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April 5, 2011 / rocksandgravel

Glastonbury 2010- Thursday


For those who didn’t manage to get a ticket, I’m sure this time of year annoys the hell out of you. Not only are you constantly reminded about what you’re going to be missing from the point at which the tickets are “sold out” but also your mate’s 56 year old aunt is going to recapture her youth at Ray Davies’ Sunday tea-time slot. Once the festival is on, NO ONE is around back home and the clubs are empty, and then once it’s finally over, there’s constant references to it on the radio, the TV, and, worst of all, from friends and their “remember when” conversations.

Some people wouldn’t buy tickets because at the time they didn’t know the line-up. But the line-up is only part of the experience, and although it’s usually pretty stellar, there’s so much more to it than that. Frankly, if you can’t envisage the silhouette of a spindly old hippy carving shapes in the horizon at sunrise, or the sounds of bongos don’t echo in your brain, you haven’t really done Glastonbury.

The best piece of advice about Glasto lies somewhere in the programme: “Make a list of all the acts you want to see, scrap it, and see something else”. With all the best intentions, I aim to begin tonight’s festivities with Two Door Cinema Club at The Old Queen’s Head. It’s half an hour before the start, and we’re shoulder to shoulder. A collective “sod this” and off we go to the “Wow!” tent in the dance village, for “Beardyman”. I’m not sure who or what I’m waiting for, but so appears a scrawny, bearded fellow, who after a brief “How are ya?” drops straight into it, entire songs, all him. Surely he’s using a backing track? Surely? I’m stunned. I turn to mouth the occasional “WTF?” to whoever wants to know as his vocal chords tear through an eclectic compilation, including ‘Superstition’. He’s only human, so midway through, his encyclopaedic vocal range is accented with the help of some trusty technology. “I assure you, this is all me. I’m extending my face for the next bit… as I’m sure many of you lot will be this weekend.” The rabble sniggers in agreement with a collective “haaaaar”.

It’s also Annie Nightingale’s party at the Pussy Parlure, and seeing as we’re already in the dance village, it’d be rude not to go really. It’s a seedy looking place, a “Speagal” tent built to look like a nightclub – complete with a massive queue to get in, and a one-in-one-out door policy. We’re even being told to behave by the stewards. I gulp my gin and juice and have a nice chat with two seemingly nice girls who don’t seem interested to go in, but more than happy to wait outside and amuse the queue with west country slurs and, well, I’m not quite sure what they’re going on about. Situated by the ‘Parlure is ‘Cube Henge’ formed of lights that flash in sequence. Slightly over from that is a DJ booth in the shape of a pineapple.

It’s intense in here. I was freezing in the queue and now I’m sweating through my white floaty prairie dress (why can’t I ever dress rave-appropriate!). There are mirrored walls and a sticky dance floor to boot, sweat is dripping off the open windows and revellers are gasping for air. All the boys have peeled their shirts off, and the girls are winding their hips in short or bunched up dresses to allow some sort of air. Heavy, heavy basslines and dub-infused drones protrude through my veins. All the usual naughtiness. A1 Bassline throws on a set of mixed emotional undertones – combining dark, lingering drones to his trademark ‘wobbly’ bass line and takes us on one hell of a rollercoaster during the set, building up and dropping and generally teasing us into submission. The dubstep duo Nero continue the madness, but their remix of ‘Be Sincere’ provides a truly beautiful moment to pause, breathe and appreciate.

Another strong piece of advice is: once you lose your friends, you probably won’t find them again. I know this all too well. Thankfully, I manage to locate, somewhat by chance, another group of people I know. As we’re all situated near to the park, we wander over. The park area is like a funfair, with a giant maypole taking prominence at the top. It also hosts a main stage, the Stonebridge bar, and The Rabbit Hole, an Alice in Wonderland-themed, Through the Looking Glass setting, decorated by tree lights and populated by mad hatters and the like, with wonky beats to accent the mood.

In a small tent to the side, some bloke is banging away on the drums, another passionately playing the piano, and a seashell horn is being passed around. We join a merry rabble of strangers, and have our arms round each other slurring out ‘Hey Jude’ like pissed relatives on Boxing Day.

Over at the Stone Circle, there’s an ethereal vibe. There’s the sound of tribal drumming, figures weaving shapes out of the air and a hum in the air of anticipation and people letting go of reality and mundane life, as a Chinese lantern floats off into the distance to collective cheer. As the sun rises, the place is buzzing, everyone’s giddy as hell, appreciative of the hospitality of Worthy Farm and ready for the weekend.

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