From my first words, first steps, first love and now first festival, I am getting through my rights of passage.
I’ll be honest, I was meaning to get to a festival way before I reached my twenties, but the fear of not knowing what bands were playing before I spent a months wages on them made me put it off year after year, but in November 2012 I decided to go for it and put down my £50 deposit (eventually £205) for Glastonbury festival 2013 and boy did I luck out!!
Playing this year’s festival was not only one of my favourite bands, Mumford and Sons, but also a headliner which had me screaming and jumping all round my bedroom when it was annouced… The Rolling Stones!!
When I would let everyone know that Glastonbury Festival was going to be my first I was often faced with the reluctant response of ‘ohhh’ or a ‘really?’ …and I can definitely see why!
Unlike Reading, or Download festival Glastonbury is a festival which goes on 24 hours for 5 days! And it knackers you to say the least!
Bands start around 11 am and go on until about midnight. Then you head back to your tents…to stock up on more booze – which you can take into the festival no charge, yes! – and get on route to one of the many dance villages: Silver Hayes, Arcadia and of course, Shangrila!
Silver Hayes is the home of the less theatrical party goers, and for those wanting to save their imagination for Shangrila. Although, Silver Hayes is by no means ‘boring’ – I don’t think that word even exists at Glastonbury – here belongs the ‘shanty town’ Blues Bar where I danced to BBC 1xtra live streaming, and where you could by an £8.50 Mojito! Good job I had a can of pear cider and a pouch of Passoa on me. Opposite that was a shisha tent for the more chilled out, but if you got fed up of sitting on your bum smoking up different flavours, you could stand in queue to put down your £10 deposit for some Tron like headphones and join the silent disco – a funny site when you’re on the outside looking in to a silent tent with hundreds of people singing in unison to Kings of Leons ‘Sex on Fire’.
Silver Hayes is also where you could find the BBC introducing tent and the Burlesque bar ‘Pussy Parlour Noveaux’.
If your alcohol coat is just not keeping you warm, then you’re best of heading to Arcadia for a warm up. Now Arcadia really needs no introduction, this is the 30 ft giant metal spider from ‘out of space’ where DJ’s, Fatboy Slim being one, spin their decks in the booth in the belly of the beast whilst it’s claws swing acrobats and fire torches from the head of this War of the Worlds theatrical.
Lastly, is the long walk to the outskirts of the field to the South East corner, home to the Heaven and Hell themed Shangrila, Block 9, the Common and the Unfairground. Shangrila has been notorious for exhibiting a different part of a story each year, it started off with an uprising, then a virus broke out, which was 2011, and this year it was the afterlife, Heaven and Hell. Now I feel like I should at least attempt to describe this living performance to you but no amount of words could really give it justice, it is just incredible. But hey, I’ll give it a go. On one side was Heaven, with fluffy cloud bar, Camp cooks and lots of white and lights…and a massive queue – again! The massive queue was to enter Heaven, but it’s not as easy as that, of course not! Once you got into the foyer of ‘Heaven’ you go to a booth where you get judge on whether you are worthy to get into Heaven, and if you’re then you must spare £1 for a stick on tattoo, then you shall pass.
Opposite Heaven though, with the walk way being like some sort of purgatory, was the firey depths of Hell, with the seven sins, temptation and punishment – if you call that dancing to Rudimental in the fire pit, then I am a sinner through and through!! My friend and I tended to lean more to Hell, out of a lack of queues more than anything, but it was great fun walking through the makeshift alleyways of hell to come across small clubs. One great little place was the ‘Bar of ideas’ which looked like an old scientists house, possibly from the ashes of the ‘virus’ chapter of the story, which had a small tunnel you could crawl through to get to the outside – my friend and I thought it could maybe sneak us in to heaven, sadly only to peak in to it’s garden.
The Unfairground is for the stronger back boned of us because it is super…super..creepy. If you can’t stand the film Chucky, or even Labryinth (And no, not even David Bowie could make me watch that film all the way through) then this is probably best glimpsed at through the hedges. Giant doll heads, and mutilated merry-go-round horses really gets your skin crawling, a place to play some slightly disturbing fairground games and dance a bit more. But I personally preferred the less ‘House of Wax’ and more ‘Day after Tomorrow’/’Queer as Folk’, Block 9.
Block 9 is the remnants of the post-apocalyptic world, with the London underground, a block of Council Flats with a smoking Tube train through the roof of it, we went in there once, and as you walk through there is a broken down lift and all sorts of other props, A for effort for sure. However, when we entered there was a reggae band singing about ‘erbs. Now I love a bit of Reggae every now and then but four songs on weed was enough for me. The Hotel was a club I now wish I stood in queue for because it looked awesome. Supposedly the first gay bar of it’s type, this deteriorating apartment looking building, with transvestites on the roof and a taxi through the side is the home of intersexuals, and you must even have a moustache, or buy a moustache, to enter.
The common is where I was least – I would have loved to explore this seemingly rural/paradise like section of the festival but in three days, there is just no time!!
So those were my nights, but what about my days. The days can be as fast paced or as slow as you like it, but you have to be reasonable and take into account how long it is going to take you to get from stage to stage – especially during a crowd induced penguin waddle.
On average, my friend and I were seeing about 4 – 5 live acts a day, now being such a music hound I would have paid any amount of money to make a clone of myself so I could see more, but I really only have about £30 to my name and cloning is impossible – for now anyways, so with that out of the window, a good plan is to sit down with your friends and decide who you’re going to see, and what set you’ll miss the end off to get to another stage, which for me was being teared away from Dog is Dead in the John Peel tent to go watch Jake Bugg on the Pyramid Stage. Although I was repeatedly told that the bands were such a small part of Glastonbury, I have to admit it was my favourite part. We managed to get round to The Lumineers, who put on an amazing show on the other stage, getting stools and sitting in the crowd to play a few songs was a personal highlight, I love a band who are down to earth enough, to get well, down to earth, off the stage and in to the crowd. Noah and the Whale, Tom Odell, Jake Bugg, Ben Howard were another favourite of mine. What can I say, I love a man and a guitar. Of course the Rolling Stones were the best of the night though, my reputation of loving ‘old man bands’ finally came in handy when I could sing all the words to Honky Tonk woman, into their 70’s and they’ve still got it. We were even treated to two songs sang by Kieth Richards, and Jagger still has the moves, like well Mick Jagger, that man is not needing a hip replacement anytime soon.
I took £100 which was actually quite good, or it would have been if I hadn’t spent a days worth of food (£18) on making a ring in the crafts field, which is a great place to head on a Thursday when nothing much else is going on – and especially if it’s going to rain.The ring took about 6 hours to make, but that was more because of high demand and lack of tools, but the people who ran it were so great, as I unfortunately made my ring too big for my thumb, they were so helpful and made sure I didn’t leave until it fitted and I really do love having a silver ring that I can say I made my self.
Another thing I would recommend is to not worry too much about bringing your own food, unless you’re really strapped for cash and don’t have the bank of Mum and Dad to go to – a’hem – because most food stalls there are amazing. Now if you’re going to meet someone completely paranoid about getting food poisoning then it’s me, I’m a super fussy eater but I found these food trucks no problem at all, especially as you can actually see the food being made. One of my favourites was a pulled beef sandwich and woodfried pizza. Eating that and watching Matt Corby in the Acoustics tent was definitely a top 10 for my life experiences.
All in all, I loved Glastonbury, and I have definitely caught Festival fever! ….well I did catch Festival Flu on my return home, hey staying up until 5 am for 3 days straight will do that to you – also falling asleep through the set of Vampire Weekend and missing the Editors…not my proudest moment. But to tackle a festival you need to be tough, yes carrying all your stuff in is miserable – especially when your rucksack has 20 cans of cider in it – your legs will ache, your back will kill, the toilets will smell and you’ll have to queue – for EVERYTHING! But if I had to go back again this weekend, I would sign up in a second! Thank you Michael and Emily Eavis for letting me camp on your farm and have the best weekend of my life. See you next year Glastonbury! Even if I have to work it!!
Best live band: Lumineers for sure!! What a great band to see live, amazing stage presence and energy!
Best Atmosphere: Mumford and Sons, starting on the Vanilla Vodka and Lemonade definitely helped in making friends with a bunch of people around us, but what an amazing atmosphere conjured up by this banjo, tweed wearing folksman.
Best dance tent: It has to be Hells Fire pit where we saw Rudimental, with a huge smoking beacon in the middle and Burlesque dancers playing with fire, absolute carnage.
Best food: It has to be the Wood-fried pizza, with the pulled beef coming a close second. Although Oli’s Halloumi cones were worth the queue, even if they did get a bit rich after a while, but they’re definitely the best thing to eat on the go.
Best Named Food Trailers:
The COD Father
Worst smell: the DREADED ‘Toilet Smell’ the long drops are not a places to take deep breaths – in fact it’s just best to turn around, drop trow, reverse and squat. Although I must say, compared to the portaloos, these were a much preferred option.
Best place to relieve: Sorry, but this is only for the women, but men do have urinals around! The Shepees, run by Wateraid are definitely the most hygenic, and dare I say funnest, way to pee. Experience the male anatomy with basically a cardboard penis, shaped a bit like a funnel this is a super easy way to go for a little wee. There’s no escaping the natural bodily functions at a festival so just embrace it. No squatting, or horrendous smell, the shepees are hilarious and all for a good cause, don’t forget to sign up for the Wateraid petition on your way out.