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Glastonbury 2004: "And you will know us by the trail of mud" - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Glastonbury 2004: "And you will know us by the trail of mud"
First, the music.

Bands/artists I saw (at least bits of):

Elbow, Groove Armada, PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, Goldfrapp, The Levellers, Matt Sage, Attila the Stockbroker (both with and without Barnstormer), John Otway (with and without his Big Band), British Sea Power, The Rutles, Hothouse Flowers, Paul McCartney, Yeovil Town Band, English National Opera, Cara Dillon, John Cooper Clarke, Simon and Oscar (from Ocean Colour Scene), Suzanne Vega, Morrissey, Bonnie Raitt, Orbital.

Every year I think how expensive tickets are for Glastonbury, but then when I work out who I actually saw I figure that seeing over 20 bands means I get my money's worth on the ticket price. And that's before factoring in all the other excellent stuff that goes on.

Mind you, I couldn't write a review of more than half of those gigs, if that. What have I come away with from them? Singing in Elbow's 'Cast of Thousands' for the second time... a superbly bouncy and shouty gig by the Levellers, who fortunately aren't ashamed to concentrate solely on the older (good) stuff and ignore the later (lame) stuff... marvelling at Attila playing punk bass recorder, which is not something you see every day... boggling at the fact that Otway can still do somersaults across the stage from the top of a stepladder at the age of 50+, and that (bless him) he's still all excited about his TWO HITS... bouncing to the Rutles and being glad (if amused) to see that I wasn't the only one who knew all the words... and deciding that I really ought to buy CDs of Franz Ferdinand and Goldfrapp.

Bands/artists I annoyingly missed for one reason or another (mostly time-clashes or simply not seeing them in the listings):

Concretes[1], Chemical Brothers, Tindersticks, Love with Arthur Lee, Scissor Sisters (twice!), Sister Sledge, Jamie Cullum, Joss Stone, Zero 7, Show of Hands, AFX, Squarepusher, Murray Lachlan-Young, Chumbawamba, Billy Bragg, Simon from the Levellers doing acoustic stuff in the Leftfield[2], James Brown, Ella Guru, Neck, Supergrass, Gomez, Belle & Sebastian, Raveonettes, Space Ritual, Divine Comedy[3].

[1] Okay, I didn't know I wanted to see them until I heard them on Mark Radcliffe as I was driving home. They are seriously cool, though.
[2] No idea if this ever even happened; I was there at the right time, waited for a while, but something entirely different was happening...
[3] But they're playing the Cambridge Folk Festival so it was a deliberate decision to miss them this time so I'd be able to see other bands instead. Mind you, the Levellers are playing Cambridge as well... but they're, like, The Levellers! Bounce!

Next, the other stuff. I try to catch as much of the random circus stuff and general 'happenings' as I can, and this year was no exception (though the weather took some of the fun out of wandering around just seeing stuff) -- a semi-naked man juggling chainsaws, two girls in slightly Spanish-looking frilly costumes with one playing Eastern-sounding music on a clarinet (the music wove its way through the crowds and the mud like a glimmer of sunshine, I wanted to follow it but it never quite seemed to be going in the same direction as me) and the other playing a tambourine; four people in kangaroo costumes on springy stilts; a man carving owls out of wood with a chainsaw; the woman making larger-than-life human sculptures out of recycled waste; the giant factory built of scaffolding and steampunk dreams which was recycling aluminium cans into coins (complete with commentary: "Da-ger! Da-ger! Really fucking hot!"); people rolling a 20ft beach-ball on a string around a field so that kids (and adults!) could dive underneath it (yes, I tried it, it feels ... well... almost exactly like being run over by a giant beach ball); the people doing live re-enactment of the Matrix (complete with extra legs sewn on to their costumes for the bullet-time fight scenes). I even managed to fit in a tour of the Glastonbury Museum -- a caravan full of a ragbag of 'finds' from Glastonbury (Rizlas, cotton-buds, bits of fabric, old chewing gum, boots, all kinds of garbage, all meticulously labelled and documented), the tour of which was given by a rather librarianish lady. An archeological dig was in progress outside the caravan, and there was a policeman hovering outside whose hat featured a piece of tape saying "polite line: do not get cross". The museum was a time-capsule, a cross-section of the festival, a thing of shreds and patches, a silly-serious reflection on the delusions of grandeur which our dreams persist (as they must) in having. (It was also, of course, a caravan full of random junk. Which is rather the point. What remains when the glamour -- in the faerie sense -- is removed.)

Finally, the weather. I have to admit that trudging through welly-sucking sludge for days on end, mile on mile, accreting blisters and ankle-aches and a fine patina of muddy dust, is not the most joyful way to spend a weekend. And the rain was miserable, and the boggy mire which the fields became was less-than-appealing, and wading through ankle-deep slurry to get to a chemical toilet is really not the best start to the day. And tempers fray when sleep is impossible, food is expensive, and sitting down is impractical to say the least. But shiny skirts went some way towards brightening the landscape, and an endless supply of flapjacks helped the food situation, and sleep -- well, I suppose one can manage without sleep for a few days. And blankets are snuggly and warm.

I think my mum enjoyed herself in the end, though I sort of lost touch with her as a result of the phone fiasco. I spoke to her on the phone the day after I got back (I will gloss over the four hours it took to get the car off the site, not to mention failing to get back to Cambridge until midnight on the Monday) and asked what her highlights had been (and I don't mean the fetching shade of red that she'd spray-dyed her hair), and she raved at me about "When Worlds Collide", a collaboration between the Muffin Men and the Ensemble 10:10 who were playing the music of Zappa. I'd never heard of them. She also mentioned the bouncing kangaroos, and it transpired that either we'd both seen a different tiny child in a white fairy dress being picked up by one of the kangaroo-people, or we were unknowingly standing a mere few metres away from each other at one point. And this is the beauty of Glastonbury: paths merge and diverge and cross and pass like ships in the night, silver threads weaving and entwining and unravelling their way through a labyrinth of experience; everybody's trip is different, but part of the same tapestry. The loom forces the threads apart to make them into whole cloth.

The fireworks at midnight on Sunday were incredible. A flurry of white-hot magnesium-feathered angels glittering in the darkness, soaring and diving, and finally -- because this is the way the story always ends -- flying too close to the sun.

Perhaps in the end I am just a pair of muddy boots in the corner of somebody else's painting, driving out of the frame.
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Comments
sbp From: sbp Date: June 30th, 2004 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, Muffin Men! I've seen them loads of times, always good. Didn't realise they were playing this year though :-( ksta will also be jellus.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Coo, I've never heard of them before.

They weren't advertised as the Muffin Men in the listings, just as this collaborative "When Worlds Collide" thing, so if you'd've been looking out for them you probably wouldn't've spotted them.

Was looking to see if there's a CD of "When Worlds Collide" (as my mum's birthday is coming up soon) but there doesn't seem to be. Ho hum.
sbp From: sbp Date: July 1st, 2004 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Girl, you thought he was a man, but he was a muffin

They're a Liverpudlian Zappa covers band. First time I saw them was in Brighton in the mid-90s, just when I was starting to get into FZ. They had ex-Zappa member Ike Willis with them for that tour, and it was the tightest gig I'd ever seen - lots of handsignals and communication to make sure everything happened at the right time. I also saw them at Glastonbury a few years ago, billed as the Muffin Men.

The When Worlds Collide thing was done in London a month or two ago, but it turned out I couldn't go for one reason or another. Just goes to show, you must read the Glastonbury programme really carefully!
acronym From: acronym Date: June 30th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
AFX was a no-show, so you can not-worry about that one :)
julietk From: julietk Date: July 1st, 2004 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
In fact, he showed up some time later, according to boyofbadgers. So we missed him as well, bah, due to being across in Lost Vagueness at the BritAsian thing (which was ace) by then. But Rick also said that he was good, but not great, so.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I was right to go and see the Levellers instead then. They rocked, mightily. :)
From: bibliogirl Date: July 1st, 2004 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
How did your dress look/survive?
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Didn't wear it in the end. :-( While I would've been happy to drag it around fields and dust, I just couldn't bear to trail it through ankle-deep mud after the work I'd put into doing it. Another time, I guess.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Yes. I've just remembered. They were playing "Alone Again Or".

Yes.

Perhaps my brain wasn't all together at that point.
(Deleted comment)
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 1st, 2004 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
A friend/(now ex-)colleague did that last year, because his girlfriend was working for one of the companies that run helicopters.
sbp From: sbp Date: July 1st, 2004 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Didn't take us that long to get our car off the site, but then we got up at 5am to pack and drove out of the car park about 8:30am.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. They say "Try to avoid leaving the site between 10am and 4pm", but what they don't say is "because otherise you will be leaving the site for all of the time between 10am and 4pm". :-/ I think we left earlier last year -- it's easier to get up early (or stay up all night) if the weather's nice...
sbp From: sbp Date: July 1st, 2004 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. Last time I travelled by road a friend of ours drove us down in a Transit and insisted on leaving really early, which worked, so it's a good habit to get into. That time we saw dawn breaking over a misty Stonehenge as well....
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 1st, 2004 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Apart from the concerts, and randomly meeting people in crowds (hello uon, j4), I think this Glastonbury had more stories than last year, the pushing of a 4x4 filled with sound kit by some Lost Vagueness performers (and the incidental dismantling of a part of the superfence to get them out of the mud). The woman whose firepoi show I watched, who thought she knew all about poi, and ended up watching me and being surprised that some of what I was doing was possible (and ended up taking my number and buying a set of wicks from me). Starting a crowd in front of the Green Fields wicker men rather than in the Theatre Field... The loss and complete recovery of a friend's wallet (including all the cash). The sudden feeling of performing in front of ~150 people instead of the ~10 you *thought* were watching... The standard monday-morning lemon launches, and getting the lemons over the superfence...

We've all been a part of making it what it was. No one person can be missed, and no one set of muddy boots is a part of "someone else's painting". I probably wouldn't have gone to see Love which I really enjoyed if it hadn't been for meeting you. We've all been special for others in making Glastonbury what it is, as they have been for us.
sbp From: sbp Date: July 1st, 2004 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Hippy. :-)
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 1st, 2004 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
and proud of it :-P
julietk From: julietk Date: July 1st, 2004 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
The loss and complete recovery of a friend's wallet (including all the cash)

kitty_goth was working Lost Property up at Welfare again, and said that the ratio of genuine lost property to nicked stuff was way higher again this year. And so he had the happy experience of reuniting several people with their fully-intact wallets :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Is there any sort of report on how much crime there was this year (preferably in comparison to other years) etc.? In fact a general report on stats for the festival (how green it was, how much money they made, lots of NUMBERS, etc.) would make very interesting reading...
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 1st, 2004 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
there were some stats in the Q review. I'll pull it out when I'm at home...
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)
no one set of muddy boots is a part of "someone else's painting"

Or, to look at it another way, we're all just a small part of someone else's story. It's not necessarily a bad thing. (OOI, did you spot the allusion?)

And what on earth are lemon launches?
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 1st, 2004 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
(OOI, did you spot the allusion?)
I'm not sure I did. Colour me stupid, I'm afraid, please enlighten me...

And what on earth are lemon launches?
:-)

For various reasons, the group I camp with are "the Lemons", our campsite had the normal flag of a lemon smoking a spliff on the side of one of the tents, and we had the usual large number (260 this time) of the fruit turning up. One of the traditions is that on the Monday morning, we take out the lemon launcher - a coke bottle, a paper cup, a copper pipe t-piece, a valve, a pump, and a large quantity of string. We then set up a water rocket, using the coke bottle, and tie string to its neck, and back to
the t-piece (one arm of which we use to dig into the ground, and which is sealed). The paper cup gets gaffer taped to the top of the bottle, and a lemon sits in it, ready to be launched...

Pics from '03 are like this one, and I'm trying to find some pictures from this year...
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Allusion: not stupid at all, no reason why you should have spotted it, I just thought it might illuminate what I was saying a bit more. I was alluding to W. H. Auden's poem "Musée des Beaux Arts", which refers to Breughel's "Icarus".

Lemons: ah, I see. Very silly! But probably good fun. :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Arse. There are two links in there, honest, but one of them's run on too long, & ICBA to delete & repost...
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Bugger.

Maybe next time we should read the whole programme through carefully and mark all the stuff we don't want to miss. Especially since we'll have plenty more time to do so, because we're flying in by helicopter on the Wednesday morning. :-) But I always feel that being too neurotic about Not Missing Stuff just turns it into a bad trip -- there's no way to see all the people you want to, better to just go with the flow.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 1st, 2004 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
And they were good, so it said.

The things you miss always were good... sod's law, innit.

Sadly, if we're flying, in the heliport opens on Friday and closes on Sunday.

Damn! That's helicoptering out of the question, then.
I guess it will just have to be the car, and leave earlier/later.
burkesworks From: burkesworks Date: July 1st, 2004 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Won't be missing them here though; off to Leeds tomorrow to catch up with Beefheart's old oppos, who'll be joined by Arthur Brown.
As for the Muffin Men, they're pretty damned great, shapeshifter8 has been raving about them to me for a while. I believe they now have Jimmy Carl "I'm the token Indian of the group" Black in their number.
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