Monday, 7 July 2008

Sunday 29th June - Hunched Double Over a Bucket

Sitting in the sunshine eating a breakfast of poached egg, beans, and vegetarian sausage, I pull out the guide and make plans for Glastonbury’s final day. Again, there is an impossible amount to see, but at least the ground has dried out - making getting around easier - so I draw up an ambitious timetable that will allow me to see nine acts across four stages and at least five genres.

On the way to my first stop I pass the Other Stage, where a small crowd of nostalgic flag-waving Australians and curious Brits have gathered to see the Hoodoo Gurus play their very Oz brand of rock. I walk on.

Arriving at the Dance Lounge, The Shortwave Set have already started playing to a crowd of less than two dozen people. A strange choice for the Dance Village, the Shortwave Set’s sound is a strung out mix of psychedelica, indie guitar pop and surf music. But the small crowd and strange location don’t stop the band - dressed in janitors’ coveralls and joined by two dancing girls with pom-poms and calico dresses (The Pagan dancers)- putting on a great show for those that were present. Replica is an obvious highlight.

Arriving at the John Peel Stage, I discover that The Whip and Yeasayer have had their set times swapped over. The unknown quantity that is The Whip deliver an energetic set of nu-rave standards that, despite not hitting any incredible highs, manages to get the audience shaking about with hands in the air. Following this, Yeasayer starts off very sedately - the audience wants to, but finds it hard to get into the groove of the Brooklyn band’s complex rhythms. The mid-show arrival of 2080 helps turn the corner for the band, a beautiful track that picks the audience up and delivers them to a very nice place. It is in this place that the audience remains for the remainder of Yeasayer’s time on stage. Closing out with a heartfelt thank you before playing Wait For The Summer and Sunshine, Yeasayer leaves everyone to take on the rest of the day with a really good feeling inside.

A vegetable samosa in one hand and a pint of Somerset cider in the other, I head back into the Dance Village where Melbourne’s bearded ravers Midnight Juggernauts are playing Dance West with almost the same set they toured Australia with on the Dystopia/Into the Galaxy tour last year but, perhaps with a nod towards Glasto’s guitar rock history, they have turned up the noise. Older tracks such as Shadows and 45 and Rising do well with the rougher guitar sound, but it is Tombstone that causes the mostly Australian crowd to just about lift the roof off the tent. As is becoming his way, maniac drummer Daniel Stricker takes his tom-tom into the audience for the finale, Into the Galaxy. I leave sweaty and satisfied that Midnight Juggernauts delivered the best performance of the many Australian acts here this weekend.

Montreal-based Stars play a beautiful set on the John Peel Stage, engaging the small crowd with their girl/guy vocals and perfectly constructed songs. At times the crowd seem a little unfamiliar with the tracks and start to chat amongst themselves before being drawn back in by a catchy melody or powerful lyric. As closer Take Me to the Riot comes on, everyone is giving their full attention to the performance and shouting along during the chorus.

In transforming 2007 album Version to the live stage, Mark Ronson has assembled the Version Players, a small orchestra in which he is largely anonymous on guitar, while most of the on-stage antics are left to the roll-call of guests called on to sing, strum, and rap the album’s hits. The songs recreated by Ronson and the Version Players are so well known that they don’t even need vocalists to entice the crowd to sing along, with just a trumpet solo leading Apply Some Pressure and God Put A Smile Upon Your Face. The arrival of Tiggers and a pair of hyperactive rappers for Toxic is the first time we get to hear any vocals from the stage. Ronson acknowledges The Zutons before performing his cover of Valerie, then invites a noticeably boozed Lily Allen on to the stage. With a bottle of cider in one hand and the lyrics sheet in the other, her performance is shambolic: she forgets the words and confuses the band during Littlest Things, and needs help from the audience to get through Kaiser Chiefs’ cover Oh My God. ‘Nanny Allen died yesterday’, she offers by way of explanation. Lastly, Daniel Merriweather joins in for Stop Me, during which Ronson finally accepts some of the limelight by playing his guitar from the front row of the crowd. Mark Ronson, the Version Players and their numerous guests provide a real guilty pleasure on the festival’s last afternoon.

Returning to the John Peel Stage for the umpteenth time today I stop off for some dinner, choosing a delicious looking felafel burger with organic yogurt and extra chilli sauce.

Crystal Castles’ infamous live show has drawn a large crowd, who over the next twenty minutes witness what will become one of the festival’s most talked about sets. Staring with sweaty versions of Reckless and Through The Hosiery, Crystal Castles immediately have everyone moshing along as singer Alice Glass manically jumps between the stage, photo pit, and audience. Skins endorsed Courtship Dating is the highlight, with screeching samples howling over the top of Glass’ vocals, which effortlessly switch between husky whisper and jackal’s scream. During the first notes of Alice Practice, Glass climbs half way up the lighting rig and starts shaking it wildly. Security respond by cutting the stage power to whistles and boos from the crowd. After a short talking to (slap on the wrist), the band is allowed to start playing again. The second the band starts, Glass is climbing all over the crowd barriers, held back from the throbbing masses by a determined security team who are also having to deal with crowd surfers popping up quicker than tents in the Dairy Fields. Now being held only by her jacket, Glass seems to want nothing more than to immerse herself in the crowd; she struggles under the grip of the security staff and it is clear their patience with her is running out, and following Yes No the set is brought to a sudden halt. Crystal Castles may not have won too many friends and will probably never be invited back to Worthy Farm, but their reckless abandon and willingness to ‘stick it to the man’ did get everyone talking.

I start to feel a sharp pain in my stomach, which at first I assume is a deep sadness brought on by the knowledge that, with only Spiritualised and The National left on my agenda, my Glastonbury weekend is nearly over. However, after a dozen visits to the notorious long drops and one to a port-a-loo, it becomes apparent that it is not sadness but a very angry (and probably salmonella-infested) organic felafel burger that is causing my pain. So while most of the site’s campers are enjoying the festival’s last night, I am left hunched double over a bucket wishing for nothing more than a bus off this wretched farm. Where’s a homeopathic apothecary when you need one?

1 comment:

Nick said...

Great write up! I take it you enjoyed yourself then? Shame it ended on a bit of a bad note - the veggie falafel option should have been a safe one - it's normally the luke-warm burgers you have to worry about!