Saturday, August 2, 2014

Glastonbury: following it every year

A few years back, my mid-summer started to be filled with late nights watching YouTube videos. Full sets from what is the grandaddy of great music festivals: Glastonbury filled by late nights. It is still the same, and one of these days I will get there. Who wants to join me when I go?

So each year I watch a number of the sets which have been downloaded onto YouTube, and make my personal evaluations, and critiques of "Best in Show." I am sure the video version is significantly different than the live performances, and I know that I will certainly offend fans of certain bands by posting my favs here, and my critiques of others, but here ya go --> Phil's best of Glastonbury from a great distance, with a deep hope to be there soon.

Here's who does not make it: Arcade Fire, despite some of the best of show in a few songs, they took four songs to even get going, sang out of tune for the first few, and took 12 minutes to find their groove. Coulda been best of show otherwise. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters could easily be anywhere on the this list of ten best. The musicianship, and the unique instrumentation made it a great rainy day show. Some of the standards from Zeppelin turned into something otherworldly cool. Robert Plant doesn't actually need lyrics to sing, and that's good, because otherwise you'd get tired of hearing "Babe, baby, baby..." over and over. ;-) Foster the People - I kinda wondered where they went for this show. Dolly Parton - Dolly is the consumate pro, but was predictable. Jack White - awesome musicianship, horrible intelligibility. I'm not sure I could understand one word the whole set. James Blake was so close, and having a bit of ambient rambling should probably be here. Kasabian brought the house down, but still didn't make my cut. MGMT was a good psychedelic show and worth watching. London Grammar may have missed a few high notes, but otherwise was a really good show. The sets below are not based on the kind of music I buy, or on the hottest musicians. This is simply my thoughts on good performances at perhaps the biggest music festival in the world.

To get a view of this year's full line up, and clips of many of the artists you can go to Glastonbury's home site on the BBC.

#10 - Ed Sheeran - a solo act with a loop pedal, and a buzzing mini Martin guitar probably shouldn't make the cut, but this guy does what he does ridiculously well. Wow. Opening song might make best in show cut.

#9 - The 1975 - This was a somewhat controversial set, with cigarettes and drinking, and what looked to me like acting drunk without actually being so. And all this with a band with teeny bopper fans. But dang. They were tight, and their rhythm was so bouncy fun. Not my kinda music, but they did what they do exceptionally well.

#8 - Jurassic 5 - That's right. Old Hip-hop artists. They ripp'd it up, and that's all I've got to say about it. The full set seems to have disappeared since I watched but here is a segment of their show and it will make you feel happy.

#7 - HAIM - Girl's Rock! They make funny faces. They captivated the audience. They should have had better slots, even though they played two shows.

#6 - Ellie Goulding - Girl Rocks again! She dances like a clumsy tribal warrior, but she stays in tune hitting crazy high notes - perhaps there is a little autotune help, but I know she is not depending on it. I thought she was going to wear herself out at the 15 minute mark, but she kept it going for the whole set.

#5 - Metallica - definitely not my music. This was a controversial choice for the first heavy metal band to headline the Pyramid Stage Saturday Night slot. Otherwise, they were the headliners for the whole event. I personally thought this was going to be a yawner. Not by any chance. This was a bucket list show for them, which I thought was wonderful for such a huge band. Well, they smashed the Pyramid Stage, and in a wonderful little act of homeliness had a crowd of fans at the back of the stage. Yeah, Metallica still rules the metal stage.

#4 - Sam Smith - if you are looking for great vocals, here they are. Sam and his backup singers were the best thing I've found in these YouTube Glasto uploads. Again, not the music I will have playing while I write, but he almost made me cry. His Bass player gets beard of the festival award too.

#3 - Imagine Dragons - This Las Vegas group of Celtic Warrior wannabees played their instruments like they were going to war. They stepped out on the stage, and had me immediately. They rolled in the Glastonbury mud, and wore the mud through the whole set. These guys must be Burners, they know how to identify and initiate themselves into a festival. They had a hiccup in one song partway through the set, their lyrics are inane, their songwriting fair, but that didn't change my choice for them in the top three. These guys were made for Glastonbury. This is part 1 of 2, and I chose this instead of the Full Set, because it has their muddy entrance.

#2 - St. Vincent - okay, Girl rocks again! She can play the guitar. She can sing. She is a drama queen crawling around the stage like she's dying. She was really entertaining. Not sure where the Full Set went, since I saw it, so here's "Your Lips are Red" at Glastonbury.

#1 - Kaiser Chiefs - They played the crowd. They played the camera. They had more energy than a Chernobyl. It took the first song to get Ricky Wilson's mic set, but it was all out for an hour.

That's my list. If you watch these like I do, you can tell me I'm off my rocker. ;-)