Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Best festival ever?

I bet you thought I'd shut up once the festival shut it's gate and the last bedraggled reveller had trudged off site. No such luck.

There's a bit of a running joke about Glastonbury Festival, that every year it's proclaimed to be 'the best ever'.

But when I trudged off site, ladened like a pack mule and with my feet aching so much that I could feel my heart beating in the soles of my shoes, I found myself feeling oddly weepy.

Admittedly, there were a number of factors in this - I was almost exhausted, I had sunburnt shoulders being rubbed by rucksack straps, I'd listened to Tomi 'Wellies' Justice complaining about mud/skin/hair/hats/heat/stubble on and off for three days, I was reasonably convinced that I'd remove my wellies to discover that my feet had been ground away to bloodied stumps and I hadn't managed to find the curry-in-a-Yorkshire-Pudding food stand I'd had my eye on for a couple of days but hadn't worked up the courage to try until the last night.

But mostly, it was because I didn't want to leave and I didn't want to go back to the real world.
I don't know what it was about Glastonbury this year. I don't know if it was that the line-up was a work of genius, I don't know if it was the perfect weather - let's face it, you'd feel robbed if you didn't get ankle deep in mud - or the fact that over the course of a weekend and spread out over acres of mayhem, colleagues became friends, I spent time with old friends, made new friends, and got to party with people who mean the world to me.

I don't know if it was because I got wished a "Happy Glastonbury!" more time than I could count. I don't know if it was because complete strangers talked to me, wanted to hug me and then vanished off into the crowd never to be seen again. I don't know what the Eavis' did this year, but the atmosphere was something very special indeed.

Of course, it could have been because the only thing I remembered about where I'd parked was that my car was between a white self-drive-hire van and a silver Audi, underneath a floodlight.

Last year, there was so much controversy - so many people saying the festival was finished, too commercialised, it was full of chavs, of the middle-aged, the fence had ruined everything, the weather was always rubbish and no-one was buying tickets because of Jay-Z, meaning we were all closet racists. And when the tickets finally did sell out, tales of tents being broken into and entire fields being hit by organised gangs were rampant.

But this time around there was a huge party atmosphere and everyone was determined to have a good time. Even in the traffic problems on Wednesday people were out of their cars, starting their festival at the side of the road as traffic crawled into the site. When it thundered and the rains came, people cheered and when the sun came out, people cheered even harder.

Outside the fence, newspapers reported how distraught fans were weeping and wailing following the death of Michael Jackson, while inside quick-off-the-mark stall holders were printing t-shirts that proudly proclaimed the wearer was "at Glasto when Jacko died."

So, I don't know. What made Glastonbury feel so special this year?

The weather? The people? The hard work that's put in by hundreds of people organising it, preparing the site and sorting out the line-up? The music? Arcadia? Trash City? Being able to buy groups of tickets for the first time in however many years, ensuring people shared the festival with their friends? Having Rolf Harris, Spinal Tap, F***ed Up and Pendulum on the same bill?


I'm trying really hard not to end this entry with "best Glastonbury ever", but honestly, I'm struggling. I've been to just about every festival since I was 17, but I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable one for me.

So, yes. Best Glastonbury Festival ever. So far. For me at least. And for a lot of people, I think.

Thanks, Eavises. You did us proud this year.


jim said...

Well said I agree, there was such a friendly almost brother and sister like atmosphere. The Blur gig will go down as one of the best ever, they were amazing and I'm not a number one blur fan. Long live Glastonbury festival, I've been to most since 95 and I hope to go to many many more yet. Jim.

Laura said...

One thing that struck me was the security at the front of the Pyramid handing water out to the people at the front of the stage.

I was close to the front for Neil and people were drinking and then passing the cups back through the crowd - you hear so much about heavy-handed security and what-not, but I thought that was really cool, and it was good that people didn't just chuck it, or take it all for themselves, but shared it around.

tlobf said...

Great little review!

I've just added it to songkick.com - so it will show up on our Glastonbury resource page..

From the first Glasto in 1970 - to last weekend, Songkick is building up a massive database of attendees, lineups, setlists, reviews, photos, videos etc.

Check it out here:

A la Last.fm - once you've signed up, you can click the 'I Was There' button and start to add your own media.

It's also got a database of over 1 million past shows too, and it notifies you of any new concerts that might be of interest by importing your Last.fm deets.

Thought some of you might like to check it out!