Battling their way through the cold, dead wasteland of the real world after a transcendent escape to Worthy Farm, the Getintothis crew reflect on the lessons learnt from this year’s Glastonbury festival.
As anyone who’s been lucky enough to lose their mind, money and morals in the mud during Glastonbury‘s 45-year tenure as the unsurpassable king of all festivals can attest, you’d need five years to experience all Worthy Farm has to offer across its five days of debauchery.
The headliners alone this year were easily enough to overcharge the ears, from Kanye‘s opinion-splitting booking turning out to be, well, opinion-splitting, to Florence‘s career-defining big-stage step-up and The Who‘s last Pyramid hurrah, it was always a strong sunset at the main arena, while Lionel Richie, The Libertines and Patti Smith saw their sets there pass instantly into Glastonbury legend – though each in completely different style of course.
Elsewhere this generation’s finest, from Slaves to Sleaford Mods, Young Fathers to Future Islands let rip with incredible sets in tents, stages and, in Fat White Family‘s case, at 4.30 am to an utterly fucked-up Shangri-La (more on that later), while the old farts were kept happy by the likes of The Pop Group, Weller and The Waterboys rolling back the years; all the while legions of lefties could sit through Billy Bragg‘s eighteenth election speech of the day at LeftField, and the brave souls who brought the kids could set them loose in the circus tent while they sneak in their first spliff since before the adult world ruined their lives.
And all that’s to say nothing of the mania beyond the stages. From a casual late-night shroom-munch at the Stone Circle to ketamine nightmares in the depths of Block 9 the site remains the daddy of locations to get unceremoniously blitzed to within an inch of lasting damage, safe in the memory that the Healing Fields are always there to nurse the comedown with a massage and meditation, with raves lasting well into the next morning in settings ranging from the giant flaming robot spider at Arcadia to the exceptionally trippy Alice in Wonderland themed Rabbit Hole.
Though you might be free of the nightmarish toilet stench and apocalyptic rains of flying cans of piss watching online at home, Glastonbury simply has to be seen first-hand to be believed; expectations will forever be surpassed, life-changing moments will occur without fail and every reveller will have the time of their life in their own unique way, as Getintothis’ team of festival-ready gonzos can confirm with their individual round-ups of the heavenly highs and absurd after-dark adventures from this year’s bash.
Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke:
“Arriving on Wednesday morning for my third Glastonbury, already sweat-drenched in a controversial outfit choice of US Marine uniform, high-top Doc Martens, aviators and a sailor hat, I plonked down my faithful pop-up tent in an indeterminate stretch of mud and duly began a mangled ramble that wouldn’t end until Monday’s sunrise. There’s to be thrills, spills, and having smoked three 25g pouches of Amber Leaf, 40 Camels and countless other things by the time I’m home, most certainly some throataches, every day ending as the sun rises, fucked, forgotten and face-down in a field, yet entirely at ease at the most perfect place on the planet.
“Some of the gigs are truly incredible, of course. The Libertines and Future Islands are completely euphoric, while Patti Smith‘s Pyramid set is up there with the most awe-inspiringly sublime things I’ve ever seen – by far the greatest Glastonbury set of the three weekends I’ve been, perhaps of my life – yet the festival’s about so much more than music. For me the true spirit of Glastonbury lies in its furthest reaches; in the mania of The Rabbit Hole, Shangri-La and Block 9, in the tranquil meditations of the Healing Fields and in the surprises lying at every turn. Losing everyone I know at 4.30 am, mashed-up to the eyeballs while Fat White Family unleash chaos from the depths of Hades at Shangri-La’s Hell stage is something I can’t really remember, but like the rest of Glastonbury, this year more than any of the others, something I’ll never, ever forget.”
I wasn’t really intending to see Patti Smith before I came, but with a spare hour decided to nurse a Fat White Family hangover at the Pyramid as she played. What followed was an hour of enrapturing rage and life-affirming passion, up there with any live band in the world. Screaming and caterwauling through incendiary versions of Land, Horses and a My Generation to put The Who to shame, outpourings of emotion in her speeches to move even the most cynical of bastards (i.e. me) to the verge of tears and a guest spot from the Dalai Lama that genuinely resonated in its spiritual power. Uplifting, envigorating, life-changing.
Seeing the Up the Bracket banner raise from behind a screen as The Libertines walk on stage for their unannounced Pyramid set to replace the newly-promoted Florence. As a caveat, I fucking LOVE The Libertines; though often derided by many in their mid-30s, to my generation the band mean everything, and the prospect of Pete and Carl on the Pyramid is about as good as it can possibly get in my eyes. Until that moment it had been only a rumour, and as my two prior Glastos kept reminding me you can never trust a festival Chinese whisper (Bowie to play The Park Stage in 2010, anyone?), but having barged to the very front in naive hope, vodka in hand and rollie in mouth, once that name appeared I felt all my dreams affirmed.
With an intriguing TBA on the schedule at William’s Green on Friday afternoon I squeezed through the hot, sweaty masses in anticipation of something interesting at the very least. It wasn’t as if I was necessarily expecting anyone incredible, but equally I didn’t think it’d be the complete fucking shitstain on the yellowing, hole-ridden y-fronts of pop that is the hair-pullingly dull Bastille. Fucking BASTILLE. Everyone else seemed to absolutely love it for the ten seconds of vapid dross I managed to endure, so evidently it’s just me. I despair. “Everyone’s a critic” guffaws some Zante-going gorm with a shit tattoo to his identikit moron mate as he sees me push my way out to the far superior Kate Bush CD they’re playing at the falafel van opposite. Well in the context of this article I fucking am, and I think Bastille are completely fucking turgid. So there.
Anyone who spends more than the time needed to sleep, get changed and try to wash with only wet-wipes and talc in their camp is doing it wrong in my opinion. Why nurse your hangover in a broken camp chair talking to some pleb about how much they can’t wait for Ben Howard when you can do it in the picturesque water-garden in the healing fields or the phenomenal views from the top of Pennard Hill? We camped in the Dairy Ground, far enough from the toilets to avoid the stench but close enough to be convenient, central enough in the field to avoid pesky passing security, and within ten minutes walk of the much more interesting sights of the South-East corner. It’s all you need.
As a middle-class champagne-socialist vegetarian dickhead of the highest order, Glastonbury is my Mecca when it comes to food. Veggie curries, burritos and burgers were the order of the weekend, but the shout out must go to the Hare Krishna tent’s free vegan lunch which kept me going on a daily basis. It was essentially lumpy yellow stuff in a cup and tasted really strange, but it was free and filling where everything else was £8 and weedily portioned, so must surely be the winner. Stumbling around hungry at 6am looking for somewhere open after a Shangri-La adventure I also managed to argue my way into procuring a garlic bread covered in curry sauce. It was grim.
Best New Band
Hate to say I told you so, but Unknown Pleasures featurees Weaves‘ opening set at the John Peel Stage on Friday morning lived up to all expectations they’d fostered on record. A bizarre, eccentric, but intriguingly well-honed, frontwoman Jasmyn Burke held a modest crowd captive with orchestrated quirks somewhere between David Byrne and tUnE-yArDs‘ Merrill Garbus while her effortlessly tight band unraveled hypnotic syncopated squalls.
Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson:
“People tell you just how big and mental Glastonbury is all the time, but you never really realise its scale until you have to carry your bags, beer and tent across it in 30 degree heat. It’s bloody massive, and enough to make a grown man cry. The weekend itself is an emotional rollercoaster, taking you from euphoria to despair in regular intervals. From the highs of seeing your first musical love playing your favourite songs in The Who‘s Sunday headline slow, to the catastrophic lows of the heavens opening while you sit on the completely un-sheltered long drop toilets and completely ruining the last of your toilet roll, Glastonbury really has it all. Even a flag that says Gary Lineker Shags Crisps in front of the Pyramid. The comedown has been pretty hard, and readjusting to normal life isn’t so easy. I threw my mug on the floor this morning and stamped on it like a can. My Mum went mad.”
Young Fathers‘ early Saturday afternoon set on the Other Stage was an hour of furious, aggressive intensity, and impossible to take your eyes off. Mainly down to their shamanic dances moves and frightening glares at the crowd.
The part of Lionel Richie‘s set where he walked around shouting ‘What the hell is going on?!’ at the enormous crowd for about 20 minutes. In fact, the whole of his set was hilarious, moving and a real party all the way through, and well worthy of the now famous Legends’ Slot.
Burt Bacharach, and the cabbage to Halloumi ratio in my grilled Halloumi wrap. The former, writer and composer of a huge number of 60s hits had the potential to be a great moment, however his accompanying guest singer, who looked a bit like a Ken doll’s Dad, butchered some classics like Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, and would probably have been better at a Haven holiday park disco.
We camped at the top of the South Park 2 Hill, because it was as far as we got before breaking down in a flood of sweat and tears, and the views of the site were stunning. Although it was a bit of a walk from the main stages, it was close enough for Arcadia’s fire breathing spider to scare the life out of you every time it came to life.
The freshly made calzone from a friendly man called Uncle Gio. Not your usual festival food, but if you eat greasy burgers at Glastonbury, you’re doing it all wrong.
Best New Band
Although not exactly brand new, Courtney Barnett‘s opening set on the Pyramid Stage would definitely have won over some new fans with her punky, slacker rock sounds and catchy, witty tunes. She’ll be playing a much bigger set next time, without a doubt.
Getintothis’ Vicky Pea:
“As a veteran of Downloads, Sonispheres and Readings, Glastonbury was always the one that got away, and with this being my first I was determined to do it right. After an overzealous amount of research, months in advance, we set off on Tuesday afternoon to spend a night in Bristol, allowing us to set off early doors on Wednesday without the long drive down the M6/M5/M4 and so on. Unfortunately Bristol is a bloody brilliant city with wall to wall cider and ale bars so those plans soon fell by the wayside after a tasty 8.4% pint at the Apple floating cider bar. Still we arrived in the car park at 10am on Wednesday morning (without a single traffic jam or queue) and loaded up the trolley with 70 cans and 6 bottles of wine (in bags). After 45 minutes of dragging that bastard in the beating down sun phrases like “that’s it, this is the last festival we’re doing” and “never again” started to become common place. Safe to say 11 hours later we were having the time of our lives and never wanted to leave. I still don’t. I’m there in spirit, and I’m never ever leaving.”
The best band of Glastonbury 2015 isn’t a good enough prize for Patti Smith. The best band of Glastonbury full stop ever still falls short. The best thing I’ve ever seen, music or not, in my life, starts to come close. I had high expectations to start with as I met friends under a flag at the front of the Pyramid but my god, I’ve never fell in love so hard or so fast. After her set I span around to look at my friends who had jaws gaping, one was just muttering “oh my god oh my god oh my god take me now” and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thank you Patti Smith for a truly unforgettable experience.
You could probably just see above, but let’s consider that covered. My own best moment, at least from a spectators point of view, was getting righteously trashed while watching The Who after a promise to see out the weekend in style, resulting in questionable “dance” moves, less questionable and just plain awful “singing”, all surrounded by a great bunch of people (we really sound that sweet spot of the crowd) who swapped drinks, drugs, hugs and selfies without hesitation. I couldn’t have been happier with how it all ended, even if I only remember 3 songs.
I probably only have myself to blame, but my expectations for The Mothership Returns were so stratospherically high that Saturday night at West Holts could only end in disappointment. I had hoped for the party of a lifetime but what occurred was a overcrowded, chatty and underwhelming few hours where the Family Stone provided the early and only highlights. Whether it was the atmosphere or the performance of Parliment/Funkadelic to blame I’m not sure, but it just wasnt the funky time we were promised.
After a long trek in the sun the temptation to drop your tent in the first spot big enough is all-encompassing. But no, after my meticulous planning we had a spot in mind so headed up to where Kidney Mead meets Big Ground and found a wee spot to call home. Why that spot? Flushing loos. Yup, actual porcelain flushing pluming. Plus we were in ear shot of the Pyramid stage for those mornings where an hour sat with a can was a necessity. The people were great, the tent was great and the views were spectacular.
Jerk everything. Where at other festivals we do well to avoid curries, chilis or anything that doesn’t come in burger or hotdog form, the food at Glasto was outta this world. We found our foodie highlight in a Caribbean & Jamaican jerk stall not far from the Pyramid stage. Oh and the price is pretty good too, not once did we fire up the stove for a pot noodle to save our pennies.
Best New Band
Somehow I didn’t manage to catch a band new to myself all weekend. Or not that I remember at least. Such is the line up that there’s always someone you know and want to see on. As far as “newish” bands Slaves put on a storming show in a cram packed John Peel tent, they get better every time I see them, and we caught 2 tingling hazy sets from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard who looked more at home in the fields of Worthy Farm than anyone else I came across. I see both bands taking a step up next year.
Getintothis’ Matthew Wood:
“Eager to explore after setting up camp and tanking up on tinnies, we set of an almost aimless meander to soak up all we could before Glastonbury 2015 hit full throttle. Around every corner was an overwhelming slap in the face, even so early on everything was blowing this, if you hadn’t guessed already, Glasto newb’s mind. Upon first glimpse of the Pyramid Stage one gets that feeling of completion when one has just placed down the final piece of jigsaw puzzle, but the jigsaw piece is a phenomenally historic stage and the puzzle is a guy’s life.
“Preliminary boogies fuelled by The Showhawk Duo, the ceremonious bonfire up at the Stone Circle and a galavant around the glimmering Glade polishing off pints of Pimms, Wednesday is a gentle breeze through my sails as I ready myself for Glastonbury 2015. Thursday offers an early treat with a secret set from savage rockers Drenge at a rammed William’s Green struggling between sweaty backs and close encounters with some wooden poles as I squeeze through to my first glimpse of rock and roll of the festival.
“‘Meet you at Square Pie’ is the general consensus for Friday as special guests The Charlatans offer a soundtrack to our meeting place and officially cut the festival ribbon. A trek up to The Park reveals a chat with feminist punk protesters Pussy Riot and a mesmerising King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard set. Glugs of wine and shit mixes of rum fuel a shameless afternoon of NME bands as Peace, The Vaccines and The Libertines are the rumbling, sing along sets that serve as buzzing catalysts that keep you going in your time of need. Burt Bacharach, Patti Smith and Lionel Richie are powerful, revered and soothing. While Lionel brings the California sunshine that lasts all day, Patti brings some to tears welcoming the Dalai Lama to the stage, then proceeding to fall over and confess ‘Yeah I fell on my ass at Glastonbury. Because I’m a FUCKING ANIMAL!’, quite the contrast it has to be said.
“Aside from the bands, I took a roll down from the Crow’s Nest only stopping when I hear a voice yelling ‘STOP STOP STOP’. Ceasing my tumble I realise I’m lying about a foot away from a snoozing soul’s head who fortunately avoided a rude awakening. While I thoroughly recommend taking the Glasto roll, don’t be a fool and check for a clear path before you commence, it’s bound to be a bumpy ride. A Manta Ray cavorting around stage during Slaves’ riotous set and a photograph with Jonathan Ross are just a couple of the further crystals encrusted in the colossal gem that is Glastonbury. A friend of mine said that his biggest fear after going to Glastonbury is not getting a ticket for the following year, and there’s no doubt that all of us can join in a ceremonious glug from a bag of red wine and say we’ll all be unaccountably devastated if we ever had to miss a year of arguably the best festival in the world.”
The Chemical Brothers. While I was truly torn in the clash between these and The Who, I was in the mood to lose myself among the awesome light show, menacing visuals and prodigious robots which surged out towards the audience, and I haven’t even mentioned the music. Hands down, everyone has enjoyed a Chemical Brothers tune at some point in their life and there’s no denying they topped off the festival incredibly, a steady head bob soon became a fully-fledged jump, launching my body in all directions, not a care in the world.
We made the executive decision to skip Pharrell for an intimate Palma Violets set at William’s Green and we were duly rewarded for our efforts. Chilli Jesson and co. were mere metres away as they brought their onslaught of sweaty, ‘put your arm round the nearest person and scream your heart out’ tunes. Their set concluded with ‘Brand New Song’ ‘for old time’s sake’ and most of whoever was backstage led a stage invasion amongst whom were fellow southerners Splashh. Leaving the tent dripping, battered and bruised, I could only revel in what was by far the most fun I had in the whole five days.
Kanye West. After much anticipation for a real unmissable show, it seemed Kanye is far too over self indulged to involve anyone or anything other than himself and things that make it easier to see him, i.e. lights and a crane. There is no denying his talent as a rapper, but as a performance it was a great disappointment. Many complained that is was just glorified karaoke, and I have to agree. The self proclaimed greatest rockstar in the world has to do a lot more in my mind to warrant such a title.
The Bushy Grounds were perhaps a little bit out of the way, but it meant our walk from the close was brief and our toilets were by far the cleanest toilets ever seen at a festival, all hail the Glasto compost toilets. Would definitely camp here again with the John Peel tent and the Other Stage being round the corner.
Being a little afraid to be too adventurous with the food due to days of heavy drinking and queuing a lengthy time for toilets, I decided to play it safe and had a cracking gourmet burger with stilton and onion chutney and a roast chicken pitta that came at the right moment, hitting the spot perfectly.
Best New Band
With many hoping to catch a glimpse of Alex Turner during Mini Mansions‘ set after his collaboration on their track Vertigo, the trio proved that they’re worth far more than this, and while many were disappointed not to see Turner, their set was lacking nothing else. The trio’s distinctive sound is fantastic and flawlessly delivered with final track Freakout! being a standout with a drummer/vocal combination that is a sight to behold, dancing elegantly around the kit while melodies bend effortlessly.
Photos by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea: