Once again a year has passed and the Glasto.biz experience of the entire year is here to fill you in on all of it.
One day I’ll get around to doing this as a live blog rather than a yearly thing, but the problem with that is it would be quiet for months and months and months, then have lots of things put up in a very short space of time and then quiet again….so maybe this is the correct way to do this…I don’t know
Anyway, our adventure begins back in June 2010, speculation straight after the festival suggests at least U2 and Coldplay as headliners, with possibly Kylie and Radiohead on the bill too, but as it’s June, it’s WAYYY to early to know.
Then all is quiet for a couple of months, and then in September we’re told that tickets will once again go on sale in October, but this time, everyone must use the deposit system, there is no option for full payment, and I STILL don’t understand why we couldn’t pay the full lot, but there we go.
Ticket day comes and the system just cannot cope with demand, it falls over as always with a few people getting in. I don’t even get to see a booking screen and rely on a website member to book my ticket as he’s got into the system. Tickets sell out in just over 4 hours. As always, lots of people complained, but with only 135,000 tickets and over 500,000 people registered, lots are going to miss out.
Some would say the deposit system works best as it allows you time to save the rest, personally I want to get the payment out the way so I can save for spending at the festival and the bits I need to buy before, but I guess it depends on if you’ve got the money or not.
£195 just for the ticket is expensive, it really is, but if you compare it to Reading and Leeds, it puts the price fully in perspective and is actually incredibly cheap for what the festival provides (more on this later though).
The headline acts get confirmed, U2 (no surprise), Coldplay and Beyonce….Yes, really, Beyonce. Michael Eavis publicly says that Pulp will not be playing and The Wombles also get confirmed (yep, those creatures from Wimbledon Common)
Balance payments seem to go well, as do the 2 resales that happen, both of which had HUGE demand. There also seems to be less competitions to win tickets this year compared to the last few years, is this due to overall demand?
An incentive scheme is introduced to encourage people to travel by public transport. It says that it will offer discounted food, showers and money off t-shirts….the reality is far from an incentive. In total you got 4 x 50p off vouchers that could be used at about 60 stalls (if you can find them), £1 off a festival t-shirt and a free bottle of water on your way out of Gate A on the Sunday to keep you hydrated on your return journey. There were also 12 solar showers made available but you had to trek to the Cyclist camping field by Gate A to use them. The Festival quotes that 40,000 people travelled by public transport, 12 x 40,000 doesn’t go very well, it works out at a total of 2 mins shower time each over the 5 days – good luck with that.
Time to head to the festival
The Campervan areas open at mid-day on the Tuesday before the festival and the car parks open at 9pm that night. I have no idea how many people actually got there before 9pm, I arrived at 11.30pm and got put in the furthest car park I could in the East Car Parks, I also found out very quickly that closer car parks were not being used, well, not all of them.
As soon as I had worked out where I was, not all was well for me, I knew that I had a mile to walk to the gate, I knew how much stuff I had and I knew that this would cause me issues due to a back complaint, but there’s nothing that can be done.
People I am going to be camping with also have been parked in the same car park, so we meet up to chat….we see people packing their stuff and walking off, are they really going to the gate already? Having been told we could not leave the car parks last year, a couple of us go and investigate.
We walk all the way to the gate and have a lovely chat with the security there, they say that we are more than welcome to come and queue, the gates open at 8am. A few people have started doing this, but not many, I wonder where the people we saw packing up went to??
We head back to the car and have a chat about the situation, having an open queue could potentially be a disaster if we want to camp where we plan to, we make a choice to go and join the queue at a certain time, it wasn’t straight away, we enjoyed a good few drinks before some of us went and queued with our tents. I won’t tell you the time that we went, but none of us slept that night and when the queue at Gate C actually formed, there were less than 200 people in front of us.
Wednesday morning, 7am, the queue forms from the lovely random sitting position that it is in all the way up the Hill of Death and we just stand waiting for 8am. A couple of security searches take place while we are waiting and then suddenly at 7.25, the gates are opened and we’re allowed in….HUH??!
7.34am, through the gate, 9am, 6 tents set up exactly where we wanted to be and a big tarp to give some cover and dry ground if it rains, we do have a 1 year old in our group this year, so also good for sun cover.
9.03am – The heavens open and the rain starts.
The ground is already quite soft due to recent rain, but was dry in most places, however, although the rain shower was short, the damage is clear very quickly…it’s going to be quite muddy.
In the afternoon we venture back to the car to get the next round of kit in and the hill it just so hard to climb with the mud, but the way back is quite quick…except for the gate area which is churned up, with sticky mud and slimy mud….and I take a drop in it, not even the end of the first day and I need a change of clothes.
The rest of the day is fine, a little more rain but mainly dry and cloudy.
I have also made a monumental cock up, I have brought the wrong tent bag with me and don’t really have a tent, but a cover….fortunately I have a friend coming on Thursday who can bring the correct tent with him, so I go find a tarp to sleep on for the night under my cover and all is good the following evening.
Thursday starts with more rain when I first wake up at 8.30, I go back to sleep and wake again at 9.30, still raining, I turn the radio on and think about getting up as I need the loo.
The next thing I know is that it’s 1pm, I really needed my sleep.
I need to make a trip to the car, so I know at this point I’m not going to make the #twisto twitter meet until late. Once back my mate arrives within the hour, so we get the tents swapped.
Then it’s time to eat, we go down to the markets and end up where I want to be in West Holts, but I can’t see a #twisto flag, have they all gone?? Brothers Cider purchased, we head back to the tent, my back is really playing up, I just hope that Friday is better.
Friday starts bright, but clouds over quickly, breakfast done I head off to the Dance Village for Beardy man.
Wandering through the Pyramid field it’s obvious that there have been just a few things built additionally, 2 towers to the left and right of the stage, that look like laser boxes and there is also another one behind the sound stage, but that one just doesn’t make sense at all….maybe a laser show during U2, who knows. Just as we arrive in the Dance Village we hear an announcement on the West Dance Stage that tonights special guests in The Park are Radiohead…..bugger, that could mess up our plans. Anyway, Beardyman…really incredible what that man can do with his mouth and not only does he do original stuff but songs people will know, live beatbox remixes, mashups, he really is amazing. As we come out of the tent though, it’s raining again, the markets already incredibly muddy and difficult to walk through we head back to sort out where we are heading during the evening. By the time we get back to the tent, my back is killing me and I have to make a choice about who I really want to see or I probably won’t last the weekend.
So I miss out on Friendly Fires and a bit of Mumford and Sons and choose to sit down, but I take my chair and camp in the Pyramid field, watching Biffy Clyro and Morrissey (who was not that depressing…unlike 2004 when I refused to watch him at all) and then I’m good for U2 to round the night off.
Reviewers are saying the U2 were crap, but that really isn’t true, they were very good, they just ended in an odd way with a song very few people knew. which was a shame, they could have done something big to go out on a high, but never mind, the set was great, included a live link up with the International Space Station, a brand new video intro by Damien Hurst which had never been played to anyone before and the songs that everyone expected them to play.
Bono was a bit off at first, almost like he didn’t know how to engage to audience, but he got it in the end.
There was even a protest about how U2 handle their finances, which should have been fine, the people doing it had said it would not interrupt the set, which technically it didn’t, but I can understand why security rushed to take down the large inflatable….thing that they inflated. It sounds like things didn’t go to plan on either side and reports are security got rather heavy handed, but without being infront of it, I can’t comment, but the inflatable did spoil the view for people around it….beats a flag I guess, which were out in force and really did get in the way, so apologies that there is only 1 photo in our 2011 gallery of The Edge, it was the only shot that I managed to get clear and not blurred by rain.
Back to the tent and although it’s been raining, it get’s heavier just as we get back. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere else tonight.
Reports come in about Radiohead and it seems that not everyone is overjoyed with their set, some say that if they had played the Pyramid it just would not have worked. The band have not let the BBC record them as they wanted the gig to be “something special for the fans” but Youtube already has fan recorded tracks up, so go have a look and judge for yourself.
Saturday arrives and it’s cloudy and warm…could this mean more rain later on??
Off to the Cabaret tent this morning for some topical comedy from Mark Thomas talking about the wall being put up in Israel. Very funny tale of his journey around the wall and the encounters.
We then wander up to Avalon and catch a band called De Votch Ka – Great dancing band, must check them out on Spotify, but they are not why were are here, we’re up here to watch Folk Face in the Avalon Cafe. You won’t find their music available to buy or download, it’s a mix of comedy and randomness really, their set includes a raffle of sorts. Amazingly funny set, glad to see them.
Today’s special guests in The Park are Pulp – Yep, the band that Michael Eavis said were not playing the festival….30,000 people pack out that stage and the field is most definitely closed for safety. Again, the band say no to the BBC recording them, which is a huge shame, however, youtube is your friend again here.
A wander back to the Pyramid stage to watch Elbow and for me, my festival highlight and it was an emotional set for them judging on the reaction from Guy Garvey. The band celebrate 20 years together with a drink on stage, the sun is out and it’s just a perfect afternoon for it. They have filled the field, the crowd sing along and just can’t find a more perfect moment, One Day Like This A Year Will See Me Right.
My back is now playing up again and I want to go out to see Nero tonight, I make the choice to sit at the back of Coldplay instead of going to see The Chemical Brothers.
Their set is kind of mediocre, nothing special musically, but they start and my goodness, how many lasers have they got???
2 on stage, 2 on each front speaker stack, 1 on each delay and 1 in the top right hand corner of the field. 11 boxes in total, each pumping out multicoloured lasers, and it really makes a wonderful display, although they only used them for about 5 songs, alot of work getting those set up for not alot I feel, but probably the best not to over do it.
They come back on for their encore and finally it is revealed what these 3 towers that have been built are for…they are projection towers. They project images into the sides and front skins of the Pyramid Stage and it’s very clever, they should have used it alot more.
My back is just not getting better tonight, so I head back to camp, but my friends stay out till 6am getting drunk and partying, I so wish I could have been with them but it’s better to be able to walk than not be able to move.
Sunday and I am rudely awakened by the dustmen…..only kidding, but I am awoken due to heat, and outside is a cloudless sky, a big reminder of how 2010 was.
Today there really isn’t must I want to see at all, Paul Simon and Pendulum will do it for me, I’d love to see The Wombles, but I have to think about getting back up that hill on Monday. We hear some acts from the tent, but only just, the Pyramid sound system is silly quiet today it seems. After lunch we do head down to see Paul Simon and it really is quiet, is something wrong with the kit or does the engineer just not want to push it. It’s really hard to hear Paul speak in between songs. He says he’s not pushing it as he has a throat infection, but grief, we’d like to hear the songs properly please.
The sun is BLAZING and I get burnt within 2 hours and having applied sun cream at least twice, it also means lots of water drinking and not beer drinking until it gets cooler, somehow I’ve remained sober all weekend, even with drinking, this is not right and shall be rectified later.
We head back to the tent after his set quite disappointed that it wasn’t a blinding set and that it was so quiet, and after the festival, the man himself says he was disappointed too. It should have been an amazing gig.
We listen to Plan B from the tent in the distance, the volume has increased a little, so I think it’s the engineers really just not over doing it.
Back down for Pendulum and their engineer knows what he’s doing, grief was it loud (reports from the tent say the same thing, very clear to hear from there), I do like them live, their newer albums are not that great, but live they are fantastic. They did a remix of War of The Worlds, but it could have been better I think, however, they did use some of the original video from the Wars of The Worlds Stage Tour, which is quite impressive.
They finish their set on a weak song I feel, where was Fasten Your Seat Belt, but they did only play for an hour, so had to cut some tracks I suppose.
I then head round to the Other Stage to watch Queens of The Stone Age, who I’ve not listened to much and never seen before. We manage to get on the front row (ok it was the end of the barrier line, but it was the front) and rock our heads off to their set. It was clear that they found the experience emotional as well, just as Elbow had, and were overwhelmed by the crowd.
Heading back to the tent and our final fire, we hear Beyonce singing Halo for a good 10 mins while walking back through the markets and up the hill to our camp.
Has the festival become too big? with 59 official stages this year I think it has, with 135,000 paying punters it probably has too, especially when you consider that the price has risen by £80 in just 7 years, yet it took 33 years to rise from £1 to £119. £10 a year is not alot, but £200 is an incredible ask of people when we’re living in times when money is tight for everyone globally. Should the festival shrink, take a few steps back and reduce the number of stages, reduce the numbers allowed on site and make it more homely again? Should the festival get back to being rather more controversial and take a more political stance such as it used to with the CND?
Yes, compared with other festivals it is cheap but as someone worked out, it would take 83 days straight to see everything at the festival. Yes it’s trying to be diverse by having stages that cater for everyone, but does it need to? The late night area has become too popular and shows by having to have a special access route to gain entry after 11pm to manage crowds, the Park gets closed to new entry because they put a major band like Pulp on a tiny stage when really they should be on the Pyramid, the festival has been criticised for putting on acts such as Jay-Z and Beyonce rather than sticking to it’s rock roots.
Times change and things move on, maybe what the festival is now will change again in a few years.
Michael wants more young people to attend the festival, they seem quite willing to pay £200 to goto R&L so why not Glasto? (partly due to being within term time me thinks).
Does the festival need a radical overhaul?
What do you think?
Monday morning and it’s time to pack up the tents and get back in the car, some people are still dumping their stuff, they really don’t get the message do they.
Bye Bye Glasto, maybe see you in 2 years, who knows at this point.