Mou @ The Glastonbury Festival 2009

Well, to be fair I’ve been back 5 days now, but to continue with my tradition of lazy blogging heres my 2009 Glastonbury Festival write up a few days late. I’ve also took a pile of photos, the best of which now live on Flickr

Wednesday

I’d done the usual of driving to Robs and saying on his boat on the Tuesday night. He’s only 80 miles from Glasto so it means we get can an early start and be one of the first ones there. Every year this has worked perfectly, until this year – apparently some selfish buggers decided to have a crash near the site just before the festival opened and an entire road around the north of the site was blocked off – meaning 7 hours of traffic. Seeing as we come in from the east and our Orange car park is in the west, we were stuck and ended up being herded into the blue car park with the rest of the confused punters.

The main problem with Glastonbury is that you have no concept of how big it is until you have to walk from one side from the other. Even being the 5th time at the site, I still didn’t realise the pain I was letting myself in for. Now I’m back and being a bit of a geek, I checked it on Google maps – we walked just under 3km with all our kit, from an elevation of 75m to 23m. Put simply, it was downhill all the way (I didn’t bother myself with thoughts about the walk back at this point).

Oh and I finally saw Michael Eavis after 5 years! We were forced to stop at a crossroads as an estate car drove past. In the drivers seat – a very amused looking Eavis! It seems weird its taken this long, even bearing in mind there are 149,999 other people at the festival – sort of like going to a party and not saying hello to the host!

Thursday

My entire days plans went to pot when I hit the vino a little too early on. After a late wake up, we decided to go for a wander up to the “Lounging and Viewing area”, just past the tipi fields – the highest point in the festival. By the time we got to the top I was knackered, and my head was starting to swim so we collapsed for a couple of hours! Got some great photos though.

I don’t remember much of Thursday to be honest, its a bit of a haze of drinking red wine and wandering around. My photo album suggests I went to the Greenpeace field and took some photos, but aside from that I think the rest of the day involved lazing around, having a fire, drinking more and then going to bed. Fantastic!

Oh god I almost forgot – I had my wallet stolen from my tent Thursday morning while I was asleep! The cheeky bastard opened the outer skin on my tent, opened the inner enough to get his hand in and grabbed my shorts (which were sitting next to the door). I woke up to see the door open, and in my hungover haze decided I’d been an idiot and forgotten to close the door. A few minutes later my head started clearing and pieced together the fact that my initial theory made no sense. I reached behind my head – thank fuck I’d hidden my camera/phone behind my pillow. But where was my wallet? In my short… but where were my shorts?!? I opened the tent and looked out – they’d been stuffed under the tent opposite. I got them back, minus the wallet.

A few hours later as people started waking up it turned out quite a few people in the area had been robbed. Someone a little more proactive than me had gone searching though, and found a pile of dumped wallets – including mine. So I got it back, minus £80 – plus I’d already cancelled my cards so they were useless. I got by by transferring cash to Owen, who then got it from the cash machine for me.

Seriously though, going into a tent when someones asleep?? You’ve got to have some balls…

Friday

And so the music begins!

My first of the day was Regina Spektor, who I admit I only went to under instruction from Lissa, who insisted I rung her during the show so she could listen… <sigh> actually, I have to admit I was surprised. As much as she sound like a wailing strangled banshee-cat on her CDs, she was actually fairly entertaining live. A little on the random side, but a good listen.

Then The Maccabees, who were OK but nothing special. Then back to the tent for a rest (and a wine top up) and listen to the Fleet Foxes. The bonus of camping on The Oxylers/Dance Field is the close proximity to the Other Stage. If you’re far enough back to not smell the toilets, but close enough to hear the music clearly you’re onto a winner. :)

Lily Allen pulled off another brilliant performance, which is what we’ve come to expect of her at Glastonbury. Favourites were Not Fair (which every girl within a 20m radius seemed to know all the words to) and Fuck You, which was apparently written about the BNP. Both got a brilliant reaction from the crowd.

I enjoyed Noah and the Whale, even without Laura Marling vocals. It the first time I’d ever been to the Park field to see a band and its a great layout – lots of room to lay out and chill while the bands are on. Highlight was finding out why about 50 people were waving balloons for the entire performance when they hit the Chorus of 5 Years Time and they all let them go of the ends and they all flew off to a great cheer from the crowd. We caught the second half the The Streets, in time to catch Dry Your Eyes and a great tribute cover of Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.

After wasting 20 minutes of my life on the #fail that is Neil Young at Isle of Wight I avoided him like the plague at Glasto, instead catching the end of The Ting-Tings and Bloc Party. Both drew a huge crowd and had looked almost hypnotic at night with the flashing lights and lazers. Thats one of the things I love about The Other Stage, the way its laid out you always feel close enough to get the full effect of the night performances.

Saturday

I MISSED ROLF HARRIS! Gutted! The heat was too much and I took the executive decision of listening to the Other Stage from the refuge of our crappy gazebo. Yeah I know, I must be the only greek in the world who can’t take the heat – but theres only so much sweat you can lose before it starts to piss you off a bit (the humidity was stupid), so I kopped out and avoided the midday sun for once. To be fair, Peter, Bjorn and John were actually fairly good, as were Metric – not bands I’d usually go to see, but they surprised me.

The first trip of the day was to see Dizzee Rascal, which I actually thought was pretty crap. I’m actually a fan of Dizzee so I dunno what it was – maybe a mix of the heat, a hangover and where we were standing, but I got bored pretty quick and went on a wander to the Dance Field for a bit of Wiley, which I’m afraid to say was also disappointing. Maybe its because I was expecting an MC set and got a DJ set, I didn’t last there too long and was drawn over to the G-Stage for Atomic Hooligan for a bit of old school dance/garage mashups and retro MCing. Genius! I sat against the barrier with my back to the speaker, got out my wine and killed the next hour bopping my head and watching the drugged up ravers, wondering how the hell they could start on that stuff so early… ah well, it was entertaining so I don’t care. :)

Next was Paulo Nutini, whose praises I’ve sung since I saw him at the Isle of Wight festival. He has such a fantastic voice, he’s a joy to listen to. Once he was done I was shocked that the entire field seemed to clear out, and seeing Maximo Park were on next I decided to push forward and get a good spot. 3rd from the front when they came on! Got some great close up photos, and had a good dance to some personal favourites of mine – Girls who Play Guitars and Apply Some Pressure, which provoked a massive singalong. This went down as one of my favourite performances of the festival, with Paul Smith really looking like he was enjoying himself as much as the crowd.

Next were Pendulum – another personal favourite – and they didn’t disappoint. I was fairly near the back and even back there songs like Granite and The Tempest had everyone on their feet dancing. And when every other poor sap was drawn to the big name and wandered over to the Pyramid for Bruce Spingstein? I completely lucked out – I walked over to 2 Many DJs at Dance East, which turned out to be completely packed out. I went to see who was on at Dance West and – DJ Yoda is on! Can’t believe I missed it in the guide. I got about 40 minutes of dance time in as he mixed in some cracking beats with samples from family guy, south park and others. After nearly missing it, this ended up one of my favourites of the festival!

After Yoda was done, I hung around for Josh Wink who, after listening through about 8 round of “Turn it Up!” from the crowd, decided to come on the mic and apologise for the sound board, who were apparently “following health & safety regulations” ! But he pointed his monitors out to the crowd which gave a bit of extra sound, he got a cheer and it all went on from there.

The night finished with another uber campire, more wine and laughing at a couple a few tents from me having a blazing drunken row about what sounded like absolute nothing. I love camping.

Sunday

Another boiling hot day, starting with a visit to Breakfast with Howard Marx. He spent great deal of the time talking about smoking, and made an amusing observation that there are 2 references to God smoking in the bible, and the only place he could get a light was from Lucifer – so long before we discovered tobacco God and the Devil were enjoying a good smoke together. hehehe.

By now the trademark sunshine was kicking in and so it was back to the tents to laze around and listen to The Other Stage from there. The Boxer Rebellion sounded ok, Art Brut kept shouting their own name and sounded like they were high on something stronger than life, but were actually pretty entertaining. Not long after Rob and Owen decided they wanted to take some stuff back to the car to save on the extra effort the next day – and seeing as I’d to great lengths to ensure I could carry everything I brought on my back, I took the opportunity to go on a photo walk and do some hardcore picture taking. It also gave me a chance to visit some fields that, unbelievably, in 5 years I still hadn’t seen. Green futures, through to the healing fields, Croissant Neuf, the Craft Field, Arcadia, Shangri-la, Trash City, through the Avalon field, onto the Cabaret field. Here I stopped at the Poem & Words tent to listen to a random poem about the London Underground, which was actually pretty good.

The Mummers were playing on the Avalon stage nearby, so I popped over and unfortunately wasn’t that impressed. Its a shame because I actually like the Mummers, but the sound quality was a bit crap and it generally didn’t sound that good. Sorry Mummers, I’ll still listen to your CD ;)

I got back to The Other Stage just in time to miss Enter Shikari, who seemed to have half hour earlier – dammit! Caught the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who were a bit rubbish, and then was forcibly dragged down the see Bat for Lashes. Well OK, I admit not knowing who they were and having Rob rave about them I figured they’d be OK. 20 minutes later I managed to offend Rob by telling him I couldn’t listen to her whining anymore and was off, and caught half hour of dubstep at the G Stage.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were OK, but not really my type of music. Although the random parachuting guy did give me some amusement.

Then it was over to the John Peel tent for my number 1 performance of the festival – The Wombats. They stole the show for me, with performances of Kill the Director, Lets Dance to Joy Division and Backfire at the Disco that had the entire crowd dancing and most of the tent singing along. With such an intense atmosphere, the flashing lights and the obvious fun everyone around me was having, it would have been an effort not to enjoy myself.

Closing the festival was The Prodigy. They were on at Isle of Wight Festival but I managed to miss most of the show, so I was looking forward to the Glasto performance. I got exactly what I expected – loud, banging tunes, a great show, a field full of jumping people and a knockout light show. Absolute genius.

Final Thoughts

All in all, for me the 2009 festival was another resounding success. The weather was boiling hot for the best part of the weekend, aside from some thunderstorms on Thursday night which meant trapsing around in sloshy mud for most of Friday – but it wasn’t enough to put a damper on the festival and most of the site had dried out by Saturday. Plus it would have been a miracle to go 2 years without any rain :)

Any my god, my feet. Every time I stopped walking I had my feet out my shoes airing out. I felt like such an old man!

One complaint I did have this year was the sheer number of flags. I couldn’t say for certain that there were more than other years, but I certainly noticed them a lot more. Eavis said himself in an interview that this year had drawn a much younger crowd following the “success” (lol) of Jay-Z in 2008, so my theory is that having only ever seen Glasto on TV, all the n00bs assumed flags were the norm. Generally Ive got no issue with them, but when you’re 20 people back from the front and you can’t see anyone through the flags, you know theres a problem.

But having been to the Isle of Wight festival earlier in the month, it did confirm one thing to me – I’d developed festival arrogance. At Glasto you get used to walking around with your own booze, having a choice of hundreds of things to do at any one time at any time of day or night, moving freely around the entire site with minimal interference and sitting down to a campfire at the end of the day. And that sort of freedom provides the springboard for having a fantastic time every time you go, with no 2 festivals ever feeling quite the same. At Isle of Wight it took 5 days of walking the same route from tent to arena, getting searched, to the stage then back the same route to the tent before I got bored of it. Isle of Wight was actually OK, but it was overshadowed by the fact that Glastonbury is all I knew, and Glastonbury was as good as a festival gets.

And Will – what were you thinking not coming this year?? We missed you man, and I know you were gutted you didn’t come! Next time you have the bright idea to “save money”, make sure you start in July! ;)

So heres to 2009, and (assuming its on) roll on 2010!



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