My Glastonbury 2016 22nd-26th June

The Glastonbury festival is a place I hold very close to my heart and after failing to get tickets for many years I am always amazed that me and my sister have been successful in attending for the last three years.  I know most of my friends and family get bored of me talking about it but it really is a special place and there is no perfect way to do Glastonbury so this is just an account of my experience this year.

Wednesday 22nd June

Wednesday began with having to get up far earlier than I’m used to so we were able to get our coach leaving from Manchester city centre.  We had already heard horror stories about how bad the mud and traffic was this year so were fully prepared for a long journey.  In the end our trip took around 13 hours 8 of which accounted for the final 17 miles of the journey, however we had our tents pitched before it was dark, in the Darble field, and headed down to the site.

The mud was definitely the worst I had seen it making it more difficult to get about but this did not seem to dampen anyone’s spirits, with most people seeming relieved to have got through the traffic.  We had intended on doing a bar crawl on the Wednesday as we expected to make it there far earlier, we did however make it to a few places to enjoy our first night.  Being a cider drinker a festival in Somerset is the perfect place for me and I managed to make my first trip to the famed cider bus for a great pint to wrap up an exhausting but great night.

Highlight of the day: the relief of making it to the festival

Thursday 23rd June

Despite the fact that the main acts don’t start till Friday there is still a vast amount to see and do before this and I can’t even describe the enormity of the site and how long you have to allow to get places as well as getting side tracked on  numerous occasions.  After breakfast we had a wonder around and did a bit of shopping because as usual I forgot to bring a couple of things.  We then made our way up to the park area where Billy Bragg led a fitting tribute to the late and inspirational politician Jo Cox.

Another thing about the festival is the wide array of food available on site, they even have their own restaurant called the Rocket Lounge which we had booked into for tea at 6pm.  We both started with a courgette flower then I had a rib eye steak for mains which was absolutely delicious and was of a standard that you would never expect to get from a festival.  As we were already in the south east corner where a lot of late night events go on we decided to make our way to the hugely impressive block 9 area.  The first port of call was the NYC downlow, a gay club inspired by 80’s New York, a venue I had tried to get in a few times but the queues are always enormous so I was over the moon to get there this time.  We then caught some of London DJ team Bicep on Block 9’s outdoor stage Genosys.

We then decided to head to the Glade where A Guy Called Gerald was due to be doing a DJ set later on, the stop offs we made along the way at various bars really proved that there is a party round every corner at Glastonbury.  Amongst the bars we went in it was a DJ playing dub and bass tunes in the West Holts bar that really set the mood for the rest of the night.  We ended up skipping the Glade and set off to the beat hotel to see Seth Troxler which was way busy.  After being on the edges and the sound not being great my sister called it a night whereas I stumbled across Paranoid London doing a brilliant acid house set before turning in for the evening.

Highlights: Rocket Lounge/NYC Downlow

Friday 24th June

So the first day of all the main stages be open began and whilst hanging around the Williams Green area I was intrigued by the sound of guitars playing covers of dance tunes from the late 90’s era.  Upon further investigation this noise was coming from The Showhawk Duo an act I was previously unaware of but got my Friday off to a superb start as well as really getting the crowd onside and winning them over with their unusual use of acoustic guitars.

We then headed to the pyramid stage, which I’m not a fan of so it has to be something special to get me over that way and Skepta certainly provided that.  It was truly brilliant to see a grime artist on the main stage at such a big event and he had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout and proved why he is becoming such a huge success.  I then went off to see Frightened Rabbit of whom I’ve been a fan of for a long time which is why it was a shame to see their set cut short in addition to the aggravation this caused they band as they clearly wanted to continue.

After arriving at the Greenpeace stage I came across a bizarre act called The Church who had a frontman playing a minister, an organ player and three backing singers acting as part of a choir playing covers from all genres, as strange as it sounds it somehow worked and I found it thoroughly entertaining as well as making me want to find out more about them.  Too Many T’s were up next who always get the crowd moving with their superb take on hip hop which never fails to put a smile on my face.

After a bit of a break it was then time for Foals, a band who I had previously seen a few months ago and they absolutely blew me away with how great they were live.  I wasn’t sure if they could really live up to that previous night but they did and then some so surely with performances like that they’ve got future headliners written all over them and it would be well deserved for such a hard working band.  I then made a brief stop at the west holts stage to see Underworld unfortunately I just couldn’t get into their set and headed off elsewhere.

After meeting up with my sister at the Tolpuddle bar up by the John Peel stage, we then headed over to the Wow stage to check out Annie Mac who was playing the famed Essential mix as part of her set.  After this my original plan was to go see DJ Yoda, however when I turned up the tent was rammed, I could have got in but I quite wanted to be outside as well so I went off to the Blues to see Miami DJ Maceo Plex on a bit of a whim if I’m honest.  This turned out to a brilliant decision as his set was full of fantastic techno tunes and really did bring my Friday to an end in superb fashion.

Highlights: Foals/Skepta/Maceo Plex

Saturday 25th June

Saturday began with a slightly sore head from the previous day so a full English breakfast was in order, it was towards the end of this that we heard a drum beat and followed it to the John Peel tent.  It turned out to be the electro pop tones Of Dua Lipa who surprisingly got the day off to a great start and really had the crowd going by the end of it especially to say how early it was.  With no real plan it is always a pleasure to stroll around the site and take in some of the incredible sights that are on offer at Glastonbury.  After wondering around for a while and stopping for refreshments now and again I popped into the Avalon café where Mik Artistiks Ego Trip were performing, I had heard many good things about Mik Artistik but had never seen them before so was eager to see what the show was like.  I was not disappointed, led by the enigmatic Mik Artistik who was charismatic and extremely witty throughout which kept the audience, who all seemed to love it, engaged and if anyone gets the chance to see them I highly recommend it.

I then had a steady stroll up to the Glade to check out Leeds band Vessels who I had not seen live for years and the amazing sound system that had been set up on the glade fitted the bands brilliant post-rock sound to a tee.  After more wondering I headed to the other stage to see Scottish trio Chvrches, this was one I was particularly looking forward to when the line-up was announced as I missed out on them a couple of years ago and recently failed to get tickets for one of their gigs.  From the first moment they appeared on stage they had the crowd in the palm of their hand and were led superbly by lead singer Lauren.  This really felt like a moment of redemption for me as well as being a real personal highlight of the weekend and their hour long set absolutely flew by leaving me wanting more by the end of it.

I hung around at the other stage for headliners New Order who despite line-up changes over the years, I felt I could just not miss the opportunity to see them.  To be fair I really enjoyed the hard to judge how good it was as a fair few drinks had been consumed through the day, however I did feel they got the mix of old and new tunes pretty much right.  I then hot footed it over to the Unfairground in the south east corner where Hacienda stalwart Mike Pickering was djing, quickly followed by acid house veterans 808 State.  It was part way through that second set that I decided to turn in however I managed to catch parts of sets from Solardo and Roni Size on the way back to my tent showing how much there really is going on at the festival.

Highlights: Mik Artistik/Chvrches

Sunday 26th June

I awoke on the final day slightly groggy, from the previous days alcohol consumption, as usual but looking forward to whatever lay in store for what was easily my least planned out day of the festival.  My first port of call was to see Leeds band Marsicans who played a great but short indie pop set on the BBC introducing stage.  Being at a loose end I decide to head over to the John Peel tent for Mystery Jets, now I have not heard too much of their recent material but I thought they might bring back fond memories of let’s call it my younger days.  Despite not being familiar of all their tunes it was fun set and a rather pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I then headed to the glade again, which is a truly a fantastic area of the festival in the way it is set back in the trees, to check out Stanton Warriors.  They really revitalised me with all their dub and bass heavy tunes that got the crowd raving despite it only being 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  After mooching around a bit more I went to check out Guy Garvey on The Park stage and I have to say I was more impressed with his solo stuff than I thought I would be and I also liked the fact that he didn’t play any Elbow songs as some artists do that have released solo material separate from their main bands.

I stayed in The Park area as I wanted to check out Canadian electro artist Grimes as I had just started listening to her stuff before the festival and had really been getting into it.  As soon as she hit the stage everything was perfect and I was blown away by how strong her performance was.  It was really a testament to her set that even the songs I didn’t know I found myself getting into and really proved the masses wrong that were all watching Coldplay as I can guarantee this was far more enjoyable.  I then went over to the giant mechanical spider known as the Arcadia are where Basement Jaxx were performing a dj set.  However my main reason for going was to see the metamorphosis show they put on each night and all I can say it was absolutely amazing full of pyrotechnics, acrobats and more, I really can’t put how jaw droppingly spectacular this was.  This was the perfect time to end our Sunday in preparation for the next day’s journey which I can gladly say was far less painless than the journey there.

Highlights: Stanton Warriors/Grimes/Arcadia

To sum up Glastonbury really is one of my favourite places to go and highly advise anyone to try it at least once.  It is also great testament to the festival that I have been three times and still feel that I have so much more to see and do there, I’m sure my friends will be relieved that I won’t be talking about it for a while and I already have my fingers crossed for tickets for Glastonbury 2017.

Matt Hill

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