Monday, 7 July 2008

Saturday 28th June – From Scrumpy & Western to Brazilian Party Rock (and everything in between)

The rain has stopped and for the first time the sky contains some blue patches; however, Friday’s rain and 180,000 pairs of feet have turned the grassy fields into a sloppy brown mess - wellingtons again today.

After a short stack of organic vegan pancakes, we take a stroll through the Healing Fields where you can visit a homeopathic chiropractor, a tarot card reading podiatrist and a mooncup vendor. We escape to the Avalon stage and The Wurzels. The Wurzels, we are reliably informed, are Somerset legends: their songs of cider, cheese and combine harvesters virtually invented the Scrumpy and Western genre. In total contrast, the Black Kids are flash in the pan 80’s flavoured indie pop. They arrive to a moderate-sized crowd on the Other Stage, but fail to impress. The only time the audience really get involved is during singles Hurricane Jane and I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You.

By mid-afternoon, the sun is out and the queue for pear and strawberry cider at the Brothers Bar extends well into the Jazz stage audience, which is fine for most as the line moves fast and Eric Bibb is on stage playing his acoustic blues.

A young crowd has gathered at the Other Stage for The Wombats, who are joined on stage by a large inflatable wombat. The band start their set gathered round a single microphone doing a capella version of Tales of Boys and Girls and Marsupials - a novel way to kick things off. For the next forty minutes, the whole crowd is singing, dancing, and loving the band for the simple sing-along pop songs they play to perfection. Between songs, guitarist Matthew Murphy and drummer Dan Haggis exchange banter in a refreshingly unrehearsed manner, and appear genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to be playing at Glasto to such a large and enthusiastic crowd.

Over at the John Peel Stage, Vampire Weekend play their second set of the festival, the intellectual afro-beat influenced indie pop bringing smiles to the faces of the large crowd. A-Punk is a mid-set highlight, but the biggest response comes for penultimate track Oxford Comma, everyone jumping at the chance to sing “Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?, ..., ..., Ooo-Ooo Ooo-Ooohoo”

Approaching the Park Stage, the crowd is noticeably larger than it has been all weekend. When we hear the opening strings and drum roll of The Age of the Understatement, it becomes clear that today’s Park Stage surprise guests are The Last Shadow Puppets, who play a short set covering their singles. The crowd, already satisfied with the surprise guests, are in raptures when Jack White (The Raconteurs/White Stripes) joins the band for set-closer Wondrous Place.

Expanded to a five-piece for the live setting, MGMT use the extra bodies to great effect, boosting the sound of their debut album into a surprisingly heavy psychedelic rock show. The band’s intention to rock is made clear with head bang’n, hat flipp’n opener Weekend Wars, and the set continues to reel you in during Pieces of What before closing out with the bands three biggest hits. For Electric Feel, MGMT are joined by Har Ma Superstar who screams out the chorus while throwing his tubby frame around the stage, jumping, dancing and doing the splits. Time to Pretend is next, getting a colossal cheer and the whole audience singing. Most of the band then exit, leaving original members Andrew VanWyngardan and Ben Goldwasser to lead a massive karaoke style sing-along for Kids, the short set finishing with VanWyngardan stuck in the photo pit after crowd surfing a good 15-20 rows back into the audience.

All the cool/indie kids seen to have decided against the Amy Winehouse/Jay-Z extravaganza on the Pyramid; rather, they have assembled at the Park Stage to close out Saturday night with Battles followed by CSS.

Battles arrange themselves in a line along the front of the stage and reproduce their math rock brilliantly. John Stanier would have to be the festival’s hardest working drummer, making his job no easier by using the highest hi-hat ever seen: a full six feet from the ground, it requires him to jump from his stool with every strike of the cymbal. Disappointingly, earlier delays mean that Battles have to cut their set short following Leyendecker.

CSS have an elaborate stage setup with helium balloons and rabbit head mirror balls hanging from every possible location. The band run onto the stage wearing tightly curled white wigs, before being followed by interminably bouncy singer Lovefoxxx who appears to be wearing a full body steel wool ball along with her white wig. New track Rat is Dead (Rage) is pulled off sensationally before the Lovefoxx removes her steel wool, revealing a more practical silver cat suit. Alcohol and Music is my Hot Sex deliver the Brazilian party vibe before another costume change, this time the leaving Lovefoxx in a hideously bright multi-coloured cat suit. Closing the set with Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above, and a gear smashing version of Alala, CSS were perfect as a stage-closing act, delivering party tunes that kept everyone smiling, dancing, and happy late into Saturday night.

Still high from the fabulous CSS, we head to Trash City, one of the site‘s two after-hours party fields. Approaching the entrance we find that pretty much everyone else has the same idea, but we manage to squeeze in. Trash City is a cluster of bars, clubs and an outdoor dance floor that contains a flame-spurting DJ booth at its centre. Despite the strict dress code (all guests must have a moustache), The Horsemeat Disco has a long line at its door, so we head to the slightly less busy drag biker bar The Dragstrip. Inside, it is dangerously full with a body-to-body crowd partying to a raucous punk band while dudes in drag pole dance around the room.

On the way back to our tents, we pass through Glastonbury’s other late night party district: Shangri-la. It looks like everyone who is not at Trash City has squashed into Shangri-la. After a quick drink in The Tarts and Tease, a champagne and burlesque bar with Amsterdam-style ladies dancing in window boxes, we drag our tired selves up the hill to our tent and try to sleep - no easy task when camped just a short stumble from the Shangri-la’s 14 micro venues.

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