Over £200 to spend four days cramped in fields amongst smelly strangers? Then extra money for camping utensils you will probably leave behind, along with your dignity and the majority of brain cells. With festival season in full flow I thought I would ask the question is it all worth it? As I feel I am in the smallest circle in the venn diagram of festivals that attended both Glastonbury and Sonisphere, I feel a review of the two weekends is in order. Here is my review on two of Europe’s biggest festivals to answer this question….
GLASTONBURY 2014: I officially began my second Glastonbury the same way I started my first, with the opening ceremony at the stone circle. This marked the start of my alternative Glastonbury experience this year. Due to the first year being a mad frenzy of finding your way round the farm/ seeing as much as possible whilst trying to keep “in the know” about any secret sets. I wanted to really take some time to explore the calmer side of Worthy farm this time around. The fantastic Glastonbury choir kicked this off with their usual lovely songs and bout “loving the farm and “leaving no trace” (plus a great cover of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”) I feel this immediately sets the tone for the weekend as everybody is gathered and forced out of their awkward British comfort zones and just embrace the unusual instead. There was praying to the sun gods, chanting and a spectacular firework display which warmed everybody up nicely.
First back on my agenda for alternative Glastonbury was the Hare Krishna tent. I cannot rate this place highly enough! They fed me and basically kept me alive in my first year so I had to return. Donation based meals make them some of the cheapest at the festival, plus you get to do some more chanting and learn about a culture you may have no prior knowledge of. This was also combined with a Buddhist workshop me and my friends attended. This is the beauty of Glastonbury. Don’t just spend your Thursday getting wasted at your campsite like you would at any other festival. Just because there are no bands on doesn’t mean it’s a waste of a day. Get drunk at your camp site, THEN go do something different. The Buddhists where class. Answered any questions we had, forced us to ask some deep ones of ourselves and had a lovely meditation session too. Basically what dawned on me was a reminder of the epiphany I came to last year. … Glastonbury has the potential to recharge you and give you something to take away. This is entirely individual, but I know for me it’s the fact that I come home and try to make everywhere else a little more like Worthy Farm. I started the Friday with the Tribute to Tony Benn at Billy Braggs Leftfeild stage. I spent a lot of last year here too, mainly due to its constant stream of talent. You can spend hours chilling out/ getting passionate and discussing the world here.
As well as enjoying unsigned talent, comics and headliners. The motto of the stage being “Recharge Your Activism” and following Billy Braggs headline set of the Friday night that’s how I felt. The legendary activist and songwriter has the power to make you feel like you can return home and change the world. In the beauty of Glastonbury, later on that night I saw slightly different artist, Skrillex. Now following his guerrilla gigs last year he returned to dominate the Other Stage in a massive, graffiti coated space ship. What struck me the most during this career spanning set was the age of the crowd. As I was pulling some hard shapes behind me was a woman over 60 enjoying the show.
This was another reminder, that the punters of this festival are just as game as each other, at any age. What was happening was another great shared experience, as a field full of humans skanking out like it hurt to stand still. Following the diverse nature of the line-up I was able to see metal titans Metallica and County queen Dolly Parton the following day. The speculation around Metallica was hilarious, did the press honestly think this booking was anything other than genius? The 30+ year rockers have a back catalogue of classic albums with both radio friendly anthems and the thrash metal sound they pioneered. You book a band that thrives on being the outsiders and the ball is already in their court. It was game over within the first few seconds of opener “Creeping Death.” History was made, and I am proud to say I was at the front to see it.
Money wise just check the line up for the diversity of the bill. Something for everyone doesn’t even cover it. Plus, the nightlife of Arcadia (pictured) mixed with cabaret and hundreds of buzzing tents, it boggles the mind. What can you say about Dolly Parton? Just watch the set on Youtube! It was incredible; she brought her whole show with pantomime instruments and all. Even new material went down well with fans as once again (much like with The Rolling Stones last year) Glastonbury shows that veterans can completely steal the show. (Also worth pointing out that I ticket to see Dolly alone can be up to £160 and a Glasto tickets in £210… enough said.) The Glasto experience, not just a festival, invites to experience it all and for the price you can change your life and really take something away. Is it overwhelming? Yes Emotional? Yes. Worth it? Yes. Some call it bourgeoisie or a caricature of its once self. To that I say that is up to your own experience. But you don’t have to dig to find something extraordinary and unique; and for the price…. You can complain. PART 2 COMING SOON (Sonisphere 2014 review, is Knebworth for exclusive to metal heads? Same money for less stuff?)