Glastonbury 2004: reports and reflections
Queuing to Complain
Report by 'Kaka Tim', July 2004
First time since 2000 and the uber-fence going up. This time my ticket came via doing some street theatre stuff for war on want at the left field.
Getting there on wednesday was a nightmare. Some of us had to get in via the workers beer company coach. This meant we were separated from the van with most of our stuff and half our mates in it.
The van duly got raided by 'special response' security cunts who chucked everything out the back, nicked everyone's drugs (they sell it on later, along with all the booze in glass bottles they confiscate) and wouldn't let the van anywhere near the site - and did not believe they were supposed to pick up passes from the main gate.
Other people we know who got nabbed with out a ticket got a kicking from security as well - so I s'pose we were lucky.
Still I guess the security keep out all the violent robbers ....
The festival itself has definitely changed. Its a lot more chilled out, it feels loads safer, its easier to get about, the facilities are generally better (except the staggered opening and reduced size of the camping areas) and the queues are smaller.
Drugs LOADS less visible - at some points in the cafes I swear we were the only people skinning up - it felt like we'd wandered into a village fete by accident.
However the true mental uniqueness of Glastonbury came from that undertow of danger and chaos and lunacy - by Saturday night the whole festival would seem to be gripped by a mass hysteria - an intoxicating cocktail of the event, the location, the crowds, the quantity and quality of the drugs, the excitement, the music, the never ending supply of random mentalists and nutjobs doing and shouting insane, absurd and occasionally inspired stuff, the intensity of some of the gigs - be they main stage or in a side tent - it would all feed of each other to create a huge monster of an experience that was overwhelming at times.
I saw none of this time round. Indeed I was struck by how subdued the crowds were at most of the events I went to.
What I saw was a very good, well run arts and music festival which has traded excitement, chaos and subversion for safety and predictability.
Because as well as the scallies and thieves and heavy duty dealers - what was also missing was the hard core travellers and assorted punks and crusty types and working class people generally .
Unloved and unlamented by the organisers and the professional eco hippies of the green fields I'm sure - but they - and their anarchic, full throttle dedication to the true sprit of carnival and festival - are at the core of what made glastonbury such a beast.
Also missing was virtually anybody with non-white skin - glastonbury was never exactly massive on the mulit ethnic clientle side of things - but FFS! I played 'spot the black person' for half and hour from my tent as people streamed past on the metal roadway and scored a pitiful 2.
What came across to me as were tatting on Monday amongst the unbelievable amount of stuff left behind was how it has become almost a completely consumerist event for the well heeled.
Can't be arsed to fold your tent? leave it in the field, along with the garden furniture you brought along, £50 worth of food, the gazebo, your sleeping bags, bottles of wine, cans of beer, lilos etc etc. and most of this stuff was strewn about without any attempt made to bag it up and leave it by the bins.
In its way this vista was more corrupt and decadent than any of the old school drugged out crusty squaller of yore.
Also noticeable was the vast number of silver capsules from the N/Oxide canisters (middle class glue sniffing?)
Pre (proper) fence glastonbury - whilst much of it was still rampantly consumerist and commercial - was heavily influenced by people who came to make the festival for themselves.
Now that ethos is barely noticeable amongst the affluent, semi-detached 25 -40 years olds who the festival is now ruthlessly catering for (I'm sure there were far more teenagers pre uber fence as well).
So a whole section of society - the riff raff, the proles, the working class, the scum - whatever you want to call them - has now been excluded from the event and it really shows.
As for my festival - work and weather prevented me from seeing loads but -
Toots - huge disappointment, bollocks bunch of soulless session musos and a show more suited to the rubber chicken circuit.
THe football at the pyramid stage - weirdly probably the closest I came to a proper intense Glasto moment - magic and tragic in equal doses
Morrissey - very good - but the audience were really subdued.
B/Bragg at the leftfield - self delusional leftist shite speeches (and Dereck Simpson - From Amicus - came the glastonbury! to debate with other union officials!) interspersed with classic tunes.
Brilliant freaky women doing a ventriloquist act in the cabaret tent.
Spanish band doing fusion type stuff on the Jazz stage on Friday night (a prescription that would normally have me running a mile in the opposite direction) - excellent - some of the best musicianship I've ever seen live.
And then me and my fellow grumpy mates queued up at that sign in the green field to complain about how the festival is not as good as used to be and took a picture to send to Eavis.