Glastonbury is in a league of its own.
As a DJ I’m lucky enough to get booked to play festivals and clubs all over the UK and Europe, but I’m sitting here in my garden, the sun is shining, I have a beer and my cat is running about – all of these things should make me happy. But I’ve just got back from my seventh Glastonbury and have the post-Glastonbury blues.
Seven years might seem like a lot of Glastonbury’s, but to some I’m still a Glastonbury newbie. Take Trevor for example, whose been going since 1988. We met at the Stone Circle this year, on the Thursday afternoon. Whether you’ve been once or 20 times though, I believe you’re all part of the Glastonbury gang and what a great gang it is to be a part of. Glastonbury isn’t just a festival (obviously it is a festival – but hear me out!) it is also a life choice, and once you’ve done it once you’re going to want to do it again. If you don’t want to go back you are 1) an idiot and 2) doing it wrong.
Trevor (you remember Trevor?) is clearly a man who chooses to take the Glastonbury way of life home with him. He did also strike me as a man who likes to take substances that make him ride dragons and talk to mice etc., but let’s not hold that against him. He told me he loves Glastonbury because it’s the only place he’d ever been, where everyone treats him the way he treats everyone in the real world. I think that is a bloody beautiful thing.
There are so many reasons to go to Glastonbury. I can go the whole five days without seeing a band and still have the best experience. It is the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts, not just music. I’m very jealous of Glastonbury Virgins. You don’t realise how big the place is until you’re sitting at the top of The Crow’s Nest in the park, with a Pimms in sheer awe of how many people you are sharing this with! This is why I get annoyed when people moan about the headliners. I hate the jabbering idiot that is Kanye West so I stomped over to Shangri La to watch Bad For Lazarus and Slaves on the Hell stage, two of the best bands of this generation. Both of them blew the non-existent roof off the stage. Slaves played three times that weekend so there was no excuse not to see them.
Food for me at a festival is just there to make sure I don’t die, and it’s usually someone else who has to remind me that rum is not a food, no matter what the pirates used to say. A friend of mine used to pack a couple of jars of Ragu and a loaf of bread to see him through the weekend. There’s totally no need for this with so many good food stands on site selling everything from salads to paella, and smoothies to burritos. I would always recommend a festival burrito. As a vegetarian it’s a sure bet and it’s easy to eat while holding a pint.
My Friday highlight was watching Motorhead on the Pyramid Stage – something I never thought I’d see happen! Despite Lemmy (Legend) singing the lyrics to ‘Ace Of Spades’ over ‘Overkill’ it was very special! We also watched The Libertines ‘secret set.’ I think they stormed it. Pete and Carl still sound as raw and in love as they always have, while Gary Powell pounded the drums like his life depended on it and John, as always, looked like he might not want to be there.
Friday night headliners were Hot Chip on the West Holts stage. I’m not going to lie, I don’t remember much. I met up with Dave The Preshaah from Hoxton Radio – where I do my show The Devils Dinner Party, 6pm Friday nights – and it went from nought to 100 miles per hour in about two minutes. One image I won’t forget is my friend Jon Ford taking his T-shirt off and running into the crowd. This is very out of character. Great night!
There are lots of options once the headliners have finished at Glastonbury. We usually end up at Arcadia or Shangri La. Arcadia is a massive metal spider with a DJ booth in the middle, above your head. It shoots fire and everything and is pretty incredible to watch.
Shangri La is my favourite part of the whole festival. It is also the place that I see the most change every year. I have seen it as a seedy Blade Runner style cityscape, run by an evil dictatorship, which was then overthrown. I have also been there at the end of the world! This year was election year with each micro club trying to get your vote. I couldn’t possibly tell you who I voted for though as they were all as disgusting and brilliant as each other! Loads of bands played on the Hell stage over the weekend but for some refuge you can escape to Heaven, complete with carpets, sofas and angels who give foot rubs. Not a job I would want after four days at a festival! It gets busy late at night so I’m grateful for an early Thursday press tour and queue jump wristband.
Another favourite area in the South East Corner is The Common, which has its own bullring club venue. My favourite bar there is called The Back Of Beyond which is Day of the Dead themed with a wish tree in the middle. I’ve tied many wishes to that tree and of course they all came true!
A major highlight for me was seeing Patti Smith on the Sunday. Even on her own she’s beautiful, but when she brought out his holiness the Dali Lama for his birthday it was emotional. I cried a bit. So did everyone else though, so it’s cool! From one great man to another, as a massive crowd showed up for the one and only Lionel Richie! He was just the perfect little bit of fun for Sunday. I saw The Zombies that day too and they still sound as amazing as ever.
I also need to mention Goat. They played The Park stage on Sunday evening and if you’ve never seen or heard Goat before I think there is something missing from your life. Let me fill it for you. Goat are a band of about eight, all dressed in robes and masks, and they sound like metal crossed with world music. Go listen to ‘Run To Ya Mama’ and thank me later via @liammyoung on Twitter!
I’ve been prepping my post Glastonbury radio show as I write this, and listening to these songs is actually cheering me up. If you went to Glastonbury and still have the Glasto blues, I hope this has helped you remember the good times and encouraged you to take them into everyday life. Just like Trevor.
Note from the Photographer: I grew up in Somerset and have been going to Glastonbury for 16 years now. For the past few years I’ve been photographing the different characters who come to the festival and have been looking at the celebration of multiculturalism through music. I love that the festival brings all different types together for a few days a year. There is something really raw and unique about photographing complete strangers dancing with each other. The ability that music has to bring people together is what I wanted to capture. I think it’s easier to read deeper into an image in black and white when it comes to documentary. Black and white for me is timeless.