Thursday, June 29, 2017

My First Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury Music Festival is one of the great bucket list events for many people. This festival, which dates back to 1971 is considered the grandaddy of big music festivals. I have previously blogged about it here, and mentioned how I have been watching this event for a number of years. Now I can say that I have climbed this mountain - although it sometimes looks like a mountain of trash (more on that later). 
The gang from the Iona Community
I found the Iona Community with the help of a Goth Vicar: Diana Dingles Greenfied, who is a chaplain for Iona Community online. The Iona Community, where I was staying, is tucked away neatly between the trees near District 9 area.
I ended up camping in their trees (trees to camp under are rare here) and working and playing with them for 5 days. Thanks to Debbie Chaloner, Ben and Jo, Goob Donavan, Miriam Douglas, Colin, Daniel, Stephen... They were the best part of my fest by far.
I talked to visitors from all around the world at the Iona fire all week. I made friends. I played songs for them, but it would be a stretch to say I played Glastonbury. 
Glastonbury is divided up into stages and fields of great variety. The famous Pyramid Stage lies on the intersection of ley lines. There are a number of other large stages on the 1,100 acre property. There is the Green Futures area, and the Healing Fields. There is the late night to early morning (as in 6am) dance area called Shangri-la, which is actually a post-apocalyptic theme park despite the name. For Burners, this will not look like Burning Man, because it is far less interactive. Arcadia has a stage sound booth like a giant spider that shoots flames, and there is more than enough food and vendors selling things for all 250,000 people attending the event.
I saw the following groups/soloists:
Txarango - a "Barcelona Street Music" band. That's what they called themselves at least. It turned out they were an 8 piece Spanish Ska Band. This was the first act I saw. I was hanging out with Miriam from Iona Community. We skanked and moshed for an hour with a pile of big guys from Spain, and this was hands down my favorite show of the whole event. Energy plus. This was like a tight band and a rugby pitch in one show.
Lewis and Leigh: Acoustic Stage Glastonbury 2017
Lewis and Leigh - strong acoustic set from Welsh/American duo on the Acoustic Stage. Tight harmonies, which are not something you see in every set. 
Kaiser Chiefs on the Other Stage - tight, tore it up. A great band. I've watched them in previous years. although this was not as exciting as some of the taped shows I've watched from 3,000 miles away it was a good show, and I was up close to the security fence.
Radiohead - This was a highly anticipated event. It turned out to be quite a blah show, and most people felt that way. A guy I was talking with passed out, and fell against my back, then hit the ground. His buddy was asking for sugar, but he was unconscious. Apparently he was diabetic, so five of us crowd surfed him to safety. Never found out how he came out, but he had good friends with him and security took him to urgent care. The recorded live version of the show turned out better, and might be worth a view.
Flaming Lips - I left the Radiohead show early to see this on the Park Stage, and it was a great move. Second best show after Txarango. See if you can find this on YouTube. The Flaming Lips are known for over the top theatrical performances. They did not disappoint: Bouncing balloons by the hundreds, confetti canons, riding a unicorn onstage, lead singer crawling over the crowd inside an inflatable globe, rainbow inflating on the stage to end while the word "Love" echoed.
Carter Sampson - Oklahoma girl with a great voice on the Acoustic Stage.
Foo Fighters - This was the most anticipated show of the event. They took the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night. Dave Grohl broke his leg two years ago shortly before they were supposed to headline Glasto, so this was their make up date. It was a strong show, though sometimes silly. Wanting to break Adele's record of 34 F-bombs was adolescent goofiness.
Dropkick Murphys on the Other Stage at Glastonbury 2017 
Dropkick Murphys - they nailed it at the Other Stage. I was up front and center. This was the show with the most impact on me. I must miss home a lot. 3rd best show of my Glasto experience, but left the greatest impression on me.
Blaenavon: Young English indie rock trio (Despite the clearly Welsh name) at the William's Green Stage. Lots of talent.
HAIM - talented Los Angeles sisters at The Other Stage. They improve every year, and have piles of talent and personality.
Storyteller Joe Sellman-Leava - mesmerizing stories about growing up Pakistani British. It was a beautifully weaved tale.
Ed Sheeran - Filled the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night. Good to start. Got slow. Doesn't play well with others,   but, extremely talented soloist, songwriter and loop pedal master.

yup, the mess after the event. Need a tent?
I took pictures of the trash left behind, but of course, Americans don't have much to brag about. Burners (Burning Man festival goers) might be able to brag, but Coachella is just as disgustingly gross as anything Glastonbury can leave behind.
Glastonbury ranks up among the best festivals I have attended, and I will be back, as you can tell by my title. This was the first of more to come. I am planning on joining and helping to develop small communities here, God willing.
Interested? Next Glasto - 2019. Next year, they take the year off.