Thursday, 30 May 2013

Festival season is starting...

Attending a festival is not for the faint hearted; I wish somebody had pre-warned me, as I lost my festival virginity, that there would be a 99% chance I’d lose my soul at least three times over the four days and I’d see a ridiculous amount of naked men – more, in fact, then anybody needs to see in their lifetime. Friendships are formed that last forever, festival antics are never mentioned again and your liver never fully recovers but the entire experience is completely worth it.

Glastonbury is like the Mecca for hardcore festival go-ers. Many who have previously walked the muddy paths of Glastonbury lament on the fact that this festival is purely about the experience; it doesn’t matter who headlines because the four days you spend in Somerset are going to be magical, regardless.

Luckily for me, it’s my first Glastonbury this year and I get to spend four whole days soaking up the sights with my own eyes. Previously at festivals, I’ve witnessed bedlam; men crying as they feel the strain of their watered down Strongbow hit them, teenagers gurning as their first taste of illegal substances slithers down their throat, girls fighting over mirrors and enough sunburnt football tattoos to make an entire ‘This is England’ documentary. But Glastonbury is different.

Glastonbury is the mother of all festivals; it’s the Waitrose of the festival world. It has spawned a multitude of other festivals, all with the shared aim of being bigger and better but realistically, Reading, Isle of Wight and Radio 1’s Big Weekend are never going to achieve the status and power Glastonbury has managed to acquire over the years. When the Olympics took over the world last summer, nobody moaned about the public transport. Nope, because instead they were moaning about the absence of Glastonbury highlights featured on their televisions. Other festivals tried their very hardest to compensate the crowds who had given up trying to get tickets for the Olympics but few succeeded – but Glastonbury didn’t even bother to try. There was little point and after all, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” – which is certainly the case as Glastonbury tickets sold out in record time this year.

Providing those lucky enough to have wrangled a ticket with areas such as The Field of Avalon, Shangri-La and Arcadia, Glastonbury organisers have left us truly spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment location. Each area providing a different concept to the next, each stage acts as a metaphor for society, a state of consciousness.

The main stage is not only a platform for The Rolling Stones to headline the festival; no, it’s a metaphor for the corporate nonsense that hovers over the music industry. It spotlights the battle between those who are driven by money versus those who get off to the fact a crowd of thousands of people know every single one of their lyrics.
Business men put down their iPhones whilst they’re hanging at the main stage, conversations turn from the stock market to how ‘Wild Horses’ got them through their first case of heartbreak. The main stage prompts the eternal question of how long has money driven the music industry for? When did it stop being about the music and instead about the notes in Mick Jagger’s wallet?
As this question clouds your mind, the sound of one of the biggest musical acts to grace this planet drowns out any niggling voices. It doesn’t have to be like that. I can guarantee that the main stage audience will consist of people who rarely have to worry about money. When the bartender demands £7.50 for a pint of cheap cider, they’ll be the ones to give him £10, along with a drunken slur of “keep the change”. They paid for The Rolling Stones to give them a good time and that’s exactly what they’ll have.

But Glastonbury screams variety and if the main stage doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s numerous other areas to pick from. The Silver Waves stage will be home to the likes of Nas, Rudimental and David Rodigan as crowds of people embrace the pairing of culture and music. Beats will play out as those who are usually seen filling the streets of Notting Hill come carnival time get down and dirty in the fields of Glastonbury. From what I’ve heard about this stage, I’m half expecting to see Red Stripe being sold by the dozen and 20 something year olds grinding on people they wouldn’t look twice at normally. But that’s the beauty of the festival – you lose sight of your inhibitions, no longer afraid of letting yourself go. After all, what happens at Glastonbury stays at Glastonbury…

People look different at Glastonbury; it’s about self-expression, freedom and individuality; three things which the festival itself screams.
It’s a meeting of the masses, an entanglement of races, religions, genders and sexualities. Nobody questions anyone and all are united by their difference.
There are hipster teenagers, middle aged professionals, elderly hippies, tourists, pacifists, Pagans, Christians, intellectuals, bus drivers and children all running around the festival and it is within these people that the beauty of the festival is held. Conversations flow, music accompanying an unlikely pairing of friends.

As hardcore party animals stuff pills into their cheeks like they haven’t eaten for a week, relaxed parents are laying on the grass feeding organic food to their two year old. Glastonbury truly is a meeting of minds, with everyone coming together as their worries melt away: do you really need to go to the toilet; what drugs should you be taking, should you even be taking drugs; which headline act is playing tonight, who clashes with that band you’ve wanted to see for ages; should you really leave your expensive iPod in an unlocked tent; where the hell did you leave your tent and if you’re worrying about these things, should you even be at Glastonbury?

In a simple word, the answer to that question is: YES. You should always be at Glastonbury. I can’t wait to lose my mind with the main stage audience, to bump ‘n’ grind with those getting sweaty to reggae beats, to share a comedown, and a sunset, with people I met hours before. Glastonbury is where all lost souls come together, where the rollercoaster that is your life really gets going. A musical baptism, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Glastonbury and I, for one, cannot wait to be enlightened.