Glastonbury Two Thousand and Weeeeeee!

By melissa

This weekend was my third Glastonbury, and my first one that found me completely and utterly nostalgic ahead of time. My first Glastonbury was as a fence-jumper in 2000 (though "fence jumper" isn't entirely accurate when you walk directly through both fences without any resistance), and from the stories we'd heard, my friend and I took the refugee route. We brought a tent, the clothes on our back, a roll of toilet paper, and our food supplies for four days - a loaf of bread, a block of cheddar, 3 carrots, and a bottle of Jack Daniels. We were filthy, cold, and generally out of our minds with sleep deprivation, but we saw an unbelievable amount of bands. Afterwards, I loved the festival, but it would've taken a lot of consideration before going through all the bodily abuse again. Last year was my first going for work matters - the tradeoffs were that I had to be pinned to the office for stretches of time each day, but it also meant that I got free backstage access. I wasn't as prepared as you'd think, bridging the gap between "refugee" (tiny shitty tent, block of cheddar, disposable camera) and "privileged set" (actual backpack, contact solution, air mattress, internet connection). As you'd expect, I had a significantly better time with a bit of experience under my belt, so the lead up to this year's festival made me wax nostalgic over what's essentially a 4 day summer camp for music-obssessed grownups.

The difference between Glastonbury and other festivals, though, has nothing to do with its size or the bands that play, but instead has everything to do with the people it attracts and the areas of the festival that aren't listed in Q three weeks before. This year I got to see a lot more of the real Glastonbury thanks to a more relaxed workload and a huge list of bands I'd already seen or didn't care to see. So before I go into the bands, I'd like to give an Ode to The Green Fields (and mind you, I don't even like poetry, so mind the free-form beatnik crap that's about to spew).

An Ode To The Green Fields

Oh Green Fields! With your peace flags
And your stink of patchouli.
You provide a home to people whose favourite word is
"Hey Maaaaan", "Take it easy, Brother", and "Got any weeeeeeed?"
Your dreadlock ratio is higher than from Burning Man.
You house an iron age pit kiln, African pit toilets, and
More than one smelly pit.
Your coffee/herbal tea/chai houses run all night
Full of poetry worse than mine.

Yet, you contain the blessed sheeps milk ice cream,
Shiatsu massage, cheap vintage clothes the color of the rainbow,
And most blessed of all festival-goers -
A Place With Plenty of Stimulation To Go To When You're Piss Drunk.

....Ok, that's it with the poetry crap. And I couldn't really work in all the people doing fire poi and banging on drums (with zero sense of rhythm), or the fact that you get given hash merely by just asking nicely. This year I actually found myself in the Green Fields three times, a new record for me. On Saturday night, we found ourselves there around dawn and faced with the Glastonbury cliche of watching the sun rise in the Stone Circle, we grabbed the chance. It's amazing how many perfectly normal people can sit in the middle of a freezing field surrounded by ancient monuments cheering for the sun to crest above the horizon. And I'd have never known this if it wasn't for copious amounts of Southern Comfort and a lack of late hours dancing venues.

I could go on about all the amazing aspects of Glastonbury all day (like that everything is in the same place, to the millimeter, every year! Last year's thai place? Yep, still right over there...), but it's all just propaganda unless you experience it for yourself. So to tide you over until next March's ticket buying frenzy, here's my personal rundown of the bands:


1. Har Mar Superstar - I'm ashamed to admit that I'd only seen him for the first time the day before I came to the festival. That performance was opening for (yawn) Kelly Osbourne, and though he was wild and crazy and fantastically sleazy that night, he was even better on the Other Stage. He'd brought his Manumission laydeez with him again, dressed only in pink Har Mar panties and cutoff Har Mar teeshirts. He would be wearing less than them by the end of the performance, going from full Polyphonic Spree choir gown to black tighty-whities in a Superman-like 30 minutes. But what a 30 minutes!! Gyrating through most of You Can Feel Me with only brief interludes to assert his fucking awesomeness (no arguments here), he's a one man fleshpot of funk, and when he finally got down into the crowd to let them touch His Sleaziness, we went wild, screaming and throwing panties and feeling up his sweaty self. The fringed black trousers came off, and the red lace "donated" panties went on. Oh Har Mar, why are you *such* a tease??

2. Yo La Tengo - I only caught a partial set, but to be honest I'm not sure whether the slim audience had more to do with their being listed as "TBA" on most of the schedules or that they were really quite boring live. I fondly remembered the highlight of their set in the New Tent in 2000 being a rousing cover of "You Can Have It All", complete with line dancing, but it was sadly left out of the setlist this time. I'm not bitching that they left out a particular song, but more than nothing they did play came close to matching the energy and enthusiasm level.

3. Electric Six - This was another partial set, but mostly because I'm soooo over them (/end Tori Spelling impersonation). I danced like a woman possessed last year this time to "Danger! High Voltage!" and what have they done in the meantime? - realeased one more single and almost released a record. And just like The Strokes before them, I'm completely bored with the one trick before the ponies release their album. I went to see them to try and revive any of my lost love, but nay, it was all cold ashes in my breast.

4. Junior Senior - I was looking forward to seeing Junior Senior even before Har Mar told us he was going to be there, and after seeing their show, I'm amazed I never took the time to see them before now. They are THE WORLD'S MOST PERFECT PARTY BAND. Full Stop. Junior keeps the 60s garage guitars flowing, lending his faux-Michael Jackson falsetto to "Move Your Feet", but it's Senior who gets the crowd worked up into a shouting, wiggling, hand raising and feeling-up-your-neighbour good time. And when the ZZ Top emcee comes to take them off stage with a "Let's hear it for Junior Senior!", they have to be physically dragged off, with the crowd booing the security and screaming for more. An absolutely frenzy over the two Danish misfits, and a well deserved one at that.

5. Royksopp - Unfortunately Roksopp could learn a thing or two from their Scandanavian peers. While the music is impeccably good (almost too good - are they just playing a cd up there?), I'm not even convinced that Royksopp are alive. If it's possible to have negative stage presence, they're the ones to break whole new barriers. I left after about three songs, mostly because I would have a more enjoyable time listening to my cd at home, where I didn't have to look at all the pathetic "Chillout Compilation 9"-buyers waving their arms like rhythm had never reached white suburbia (though maybe it hasn't...).

6. REM - REM made me realize again how much I loved them, and suddenly I remembered all the singles I'd known all the words to but hadn't heard in years. An entire field was turned into one giant sing-along of love to noble recents like "Imitation of Life" and "Daysleeper" and frankly fantastic oldies like "Finest Worksong" and "Fall On Me". Michael Stipe transformed himself from an aging tweed-jacket wearer into a 19 year old positively made of rubber, waving his arms and contorting to the music like the songs had just occurred to him. Not having a new album to promote meant they were free to play a true fan's set, with a few tantilisingly good new ones thrown in, but they ended, of course, with "It's the End of the World As We Know It". It just felt SO right.


1. The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - It felt really unsettling seeing 80s Matchbox so early in the day, but to make up for the smallish crowd, little black flags were handed out to the hardcore and hungover that were gathered there. On one side was the 80s logo and skull, on the other, "I want to fuck your mother". I saw them everywhere for the rest of the weekend, and couldn't help but break a smile. Celebrate Your Mother, indeed. Guy and co gave a standup performance, despite the breakdown of the sole radio mic cramping Guy's otherwise wild stage performance. Overall, the darkest Glastonbury virgins in rock gave a fine performance, but I still couldn't help but feel they'd do much better placed somewhere after dark.

2. Interpol - I've listed Interpol here because I heard their entire set, though I saw not even five minutes. You see, it was incredibly sunny and hot all day Saturday, people were dropping like sunstroked flies, and I with my translucent skin was beginning to feel the heat. So I retreated to my tent (conveniently situated behind the Other Stage) to cool off with a nap (because I'm SO punk rock) and I heard Interpol's set crystal clear from the near comfort of my sleeping bag. I can't comment on their stage performance, but if it's anything like the last time I saw them, they certainly were smooth operators, in the immortal words of Sade. The music was, of course, legendary - and there's no imagination needed there.

3. 2 Many DJs - Can you believe, in my two years at the festival, that I'd never once been to the Dance Tent? Yeah, neither could I, and so I hiked up there for the first time to catch Soulwax doing their bootlegging thing. I caught a bit of Nirvana mixed into something, a few other familiar mixes, but before I could really shake off my post-nap grogginess, they were done. Far, far too short a set for a group so fun to dance to, even if the joke tends to tire in recorded form.

4. Goldfrapp - I made some friends just before Goldfrapp came on, wowing a young man with my knowledge of Alison Goldfrapp's origins (err, mainly just that she's not German and that Black Cherry isn't their first album). The only tracks played off Felt Mountain, in fact, were opener "Human" and "Utopia", with the band settling into their more recent electroclash theme with "Train", "Twist", and the amazing disco-sleaze-grind of "Strict Machine". A man in front of me took every opportunity to ask Alison to marry him, and by the end of their set, I was ready to do the same.

5. Radiohead - If you've been following my posts on the list, you'd know that I was utterly torn with who to see in Saturday's headline spot ever since the lineups were announced. I finally decided that I'd position myself on the left side of the Radiohead crowd so I could sneak off to see SFA when they got all art-jazz-wanky and maybe even slip off to see Aphex Twin from SFA. I had it all planned out, and went off to Radiohead with Toby L from the excellent And you know what? I never left to see the other two bands. Radiohead were absolutely spectacular. Even the normally jazz wank numbers off Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief sounded revitalised and perfectly in tune with old stalwarts like "Just", "Paranoid Android", "No Surprises", and in spine-tingling encore fashion, "Street Spirit". The energy, adoration, and emotions of the crowd funneled onto the stage and we were in turn blessed with smiles from King Thom. The set ended with massive fireworks behind me, Radiohead behind me, and a sense of peace in my hardest decision of the weekend.

(Interesting side note: apparently Aphex Twin was booed offstage after only about 15 minutes, because he was playing the normal "difficult" fare to the E'd up masses in the Glade that only wanted something they could dance to. But apparently SFA were excellent, if a bit predictable.)


1. Saian Supa Crew - Since I stayed out til dawn I ended up missing both Pete Ingo and Simple Kid earlier in the day, so it was with heavy boots that I trudged out once more to the Dance Tent for a French hiphop group I only knew from my friend Scott's ravings. To say they were the best hiphop group I've ever seen is an understatement, because, well, I've only ever seen a handful of hiphop groups. The five MCs of the group took turns with the ultra-fast Asian-inspired rhymes (think Asian Dub Foundation) while the others produced the background melodies, to an absolutely flawless effect. By the end of the first song, the entire tent was heaving and shaking, my hungover flygirl ass included. The beats came so hard and so fast I was actually glad they were rapping mostly in French because it meant I only needed to concentrate on the sound - I would've been completely overwhelmed if there was a message to comprehend at the same time. The message they saved for one audience participation anti-violence and pro-unity rhyme - not exactly an original message, but one that was heartfelt and full of a fever against the racism they must've experienced as a black French hiphop group. The best part of the performance came, however, when four of the Crew left, and the remaining member kept the audience open-mouthed and rapt for the next 20 minutes on his own. "Beatboxing" doesn't even begin to explain what this man was doing with his mouth - he sampled, scratched, and remixed HIS OWN VOICE. For 20 minutes, he created his own beats and samples, then slowed down, scratched, repeated, mixed into them beats, and reversed it all before introducing a different sample into the mix. And all with nothing but his own voice. This was the first time ever that I've stood in absolute disbelief over the performance on stage in front of me. Suddenly I was a slack-jawed yokel overcome by the talents of Saian Supa Crew, and I wasn't the only one standing agape.

2. Sugababes - One night last summer I was going to see the Sugababes, but backed out at the last minute because I didn't feel up to waiting until 2am to watch them go on. That same night I got a call from my friend at 3:30am positively gushing and cooing over how great the 'babes were. Oh how I wish their Glastonbury performance would've had the same effect on me. Things started well enough with the stuck-in-my-head-for-the-past-week "Overload" (oh, how ironic that Siobhan Donaghy was playing in the New Tent at the exact same time!), but things went very downhill from there, when Heidi tried to get the crowd to sing along to "Shape", and no one knew the words. Twenty minutes of far too many ballads later, they finally got to "Freak Like Me" and "Round Round", which were very nice (apart from the terrible Santana-esque intro to the latter), but not nearly enough to salvage the weak set and my crushed hopes.

3. Fatboy Slim - One second I'm eating my dinner (a very nice aubergine, goats cheese and mint pie), the next second I'm noticing Fatboy Slim is playing unannounced on the tiny Radio One stage, and gathering quite a crowd. I only stayed for a few minutes so I could catch all of Grandaddy's set, but it was long enough to see him pull an antelope head on over his own and pat some friends on the back for a job well done.

4. Grandaddy - I'm not sure why I was expecting them to be so terribly mellow - maybe it was distorted memories of The Sophtware Slump or perhaps it was just my tired feet hoping it wouldn't be out of place for me to sit down for a while. In any case, I'm glad I was wrong, because, like Goldfrapp, Grandaddy have altered all of their past songs to fit into the style of their newest album, transforming "The Crystal Lake" and "Hewlitt's Daughter" into numbers impossible NOT to shake to. That they had such horrible technical problems made their set even more endearing, giving us impromptu gems about the number of chemicals they ingested over the weekend, and that Modesto, California is also full of unwashed hippies. I'd not seen Grandaddy before, so at the end of their set I was pleased to hear them say that it was their best performance ever. It's nice to know I caught a good'un and the crowd seemed likely to agree.

5. The Delgados - It was just starting to rain when I was in sight of the New Tent, so I wasn't the only one ducking inside just as Emma and a platinum-blonde Alun were taking the stage. The majority of the set came from Hate and The Great Eastern, with singles "All You Need Is Hate" and "Coming In From the Cold" shining under such wet circumstances and giving them a much bigger audience than would normally be in attendance. Every time I've seen The Delgados I've been stunned by the beauty and strength of their performance, and a wonder that more people haven't realised their greatness - hopefully this time some of those seeking shelter found a little something extra while cowering inside.

6. Sigur Ros - I'm a hypocrite. I said I've never go to see Sigur Ros again after I'd seen them do The Perfect Gig back in 2001, and it was only a weakness on my part that drew me towards the Other Stage on Sunday night (well, that, and a loathing for the Manic Street Preachers). I'm going to have to rethink my entire ethos, though, because Sigur Ros were as gorgeous and striking in a massive outdoor stage as they were in an intimate club setting. It actually helped to set the mood that they performed at dusk with a slight drizzle falling over the crowd - somehow the earlier bright heat of the day wouldn't have seemed right. The setlist was shorter than most of their performances, my highlights being "Olsen Olsen", "Vaka", "Vidrar vel til Loftarasa", and an unbelievably changed version of "Hafssol" I thought at first was an entirely new song. "Haffsol" was transformed into a bass-master beat monster which culminated in Georg bashing his bass with a drumstick and Jonsi brutalizing his guitar with the bow, and both of them writhing on the floor Mogwai-style. I'd like to challenge all the people who say Sigur Ros are boring to see them live and continue with that thought. They were the perfect closer to my festival, and a beautiful and powerful memory to carry with me on the long ride home.


Famous People I Saw Awards - Fatboy Slim (dressed in full head-to-toe Spiderman costume), Steve Lamacq (bumping along in a jeep), John Peel (doing loads of interviews, outside our window), Bill Bailey (in a motorway service station post-festival), him from Feeder (giving his little daughter a ride on his shoulders), him from Interpol (watching Goldfrapp), Mark Eighties Matchbox (at the Stone Circle at dawn).

The Unexpected Pleasures Award - Saian Supa Crew - for turning a group I'd only vaguely heard of into my new favourite hip hop collective. Ginger sheep's milk ice cream - for turning my mouth into a wave of pleasure with its tingling crystallized ginger pieces. Backstage Flush Toilets - for making my gold wristband the envy of all my friends, at least until Saturday.

Best Food Stand Mixtape Award - the All-Night Wine Bar - for playing the Beatles and Stones at 4am to wasted people drinking wine from plastic bottles.

Most Disappointing Act Award - Royksopp - for having the stage presence of a bit of wood.

Best Act Award - Har Mar Junior Supa Crew - God, it's hard. It's really, really hard. If you've read my rundowns in the past, you'd see that The Beta Band have scooped this award the past two years running. If they'd played, maybe this would be an intriguing four-timing rumble, but as things stand, Har Mar Superstar, Junior Senior, and Saian Supa Crew share my award for the best performance of the festival. I wish I could pare it down to one and not be a complete washout, but each of these three completely deserve my feeble but heartfelt (in Har Mar's case, ass-felt) accolades.

Til next year *sniffle*!