Approximately four hours into my post-Glastonbury slump, I’ve sat down at my laptop in an attempt to somehow convey, with all due justice, the Glastonbury experience via written word and photography. It’s not an easy task.
Clean, well fed, requiring neither a pair of mud-ridden slightly damp wellies nor factor 50 sun cream for my ill-prepared British skin, it is easy to reflect on the last few days with selective memory. It can be all too easy to forget the moment in which you long for a night’s sleep that doesn’t cease at 5am in the morning when the sun rises and your tent begins to cook you alive, the moment in which you discover your body is capable of aching in ways you never knew, or the moment you look down whilst using the long-drops (don’t do it!). For every ten ‘I love human beings so god damn much!’ moment you experience, there will be at least one of hatred and it may be severe.
However, rest assured, once you’ve showered, eaten and slept, the only thing in the world you’ll want to do is ditch the real world and go right back to Glastonbury. So without further ado, I will attempt to sum up some of the best bits of Glastonbury Festival 2015.
The Best Headline Act…
I’m not sure anyone really ever doubted that last minute headliner Florence and the Machine would be incredible. Ever modestly and gracefully, Florence proceeded to prance around the stage in a fashion that can only be described as heavenly, subsequently filling up the already adoring crowd with potentially dangerous levels of love, joy and serenity. Yes, she really is that magical.
Graciously sending love to Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters via her cover of Times Like These and laughing at herself for her fall – assumed by many to be part of her dance routine because of the moment’s elegance – the crowd faded into a euphoric state that is near impossible to find in the world beyond Glastonbury Festival.
Happiness is being raised up on your pal’s shoulders and belting out You’ve Got the Love and Shake it Out in a chorus made up of Florence Welch, her backing singers and many thousands of strangers. For me, this was definitely an experience of music and performance at its best.
The Best of the Smaller Acts…
While headline acts are usually (this statement becomes controversial with the consideration of Kanye West) portrayed and experienced by many as the peak of Glastonbury Festival, many of my best Glasto moments can be credited to lesser known bands playing somewhere other than the Pyramid stage. This year, Jungle, FKA Twigs and Jessie Ware did it for me, instilling a real sense of awe and gratitude in me to be part of their audiences.
All of these three acts would have been mesmerising had they simply stood motionless on stage, performed their songs and left without saying a word to the crowd; their exquisite vocal talents would have been enough. However, Jungle also provided their audience with awe-inspiring style and dance moves slicker than John Travolta’s hair in Grease.
Moreover, Bgirl Terra, the young breakdancing star of their music video for Platoon, busted her moves on stage, sending the crowd justifiably wild. FKA Twigs performed an intense set of dance routines both alone and accompanied by heavily glittered men in loose white robes, successfully elevating the entirely unique and queerly spiritual tone of her music to make for a mesmerising performance.
Less theatrically, Jessie Ware owned the stage with effortlessly cool moves, a special dance with and shout out to her mum and a voice more powerful live than recordings have ever done justice. While occupying stages ranging from the Other to John Peel to West Holts at varying times throughout the day, these artists put on a show to rival those on the Pyramid.
The Best Parties…
An array of party spots are open all night every night at Glastonbury. Take your pick from dancing under a giant robot spider that spouts fire in Arcadia, getting groovy salsa-style in Glasto Latina, hitting up the silent disco or getting down in the Blues shanty town, to name just a few options.
No matter how much your feet hurt, Glastonbury’s nightlife will have you up until the early hours and temporarily exceeding your party stamina significantly. That said, my two best ‘party’ experiences at Glastonbury this year were live acts – The Chemical Brothers and Lionel Richie.
While being two rather different types of artists, these two both possess an incredible power to make people a) dance and b) feel seriously happy (without even a touch of any of the, um, substances, shall we say, that are so popular – amongst some – at festivals). Both received the warmest of welcomes by adoring crowds with ‘Lionel! Lionel! Lionel!’ being repeatedly chanted until the poor guy stood speechless on stage before downing his drink to chants of ‘Chug! Chug! Chug!’. In Shangri-La, a dedicated Shrine (wittily named ‘Shrinel Richie’) offered a humorous breather among the more serious political art on show.
While these acts have created such loving fans through their musical talent, the people of Glastonbury must be credited for their astonishing spirit – apparently a teary Lionel fan was hugged and comforted by multiple strangers around him in the crowd. It’s often moments like these that truly let you know you’re at Glastonbury festival.
The Best Non-Musical Experience…
What really makes Glastonbury stand out as a festival is the ethos behind it and the special moments this allows for. This year I was able to see the Dalai Llama, a truly important spiritual and political figure, speak in a field in rural Somerset about his vision for a happier, more peaceful world before singing Happy Birthday to him for his 80th. Glastonbury’s ability to offer such once-in-a-lifetime moments is truly unique.
Ultimately, Glastonbury is a green festival, intent on spreading love and peace (I got a free massage from the anti-bullying stand in Greenfields this year – win!). Label it as a hippy-fest if you wish, but in a world with so much turbulence and violence, core values can become easily forgotten or buried under the weight of daily life – and who doesn’t want a bit of peace and love in their life anyway?
In danger of going on forever, I will leave the rest for you to discover for yourselves.