GLASTONBURY 2013: Death To Animal Onesies
I woke up that evening in a cold sweat. Where was I? Eddy? What time was it? Where the fuck was my phone? The familiar sound of Scousers, taunting their confused neighbors, reminded me that I was in my own tent, in my own "friendly" campsite. But that was day three…let’s go back to the beginning.
To say that we were well stocked was a gross understatement. Staring at our arsenal of life destroyers, it became clear that our goal should be to avoid any anxiety or paranoia while spending the maximum time awake. How else would we survive and get the most out of five days and five nights at the death star of festivals? Welcome to Glastonbury.
Against all odds, the weather was on our side. The forecast was bright and sunny over the entirety of the festival. It was at this point that those wearing Wellington boots felt almost as stupid as they looked. Having put up our tent and stocked it thoroughly with rum, cider, rolling tobacco and bananas, it was time to find the action. There were still 24 hours to go until the first band of the weekend.
Glastonbury is a world beyond just the main stages. Roaming through the vast crowds of animal onesies and overweight, sunburnt Brits, we escaped to the older part of the farm. Since 1970, the festival has grown considerably in size. We wandered through huge areas dedicated to healing and health food, inhabited by hundreds of hippies and free spirits. A beautiful hillside field, called The Park, stood next door and had its own main stage, appealing to the more alternative indie-rock crowd. Also in The Park was the famous Rabbit Hole, a large army tent that housed bands and DJs (of all genres) around the clock for the full five days, not to mention a whole host of dance, comedy, theatre, circus and cabaret acts. There were less Animal Onesies here.
Before plunging head-first into the festival’s grimy underbelly, there were a few bands that I had promised myself I would catch. Tame Impala was one of them. Playing on Other Stage was a big feat for the Melbourne-based four piece, who were nobody’s business two years ago. They launched into a powerful psychedelic set, punctuated with some slightly awkward crowd interactions, but nonetheless they nailed it. Songs like "Elephant" and "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" had the crowd singing, stomping and fist-pumping, while unheard numbers, from a record in the works, had the crowd’s ears pricked.
We then moved to West Holt stage, got stoned and watched Seasick Steve rock out with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin–such a treat for the Zeppelin fan in all of us. They were followed by Chic and the world famous producer, writer and performer Nile Rodgers, who performed an extravagant set of disco hits. This was a completely unexpected delight for me. Before the show started, I asked someone near me, “Who exactly is Nile Rodgers?” He replied in a thick Glaswegian accent, “Ya no leek every disco number one hit?”
“Yes," I replied.
"Well, ee wrote em," answered the Scot.
He wasn’t joking. Chic dazzled us with numbers like "Le Freak," "We Are Family" and "I Want Your Love." Naturally, we got our dance on, as did the 50,000 people surrounding us.
Saturday night’s headliner was perhaps the most anticipated performance in Glastonbury history: The Rolling Stones. Having received some very last minute royal treatment, we were ushered into the backstage area of Pyramid Stage. We rubbed shoulders with Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream and Seasick Steve, who in turn rubbed shoulders with Kate Moss and Alexa Chung. We watched in awe as one of the greatest bands in Rock-and-Roll history took the stage. Having attracted a 100,000 strong crowd, The Rolling Stones opened their set with "Jumpin’ Jack Flash." Mick Jagger, his voice on fire, bounced around the stage like a man possessed. Keith Richards cruised up to the mic to thank the crowd, and gave us wonderful renditions of "You Got The Silver" and "Happy." Finally, after watching Mick dance up a storm with the talented back-up singer Lisa Fischer, The Stones launched into "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" and finished with a bow. They were immediately ushered off the stage, right past us, and into a convoy of eight blacked-out armored cars–no doubt straight back to the comfort of the London suburbs.
We were buzzing by the end of the show, yet the night was still young. It was time to go to Shangris La to seek out some sordid entertainment. There we found Mandy, Charlie and some of their close friends, who we partied with well into the next morning. At Stone Circle, we found hundreds of wasted revelers huffing nitrous-oxide in an effort to keep the dream alive and avoid the dreaded comedown. We stayed there for several hours, reunited with the various groups of friends we had on site. We ate bananas, bought and sold contraband and laughed…a lot. By lunchtime, the spritely recycling crews outnumbered the battered day-walkers and we knew it was time to retreat to the tent.
I awoke to the voices of my Scouser neighbors. They were a group of light-hearted psychopaths, who had taken over a large section of the hospitality campsite using British-style beach wind-barriers as walls surrounding their castle. It would not have surprised me if they had dug a moat and filled it with brown ale. Of course, by the time we had arrived, the only place to camp (that wasn’t next to a road or a toilet) was next to them. Insults, such as "inside-out head," "upside-down face" and "half-a-man," were their weapon of choice. Luckily, due to a black-market ticket transaction carried out by us for them, we had made friends and by association joined their amateur troop of bullies, sniggering at others’ misfortune. "If you cant beat em, join em," came to mind. It was late and they assured me that Mumford and Sons’ set had finished, so it was therefore safe to rejoin the festival. I set off fully restocked in search of Dafe.
Dafe had been on site for a week already, building, preparing and testing the gear. His caravan was parked next to Strummerville, which became our home-away-from-home. Good tunes and a huge fire pit, surrounded by comfy old couches, provided the ultimate getaway from Animal Onesies. On my way there, I hit a blockade. Security was not letting anyone through to Shangris La, which was next door to Strummerville. Somewhere on site, in a control center, alarm bells were ringing as 150,000 festival cattle headed to one end of the farm. Luckily, Dafe had showed me a shortcut through a series of fences, over a stream and through someone’s tent. I found him in a cloud of smoke, hidden in the depths of his house-on-wheels. Dafe, like me, had avoided the evening’s commercial extravaganza for a more personal cleansing experience.
We found ourselves, once again, in the Stone Circle. “I will head butt a bongo player for 27-p," cried Dafe as he ran his dirty fingers through his green hair. When no one responded, off he went in search of customers. I suddenly felt wet everywhere. Where was it coming from? Had I pissed myself? I got up and walked bow-legged and in slow motion toward the bushes, all the time gargling incoherent responses to perhaps imaginary questions flying at me from all angles. It was definitely time to go back to the tent.
There is nothing that a festival bacon-and-egg roll cannot cure. You eat so little while you’re there that your whole body cries out for joy when a bit of greasy bacon and stale bread hits your stomach, (although it cost you eight quid). We lived off of these and they kept us alive (and sober when we needed to be). I left the farm on no sleep, but on a serious natural high. Not only had it been the best festival we had been to, but we had made new friends, had new experiences and tried things we should never try again. On top of that, we sourced 280 cans of lager left behind by lazy, wealthy and extremely hungover hospitality campers, and, at that point, probably in denial over there genetic alcoholism. You can imagine the traffic when 180,000 people are all trying to leave a country village at once. After glancing toward the gate in our car-park, where around 1,000 cars were trying to fit through the same door at the same time, we decided to go rogue. "Buckle up," said my right-hand-man Eddy. He turned the car around and headed up the pedestrian path back into the festival. Several security guards tried to stop us, one even making an extremely feeble attempt to get in front of us (not clever). We smiled, waved and carried on. Once we reached the main delivery gate, we were calmly ushered out and onto a nice open road. It was another beautiful day in the English countryside.
Scouse (/ˈskaʊs/): an accent and dialect of English, found primarily in the metropolitan county of Merseyside and is closely associated with the city of Liverpool.
Special thanks to: Andrew Eddy, Jake Lewis, Dafe Coalbuzz, Lars Von Bennigsen and Michael Eavis
Photos By: Jamie Burke