bastard to carry and you also run the risk of breaking your nose when you take it out of the bag. But that could just be me as I’m clumsy, as I mentioned earlier.

Wednesday night consisted of us all hitting the cider bus and me interviewing people for a future podcast. The idea of the podcast is to show the people that go to the festival as opposed to the bands that play. Glastonbury really is a people festival and I wanted to try and get as much of that on tape as possible. I’ve got about three hours worth of interviews but how much of that can be broadcast remains to be seen…

The cider bus was our first stop. The hot cider was awesome but as the sun went down the site became FREEZING. After a trip to the silent disco and the stone circle, I then had the worst night’s sleep ever. I had to put on pretty much all of my clothes to stop myself from shivering. Then, an hour or so later, the sun came out and turned my tent into an oven. I woke up dripping with sweat. Ah well…

 

THURSDAY

I was feeling a bit groggy from the night before. Lack of sleep and excess doesn’t really do a lot for your social skills. I couldn’t really speak. I spent the majority of the morning grunting at people.

I had press passes this year and made my first trip into the backstage compound to get to grips with where everything is. Firstly, it is NOT what you expect. It is not surrounded by naked girls, cocaine and champagne. The majority of the people there are friends and family members of bands. UNLESS of course you have a production pass which gets you everywhere. Which I had of course. So there.

I was told that I would have internet access at the festival so I could do blogs for Smoke Radio. I didn’t want to take my own laptop to the festival and I assumed other reporters wouldn’t want to either. I expected there to be some avaiable but there was not. I tried to flirt with a nearby female journalist and asked if I could borrow her laptop for ten minutes – she looked at me, said ‘no’ and then turned her back. Nice. Maybe my chat up routine needs a bit of work?

By Thursday morning there had already been 150 injuries reported. Probably 149 of those coming from pop up tents and another injury coming from a head torch. Loooooooonnnnng story which I won’t go into. All I will tell you is that elastic is a bitch.

However, over at the Leftfield in the early afternoon, we saw some Brit School students doing some energetic ska which woke me up somewhat and I was feeling a lot more alert.

We did a lot of wandering on Thursday afternoon. I saw a lot of clowns which freaked me out somewhat. But I did find a crazy old man cooking potatoes and a plum crumble in a bee shaped oven. Which is something you don’t see every day.

After trying to see Glasvegas and Santogold from 50 feet outside the Queens Head tent (it wasn’t happening) we went and grabbed a few drinks from a bar in the dance arena. All of a sudden the tent started to fill up and we noticed that they were soaking wet. Uh oh. It was raining. So, we stayed in the bar… it’s such a hard life isn’t it?

Whilst in the bar, it was amazing to discover that nobody knows who the hell Kurt Cobain is. Well, the picture I have on my phone anyway. It’s a very iconic photograph but people had no idea. One person thought it was Kanye West. Oh dear oh dear. Anyway, I let it go and we then started discussing ponchos. Some people had some very strong views on this. We also wrote a song – to the tune of the Village People’s macho man… but I won’t tell you the lyrics. But it should be pretty obvious.

Over in the Park area of the festival they had a jam tent (Big Easy Jam tent) which was filled with guitars, drums, percussion, a Jo-anna (piano) and everybody is invited in to play along together. As a ‘musician’ I ventured here a lot over the weekend. According to the organisers, Pete from Big Brother had been in the night before and they were hoping for guest slots from Alex Turner and Pete Doherty too. What they weren’t expecting was my 3am set on Thursday night:

Back For Good
Angels
Everything I Do, I Do It For You
Let It Be
You Really Got Me
Don’t Look Back in Anger

Yes, I know. Take That, Robbie and Bryan Adams. Not cool but at the time of night it seemed to please the 30-40 people that were there.

It was still raining at this point so I ran back to my tent to get my wellies. I then lost the people I was with and spent aaaaaaages trying to find their tent on the other side of the site. Made worse by the fact that I took a few wrong turns and got distracted by people along the way.

seasick

FRIDAY

The first official day of music gets underway and as we wake up, the weather is still MISERABLE and the fear that we all seem to share is ‘NOT AGAIN!’. The walkways are muddy and it looks like we’re not going to get any sun. The atmosphere around the site before the bad weather hit was really electric. The rain made everybody feel a little bit flat.

My first port of call was to meet Susie who had driven me down a load more alcohol for the weekend bless her. I was supposed to meet her the night before but I was trying to save my battery and the signal around the festival is a bit hit and miss. She got her revenge on me mind you. I then had to walk for what seemed like an eternity to her car (on my own). I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to stand in a field full of cars and look for a green car, but I wouldn’t recommend it! To make matters worse, it was raining. But eventually, I found her car and made the trip back to the site. I missed The Subways in doing this but when there’s alcohol involved… small price to pay. Plus they’re playing at Reading so it wasn’t too big a deal.

After walking for what seemed like a lifetime with a crate of beer, I had to stop and have a rest at my tent. 15 minutes and two beers later, I was ready to go. It was no longer raining but the walkways were still muddy so I still had to wear my stylist wellies.

First band of Glastonbury for me was Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. This band have had a lot of hype this year and they had a rather large crowd for such an early time of the day. Although it seemed a lot of the people there were still waking up and the band failed to grab the audience’s attention. Debut single ‘Lucio Starts Fires’ went down well but the rest of their set was a bit of a yawn and I couldn’t help but think that a new Strokes album is due to put bands trying to replace them in their place.

We wandered to see Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly on the Pyramid Stage. But not before I spent £5 on a baked potato. You can say what you want about Glastonbury but you can’t say you don’t get value for money…. by the time we made our way through the mud and the crowds we only caught one song (dragged out waaaaaay toooooooo long by Sam’s attempts to get a mass sing-along going). Nice try mate, but I’m hungover and tired.

I do think that the weather had an impact on the mood of everybody on Friday. It was miserable and the atmosphere seemed really sombre. Vampire Weekend are the perfect soundtrack for summer. Not torrential rain. Their debut album is one of the best I’ve heard in years but when you’re being pissed on (not literally) it kind of doesn’t work.

The rain continued on and off throughout the day but it didn’t stop me enjoying a bunch of people on the Park stage (Sons & Daughters, Operator Please and The Duke Spirit). It was revealed after Operator Please that Franz Ferdinand were playing on the stage later on that night although I wouldn’t make it back to the Park that day.

The Ting Tings, The Gossip, Lupe Fiasco and The Kills passed me by without any surprise. As you’d expect. I was getting somewhat nervous about my Kings of Leon interview as the day progressed. I missed Foals because I was backstage waiting to meet Caleb. I was escorted by Kings of Leon’s manager to their bus. I was told politely but assertively that I only had 10 minutes. The rest of the band were on the bus but I only got to meet and talk to Caleb. He gave me JD and was the most down to earth person I’ve ever met. You can see the interview in another thread.

After the interview, I ran over to the Other Stage to catch We Are Scientists and The Enemy – running to the backstage bar in between for drinks and chats with anybody that caught my eye. I spoke to Andy from the Enemy about 15 minutes before they were due onstage which was probably not the best time. He seemed really nervous but he did tell me that they were really excited about playing and that their new album is ‘far better than the first’. I think he won the award for cleanest and smartest person I saw over the weekend. GHDs on the tourbus perhaps? I was a bit jealous as my hair resembled a scousers pubic region by Friday morning.

After the Enemy, I ran backstage again for a few stiff cocktails and then headed towards the Pyramid stage to catch Kings of Leon. It was a tough call. I’ve seen them before and when am I going to catch Jimmy Cliff again? Plus Seasick Steve was headlining the acoustic tent… but KoL won and I watched their set with a bunch of random girls. None of which I can remember. It had been a long day of binge drinking.

After Kings of Leon, I headed backstage and met Danny Dyer of all people. He is EXACTLY the same in real life as he is in all of his films. I don’t think he was too happy with me being an Arsenal fan and having seen him in the Football Factory, I ran up to the Park for silent disco and jam tent action. By the time I made it back to my tent it was morning. The first official day of the festival had been a long one but there was still plenty more to come…..

SATURDAY

I woke up to the sound of Eugene McGuinness at 11am who was given the opening slot on the nearby Park stage. I was really keen to catch Golden Silvers on the Other Stage but I only managed to catch one song – the reason for this being that it isn’t easy to get dressed in a tent. Plus I was feeling a little bit delicate from the night before.

wombats1

I eventually got myself together in time for Seasick Steve on the Pyramid Stage. He had a huge crowd considering he was early on. His set was full of amusing anecdotes and hobo humour. Rather than just himself, the infamous ‘Mississippi drum machine’ and his ‘three string trance wonder’ guitar, Seasick Steve was joined onstage by a live drummer (Dan Magnusson) which added a lot more to his already brilliant sound. Towards the end of the set, a girl was pulled out of the crowd onto the stage and was serenaded by the man himself. A bit of blues is always good for a hangover. After Seasick Steve, I was ready for the day ahead.

The rest of the day saw me witness performances by Holy Fuck, Neon Neon (which included a guest appearance from Har Mar Superstar – who sang one song whilst attempting a headstand as Gruff read a newspaer), The Wombats (who blew away my hangover within the first few minutes), The Raconteurs, Elbow (awesome sun set performance), White Denim (the best new band I’ve heard since Operator Please), Hot Chip, Amy Winehouse, The Futureheads, ten minutes of Jay Z (I got bored), most of Biffy Clyro and the last 15 minutes or so of Massive Attack (according to people that saw the whole set, this was the best part of their set).

A little side note – pretty girls that offer you cigarettes and straighteners are the best thing on earth.

Rumours were going round backstage all day about the Last Shadow Puppets. It was pretty obvious that they were going to play as Alex and Miles were both hanging out backstage all afternoon and the rumours were true. Not only that, but Jack White also made a guest appearance following on from his earlier slot with the Raconteurs.

I got to hang with the Wombats after their set and ended up ranting at them about how their music is the best hangover cure. They are sound guys and they didn’t even steal my wallet. They told me how much they enjoyed playing and they were blown away by the size of the crowd when they were ‘competing with James Blunt’.

Saturday night consisted of Trash City and Shangri-La. We ended up in a tent that belted out drum n bass until 6am – complete with MCs and a live drummer. The security guards in the tent weren’t too keen on me cracking open a glowstick and coating people with the liquid inside. Pfffffft.

At this point, things became a bit of a blur… we sat at the Stone Circle until sunrise and then decided to go and climb the tower in the Park and view another morning at Glastonbury. I had one thought, is it really the last day tomorrow? I genuinely didn’t want to go home.

SUNDAY

Yeasayer and The Whip in the John Peel tent were the first bands of the day for me. I was feeling very dead on Sunday. I couldn’t seem to find energy from anywhere. Not even jerk chicken did the trick. It was only after sharing a couple of Jager bombs with Jamie Klaxon and Florence Welch that I perked up somewhat. I think I had waaaaay too much caffeine because I noticed that during watching Jack ‘every song is the same’ Penate, my feet were tapping and that only tends to happen when I like music and I don’t think Jack ‘I don’t age very well and I dress like a lumberjack’ Penate fits into that category.

elbow

The line up on Sunday wasn’t really as special as the previous two days. I ended up spending a lot of time backstage on Sunday meeting as many people as I could. Getting to meet Richard Ashcroft and Jason Pierce was awesome. Richard Ashcroft was what you’d expect. I asked him if he was excited about headlining the Pyramid Stage and he came back with ‘It’s about time’. I was hunting for Alison Goldfrapp for a while but sadly I was not successful in my mission. How that woman can look so glamourous in a Somerset field is a mystery.

I caught a few songs by Neil Diamond and was thinking of witty things to write about his performance. The best idea I could come up with was ‘Diamond geezer’. Hardly original or witty but I’d hardly slept since the Tuesday so that’s the best you’re getting.

sun

Does It Offend You, Yeah? are an absolute live treat. If you haven’t seen them yet, please go and see them when they tour in October. This band manage to rock harder than most bands and yet be the most danceable band I’ve ever seen and seeing as I had just seen Holy Fuck the day before, that is saying something. Their set consisted of trashed bass guitars, stage invasions and arguments between the band and stage crew. I grabbed Morgan from the band just as they came off stage and he told me that it was the ‘craziest and most insane crowd’ that they’ve ever played to. I tried to get more info from him but he seemed be in a hurry to get to the bar.

After their set, I went to meet some old friends who were working at one of the bars. They gave me free drinks which was handy but possibly not the best idea. Things went a bit blurry after this. So much so that I could actually hear tunes in Crystal Castles’ set and we all know that’s pretty impossible. I then insisted on giving out free high fives for the rest of the evening – Spiritualized aren’t exactly a ‘high five’ kind of band. Their epic space rock was a highlight of my weekend. I’ve never known music to move me the way that Spiritualized can and did.

The free high fives continued as I wandered over to see the Zutons. As was so common over the weekend, I met MORE scousers. I have no idea why but Glastonbury seemed to be full to the brim with scousers and Australians. Not that I’m complaining – it was just strange nevertheless. I decided to give Tunng a miss so I could see Elbow play an acoustic set at the Queens Head tent. I managed to squeeze in to catch most of their set, although, I didn’t really see much as I spent the majority of the time speaking to a nearby girl. I don’t think she was too happy. She was telling me how big an Elbow fan she was – that should’ve been my cue to be quiet – but nooooooo……

After Elbow I had to make the tricky decision between My Morning Jacket or The Verve. I opted for the Verve. Nick McCabe is one of my all time guitar heroes and I was determined to see him live at long long last.

The Verve’s set was phenomenal. It was the perfect way to end the weekend. I was treated to early tunes such as History and This Is Music but the highlight of the set had to be the merged Bittersweet Symphony/Love is Noise conclusion to the set. I was genuinely overwhelmed by their set by the time Richard Ashcroft screamed out ‘Peace and love forever’ before leaving the stage to a wall of feedback, I had goosebumps. verve

After the Verve, I wandered backstage. There was a huge party and rumours were that all the booze was being given away. Sadly for me, my five days of over indulgence caught up with me and I didn’t get to take advantage of such a wonderful offer. I crawled back to my tent with a sad feeling in my heart. I really didn’t want to go home.

MONDAY

Queues. 9 hours to get home. Odd looks from people on the tube (more so than usual) and the nicest shower in the world. Then I watched a highlights show on BBC Three and couldn’t help but think to myself ‘ah yeah, I remember seeing Kings of Leon play this… uh…I think’.

It’s well known that Glastonbury had a lot of bad press this year. The line up caused a great deal of controversy and people were saying that Glastonbury was dead. The aim for the Eavis family has always been to make Glastonbury forward thinking and their goal this year was to attract a new crowd. Of all the people I spoke to and interviewed over the weekend, the majority of them were there for the first time and every person I spoke to loved the festival. OK, there was no Radiohead or Coldplay but Glastonbury has never ever been about the headliners. Yes, we had rain, we had mud but when the sun came out the atmosphere around the site was the best one that I’ve ever experienced.

I can almost guarantee that next year’s festival will sell out in an hour as per usual. The people that were too stubborn to go this year are all secretly kicking themselves now. But they won’t admit it.

Michael Eavis has claimed that he has the headliners for next year sorted out already… after watching the Verve come back and triumph in the way they did, I can’t help but think and hope that Led Zeppelin will grace the Pyramid Stage next June! How good would that be eh?

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