Glastonbury 2004: reports and reflections
My Glastonbury blog
Report by editor, July 2004
(Mailed from the festival site via an in-tent Sony TH55 PDA!)
Glasto: Day One (Weds June 23rd)
Arrived onsite around 5pm and then embarked on an elongated faff as Dubversion attempted to blag the van straight on site.
Unfortunately, we had to hang about for several hours while workmen tried to clear the road ahead (several fences had been blown over by the toupee-lifting wind.
We eventually managed to drop the gear on site and headed off along muddy paths to the camping site.
Putting up a brand new tent (with crap instructions) in gale force winds was an experience not to be forgotten. All around us were wildly wobbling examples of what can happen if you don't become Master of the Guideropes.
After a manful battle with the elements, we managed to get our tent erected and headed off the Urbanites Cider Bus meet up.
By the time we arrived, Scottt and Missus Scott had departed, an early victim to a day's worth of drinking.
A suitably inebriated William and Stig were next to go - but not before William had detailed his lenghty drinking activities (and there was a lot of detail to go through!)
There were still loads of Urbanites around (although my 'enhanced' state means I'm unlikely to remember everyone).
So here's a selection of the urban quaffers out last night: Dubversion, Pie 1, poulli, Onemonkey, pie eye, gergl, liberty,oiucmrt, yoss, etnea, spacehopper, el jugador.... oh fuck-I can't remember them all - but there was loads of 'em and we had lots of fun...
Best of all, it didn't rain when we were out- but it was a different story during the night as the 'waterproof rating' of our tent was put fully to the test...happily it passed with flying colours!
Glasto Day Two (Thurs)
After a slow start (due to an immense hangover), we grabbed some breakfast before heading off to Urbanites Meet Up No 2 at the Cider Bus.
Slowly, a growing throng of u75ers turned up to enjoy the fabulous sunshine and atmosphere. Much cider quaffing ensued.
In the evening we managed to find the well swanky backstage bar, which looked like something you'd find in the West End. Most odd.
The big England game was on, so suitably refreshed, we hot footed it to the Pyramid stage to join a huge crowd of 60,000.
Two large plasma screens were erected either side of the stage and the atmosphere was electric when Owen's goal went in.
Sadly, it was not to be England's day and they suffered the same fate as Wales - cheated out of the cup!
Spirits were soon restored around the cider bus, where a quite exceptionally drunk Dubversion crashed to the ground, still grimly clutching his bottle of Baileys.
The first urbanite casualty! Naturally photos were taken... :)
We rounded off the night at the backstage bar (the food is well cheap there). It felt a bit like a service station with music. Weird.
Glasto Day Three (Friday)
A day of glorious sunshine!
Finally, I could replace my wellies with a pair of trainers as the ground hardened under the scorching sun.
The site is now packed and we took a good look around to see how things have changed (the last time I was here was back in the fence-jumping, tent-stealing Scally days).
There's been a lot said about the corporatisation of Glastonbury, and things have definitely changed: the bands are more mainstream, the place is crawling with BBC live broadcast folks, there's cashpoints on site and Orange have erected mobile masts all over the place.
But I'm happy to report that the spirit of Glastonbury is still very much alive, although you may have to look a little harder for it.
A trip to the Green Fields will immediately confirm all is well, with all the usual bonkers hippy stuff in full attendance.
If you're after obscure healing practices, strange massages and oddball cures for insomnia, you're definitely in the right place.
There's a strong environmental message throughout the site, with a nice touch being Eavis's insistence that all coffee sold be Fair Trade. Respect!
So, on to the day's report: we started late (naturally) but after a trip to the sacred stones (now a bustling tourist spot), we managed to catch the second half of Wilco's set.
And it was rather a strange set, with the guitarist seemingly unable to stop himself bursting into guitar noise frenzies every other song.
That's all well and good of course, but it does sit rather awkwardly when the rest of the band are playing melodic country-rock!
Next on the agenda was a trip to the Glade stage to hook up with a host of Urbanites in various states of disrepair (some had over indulged in the mighty fine pear cider being sold nearby).
We headed off to the dance tent for a bit (it is massive!) before rendezvousing back at the cider bus.
Suitably refreshed, we hauled over to the New Stage to see new Canadian rockers, The Stills who put in a fine set of Brit-inspired gloom-rock (think of the Cure meets Snow Patrol).
Things get a little hazy in the evening. We returned to the cider bus for some beers and found ourselves uncomfortable close to the dire dirge of Oasis.
Rarely have I heard a band sound so tired. Awful stuff.
At the end of the evening we headed up to the star of Glastonbury: the Lost Vagueness area.
It is fantastic! Like a mutant Las Vegas set in squat land, there's a church, casino (dinner jackets required), diner and dance hall decorated with sumptuous red velvet and oversized chandeliers.
Burlesque dancers,trapeze artists and ring masters entertained the dressed up crowd with a fabulous show before Fat Boy Slim put in an unexpected appearance. The place rocked!
Is Glastonbury still a magical place? You betcha!
Glasto Day Four (Sat)
Q Magazine's one-word weather report accurately summed up the conditions: medieval
It pissed down. All day. Footpaths that had only just dried out from the deluge in the week turned into a thick brown quagmire. Mud ruled.
Any hope I had of maintaining sartorial elegance vanished as a particularly clumsy woman slapped her foot into a large brown puddle and sent a huge dollop of mud all over my trousers.
At this rate I may have to join the nutters who entertained the Cider Bus drinkers with headlong plunges into the surrounding mud lakes.
But it takes more than an ocean of mud to stop Glasto folks enjoying themselves!
We started the day with a trip back up the Green Fields to meet up with some chums.
We bumped into Shane at the Speakers Corner and had fun listening to the bizarre ramblings of some bloke who is apparently Britain's best paid astrologer.
An example quote: 'Venus symbolises the vagina. Obviously'. Yeah, right mate.
He then went on to explain that we have to thank the alignment of Aquarius for broadband, ominously adding that the age of Pisces foretold a 'Psychic Revolution'.
Quickly freeing ourselves from this tosh, we headed up to the fabulous Lost Vagueness field to see our mate Rob from Alabama3 busily marrying perplexed punters in the Wedding Chapel.
A trip to the TeePee field followed, hopeful of admiring Wolfie's new tent. But the bastard wasn't in.
A group of Urbanites assembled later for the infectious country and western tunes of the Hot Club of Cowtown before fleeing the stage after being terminally unamused by The Rutles.
A trudge through the sludge took us to The Glade only to find that the Aphex Twin had cancelled.
Spirits were lifted in the comedy tent before we feasted on nachos as Toots and the Maytalls put in a highly variable set, moving from quality roots reggae to overblown showbiz (think Elvis's Los Vegas period and you'll get the idea).
The evening was rounded off shaking a limb to 50s swing in the Lost Vagueness Chapel, playing 'enhanced' table football and then fleeing at the sound of Chumbawumba (Lord knows I've tried to like them but I just can't bear their racket).
This may be my last transmission from Glasto as my mobile phone batteries are going critically low and I don't fancy queuing up for three hours at the Orange tent to charge them up again...
Glasto Day Five (Sun)
With the toilets overflowing and supplies of babywipes running perilously low, things are starting to get very messy indeed.
Yesterday's downpour ensured that most of the site is one big field of brown slurry, peppered with unidentifiable lumpy bits.
Attempting to traverse the main pathways is now something of an act of advanced balancing, with slippery wellies sending drunken legs in multiple directions.
But the weather has cleared up!
Sunday offered the best bill by far - but sadly many of the gigs clashed with each other.
Faced with an overload of decision making, we decided to trek up to the Green Fields instead, taking cover in a hippy tea tent while the heavens opened. They did a nice brandy coffee.
We checked out the Small World stage and the SchNEWS tents (they were showing some excellent activist videos) before getting back to the Pyramid Stage to see Joss Stone.
You've probably already heard about this 16 year old white Devon girl with the voice of a 40 year old black woman, but it is something to see live.
Some of her songs perhaps weren't the strongest, but compared to her preening all-girl band contemporaries, she's a hugely talented girl with a bright future.
Some quaffing around the Cider Bus ensued before we settled down to watch Morrissey (but it was a very tough decision choosing between Mozza and GoldieLookinChain).
Happily, Morrissey rewarded our decision with a storming set which proved to be one of my Glasto highlights.
Mixing in a few old Smiths song with some strong material, Mozza put in a compelling performance, with some quirky inbetween song announcements ("don't buy my album"..."do you feel disgusting in all that mud? That's how I feel everyday...without the mud")
Things got a little messy from here on in. We got drunk, ended up at the backstage dance tent for a strange People's Republic of Disco and slid home...
Glasto Day Six (Mon)
We grabbed an early breakfast in the seriously mucky Backstage Bar and det about deconstructing our tent. half the field had already gone and left their mess all around the site.
I picked up other people's crap surrounding our area and mumbled to myself about wankers who can't even be arsed to clear up after themselves.
Whinging over, we trekked through the Somme-like Other Stage field up to meet up with out lift.
Unlike some poor bastards who were stuck in static queues for over six hours, we were out of the site within 2 hours and on our way home.
I had a ball. Nice one Glastonbury!