Friday, September 03, 2004

A Chemically Enhanced Glastonbury

Seriously – how much top soil can one farmer loose in a year even if the farm is mainly for show? Apparently it was far from the muddiest Glasto ever but, apart for one wonderful Friday, it was far from the driest either. Mud is fascinating stuff. It has its glistening, slick, ultra wet stage. Then, the sticky "give" of the "lose your balance and spinning down like a prat phase". Saw one guy pirouette on the way down, break dance style and save him self with his wrist. Two young scousers who had been throwing each other in for about an hour paused to shake hands and big him up on his superb technique. Its clumpy weigh down your boots with huge mats of soil, drying out phase. People get peeved and heave clods of it at signposts. And the final dry to rock hard clay bit.

All Aboard The Non Existent Shuttle Buses...

As vehicles leave the site every single one has its tires sprayed as experience has taught them that it will go for miles along the high ways of Somerset. And it still does. All over ya boots. All over the floor of First Company's busses. All over the concrete floors of bus depots from Brighton, to Bath, to Bristol., to Wells and Shepton mallet and even in London Town. All over airport departure lounges, on the floor of Aer Lingus planes. And in between me darn finger nails and down this keyboard.

Build up

Bristol is a sleepy little city. It contains the Suspension bridge, the first Iron Steam Ship and a few museums, maybe, one day's amusement. Four days to kill tends to hang on you. Mind you the first poster we saw pointed us to one excellent gig. Drum and Bass may well be dead but it still has a couple of enclaves – of which Bristol is, with out a doubt, one. Andy C and Bad Company were superb. Ragga Twins – good and Dynamite MC pretty lousy. Any way what else? This gig it was in a big ware house entitled The Carling Academy and was hosted by the desperately named Drive By Crew – a birthday bash for the even more bizarrely monikored MC Foxy (a male MC Foxy at that!) I tell you there are plenty of young kids necking pills and doing some fancy jungle moves and the clubs stay open till 4 am.

Even more interestingly, the venue was hosting Alternative Glastonbury with no less a band then The Cure for a mere 3 quid. We had spent 6 months sweating and worrying our way through the impossible task of actually, somehow, collecting tickets and getting into Glastonbury. Finally after
visiting the Bus Station a couple of times – a master plan for the festival was presented. Of course heres…

What Actually Happened

Got up about eight got to the Station at nine about 20 crusty souls awaited the first Glastonbury bus. I have to hand it to First Coach they had made the effort. Private security to count us and look after the luggage. Bus took a gawd awful long route to site maybe 1 ½ hours. Dee and Seth equipped with tickets headed off to pitch tent in howling storm. Krossie and Paul sat down to await Shuttle bus and waited and waited.

Free shuttle bus proved as non-existent as it had been in former times. So a taxi was in order. Us and some grumpy hippy. The grumpy hippie was very grumpy – taxi man hit him for seven and us for four. Lesson: grumpy doesn't always get the goods! Arrived in the Amulet – which turned out to be a small venue and not some hippy craft shop as expected. Q was three or four very enthusiastic Dutch people – got tickets – decamped to pub for bitter and dinner- sweet. Stocked up on supplies and waited about another 40 minutes until back comes the same taxi driver. Slow drive back to site – but did it in about an hour. A muddy, muddy process of reception and branding – and then a forced march to Lost vagueness and then a wet and muddy tent pitching and after that things did nothing but get better and better.


Thursday

Very quite and pretty fecking hot. The initial mud dries. Shipped way too much sun in the afternoon and immediately paid the obvious penalty. Spent most of the night watching England sinking like a stone. Its funny in that I had Portugal put down as a team almost set-up to be sliced apart by the Brits. Strange atmosphere standing there with 80,000 of them when the realisation sunk in – very, very quite. I wandered into the Leftfield for a while. A full time knees up drum and bass rave was sweeping the place – well a bit more exciting than Tony Benn the next day! Even got some sleep. By now about 50,000 people on site with 100,000 more to go!

Friday

Day one of Glastonbury proper and a scorcher. If it did one thing it made me a lifetime convert! In the dance tent an individual by the name of Cake Boy was dropping some reasonably good breaks to a smallish crowd – hey it was only eleven. We stayed about ½ an hour. Weirdly for a self confessed raver I only made one more short visit to the Dance tent the whole festival. I thought I'd be living there! On the way back we passed by the Other stage to here a Dublin band called How. They sounded like The Thrills if The Thrills couldn't sing or play their instruments….

By the afternoon it was getting very hot. On a recommendation I checked out the jazz world stage and a strange 1980s throw back called Blurt. They were excellent in a Konk meets The Contortions way. Guitar, drums and a crazy lead man who also blew an astonishing raw sax sound. Finger licking, twisty, funk that was both funny and musically rewarding. Especially enjoyed their "Tribute to an Empty vessel" Bring on the revival - they deserve it.

I'm no expert on The Rapture knowing them mainly through off shoot bits and bobs like their DFA label and the LCD Sound System. But I can no inform you that they completely rock in a loose limbed and groovetastic way. A really solid performance of disco orientated, 1980s funky rock. They also forsook their guitars for Roland 101s and 303 bass machines at one stage and launched straight into some late night Detroit techno moves. Great stuff with a vocalist who sounds not unlike John Lyden and comes up with lyrics like "one two three four kick the fucker out the door" who am I to argue the toss?

Elbow - All romantic, yearning, keening, shimmering well-meaning gunk. Perfect couples music – ah they were OK and they could play their instruments and shure the couples have to listen to something while they is picking the lady bugs off they long, shiney, brown limbs. Groove Armada were next on the big Pyramid much to the delight of the sun shaken lager louts behind us. They were exactly as you might expect. They shimmied through "shakin that ass" and "super stylin" and did a nice version of "The River" with the trombone sounding oh so sweet of a sunny afternoon. I wandered off in search of grub and got somewhat lost but was back for PJ Harvey.

I always fancied myself as just about to become a PJ Harvey fan. You can now put me down as having made the bid decision. On she flounces with a spice girls dress and acid pink heels and a big, smiley, snarely mug. This is it! Simple really. Men = fuckers, sex = death, love = crock of shit, life = consequence after consequence until the beguiling peace of six feet under. This lady likes her pill bitter no sugar thanks, take your romantic illusions, your Elbow – esq sincerity and sink em down low down into the muck where they belong. A raging, blasting feast of primitive, dirty blues. And she seemed to be in good form too – laughing and relaxed. Hey now you wouldn't want to meet her on a bad day. Well to cut a long story short this was one of me favourite Glasto moments. The band was tight and impolite – they knocked a mountain of noise outa one guitar and a drum kit. I now have 2 PJ Harvey CDs and she leaves me quite the opposite to dry…in general what a day the sun shone like a mutha fucker and the music was great. So this is Glastonbury – yum.

Tried but failed to put in some kip at nine. The horror was that while I was trying to sleep the faint but detectable grunge of oasis was slipping into me ears from about a mile away – ughy. Eventually decided to get up and proceed towards the Glade for some dance frequencies. Got the end of Ronnie Pilgrim and the start of Freq Nasty. 3 G and T s failed to really get me going so I proceeded to purchasing 2 pills off a tall gent. Had a half of what were pretty much fake E s but the bit of speed in it kept me wandering for quite a patch. Glade became a massacre as the rumour spread of a Fat Boy Slim gig. Sensibly he played somewhere else! I caught some of Groove Rider at the scary one fm silver spaceship, then some nice tech house in tiny marquee and then back to one of my favourite place – the br-asian experience in the Geo dome. Some crazy fuckers were playing. World music with a sense of humour including a wild dancer in a silver cat suit, a Portuguese vocalist who did a good Ofra Hazie – they were mega funny – no name unfortunately. This got me to bed by 4.30 and a sort of sleep though the accursed sound system in the camp sit did their best to prevent it!

Saturday

We reached the Glade by about 12.15 for the bizarre cut and paste fest of Cassette Boy. Less an actual gig then a series of running jokes on a sample with Tony Blair and Richard Nixon (cassette tape recording good egh?) running about the stage. I found Cassette Boy quite an excellent political commentator getting his shots in very nicely and using peoples actual words agin' em. After a spot of lunch back to see Herbert in the dripping rain and accompanied, for a lot of it, by one of those giant poover yokes (official name – sludgigators) cleaning out a near by Jacks. But do you know what it didn't matter as the folicaly challenged one was absolutely ace. Staring with some of his own dinkier, glitchy stuff – building to the epic: Destination Unknown by Green Velvet and then taking it right back down again for some lovely deep house. The other highlight – the lovely Dani Sciliano with a glass of wine singing and dancing to songs with herself on vocals. OK only at Glasto can you put together band sequences as flash as this – Cassetteboy, Mathew Herbert, The Ruttles, Sir Paul Mc Cartney, Basement Jazz, Sister Sledge, Kismet and Chumbawamba – wow egh

I went away for me afternoon nap. Then for some reason I was then persuaded on an up hill drive to the acoustic tent to catch some aging Beatles imitators who once made a film called The Rutles. They were fab. First off even if The Beatles ever get together they will never sound like the Beatles again but these guys so do! It was real evocative stuff. In fact to be fully appreciated you had to build a bit of a scenario. So mine was to be in some British air force base in Germany in the 1960s at a dance and suddenly these lovable mop tops come on with their weird and there you go. Other things that I liked about this – the perfect mello trone sound at the start of their
version of The Walrus so nice.

Other things the West country crusties waltzing across the floor so sweet – the close harmonies, the exciting drum solo – OK I only heard about that. It was watching a piece of history that still felt quite vital and alive. This was almost precisely and exactly the opposite feeling to what I got when I had to struggle through the throngs at the Pyramid stage and listen by force to Mc Cartney. Fucking woeful – history dying on its feet right in front of you. Lets move on quickly – I know I did. In the middle of a sea of mud – Basement Jaxx were putting on an obvious but diverting bit of stadium dance floor on the Other Stage. Throw in some Usher, throw in some Missy Elliot – diva up front – we do Stevie Wonder sounds very well. Yeah – I guess I'm the only one who still longs for them to go back to the sneaky little deep house numbers. Still sounded like Stevie Wonder even then, but these days they seem to sound like Jameraquai imitating Stevie Wonder. Ugh. Then on to Sister Sledge in the dance tent. Or should I say Sister Sludge. This was the first of many Glasto victories for faceless muso backing drones. Oh yes the slicky eighties session guys – a guitar solo - just what Lost in Music has always needed and on keys we have the black Rick Wakeman – oh dear. However they finished in style with the long housey version of We Are Family. Stretched it for 15 minutes and everyone went mental. Good finish. Question: Weren't there supposed to be four sisters – we were family……….

Lashed me one and a half fake Es into me and wandered through the muck. Eventually got back to me favourite place: The Geo Dome to witness a bunch who were called Kismet I think. These guys were both savage and hilarious mixing Punjabi sounds with rock – most spectacularly on their version of Sun Shine of Your Love. Most excellent fun – crowd enjoyed band enjoyed I love those kinda gigs. As the fake Es were proving close to useless I evolved a new routine of sneaking into the Lost Vagueness show room to do double vodkas and Orange all night. This was a Wild West style bar with drunken bar women in Texas whore House outfits on one side and dribbling men on the other – much fun. Also in there were Chumbawamba. They did a pretty good set – all the hits present and correct. I find the Chumbas to be collective to a point of coldness – everything seems very rehearsed and thought out – no real spontaneity – mind you they do have the best trumpet player in the world. The crusties outside were braying at them to play "some of your the old songs". But which ones? These guys have been around a long, long time even before those English civil war tunes.

Even better, they are supposed to be banned outa Glasto since they went for John Prescot that time so this was a sneaky fringe gig. Ah no I did enjoy it. Bumbled around a bit longer – caught some Asian r n b with Richie Rich – awful. As one punter so memorably put it: "all he did was that poxy Craig David mix anyway" (the Brits; when they want to have a go they don't waste time!) Hung around the general Lost Vagueness zone wondering at the glamorous crusties, men in dresses and the general craziness of it all. The lads selected one hell of a good camp spot! Eventually at about 4.40 left my mates monged in the Geo Dome and drifted back to be greeted by the camp sound system just as I hit the hay, playing Chime over and over and over again ……….


I check me notes for Sunday and it says The Mexican. What in all hell is this supposed to
mean?! Oh wait……………………………

Any way Sunday started with Mr. Blue Sky. There seemed to be general agreement that everyone was decamping towards the British National Opera Company for a bit of the old Ride of the Valkaries. The elements were conspiring here. Maybe Baron Mc Cartney went by with his cloud seeding air plane. Any way as the performance built up so did the huge strato cumulus clouds with even a few wheeling birds high up in the firmament for added effect. Most Nietzche! The opera was absolutely great watched by a crowd of about 30,000 – not all middle aged either.I decamped for the joys of that effete young son of Ulster young Neil Hanon and his Divine Comedy muckers. The man was on a roll – hamming up to the max. "Are you enjoying your rock festival, are you wearing silly hats and things, I wouldn't know I just flew in from France mayself…." Of all the fay gestures his best one was sitting down with a fag and a glass of wine and remarking "do you like my band they're rather good aren't they" He sat there watching em for at least five minutes ! Other fine moments – that tune about your daughter the goth and Queens of the Stoneage cover – bizarre. Went off to check the other side of the Oirish coin eg the bwoy Christie up on the stage only a few hours vacated by the British National Opera – cool – streams of irony flow!. Christie did what Christie does and well. OK he almost appears to suffer from over sincerity disorder at times but his version of "Ride On" was great. Then right in the middle of the ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ it rained – I mean it mother fucking poured – you can share a poncho between two but only for so long we ran for a beer tent.

The rain stopped for James Brown. I really wanted to see the man. You know for the purely stupid reason I saying oh yeah I saw James Brown. I wish fuck I had of left well enough alone. The man was sick and obviously so. The great thing about James always was that he was the boss. He counted it off – he controlled a tightly tuned outfit like the JBs and they could funk like there was no tomorrow. But this was some sort of Vegas carnival freak show. No JBs, no Bobby Byrd – just a crew of professional parasites and session musoids. Maybe live fast die young makes a certain sense – or at least quit while you're ahead! A profoundly depressing experience even if, occasionally, he got the odd good grunt in. I napped off but was up well in time for Orbital. There was some stage controversy here. Some shower called Muse had been given the main stage. I never heard of em – I think even in rock circles they're no big splash in the pool. Well in the event, Glasto voted with its feet as thousands and thousands streamed for the other Stage. Glasto moment – one copper photographing another and then shouting into the phone "I'm at Orbital O R B I T A L". As soon as the two lovely cops were gone the dealers are next past "get your Es – last Es of the festival" Good bye lads I was just waiting to ingest 3 disgusting looking, pale, phalicy looking Mexican mushrooms with an big gob of ice cream. Well to cut a long story short it was like moving from the real world to the surreal. The light show was amazing the hits were all in place from ‘Satan’ to ‘Dr Who’. It was a sea of mud with what felt like 100,000 people stretching towards the horizon on all sides. Flares going up, fire works going up, hand held lasers – an inflatable dalek sails over the crowd. The shrooms kicked in violently and everything was getting very blurred. The crowd roared and you realised it was the end of Orbital, the end of a whole generation of raves in muddy fields, the end of an era. Then I just didn't want them to stop ever. Because I knew I couldn't deal with the empty stage, the muddy field, the thousands slipping way – It wasn't right – it couldn't happen not, now not ever and then it did.

5 Glasto fashion essentials:

1.little angel wings – look good with anything
2. Fellas in dresses – I told them it would come!
3. Crusties go glam – pink dreads, wedding dresses, top hats, salsoul compilations and
Stevie Wonder in every vegan Café – this trend I love
4. A line skirts go up and up – a perverts dream
5. Wellies they can be glamorous – buckles – little Fish Eyes – very the season

by Krossie for the 2004 UCD Freshers Guide (the one the world loved to hate...)


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