Having already spent enough time at Glastonbury to be mentally preparing myself for a trip to the GPs once the extent of the damage to my feet was fully revealed from underneath the wellies, I woke up on the Friday abruptly. The thin canvas of tent walls does nothing to insulate sound and is worse still at insulating you from the crushing sense of disappointment as strangers in surrounding tents read out loud the unfolding events of Brexit. Bad news would only compound the hangover and result in a total dispiritedness towards doing anything anywhere. In a bid to avoid the regretful apathy non-voters now know so well, a party was assembled to venture back to see some bands. Cagoules were thrown on and we squelched our way to the West Holts stage.
Bixiga 70 induced one of the largest conga chains I have ever seen in my life with their joyous rhythms. Speaking passionately about the political turmoil in their native Brazil, and their outright rejection of the current government provided an uplifting message to propel the festival goers through their Friday. A quick walk around Shangri La ‘Media: Truth and Lies’ reconfirmed Glastonbury’s ability to connect the public into sensible and informed discussion about what goes on outside the safe haven of the festivals walls.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra managed to keep everyone dancing through the rain with a tight sound, even teasing the sound man, who turned 18 that day, to “not be scared, turn us up to 11, it’s your birthday”. Their last song, “I Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” coaxed the sun out from behind the dark looming clouds, drawing an enormous cheer sparking dancing throughout the percussive groove.
Wolf Alice graced the Pyramid Stage on Saturday with a furious set. Commanding the stage with the confidence of a band who know they deserve to be higher up on the bill very soon, softer moments such as “Bros” allowed for blissed out moments in the sun. Ellie Rowsell glistened as their scuzzy, snarling sound filled the entire valley.
Boxed In delivered a beat laden set, debuting hits such as “Jist” from the forthcoming album. Oli Bayston and his band hammered out the electro pop hooks allowing the crowd to shake off their hangovers a dance their way into the afternoon. Walking through the glade, DJs wove a web of David Bowie songs as a fitting tribute to the intergalactic superstar, with the crowd punching out every syllable of each song. A brief detour through the Green Futures tent saw Ed Miliband slightly flustered as I entered with a glitter covered face. Speaking on topics such as Brexit and our commitments to fighting climate change, the panel spoke eloquently on all topics and I’m convinced I briefly saw a flicker behind Red Eds eyes as if to say “Yeah, I quite fancy doing that impromptu jungle set now”, though I never managed to catch it.
Floating Points mesmerised along with his 11-piece band at the Park Stage. Conjuring up pieces based on the tracks from the album ‘Elaenia‘, the experimental jazz mindset swirled through the natural amphitheatre entrancing all those anywhere near the magic. A vivid and emotive set, carefully curated by Sam Shepherd, ideas were introduced only to suddenly vanish, tracks would build, variations on ideas tried out and then all would be reunited at the end for a cacophonous fusion of musical talent. Phillip Glass created a fitting Bowie tribute with a rendition of his 1996 album Symphony No. 4 “Heroes” based on the 1977 Bowie album of the same name. Mesmerising lasers danced through smoke as the British Paraorchestra displayed a dynamic range to entrance anyone within a stones throw of the Park Stage enough to block out the kickdrum thuds from neighbouring Arcadia. Enthralling as it was magnetic, classical music never has felt so at home at 1am on a muddy hill than it did that night. Perhaps we were on a different planet, perhaps we were on Mars.
LCD Soundsystem returned to England with added vigour, each track whipped up a frenzy from the first cowbell or shimmering synth riff as the crowds baited breath gave way into lung bursting choruses. Tearing through a set with their informed, developed sound James Murphy, dressed all in white, delivered each line with fitting idiosyncrasies with “Losing My Edge” being an intimate monologue intimately custom made for each member of the audience, Murphy even revealed the ‘Chorus, verse, chorus, bridge etc etc’ structure he advised Captain Beefheart to use for his first band in order to make more than a dime. Clearly enamoured with the spectacle of the Glastonbury, the frontman insisted they mustn’t stop and talk between tracks as they wanted to squeeze in as many songs as possible. Acknowledging yet transcending so many genres throughout their set, the final track “All My Friends” was a fitting end to a spectacular show, with its nostalgic, wistful lyrics painting out the pitfalls we can all fall into, and the friendships and the memories digging us back out.
For one brief weekend, the second largest city in southwest England is formed. 130 000 people migrate their in one single day. Inside its walls a sense of togetherness, of community, of positivity and wellbeing. Smiles, beer, hugs, drugs, moments, ideas, epiphanies shared. New loves, old loves, heartbreak and friendship. The ability to chase dreams, tolerance and empathy for others, open mindedness, a sense of identity all swell inside the chests of all who go there and if we can take just a fraction of that Glastonbury magic outside of those walls, we will surely be living in a better place.