Monday, January 15, 2007

Glastonbury 2004 : A Retrospective

tickets went on sale while I was taking in Amsterdam. the website couldn't withstand the demand of close to a million people simultaneously attempting to acquire tickets, hence shutdown at my every attempt. Over the next 24 hours, 112,000 people won out over me and it was sold out! I was devastated knowing I'd been prepared months in advance for this day and Oasis was headlining (in ENGLAND). Weeks later, by chance, I went to the Glastonbury website and misfortune turned to fate, during that hour they were re-selling tickets for sales that didn't go through. Without hesitation I nabbed one up at 112pounds ($280) and felt assured there was a mistake, it was too good to be true,...I was going to GLASTONBURY!

After hearing the Euro 2004 Quarterfinal between England-Portugal would be shown on the big screens at the festival that night, I grabbed my backpack and hopped on the 1pound ($2.50) Megabus and rode that double decker (above) 5 hours from Brighton to a small farm town known as Glastonbury. Departing, I came to understand the festival was actually located on a farm 3 miles away. Being me, I asked the general direction and started walking. After passing a cow, but noticing few vehicles doing the reciprocal, I questioned my geography, but anxiety picked up my step. Finally I saw a glimmer of silver in the distance and with progress on the pavement, slowly it grew in front of me, until it looked like the outset of a major downtown, planted in the middle of a farm field and minus the skyscrapers. Reaching the more common route, I was continuously succeeded by cars honking, people screaming and music blaring. Through five honda plant lots, and proving my identity 8 times, I entered the invasion prepared fortress fence of the world's biggest annual music festival!
Succeeding in getting lost and found countless times, I found myself parked in front of the Pyramid Stage (main) and among the largest crowd to take in the game that night(easily outnumbering the stadium crowd itself). Too many England chants and arrogance later, the british found themselves ousted from the tournament with Beckham missing the net in a shutout. Party quickly ended and I found myself crashing on the Stage grounds (below), intending to be woken up by the sun and/or opening act. Instead, I shivered and constantly overheard voices "is that a person, is he alive?" and was woken up 4 times by security trucks stopping and asking if "I was okay, or needed blankets?". At one point, I was awoken by someone attempting to grab something near me, I lunged and bear hugged my backpack, and startled the dude, he jumped back "sorry man, I was just gonna pull that blanket over you, you look like your freezing". maybe a lie, but nonetheless, a moment which made me warm...this world can be incredibly generous.

dressed up for the occasion (below), i rid of my luggage in discovered 'baggage check' and was ready for the marathon.

the first chords of guitar to hit my ears came appropriately from bright eyes, it might have been 12pm, but conor oberst was drunk, depressed and left the impression he wouldn’t be alive to play the next show. Somehow, that made for an entertaining 40 minutes and he heavily promoted sticking around for Wilco next. I did and was blown away by one of the best sets of the weekend, the presence created by shy leader jeff tweedy was mesmerizing, they were dead on. Bubble Gum was passed around when the face of nelly furtado appeared, offering an opportune chance to wave my Canadian flag around, but equally made me not want to. I was infatuated with snow patrol at the time of this gig, so their showing sat well and they had the crowd eating anthems out of their hands. Anticipation raced in my blood for the stylish, talented and beautiful Polly Jean Harvey who came out in a memorable black dress containing all the faces of the “spice girls”. pj harvey was predictably her own and doesn’t need my praise. The second last billing of the evening was an adopted child of England, for good reason that country loves the kings of leon. I came in indifferent to the Kings sound, electing to witness only on behalf of and to report back to fanatics. When it came round to reporting back, I informed Ian and ED that I was now the biggest KOL fan of the bunch, they hands down stole Glastonbury! It was quintessential put on your jock strap but make sure it fits into your skin tight faded jeans, cause we’re going back 30 years and bringing a rock n roll cock fight, let’s just see who’s panting at the end of the day. Tough act to follow, even for the most anticipated, the return of oasis to the Pyramid Stage. The gallagher’s quickly made it no contest, they came out sober, dead to the rough and rowdy audience, and sulking (it was rumored the brothers weren’t talking). This became evident in no words being said, no emotion existing in the music and delivering the worst performance I’ve ever seen from this iconic band. They even debuted new songs to little fanfare (none of the songs saw life again). The crowd walked away pissed, as I’m sure the band too.

Being at such an extravagant festival with well over 200 bands and 10 stages, your guaranteed to miss more than half the artists, especially in having to walk 30 minutes to get from one stage to another. Note worthy artists missed on this day included: kasabian, franz ferdinand, chemical brothers, the rapture, and elbow. When the stage music is said and done, by no means does the festival shutdown for the night. Rather, the party is constant, so next up was the dance tents, and than onto acoustic tents, where pillows and blankets were laid out, while the staff delivered tea. Here you could pass out for the night or get up on stage and perform an artistic piece yourself. Most would eventually up and somehow try to locate their tent among the mass.


the comprehension of living in another world was brought to actualization when I was passed a newspaper published inside the maximum security prison walls of Glastonbury (below), it revealed all the different happenings, including the report of deaths at the festival. Venturing around, you also quickly come to realize just how large of an area is encompassed in the grounds (below, that isn't the town at the bottom of the hill, that's still the festival); however, the abundant street signs (below) keep you in check with where you are.

Before the music could hit the stage Saturday, out came just enough rain to turn the grounds into the ever necessary, music festival authentic ingredient: mud. And suddenly the world turned brown

As for the music...
sister sledge left me pondering, could infants create sounds and crawl on stage. scissor sisters contain former yet still aspiring go-go dancers, and it seems that’s the point they desire to get across. Keane was Keane; however, did a memorable “everybody’s changing”. lost prophets left me lost. ben harper continues to play too long and makes me want to lie down on a rug similar to his on stage, plug my ears and go to sleep. starsailor’s lead singer james walsh, is a huge geek, he should realize that, stop talking and stick to the decent performance, hope of the states were stunning, played a small stage and attracted all passersby in their sonic range; despite being eerily similar to radiohead in sound, image, performance, and anti-bush sentiments, the band hold a uniqueness all their own. black eyed peas enjoy wardrobe changes, emphasizing fergie’s female body parts and dancing, I yawned while they questioned “where is the love”. Closing out the night was none other than paul mccartney, realizing this to be my one chance to see a ‘Beatle’, and that my hero’s would be side stage to witness this performance, I made an effort, but then he started wailing on about some ‘jude’ lady and I lost interest and walked away. More favorably, I ventured over to the outdoor movie theatre and watched both ‘Kill Bills’ and ‘23 Grams’ before nodding off as the sun came up.

The day could be summoned as a swing and a miss. Speaking of which, I missed: my morning jacket, the killers, von bondies, black rebel motorcycle club, damien rice, orbital and basement jaxx.


Took a journey to the hippie area, where I was approached about buying just about any drug ever used by mankind. half the people encountered probably hadn't seen a band or left that section all weekend. There was a strange, strange vibe, if you weren't high it just felt highly uncomfortable and I didn't want to test someones home mix of chemicals, so I booted it.

mentioning the Zutons brings nostalgia of yellow chemical lab outfits and mediocre music. Buck 65 is a wacky Canadian and I’ve concluded, not for me. He brought his quintessential redneck honky style. The now departed James Brown looked to be in fine form, despite sweating up a storm and having 100 dancers and singers backing him. My personal bias for Gomez leaves me to state they were stellar. I think I caught a song from Belle and Sebastian, was more than enough, too late in the festival to have patience for their act, Badly Drawn Boy was another highlight of the festival, despite being bitter about only being called as a replacement for ‘the libertines’ (who had the now infamous falling apart), he delivered, as my memory recalls: Damon Gough sporting a trademark toque, giving fabulous piano work, while chain smoking his way completely through the set (amazing how well one can sing with a cigarette hanging from their lip) and bantering on between song, with dry humor and personality unmatchable, all accompanied with a non-stop bash of organizers for over-seeing him. I warmed up to the music of Morrissey, but left with the understanding he not only has a negative look on life, but also on everyone in it. And than there was 1, while the roadies prepared the stage, 100,000 strong began chanting “Muse” with furious enthusiasm. How had I never heard a song from this band, when obviously so many English not only knew, but religiously adored their existence. The lights dimmed, out came three british blokes, they settled into their positions and proceeded to exercise exhilarating energy, which was squarely focused on mastering their instruments and emoting vocals, for the next 90 minutes. Who could have predicted after an entire weekend filled with live music, the last act would leave you desiring more.

As crews began to turn the ruined festival grounds back into a farm field, I hopped on the first round of buses to leave monday morning at sunrise. I got off 2 hours later in 'bristol' and started trudging around the city in my mud-drenched clothes. I was in culture shock, all these cars, people in clean clothes, cement structured buildings, and everything was so fast-paced. I eventually found a vacant park and passed out. Later, while looking for my way out of the city, some lady passes me on her bicycle, blurts out "how was it?" and than stops to hear my take of Glastonbury 2004.

No comments: