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'I’ve never been to Glasto, is it worth it?’ Hear the answer from a first timer.

‘I’ve never been to Glasto, is it worth it?’ Hear the answer from a first timer.

So, you spent your teenage years and early twenties going to the bigger festivals; Reading, V Festival, Bestival; and suddenly the flat Carling, hordes of teens and having to avoid stages of whatever people have been screaming about for the past twelve months don’t seem too appealing. By the time the prospect of Glastonbury came along, you’d kind of outgrown the lure of a gargantuan festival.  You’ve now grown into picking and choosing your summer moments. Whether it’s Green Man, Latitude, End of the Road, Festival Number Six; maybe there’s a little more depth in the line-up, or just more opportunities to take a step back, soak in the atmosphere, and appreciate the finer details of the weekend. But no matter what, you’ll always have that niggling feeling. It crops up every Autumn when the social networks are painted with people bragging about picking up tickets, when the Eavis starts trickling bits to the BBC, or ultimately every time you’re asked the question ‘HAVE YOU BEEN TO GLASTONBURY?’

Well, this was all true for me until a fortnight ago when I made my first visit to Worthy Farm.

I wanted to hate Glastonbury!

As a self-serving, pseudo ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, part of me wanted to hate Glastonbury. Why? The endless trawl of BBC adverts, having to hear people talking about it over the counter at Tesco, radio segments about Glasto-chic; just go ahead and fetch me a noose. However, the fact that the media have decided to brand the Festival as an ambassador for all British festivals is hardly Eavis and co’s fault, they’re just very successful, and when you arrive at Worthy Farm the media obsession with the place seems a million miles away (despite the amount of coked-up BBC workers whizzing around).  

It’s a festival just for the mainstream nowadays.

Glastonbury is proportional because it’s so ridiculously popular and has such a huge capacity. Due to this fact, of course there’s going to be shit on (Kaiser Chiefs did two sets, for crying out loud), but it is a microcosm indicative of the music world. For example, it’s Saturday night and you don’t fancy watching Metallica? Then go watch the enchanting Mogwai tearing up the Park Stage – not into your post-experimentalism? Well, fuck a duck: Bryan Ferry is headlining the West Holts Stage!

If you can’t find something for you at Glastonbury, then you’ll probably seldom find much at any festivals this summer.

It just doesn’t have the finer details of a smaller festival or absurdities of others.

After going to Boomtown last year, I was blown away by the abstract craft of its environment and its absurd disposition – a few months later when I later trawled through the forests of Portmeirion and down into the piazza of Festival Number Six, I was convinced that their absolute beauty – despite being opposite ends of the spectrum – could not be bettered. However, venturing into the deep dark of Saturday night after a bewildering Metallica set, I came across Block 9: it felt as if I had crossed into the fourth dimension. Cars crashing into the side of multi story car parks, a building which shuffled and changed structures like a rubix cube and bars springing from holes in the ground: it was the kind of scene that sends you into a dark, dark echelon of your mind. I’m not even going to get started on Shangri La… Heaven… Hell.

Musical highlights (follow the link):

Arcade Fire make history with an unbelievable headline slot.

Dolly Parton plays to one of the biggest crowds Glastonbury has ever seen.

De La Soul bring the sun out.

Metallica surprise us all...

Jack White swigs moonshine and stares us right in the eye.

And the best act we saw all weekend goes to...

So is it worth it? Absolutely. It is a truly unique institution in the UK music scene and, despite the pockets of corporate intervention, the festival maintains that utterly incandescent spirit. Glastonbury is the only festival I’ve ever been to that is able to have Dolly Parton crooning out to 100,000 people on a Sunday afternoon and still keep that archetypal intimacy we all crave for on a long weekend in the British Countryside. 


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