To nobody’s surprise this year’s Glastonbury Festival has been canceled thanks to the Coronavirus with deposits for this year carrying onto next year though for those wanting tickets for next year, I’d expect a lot of cancellations as this year is going to fucking hurt badly.
I’d been given the heads-up a while ago that the festival was likely not happening, which is a shame not just because this is the 50th, but because a lot of good people are going to be screwed for money over the summer. See, like myself in regards comic conventions in April, Glastonbury gave traders, and those working there a base to build their year with some working every week of the summer to make enough money so they either don’t need to worry about work for the winter, or are on minimal hours. All that lies in ruins as Glastonbury will be the first UK festival to cancel. Expect others to follow so June and July will be barren months.
If we’re lucky the tail end of the season in August might still happen. Realistically you can forget the 2020 summer festival season and wish good luck to those traders and staff who’ll be working out how to make a living in an industry also completely left to ruin by the UK government.
So to sort of help, I’m going to not so much update my Glastonbury blogs but threw some stuff out in parallel to them because there’s so, so much stuff I could write about. Stay tuned!
We’re nearly at the end of a decade many of us are glad to see the end of. It’s often said the second decade of a century marks how the rest of that century more or less goes, and if the last one is anything to go by then we won’t hit the end of this century, but after the relatively quiet 90’s and troubled 00’s we hit the decade where things start to solidify which means we’re in the middle of a dystopia what with Brexit, Trump, climate change, the destruction of modern culture, the death of facts and critical thinking and many, many more.
Take my pet topic, comics. A decade ago the comics industry in the UK was suffering thanks to the recession. The annual big convention in Bristol, London or anywhere had died and things looked bleak. The Marvel films kicked it all into overdrive though so that now a decade later the UK can’t move for ‘comic conventions’, which sadly most have nothing to do with comics.
Yet comics are in a position of cultural dominance like never before as the culture of 2019 shows compared to 2009 where frankly, most of us were thinking mainly of keeping our jobs. Today we’re entering something new for a generation who’ve spent the last decade knowing things were the norm, but having lived through many a recession what comes next endangers every industry.
What I’m talking about is Brexit. We’re about to face what it’s like to be a small country outwith of all the planet’s huge trading blocs and hey, 99% of the world think we’re utterly fucking insane. We live in the era of the liar, the cheat,the strongman who never backs down even though they are horrifyingly wrong because they don’t want to look weak. Propelled by the internet which a decade ago was still mainly a curated space but is now open war encouraged by a handful of massive corporations who have turned our lives into tradeable commodities to sell to other massive corporations. Assuming the planet doesn’t fry or freeze we have no idea where the next decade ends but for many of us it’ll end badly.
Of course things might improve but not before something awful happens on a massive scale until then let’s raise a glass to the decade which set up the horrors of the forthcoming one and hope there’s something good coming at us…
Next year is the 50th anniversary and it’d have been my 19th festival. So first time I went the place looked like this.
It now looks like this
We expected it to be tough this year but not one of our group got tickets leaving open limited options. There’s a resale in April, but that’s super-tough to get tickets on an ordinary year, then there’s volunteering which would be an easy way to get in but stroke/cancer recovery rules that out and then there’s winning tickets in a competition…
So yeah, I’m fucked and not going. Some C list celebrities will walk in because they’re on a comp list and wealthy yuppies will also walk in but folk who save all year? Nah, it’ll be a Saga holiday for us.
Fuck it, I’m going to play the new Sturgill Simpson album yet again and read some comics…
Half a century ago the modern idea of a music festival was born with Woodstock. Sure, there’d been festivals before in the US, and in the UK which sort of looked like the modern festival but Woodstock wrote the book.
No Woodstock, no Bath Blues Festival and no Glastonbury. Reading Festival wouldn’t have become what it did, and the entire free festival scene of the 70s to mid-90s wouldn’t have existed. Music over the last 50 years would have sounded very different indeed.
Of the even itself we have endless testimony from the half million or so that attended the festival, but we also have one of the best documentaries ever made with Michael Wadleigh’s extraordinary Woodstock.
Thing is I find most of the music tired and deeply, deeply of its time but then a Janis Joplin comes on, or Sly Stone or Jimi Hendrix who did this wonderful act of subversion.
For a while it seemed the entire hippie movement got it right and the establishment lost, which of course it did. Establishments’ change and shift slowly from one generation to the next, but the hippies could only go so far, and anyhow, once Charles Manson and Altamont happened, the hippie dream was skewered not to mention by 1970 the hippie was fully absorbed into the mainstream to be marketed to like any other demographic.
Woodstock itself turned into myth but truth is it seems to have happened more by accident than plan as subsequent attempts to revive it in years since with varying results. Woodstock 99 is generally considered to be a complete disaster and is now the subject of a fascinating podcast, Break Stuff. Attempts to hold a 50th anniversary concert this weekend failed which is probably for the best. Preserving what was done 50 years ago is more important than a cash grab featuring acts who couldn’t care less about the history or the ideology.
And it’s best it does stay wrapped in myth. The grim realities of half a million people needing a shite does not make for golden memories, so let it stay undamaged as some bit of history that helped shape the following half century ways the hippies there that weekend could never have wished for in their wildest dreams.
2002 is a weird year. 9/11 had happened but the aftershocks hadn’t fully kicked in, while the idea of a Tory government ever happening again was laughable due to a Labour government which was doing a job (insert how well of a job here as by 2002 I was done with them) than the Tories could though history has now shown they were writing cheques to be cashed in the present of today. The 21st century hadn’t really kicked in yet while UK culture was in a flux with the 90s still casting a shadow as there wasn’t really a developed idea of where things were going.
Which brings me back to the Glastonbury Festival of 2002. This was the first year back after the massive year which was 2000, and the first of the superfence which did its job so well that the festival felt quieter than it’s ever felt to me. Still busy and frantic but there were chunks of open space and room to move. Compared with 2019’s frenetic crowds it felt so bare but this and 2003 are the transition years of the festival as a meeting of the British alternative to something of the establishment because by the time Paul McCartney rocks up to play in 2004 you can’t really hide what you’ve become and where you’re going.
So I feel a massive fondness for 2002. It’s one of the last festivals I did myself over a beautiful weekend where it seemed the sun would always shine and things could only get better.
Imagine my joy then at YouTube’s algorithm spitting the video below at me. It really is a delight to see this raw footage to remind me of how the festival was, and how I forgot writing about previously about seeing Richie Havens being fucking brilliant or just how nice everyone was even though the lineup wasn’t one of the greatest it was one of the best years for the festival. There’s never going to be a year like it ever again so sit, watch and soak up a piece of history.
Today is the second day of TRNSMT, so getting around in Glasgow currently feels like this.
TRNSMT is now confirmed to be the replacement for T in the Park (TitP) in Scotland’s music calender after that festival was finally put to the sword. TitP had mutated from the original idea to have a Glastonbury/Reading type festival in Scotland to one where loads of kids piled onto a site drinking as much as possible in as short a time. The problem though was the campsites which were problematic and eventually the festival ran out of goodwill from the powers that be.
This is a pity. TitP in the early years had it developed down the Glastonbury route would have been amazing, but instead it went down the V Festival route as it lapped up the juices from its corporate teat as it became just a drain on resources for police and the local community.
So two years ago TRNSMT was born which sticks a large festival in Glasgow Green in Scotland’s largest city which causes all the problems you can imagine. Sure, it’s a great chance to see some great acts but the prospect of thousands of Glaswegian lobster people affected by the unusually sunny, warm weather means thousands waking up on Monday like this.
So the sounds of music and the smell of cooking neds fill my wee flat as TRNSMT tries to desperately work out an identiy that isn’t just a big piss up in a park in the centre of Glasgow that sells overpriced piss.
I loved this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I wrote a shitload of words saying just that. Today I went back to work properly and hated every second of it but I was just about holding it together til I saw this Tweet.
And then this happened.
A post Glastonbury depression slapped on top of anxiety and depression (and yes, I’m being clear on this rather than hinting it) is not a good thing. I realise it is only a daft post holiday blip but the reason I’ve barely watched any of the festival on iPlayer is that I don’t want to be reminded I couldn’t see so much, but that I’m no longer there. But reality sucks and as per usual I’ll muddle by which I really shouldn’t be doing.
Anyhow, it’s less than a year til the 50th anniversay.