This is the last post I’ll be making for a bit as I hit the tracks tomorrow to head south to spend a few days in Bristol before heading to Glastonbury on Wednesday. Just look at the site as it is now on the webcam…
And the sunset, oh lordy that sunset!
So after a funeral tomorrow I get to park all the problems in the world up for around 10 days. I frankly cannot wait to set seat in my train seat and finally turn off tomorrow afternoon, but most of all I can’t quite believe how much I’ve missed Bristol and the South West.
But I’ll be back tomorrow night and although I don’t expect to post again before Glastonbury you never know but for now, stay safe and see y’all the other side of Glastonbury Festival.
Glastonbury Festival has a long history of being against the establishment and fighting against various injustices of the world. This year a punk band Kildren were due to play Shangri La, one of the late night areas of the festival. The band have a song which goes like this…
It’s clear there’s a message even if its delivered in a way that isn’t nice and middle class.and all Guardian readery. The festival has decided to remove the band’s invitation to play after a media campaign to ban them, so a band who’d have probably played to maybe a few thousand people won’t be playing and the festival cracks a little in the face of the establishment.
Of course, they’d never have invited anyone previously to play songs which celebrate the death of any Tory…
Listen, I get the current climate is not a good one and that it is, sadly, turning violent, but sometimes music needs to be angry, and sometimes it needs to fucking shock us to our senses. I adore Glastonbury and have done so in the 27 years I’ve been going but this is a nonsense as the festival bends to the establishment in an act of censorship because that’s what it is. We need music to challenge us at times otherwise all we end up with is pish like The Killers playing for the nTh time…
One of the things about late capitalism is how everything, and I mean everything can be commodified, gentrified and repackaged in a way where the end goal is to sell you shit or encourage you to make others money. Most of us accept this as part of living in a developed society but every now and then some example of this comes staggering into view to remind us that there’s something unnatural about what’s being done to to which is essentially pitching to you under the guise of giving advice with YouTube being rife with fresh faced teenagers and 20-somethings dishing out advice with cries of ‘hit that bell’ and demanding likes.
Of course people need to make a living and some YouTubers are entirely upfront in what is a massive industry assuming YouTube don’t strip your ability to make money from your videos, which they are doing to people, but they are leaving hordes of videos which are essentially just advertorial.
Which brings me to this video.
It’s harmless enough. The advice about umbrellas is a nonsense and the Millennial tweeness is sickly, but here’s Glastonbury Festival fully absorbed into late capitalism and that great anti-establishment event becomes the mainstream it always stood against. Now to be fair, it has been like that for a good 15 years at least and this year I’m looking forward to enjoying the festival as much as I did my first 27 years ago.
However the rush from multiple parties to commodify every aspect of the festival from the beers you drink to the best toilet paper to wipe your arse with is depressing. These videos are essentially harmless on their own but combined they create a white noise that can’t be avoided.
But with three weeks to go I’ll be looking forward to creating my own festival, hopefully free of being sold to just for five days…
I’ve previously spoken about Channel 4’s first attempt to broadcast the Glastonbury Festival in 1994, but in the whole history of the festival its 1995’s coverage that’s really important. That year sold it to the sort of person who’d never have thought of going to a festival, and arguably that year’s coverage some the entire concept of going to any festival.
1995 was a long, hot, sticky, fun summer. There was a lot of hope in the air as the Tories were a dead government walking, and John Major actually resigned to fight a leadership election against John Redwood who led the group wanting to pull the UK out the EU. There was a real chance of an election where the Tories would lose so when the news hit the festival people were buzzing. Added to this was the fact Britpop was firmly established so every British band who’d heard a Kinks track once was getting signed up by record companies in the hope of finding the next Blur or Oasis. Sadly we ended up with crap like Dodgy. Ah well.
That summer was a perfect storm. A government in its death throes, the promise of better things, a perfect summer and if you were aged between 16-30 the future looked fucking amazing. So there was a siren call to that year’s festival as young people from all over descended on the Friday to jump the fence, and as for me, I’ve told my story about this year before.
But the one thing I never saw was Channel 4’s coverage. A mate who was going to video it for me fucked up programming his VCR so I got snippets at best. Well, the best things about living 23 years after this festival is that all the footage is online and it is a taster of a brilliant time when anything was actually possible and the future was so, so bright. And now in 2018 we’re dealing with Brexit, the rise of fascism and everything we’ve fought for since the end of WW2 being torn down. It is a tad depressing, but these videos will take you back to a better time, or show you a snippet of what thing were like at an important point in history.
A wee note, part 4 is missing because of what looks like a dubious copyright claim. Bastards.
Back in 1994 the Glastonbury Festival was still an underground event that sort of scratched the surface of the mainstream as something NME readers, students and the unemployed lefty would go to. The festival itself in 1994 was undergoing a change as it moved out of their more anarchic early years into a major event but til 94 it’d never been something that television would pick up until Channel 4 decided upon giving it a go.
I used to have all the coverage on a load of VHS tapes but they were lost in a move years ago, which is a damn shame as some amazing performances were on them & the coverage was as chaotic as the festival itself. Plus they were a great wee reminder of what is still, one of my favourite festivals, and musically it bridged that time between the early 90’s and the more conservative Britpop years.1994 is also one of my favourites years to have been alive.
So imagine my joy to stumble across some footage of Channel 4’s coverage from 1994. It isn’t complete, but it has great stuff like the Beastie Boys Friday afternoon set, a chunk of The Pretenders set from the Friday night, Katie Putrick being glorious, John Peel and lots and lots of fucking wonderful stuff.
I love this sort of archive anything (unedited TV programmes with ads included) but this is just a joy even if it is incomplete. A reminder of the festival before it became part of the mainstream and the UK’s cultural fabric but also a reminder that the 90’s weren’t just about Oasis and Blur.
If anyone out there has a complete set of videos or footage from 94 then please upload it and give me a shout.
Glastonbury Festival in 1993 was one of the very first I went to and lives in the memory as it was in the last years before the TV cameras and celebrities poured onsite often like cold sick, and the festival lost the chaotic element where one could literally turn a corner to walk into any sort of show you could imagine. Or possibly get mugged if you took a wrong turn after dark. It was that type of place back then. This does mean that it is incredibly hard to get footage of bands let alone anything else from these years but stuff does come up and here’s a load of footage of bands including Porno for Pyros who seems to be filmed near from where I was standing.
In fact the same channel is a bit of a goldmine with footage of the Beastie Boys from Glastonbury in 1994.
And that quite glorious Pretenders set from the NME Stage in 1994 also.
I love old footage like this as although it is rough, it manages to capture something and this is needed as we all get older. However the absolute discovery is Tao Jones, at the 1997 Phoenix Festival. Never heard of them? That’s because it was David Bowie performing under another name and yeah, it’d catch people out. People like myself who didn’t realise he was playing the dance tent so like hundreds of other legged it across site in order to try to get in what was by now, a pretty crammed tent.
So enjoy, and do so before these videos get possibly taken down.
Like a aching phantom limb I woke up this morning wondering why I wasn’t standing in a long queue waiting to get into a festival in a certain field in Somerset.
Yes, this would have been the weekend of Glastonbury Festival were it not taking a year off to let the land recover after a half dozen mainly dry years, so while Michael Eavis and the cows are chilling out for a year, the amount of events trying to capture something of the festival bubble like botulism as festivals as varied as TRNSMT and Jezfest try to part fools with their money with varying degrees of success.
But no fields full of people. No weirdness. No nothing in Somerset.
This gap has created a curious space. I’m now only really going to go to Glastonbury for my festival fun, and although last year was immense it was also my first year disabled so I felt restricted.
So as much as I’m resigned to being somewhat restricted to prior years (which is good as it means not waking up in the Green Fields coming down with someone else’s knickers on my head) I’m going to feel a bit lost over the next week.
But it is only a year off and it is a chance to allow me to regroup. I have every intention of being in a field in the West Country this time next year but for now it does feel as if something has been lost, even temporarily but at the same time, the land (if it were a feeling, coherent organism) wonders where all those people are who normally turn up this week each year?
See you all in a field next year…