Happy 40th Glastonbury
June 21, 2010 8:22 PM   Subscribe

The 2010 Glastonbury Festival begins on the 23rd June at Worthy Farm in the village of Pilton, Somerset.

Michael Eavis held the first festival on his farm in 1970. 1.500 people attended and was headlined by Tyrannosaurus (later T.) Rex who stood in for a cancelled act at the last minute. Held on the last weekend of June virtually every year since then (in all weathers), it has become the defining English music & arts festival and has attracted some (if not most) of the greatest performers of the last 4 decades.

Consistently seen as an accurate snapshot of the musical environment of the time, this is a small selection of some of the festival's performances from the last 20 years or so, demonstrating the wide variety of genres and artists Glastonbury attracts.
posted by jontyjago (24 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Big crowd in 1970. Far out post, jontyjago.
posted by unliteral at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2010


I once took a monster toke off a spliff that I did not know was about 80 percent tobacco ... and when I regained consciousness I was told I'd fallen onto Michael Eavis's shoes.
posted by philip-random at 8:58 PM on June 21, 2010

Great post, lots of good memories. I also recommend this movie for a comprehensive Glasto experience.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:00 PM on June 21, 2010

i always wonder a bit about the 70s era glasto--but this is so amazing, esp. the PSB link.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2010

I was there in, let's see, 1987. So much amazing music. Thanks for this post.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:33 PM on June 21, 2010

I particularly like the Blur video from last year- the just massive build up that Damien set up and the fact that everyone had their WOOHOO basically right on cue.

Not the best song in the world, and not played with perfect energy, but the crowd more then makes up for that. Hell, it's no Glastonbury, but it frankly makes me excited for Lollapalooza back in my hometown. Even a fraction of that energy is exhilarating.
posted by Askiba at 11:00 PM on June 21, 2010

  • 1971 - David Bowie, The Supermen

  • posted by twoleftfeet at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2010

    Your orbital link is to the 2004 set.
    posted by lalochezia at 11:41 PM on June 21, 2010

    All I know about Glastonbury I learned from Neil's Book of the Dead. And this post.
    posted by maxwelton at 1:23 AM on June 22, 2010

    Pedantry: Pet Shop Boys played 2000 (I was bouncing around somewhere there), there was no festival in 2001.

    Great post though, will have to look through these tonight.
    posted by Infinite Jest at 1:33 AM on June 22, 2010

    Glastonbury is for middle-aged masochists - Europe’s biggest musical festival is now just a massive authoritarian pigpen, says Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator.

    The above article is obviously written to cause a fuss (manufactured outrage? From a journalist?) but I do think it's got a couple of cogent points buried in there. It's telling that tickets for Glastonbury Festival now go on sale before any bands are announced. Most young folk can only afford one festival per summer, so there's strong incentive for the ones who are passionate about music to go to other festivals where they know who's playing. I can't imagine heading to a festival without knowing who at least the headliners are.

    I've had a wonderful time at Glastonbury, but there are more 'boutique' festivals being organised every year in the UK that are cheaper and publish their line-up.

    It's still a remarkable and good thing, though.
    posted by Cantdosleepy at 1:48 AM on June 22, 2010

    I stopped going to Glastonbury when I decided that, in my mid-twenties, I could get away with saying I was too old. It's a strange beast – certainly the biggest UK festival, arguably the oldest, definitely the most varied in terms of clientele. Spending the weekend at Glastonbury is like being in a post-apocalyptic world where only carnival people and middle-class families have survived. For every hash brownie, there's a smoothie van. For every fire-breathing stilt-walker, there's a forty-something mum in sensible shoes with a flask of chicken soup.

    Media attention always focuses on the music stages, which is a shame, because they represent the most conventional part of Glastonbury. Music festivals are two-a-penny these days, though admittedly not on the scale of Glasto. What no other festival can match, though, is the bewildering variety of weird performance art going on away from the main stages. The Circus Tent, the Cabaret Tent, the Green Fields, Lost Vagueness, the wandering fire-eaters and jugglers and full-body puppets. The fact that the stone circle functions like a drug restaurant – take a seat and someone will be over to take your order. Yes, it's self-consciously bohemian. Yes, it's essentially an escapist theme-park for ageing middle-class hippies. But at least it's not more warm beer in plastic cups and bands playing lacklustre greatest hits sets.

    If you do go to Glastonbury, either this year or another time, my advice would be to ignore the music. You can see it on telly when you get home – the BBC offers pretty much blanket coverage, for goodness' sake. Instead, go and see the stuff you won't find anywhere else. Throw away your highlighted copy of the schedule and go wandering at random. Fall asleep in the Circus Tent and wake up with a sword-swallower looming over you. Go walking in the woods and stumble across what seems like a pagan ritual. Buy foods you don't recognise and eat them. Oh, and if you have time, check out the Cabaret Tent – I may not be performing there this year, but some of my friends are, including MeFi's own Rokkitnite. That's where the real festival is.
    posted by him at 1:48 AM on June 22, 2010 [9 favorites]

    In 1994 I saw Elvis Costello play what has become the Glastonbury headline slot: Saturday night on the Pyramid Stage. This was at the stage where live TV coverage of the festival was just starting to happen. He explained to the audience that the BBC had asked to film his set and he had refused - if people were unwilling to make the trek to stand in a muddy field and listen to his (3 hour) set in person they were just going to miss out;sorry. I do miss that attitude of "if you want to experience it you HAVE to be there".

    With this in mind I always thought the most interesting time at the festival was the period between when the bands stopped playing and dawn: perhaps watching "Bladerunner" projected out under the stars, wandering through the smoke and the dust of the festival site taking it all in, getting kept awake by lunatics and then woken up by chanting Christians.
    posted by rongorongo at 2:11 AM on June 22, 2010

    I think I might make going to Glastonbury my 45th birthday resolution (plenty of time to save up!). I missed out on tickets to "Spendour in the Grass" this year and that's devastating all by itself.

    I need a good excuse to renew the ol' passport and seeing as how even how mums in sensible shoes are present, I should fit right in!
    posted by h00py at 3:02 AM on June 22, 2010

    goddamn typos
    posted by h00py at 3:04 AM on June 22, 2010

    Setting off in a couple of hours for the first time since 2005. It would be very, very nice if this time I don't have to evacuate my tent at 4am while a brand new river chooses where I am to meander through.

    Also, if I miss Banco de Gaia again I will sodding cry.
    posted by vbfg at 3:20 AM on June 22, 2010

    Someone needs to make an Indietracks FPP so those of us who couldn't scrape up £200 don't feel we're missing out. Also, this post needs Pulp at '95. I taped that off the TV when I was too young to go and lived in a town with no gigs or many indie fans, and my dad taped The Mouse That Roared over it.
    posted by mippy at 4:22 AM on June 22, 2010

    Glastonbury can be quite an endurance test, even given brilliant weather. It makes me feel like a grumbly old man, yet my pain and distress always seems to be interpreted by others as evidence of my 'raving hard'. I need orthopaedic inserts in my wellies because I have flat feet, I suffer from chronic hayfever, and I wear contact lenses, without which I can't cross the street.

    Last year, after a long day on my feet, my fallen arches had seized up, making me hobble. My hayfever had got so bad I had snot running down my nose and my eyes watered so much that one of my contact lenses fell out. Yet late at night, as I tried to ask people directions back to the Circus Field, everyone took these injuries as evidence that I was an insano party monster who'd ingested legendary quantities of drugs.

    Them: 'Look how he's walking! Oh mate! What a legend! He's spannered! Look! He's coming this way!'

    Me: 'Err, excuse me, I'm a bit lost. Could you tell me how to get to the Circus Field, I-'

    Them: 'Oh my God! He's so wrecked he doesn't even know where he is!'

    Me: [laughs weakly] 'It's not quite like that - it's just I can't see.'

    Them: 'He's done so many pills he's GONE BLIND! Look at his eyes!'

    Me: *sigh*

    However, for all my griping, every year I've been to Glastonbury I've had several amazing experiences. I'm happy admitting that 'boutique' festivals are more my speed, but nothing matches the feeling of 100,000+ people all singing in unison as the sun goes down and some of the best live bands in the world rock out.

    Ooh, and yes, as Him says, for the fourth year in a row, I'll be doing the Cabaret Stage every day just before midday. If any Mefites are about, why not come say hi immediately after the show and I'll buy you all a drink?
    posted by RokkitNite at 5:34 AM on June 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

    Ian Brown doing I Wanna Be Adored in 2005
    posted by DanCall at 5:37 AM on June 22, 2010

    This brings back great memories. I was persuaded to go one year after a week-long surfing holiday nearby when I was a student. I couldn't afford a ticket, and anyway, they were sold out.

    I wandered aimlessly around the perimeter fence for a while looking for a way in until I was beckoned over to a parked van by a tattooed skinhead chap. In a strong Welsh accent he asked if I wanted to get in "for cheap like". When I answered yes, the doors on the van slid open and I was ushered inside, the doors slamming shut behind me. "Oh shit!", I thought, "i think I might be in a spot of bother".

    On the contrary, the skinned's accomplice told me it was twenty pounds to get an exit stamp put on my hand (this was before they used wrist bands), but when I told him that I only had a twenty pound note he let me in for 10 so that I could afford a beer and some food! For this he stamped my hand with ink and told me to act normal on my way in. I did, and I got in. Then I had the problem of finding my friends (and source of food and shelter) in the heaving throng with only vague directions and no cellphone. Happy days!
    posted by jonesor at 6:25 AM on June 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

    Jon Ronson on Glastonbury pt 1 & pt 2. MP3 links from the Jon Ronson forum.
    posted by ejoey at 7:17 AM on June 22, 2010

    I so wish I was going. That it is going ahead without me gives me my sad face. Next year. Or the year after.
    posted by Lleyam at 3:53 PM on June 22, 2010

    Venetiae Dearden has some interesting pictures of festivalists here.
    posted by Glow Bucket at 1:36 AM on June 24, 2010

    « Older Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary   |   Dr. Bugs: Ecologist, Explorer, Photojournalist Newer »

    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments