Glastonbury 2013 Review
Whether you’re new to the festival world, or a seasoned regular, it’s considered a rite of passage to attend Glastonbury. After years of watching and hearing the coverage, this year it was finally my turn to see what made the world’s largest greenfield festival so special.
On entry to the site, everyone receives their programmes included within the ticket price. A quick browse through is met with both excitement and a headache, with the realisation that there is so much to see, do and experience.
I can honestly say the main headliners are only a fraction of what makes Glastonbury the adventure that it is. Stages of various sizes, decors and genres, along with the infamous entertainment at the Shangri-La, The politics and talks of the Left Field, the cabaret and comedy in The Theatre & Circus Fields, the arts, crafts, therapies and powers of The Green Fields, the explosive fire and lights of Arcadia and the 24 hour parties and gatherings at The Stone Circle, you really are spoilt for choice.
Camping at Glastonbury is a different experience too, while a lot festivals choose to have the camping area and main arena separate, Glastonbury has a different approach.
While there are vast fields of designated camping, instead of a separate arena entrance, a lot of the camping bleeds into the arena areas, meaning if you arrive early enough you could camp at the top of the hill near the famous Pyramid Stage, or listen to the sounds of the coveted John Peel Stage in the comfort of your own tent.
(We were camped right next to The Beat Hotel, a mini club we lovingly referred to as our “local pub”, a great place to be woken up by in the morning as they played everything from Motown to Pop, and a perfect place to party with rising and established DJ’s spinning tunes till 3am. DJ appearances included Rob Da Bank, Simian Mobile Disco and Fatboy Slim under a pseudonym)
This arena closeness also means you are allowed to bring in and consume your own alcohol anywhere you like, leaving more money for other drunk purchases.
The selection of food is overwhelming, and the choice of other goods goes beyond the usual floral headbands, and “hilarious” sunglasses you’re used to. Items for the home, rare vinyl records and other wonders can be purchased with the money you would have spent on booze!
That said if you do decide to buy alcohol on site you can enjoy everything from the usual beer to Rum Slush Puppies, if you are driving to the festival you will also see local farmers and brewers selling Somerset cider at the roadside in bulk for good prices!
Glastonbury Festival Vibe
With an attendance of 175,000, you are bound to meet a variety of people, but it’s fair to say Glastonbury does have it’s own vibe.
With such a vast range of ages and backgrounds, you see families with babies, mischievous teens, adults letting loose, and seasoned annual attendees, all happy to meet and spend time with each other.
If you want to pace yourself and have a chilled Glastonbury, that’s fine, if you want to see how long you can go without sleep,drugged up to your eyeballs off whatever that dude gave you at The Stone Circle, that’s cool too. No one cares what you do as long as you are kind to each other!
With the vibe described and the site celebrated, this review would be incomplete without a mention of the great live music I got to see.
On Thursday we bopped to the live performance of The Pharcyde’s “Bizarre Ride 2 The Pharcyde”, with the alternative hip hoppers also treating us to tracks that influenced their sound, allowing us to enjoy their own material, while dancing to tracks loved by band and fans alike.
Our Friday begun with the fused electro rock sounds of The Other Tribe, I loved watching the oddly mesmerising moves of the front man, giving in to my secret love of that kind of dreamy music, that isn't afraid to indulge us with tunes of kisses, emotions, stars and all that other lovely gooey stuff fans of similar bands like Friendly Fires would enjoy.
Beautifully raw energy was brought to The Other Stage courtesy of Amanda Palmer, who not only treated us to her usual solo treats, but dropped in a Dresden Dolls gem in the form of “Girl Anarchorism”, a costume change into a army green coat with a train of blues, greys and greens provided a beautiful kodak moment for her fans, as she crowd-surfed holding a tune the whole time, while fans wafted her colourful cloth train, like some kind of magical creature.
Ending her charismatic fem-rock set with the “Ukulele Anthem”, my face hurt from how hard it was smiling during that closing moment, sharing a fun and light hearted song about how a simple Ukulele brings joy, and how owning one could change the world dramatically.
Onto the main stage to watch The Vaccines, and while the energy of their presence experienced heights and dips for me personally, you could hear it in the crowd response that their setlist was wisely chosen. It was impossible not to dance during “Bad Mood” and the youth sang out their frustrations during “No Hope”.
Dizzee Rascal was phenomenal, for those of us who have been fans of him since the beginning, it was a proud moment to see him on the famous Pyramid Stage with a higher and well deserved slot.
Prancing around with his cheeky chappy ways, treating us to the likes of “Bassline Junkie”, “Holiday”, “Fix Up Look Sharp”, and the latest track with Robbie Williams (we all secretly love that song, but we weren’t sure of it when we heard it was going to happen, so for some of us it was a great release to see we weren't alone in loving that tune!)
Closing that night was the Arctic Monkeys, and while I did enjoy their performance, looking back over the weekend, there wasn’t one bit of their set that stuck out for me.
A good time was had by all, but I didn’t experience any of the wow moments I had hoped to feel. Nonetheless they were a great closer for the Friday, and I got to sing along to many of my favourite tracks of theirs.
We begun our Saturday by checking out the Malian beauty Rokia Traore, the first act confirmed for the festival after music was banned in her homeland during conflicts.
With such a graceful presence and presentation of beautiful traditional dancing from her and her backing singers, it was a great mood setting performance for the rest of the day.
We later enjoyed the always insightful Billy Bragg, as well as the humble and smiley Ben Howard. We also went to see rising collective Clean Bandit whose set felt slightly different to what I experienced when I saw them earlier this year.
Still vibrant, I can’t put my finger on what didn't fit this time around, that said myself and the crowd revelled in the chance to hear their latest track “Dust Clears” live, as well as “da-da-da” along to the classic “A&E”.
Rudimental’s set was enjoyment from start to finish, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what has become of the Harlem Shake video they attempted to film towards the beginning of their set.
Whenever you got into any conversation with anyone during Saturday, one question was always at the forefront “Are you going to see The Rolling Stones?”
With some people sat and positioned at the front of the Pyramid Stage, refusing to move from 11am onwards, anyone hoping to get a good view would have had to sacrifice half their day to get a good spot.
We instead opted to watch an hour of the lengthy set from the side, creating our own mini-party underneath the screen, occasionally catching Jagger showing off his signature moves as he moved towards the front of the stage.
While some songs were a little off, (I’m pretty sure they played “Paint It Black” at a different tempo) It can’t be denied that The Rolling Stones still pack a punch with their presence and rock and roll legendary grace. After we satisfied our Rolling Stones itch, we headed over to watch Chase & Status close their set.
Chase & Status’ set was blinding fun, performing a good selection of old classics and new favourites, every now and then I turned around to watch the crowd reaction. Rows and rows of happy faces matched with all the variants of jolly festival dancing, both unashamedly bad and good.
Still pumped with energy, we headed over to the Arcadia Stage, a giant spider like structure made of recycled metals and other materials. Promising bass and heat, the structure put on a fascinating show of acrobatics, fire balls and light displays, with a pod in the middle which featured surprise DJ’s after the introduction show took place.
We were lucky enough to prance about to the adored DJing of Fatboy Slim, and when we returned to the campsite, a friend had informed us that Skrillex was the next DJ who performed there. Taking place on Friday-Saturday, each night held a surprise for all!
When Sunday morning arrived you could feel the unanimous odours and emotions of the prolonged hangover sweep over the campsite. With this in mind we eased into the day dancing to Reggae, Dub and Jungle sounds of The Blues Stage, and later swayed to the joyful sounds of Hollie Cook.
We later popped our heads in to check out Tyler The Creator & Earl Sweatshirt, but his elbowy mass of mid teen fans started getting on our nerves. We opted to force energy into our bodies via the welcome set of B-Traits at the Wow Stage.
After following our nose for a bit, we headed to the Pyramid Stage to catch Mumford & Sons, a lovely delightful breathtaking sound, perfect to round the weekend off for those of us leaving early the next morning.
As far back as the eye could see, hundreds of fans danced to their own beat, as every song finish was met with a joyous and loud response of prolonged claps and cheers.
(We even caught some policemen who were blatantly trying to look like they were needed in the area we were standing just so they could watch the set!)
Glastonbury 2013: In Conclusion!
After losing my Glastonbury virginity I know I will be back for more again and again. For anyone attending in 2014 for their first time, or set to hopefully return like me, here are the main bits of advice I would give:
STAY LOCAL: If driving, stay somewhere local like a B&B or hotel on the Tuesday night. Not only does that give you an excuse to explore the local area itself (Myself and my sister walked the 500+ steps of the Glastonbury Tor, a great scenic site to see and a great warmup for the long car park to campsite walk the next day!) but you also have a better chance of arriving earlier when doors open first thing on Wednesday.
FOOTWEAR: If sun is predicted flip-flops still aren't a good idea, some areas are incredibly rocky, and if rain does visit, it takes awhile for the sludge to settle. Wellies, boots and trainers are a must.
EXPLORE THE SITE: Another bonus to arriving on Wednesday is to take advantage of the spare time to walk around and familiarize yourself with the areas, almost as big as a small town, if you think you can overcome the stage clashes by jotting from stage to stage think again!
It’s good to know what entertainment is close you just encase you can’t make it to your desired stage on time.
Also one criticism I would say is that not all the security staff are trained with knowledge of directions, so keep an eye out on the signposts and look out for info points, where people with maps can help
APPRECIATE THE EARLIER ENTERTAINMENT There is almost a full programme of events to enjoy on the Thursday even though the main festival doesn't start till Friday, treat it as a great warm up!