Arriving at sunset on the Wednesday, the vast green landscapes scattered with orchards and pubs soon gave way to the make-shift city that is, Glastonbury Festival. The experience was going to be a new and exciting one for me; I entered the festival as a lucky first-timer who finally remembered to register for tickets, not a smug Glastonbury veteran. After somehow squeezing our tents into a tiny spot that we had no right to, the sheer size of the festival being so completely underestimated to first timers like ourselves, we were all genuinely excited for the weekend ahead.
It soon became apparent what sets Glastonbury apart from its rivals: the attention to detail and sheer effort of the furnishings and decorations made the experience feel complete and totally encapsulating. Walking into the nightlife areas felt more like walking onto a Hollywood set, with Indiana Jones-esque temples and post-apocalyptic apartment blocks – all housing miniature clubs packed to the rafters with a lively crowd and fantastic music. To cover every single artist who played the festival would be a near impossible task, but there were definitely some performances that stood out amongst the rest.
Any band who have the balls to play their two best-known songs within the first twenty minutes of a headline set at Glastonbury are probably something pretty special. And that’s what we were treated to, as Hot Chip’s electrifying synthpop sounded out around the West Holts stage on the Friday night, with Night and Day kicking in around the third song in, shortly followed by Over and Over. It was at this point that we all knew we’d made the right decision in missing Florence and the Machine’s set on the Pyramid Stage. Theirs was a set filled with songs spanning their six albums, and some of the most energetic fans I saw anywhere across the festival.
Slaves produced one of the sets of the weekend with a display of raw energy and a real knack for keeping a crowd entertained – combining humour, showmanship and raucous tunes. Over on the iconic Pyramid stage, Patti Smith left everyone in awe. Her powerful performance contained such passion that it brought a tear or two to the eyes of a couple of those in the audience. Retaining her old punk spirit whilst still looking towards the future was a far cry from The Who’s over-long and overly-nostalgic set. And it’s not every day you get an act who brings on the Dalai Lama for a Happy Birthday singalong – a surprise which topped the secret Charlatans set and last minute Libertines appearance.
British art rock band Django Django, also added to the array of artists that performed during the festival. Energetic, playful and humble in their excitement in performing at the world-renowned festival, Django Django were just as you’d expect them to be. The half-full, sparsely populated tent (the struggles of being billed at the same time as Lionel Richie!), quickly filled as passer-by’s ears pricked up at the sound of their catchy electronic noise drifted over the surrounding area. Singer Vincent Neff’s ending exclamation that it was ‘going to be… WOR!’ summed up their set – the energy in the tent, considering that most people had been sleep deprived and hungover for the last four-ish days, was incredible.
In addition to the décor, the famous and defining Glastonbury values were on display throughout. Little freebies such as a line-up and bag, made everyone feel valued rather than exploited. The masses of volunteers clearing up the rubbish immediately on Monday morning summed up the attitude of the majority of attendees. As a temporary hub of altruistic and bohemian living, with a cracking line-up of acts, it’s easy to see why Glasto receives the praise it does.
Sam Fennell and Hannah Tomes