by Poppy Bullen
730 days we’ve waited for this weekend to come around again. Even though it felt like we’d been waiting forever, it still came round quickly. Although a lot has changed in the real world and in our real lives since then… I was very happy to be going back into a festival bubble, particularly this special one.
It’s the fifth year in a row I’ve gone (lucky I know), and yet again the festival blew my mind away, as it does every year.
From the number of times artists and crowds told the Baffoon who now runs our country, (probably into the ground) to fuck off, to the issue of climate change and the environment being at the forefront of every part of the event. Glastonbury always has a clear message, making it a magical world of inclusion and inspiration, no matter who you are.
Despite the weather reports predicting thunderstorms, the sun shone down on Somerset for the entire weekend, which we kick-started at the Beat hotel for Kwiwi on Wednesday night.
We spent a lot of time at The Beat Hotel this year, it being the last year it’s at Glasto. It had grown to be one of my favourite stages. An orange tent, the colour happiness with a stage set laid out like hotel rooms for the DJ’s and their mates to hang out during the party.
During the stage’s send-off, we saw Avalon Evason shelling it as always. The highlight for me was the awesome Aussie DJ, CC:Disco, someone I hadn’t seen before but definitely want to see again! She brought the disco bangers and I think I must have had a smile on my face for her entire set.
I saw a lot more live music this year than I have in previous years.
The only headliner I was fussed about was Stormzy. As the first British rapper to headline the festival, with only one album released, he was under a lot of pressure, but boy did he pull through.
Beginning the set in a union jack stab-proof vest designed by Banksy it was potentially the biggest statement Glastonbury may have ever made. Pulling up the song when Hundreds of thousands shouted ‘Fuck the Government, Fuck Borris‘ – if that doesn’t restore your faith in the world a bit I’m not sure what will.
That’s the thing that I love so much about Glastonbury festival. It’s doing everything for the right reasons. It’s making history, not following it. Stomzy’s set was said to go down in music cultural history and it was a privilege to be there for it.
From Slowthai to Loyle Carner the UK grime and rap scene was well represented and I only wish I’d seen more. The overriding ‘fuck Boris’ theme of the festival continued as these artists were also clear about what they think of the state of politics at the moment. It’s a powerful thing to do, particularly when broadcasted on the BBC.
Loyle Carner’s set was an emotional one, dedicating half of it to his mum. He then brought his best mates onstage who only went and proposed to each other! It was too much to deal with on Sunday afternoon and the whole crowd was holding back tears when he sang Loose Ends.
Glastonbury seems to also be making lots of changes to its design, with new and very wacky stages as they gear up for their 50th Anniversary next year. Hessle Audio absolutely killed it on the new icon stage in Block 9 as part of the south-east corner.
Bloc 9 is one of my favourite areas of the festival but it seemed different this year. Although still awesome and unlike any other festival experience, this year it was bigger and busier. We didn’t make it into the legendary NYC Download – the queues were hours long and we felt we’d spent enough time queueing just to get into the festival. Never the less there is so much to do and see in the late night areas.
When I saw the new Arcadia stage ‘ Pangea’ (Which got me confused with the DJ and I have to admit disappointed when I heard he wasn’t playing, it was just the name of the new stage), I was impressed by whoever’s creative brain behind it was. Who looks at a rusty old crane and thinks – yep that’ll work as a stage at Glastonbury. I guess if it’s going to work anywhere it’s there. And it was pretty cool.
The team behind it have said that they hope to add to and improve it over the next couple of years until it’s perfect. But even in its first year, in the atmosphere after dark for Four Tet followed by Daniel Avery, It was an impressive piece of design.
As we sat by the Glastonbury sign watching the sun come up on Monday morning, I couldn’t believe that it was over again. Blown away yet again by the acts I’d seen, people I’d met and atmosphere I had been emersed into all I could think was, I can’t bloody wait until next year.
words and photos by poppy, editing by kyle