We´re now right in the middle of festival season. Next weekend my brother is off with his fiance to Roskilde in Denmark (lucky little bastard) and You´ve got everything from The Isle of Wight festival (looked really awful on TV, especially with rent a gob Fearne Cotton) to Wacken in Germany and the old rock warhorse, Reading.
But the Grandaddy of them all is of course Glastonbury. My brother has been to it about 4 times and i´ve known so many people who´ve gone there, drunk the scrumpy and bought the T-Shirt. These days it´s pretty much like all the other big festivals. All blatant corporatism, with only the thin fig leaf of the counter-culture to make it seem relevant. But it never used to be that way. It certainly wasn´t like that when i went to Glastonbury years ago….
It was 1994. I wasn´t even planning to go to Glastonbury as i was going to be working through the summer. But i had a chance meeting with a friend who announced that she was going with several other people to Glasto and maybe i fancied going. I don´t know why, but i said “yes i will!”.
Of course there was a slight problem as tickets had sold out weeks before. But a record store in Aberdeen had one spare ticket from a competition where the winner didn´t claim it (how on earth does THAT happen??). Several attempts at pleading and i managed to get hold of a ticket. the cost? £59!! A bargain! How much is it nowadays?
Now it was a long time ago but here where some of the things that may (or may not) have happened when we arrived…
- There was no Pyramid stage that year. It had apparently burned down in a freak accident. Not that i noticed mind.
- Actually giving my ticket to my friend so we could get in with her child. We ended up paying a bunch of scouse people traffickers £5 each to use their rope ladder to get over the perimeter fence. As we climbed over, 2 police officers were watching us laughing their faces off. Those were the days….
- pitching a tent near to a massive silage pit. Nice one!
- The first time i ever tried “natural” scrumpy. I don´t remember much of that afternoon. I stuck to vodka after that.
- Seeing a new age traveller crawl out of a ditch at the side of a road. A ditch that everyone was using as a toilet. There were things stuck onto his beard.
- Also meeting a black person for the first time in my life (i did live in Shetland after all!). He was about 6Ft 5″, built like rugby player, with dreadlocks and dressed all in Black leather biker gear. I thought he was going to kill us. Silly foolish boy from the sticks…
- The only time it rained that whole weekend was when the Spin Doctors played the Pyramid Stage.
- Watching Rage against the machine & the Levellers. My friend’s son, Christie, was 7 years old and was being very annoying (for example, he kept punching everyone in the balls and laughing at our howls of pain). He too wanted to see RATM. But they were so loud, angry and booming that the vibrations coming up from the ground made him sick and he vomited all over himself. Result!!
- My first ever veggie burger. It was 10 years before i tried another one again….
- My “Lost” Saturday. As part of the drugs stash that we took with us, we had numerous drinking straws full of very sticky and potent hashish oil(!). As my joint making skills were non-existent, i decided to eat an entire straw full of oil and go off for a walk. This was lunchtime. the next thing i remember it was nighttime and i was in the acoustic tent having an outerbody experience with native american indian folk singing and drumming in front of me. I then left that tent and raved with Orbital, which did rather split my spiritual centre in to many pieces, and falling in with some “weird” types before getting to my tent sometime the next morning. Remember this was well before mobile phones so my mates thought i had disappeared with some hippy commune.
- Seeing Björk for the first time before Orbital. Crazy lady. Amazing to think that despite living in Iceland for 3 years, this is still the only time i´ve ever seen her play live.
- Oh yeah and also seeing Johnny cash on sunday. He was the perfect hangover cure and turned me onto his music ever since.
I would say that in spite of everything that goes on nowadays, if you can do it, you should go to Glastonbury at least once in your life. Then you can spend the rest of your life watching it on the BBC like i do every year.
Try Rage against the Machine Here
Try Johnny Cash´s American recordings Vol I Here