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Mud and wonder - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Mud and wonder
Glastonbury Festival
June 21-24, 2007

If I don't write this up soon I'll never get round to it, and the back(b)log will pile up like the Pilton traffic, so...

Glastonbury was MUDDY. That's the executive summary for those of you who've been on another planet for the last few weeks (or somehow managed to tune out the blah blah blah of festival-going friends). Sadly, the mud and rain and general meteorological misery really did eclipse pretty much everything else for at least some of the time; it's hard to feel the love or find the fun when you're worrying about whether you're ever going to be able to extract your feet from the swamp into which they're slowly sinking.

Despite the mud, we managed to see a lot of bands. In rough order of viewing, with the shortest reviews possible, they were:



=THURSDAY=

The Cicadas vs the London Bootleg Orchestra
Cicadas: utterly forgettable. LBO: people off the internets using the Cicadas as an all-purpose karaoke backing track. Ace perry-fuelled nonsense.



=FRIDAY=

Mr Hudson & the Library [myspace]
We liked 'Ask the DJ', because it was catchy and meta. More bands with libraries in their names, please.

Flipron [myspace]
A bit like a more shambolic Soft Boys, with a singer who looked a bit like Alan Davies.

Fear of Music [myspace]
I can't remember them, so they can't have been that exciting...

Gogol Bordello [myspace]
Good jumping-around-to music, a bit Flogging-Molly-ish. I tried to dance a bit in wellies.

The Earlies [myspace]
I'd heard good things about them, but I just wasn't getting it. Nice enough sound, but no shape or substance.

Super Furry Animals [myspace]
Yeah! Sang through a motorcycle helmet. Did some songs I knew. Hurrah!

Eat Static []
Banging. I wish there had been a couple of square feet of danceable-on (ie solid) floor.

Arcade Fire [myspace]
Music with so much space in it. Huge swelling choruses coming through the clouds.

Björk [myspace]
Actually sounded as though there was an army of her. Huge crunchy sounds and LASERS!



=SATURDAY=

Bullet Blue
"GOOD MORNING GLASTONBURY!" One long rock cliché. Heard (and mocked) from our tent.

Peter and the Wolf [myspace]
Much better live than on their myspace! Especially the bouncy female drummer.

The Hold Steady [myspace]
Gig of the festival, apparently. Good fun, but I don't get what the fuss is about.

John Otway [myspace]
You've got to love him really, haven't you? Even if he didn't play his other hit.

Broken Family Band [myspace]
Cambridge alt-country; they always give good gig, and they didn't let us down this time.

Bat for Lashes [myspace]
The Cleopatra of Cool. A bit like Dead Can Dance, but with peacock feathers.

Carnival Collective [myspace]
Live brazilian breakbeat and brass from people with purple hair. Fantastic!

The Neon Plastix [myspace]
Found by accident while looking for a different band on a different stage. Electropunky fun.

Babyshambles [myspace]
I didn't think I liked them! But they were quite good actually! All tight-sounding and bouncy!

Guillemots [myspace]
So 'basically unclassifiable' that I can't actually remember, but I think we liked them at the time...

Editors [myspace]
As I said on Twitter at the time: they're a bit like Joy Division, only now. (This is a Good Thing.)

Iggy and the Stooges [myspace]
I didn't realise I knew '1969'. Iggy jumped around a lot (but kept his trousers on).



=Sunday=

Shoot the Moon [myspace]
Heard from the tent; sounded a bit like the Jam.

National Youth Orchestra
Classics on the hastily-thrown-down hay; a change from the usual Town Band. An impressive 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine'.

Corb Lund [myspace]
Good-humoured talking country blues. We attempted a hoe-down on a muddy-field.

The Waterboys [myspace]
Folk-rock-tastic fiddling, and "Glastonbury Song" with the sun coming out over the Pyramid Stage. Magic.

Tunng [myspace]
Loopy, glitchy folktronica; shifting sounds, shadows and sunlight. Excellent stuff.

Billy Bragg [myspace]
Well, Owen came to see Otway for me, so I had to see Billy Bragg for him. :-)

Masters of the Kazooniverse [myspace]
A marching band with kazoos! We heard them do "Seven Nation Army" and "Nine to Five". Fantastic. Really!

Shirley Bassey [myspace]
Hot pink karaoke classics, beltissimo. A legend in her own lunchtime.

Koop [myspace]
Something jazzy heard in passing, interesting enough for me to check the programme; might like to hear more.

Tinariwen [myspace]
Heard while we were waiting for Beirut. Multifarious yet somehow monotonous. Hey ho.

Beirut [myspace]
Came across more melancholy than we expected. Sun-setting music, seen across an ocean of flags and mud.

Manic Street Preachers [myspace]
Heard while collecting bags from the lockup. (If you tolerate this, your luggage will be next.)

Kaiser Chiefs [myspace]
Heard from the carpark! You can never actually leave Glastonbury!




Apart from seeing (at least a bit of) 35 bands, we managed to do some of the wandering around and seeing cool stuff that makes Glastonbury something other than a music festival. We saw a sand sculpture of a dragon, and sat on tree-stumps drinking hot chai, and admired Banksy's 'LooHenge' which seemed to be sinking into the mud with a big visual shout (unlike the 'real' stone circle, which just sat quietly underneath all the wellies and the weirdness). We got a portrait of us 'painted' (muddy felt-tip on notepaper) by the famous Jackson Pillock.

We watched "American Psycho" in the cinema tent, and heard absolutely everything else in the cinema field as we tried to sleep each night. ("This is England" sounded like a waking nightmare, all hate and misery. "Borat" just sounded like a load of amateurish rubbish.)

Owen wore fairy-wings. I wore my wellies of joy non-stop, and wore bright colours under cagouls. We ate tons of tasty hippy food (and a lot of doughnuts). We hardly had any alcohol for the entire four days, at least compared to some of the excess around us (half a pint of perry for me on the Thursday, hot chocolate with rum in it for Owen on the Saturday, a cup of hot cider each on the Friday, and THAT'S ALL, I kid you not). I ran across 10 metres of ankle-deep mud in 20 seconds to buy the Guardian (and get my free reusable fabric shoulder-bag from them).

On the last night Owen was ill, and we walked all the way to the medical tent and back, and had hot sugary tea in the café at the end of the world in the small hours of the morning, and got quite giggly at what looked like a bottle of MUD, though was probably just a bottle covered with mud. Later in the day I fell in the mud while trying to jump out of the way of a fast-moving tractor. A man laughed at me, but a nice girl gave me handfuls of wet-wipes.

At least 50 people asked me where I got my umbrella hat, offered me money for it, complimented it, or laughed appreciatively. (Seriously, umbrella hats are the best thing ever: your head stays dry, your hands stay free, and you make everybody smile.) A cheerful Scot asked me to do a twirl to show off the hat. He'd forgotten to bring his tent.

And that's about it, really; it doesn't add up to any bigger meaning, any shape or substance, it's just patterns in the mud. 180,000 different Glastonbury Festivals, as similar as snowflakes. It's as much about hats and chips and dancing in the rain as it is about being swept away by music or dazzled by fire. Fun in parts, difficult in parts, pointless and beautiful.

My photos are on Flickr.

Maybe it'll be sunny next year.

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Comments
imc From: imc Date: July 4th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Belated welcome back, and I'm glad you got something out of it in the end even though the weather was unhelpful.

And yes, that is a cool hat.
hatmandu From: hatmandu Date: July 5th, 2007 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Umbrella hats: I spot a business opportunity for the next Glastonbury here...
htfb From: htfb Date: July 5th, 2007 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Aha, a businessman who will profit if the weather next June is unpleasant, but might be out of pocket if it's sunny. Can I sell you a weather future to hedge this risk?
j4 From: j4 Date: July 5th, 2007 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Srsly, yes.

I'm still trying to decide whether to go for the simplest option (order a sensible number of bog-standard umbrella hats off teh internets, sell for small amount of profit) or try to source/customize something a bit more Glasto-2008 branded, which would then be more nifty & thus likely to generate slightly more profit, but would also be more of an outlay and more of a risk (& utterly unsaleable after the event).

Or I might just go to Glasto with half a dozen umbrella hats and sell them to the highest bidder, or the person who juggles best, or something. I'm not a business person, really.

Of course, doing any of this is a surefire way of guaranteeing that next Glasto is the sunniest ever. Though then I could still have a go at selling "parasol hats". :-)
julietk From: julietk Date: July 5th, 2007 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
NB I think you get into trouble for flypitching at Glasto. But you could prob get away with it on a small scale (I doubt the "hash brownies" people at the stone circle are all that legit...).

John Otway did his other hit on Friday! He did not do any somersaults on Friday, though, boo (but he did get the double-necked guitar out).
(Deleted comment)
k425 From: k425 Date: July 5th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Those really are wellies of joy, aren't they!
ewx From: ewx Date: July 5th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
The hat's fantastic.
sillage From: sillage Date: July 7th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hat plans

After the previous Glastonbury I thought seriously about running a hat stall (to the extent of finding out suppliers, working out mark ups and roughing out a business plan) - mainly as a means of ensuring we got tickets for ourselves and friends whilst covering our costs. Given the weather, glad I didn't. Glo-sticks are another easy option, we made many instant friends by handing out from the stash we took with us - could easily have sold effectively too.

Sorry to see that you didn't go and see the Epstein - would have texted had I known your number - still, they are playing the Jericho next week
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: July 13th, 2007 11:47 am (UTC) (Link)

OT: How disappointing!

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