So how much can you actually pack into a day of Glastonbury? Instead of camping out at the main stage with the mainstream middle-classes and teeny-boppers, I tried to find out at my alternative day at Glastonbury.
First off was Mount Kimbie in the Silver Hayes area, a band I’d heard of but never actually heard. They were hotly tipped but, after arriving twenty minutes late, produced a dire set that managed to be both boring and pretentious. It says a lot that the pre-show music was more entertaining than the show itself and that I mistook the band themselves for roadies when they first took to the stage. For the rest of the day I resolved to hereby refer to the ‘pretentious factor’ on a scale of ‘1 to Mount Kimbie’. â˜…â˜…â˜†â˜†â˜† Two Stars
Next up were Goat on West Holts stage, another band hotly tipped but that I’d never heard. Wow. What an incredible set. With masked disguises, they looked like a street carnival somewhere in the Middle East having actually originated in Sweden. This didn’t detract from their performance which, whilst technically complex and musically accomplished, was highly entertaining with lots of dancing and songs constructed around what seemed like a series of break beats, leading to a (mostly middle-age) mid-afternoon rave. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜† Four Stars
One of the great things about Glastonbury is that due to its sheer size, you always catch bands in passing. Although a proper review can’t be drawn from 5-10 minutes of a set, having passed The Hives on the way to Mount Kimbie, I now wish I’d stayed for the whole thing. Despite having originated from Sweden, the lead singer sounded like he was from the Deep South, bringing raspy vocals and a performance of preacher-like intensity to the stage. Similarly, whilst eating some dodgy Mexican food (not recommended) Alice Russell sounded similar back on the West Holts with a cracking Soul/R+B backing band producing some great solos.
Having given our only five star review of the term to Savages, we unfortunately missed them on the intimate William’s Green stage, named after Michael Eavis’s father, but we’ll hopefully be able to catch their second set on the John Peel on Saturday. Apparently they were awesome. The same cannot be said for the Lumineers, another band caught in passing, who seemed to lack the depth to deliver a truly special performance on the Other stage.
Next alternative pick of the day was Mungo Hi-Fi on the Blues stage. Decorated as a mock shanty town, it created the perfect backdrop for their brand of dub-infused reggae-rap. Having originally hailed from Glasgow, I couldn’t believe as they got everyone to bounce along as though we were somewhere deep in a smoky warren of back alleys in Kingston- the backdrop probably helped. After twenty minutes of reggae, I’d had my fill, but that probably says more about me than Mungo. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜†â˜† Three Stars
From what I could see, Miles Kane proved popular over on the John Peel stage, where Bastille would later draw the biggest crowd the stage has ever had. Similar crowds, however, were drawn to the Other stage for Alt-J, and this was where I headed next. The time of day where the sun is setting and the wind just beginning to pick up is a notoriously difficult slot to master (a slot that Elbow have become synonymous with, and even written songs specifically for). Alt-J delivered, but the sound system on the Other stage simply isn’t good enough to deliver the almost mathematical intricacies of the five-piece’s compositions. Despite enthusiastic singalongs, raving and indie head-bopping, the swirling winds meant a lot of the set was lost. However, with another album of material under their belt, and a slew clever covers, this is definitely a band capable of filling Elbow’s shoes in the sunset slot. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜† Four Stars
As the wind grew stronger, I needed to get a jumper on so headed back to camp. Here the big decision would be made, as discussed yesterday: Would I opt for Arctic Monkeys, Portishead or, as I finally decided, Nile Rodger’s Chic. Having had a day of alternative, but nonetheless entertaining, acts, I just needed some hooks! With Chic they just kept on coming.
Having passed Foals on the way (just as they played ‘My Number’) I was ready to get my dancing shoes on and, having been responsible for this summer’s anthem ‘Get Lucky’, Rodgers and co. were unlikely to disappoint. From the opening chords of ‘Everybody Dance’ I’m pretty sure every single audience member sang every single word to every single song. Known as “the hitmaker”, Rodgers is estimated to have generated £1.3 billion worth of hits over the years, and last night he played them all. David Bowie’s ‘Just Dance’ practically induced a riot and his closing numbers Le Freak and Good Times, whilst predictable, were perfect.
Despite all the sales and success, this was Rodgers’s first performance at Glastonbury and he seemed genuinely humbled having come out on stage beforehand to take photos and capture the moment. Dressed in white suits, the band were clearly not regular festival goers, but this old-fashioned formality added a touch of class to the mystique of Chic. A special mention must also go the bassist and drummer who produced some of the tightest playing I’ve ever heard and some truly PHAT grooves. Rodgers is finally receiving the appreciation he deserves, shown most obviously when one audience member swore loudly and another reveller shouted ‘Oi! Give Niles some respect!’ Despite this, the audience was unexpectedly young and, despite the lack of any suprise appearance by Daft Punk, stayed through to the end. With Chic, Rodgers delivered a quality performance with some great tracks, great playing and lots of humour which had been missing from the downbeat seriousness of my alternative day at Glastonbury. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜… Five Stars
Having spent my day running around the vast festival site, and my evening boogying for two solid hours, I was knackered and went to bed. Saturday is Pyramid day; Elvis Costello, Laura Mvula and The Stones are all on the menu. I’m going mainstream, camping out, saving my back and watching it all unfold. Check back tomorrow to hear all the fireworks that even the BBC aren’t allowed to catch.