Review: Glastonbury 2011
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In true British style, there’s one thing we love to talk (and moan) about: the weather – and aside from the headliners it was the main topic of Glastonbury 2011. Heavy rain greeted early campers on Wednesday and Thursday in what seemed like apocalyptic fashion, but in true Glastonbury style, spirits could not be dampened. Organisers Michael and Emily Eavis were bold in their choice of opening act, and were adamant on cementing Glastonbury’s reputation as a celebration of all music and arts. Therefore campers awoke to the traditional Moroccan group The Master Musicians of Joujouka, who kicked off the festival on Friday morning at the Pyramid Stage, casting booming ancient tribal trance music across the boggy fields of Somerset. Digital pop rockers Metronomy followed with an impressive yet understatedly cool set, setting the standard for the day’s performances. Not to be beaten, Two Door Cinema Club brought sunnier sounds to the thousands of drizzled spectators and helped festival goers to defy the sticky mud by getting their dance on. Meanwhile performances on the Other Stage from The Naked and Famous, The Vaccines and Chipmunk, and dance acts Katy B, Beardyman, Example and Fatboy Slim made Friday one of the most clash-tastic timetables in recent years. As if trying to get your head around the packed timetable of fantastic music was not headache-inducing enough, Glastonbury Festival is undoubtedly the best in the world for its additional ‘alternative’ entertainment: circus acts, comedy performances, secret gardens, nightclubs and cafes all offer completely different Glastonbury experiences which transport campers to a somewhat hidden side of the festival, away from the media spotlight. Shangri-La – the size of a small town and now in its third year at Glastonbury – continued an apocalyptic story of degradation from a consumerist heaven to an infected dilapidated slum. Neon signs ‘Every Little Hurts’ and ‘Fish & Tits’ hammered home the anti-conglomerate, anti-globalisation messages, and festival-goers got the full slum experience when wading and sticking (and often falling!) in the thick mud of the narrow, dark Shangri-La alleyways. In the Green Fields arts, crafts, yoga lessons, meditation classes, vegetarian and vegan food stalls with free-love slogans, full of flower-haired, hemp-clothed liberals sat on chintzy floor cushions, promote a less materialistic twenty-first century and, for the few days that it exists, Glastonbury Festival really does make you feel like a 1960s hippie. It’s not everybody’s non-dairy cup of herbal tea but, for the thousands of regulars that find peace and tranquillity in the haven of the Green Fields and Stone Circle, it is the backbone of Glastonbury and the eco ethos of ‘Love the farm, leave no trace’. Thousands of campers chose to splish-splosh their way to see ‘secret’ guests Radiohead play a melancholy set at the increasingly renowned (and crowded) Park Stage on Friday evening, whilst Mumford & Sons did what they do best over on the Other Stage: one of the most heart-wrenching musical clashes of the weekend. Friday headliners U2 drew the expected large crowd, and Primal Scream sapped up most of the remaining festival-goers. However, John Peel Stage headliner DJ Shadow put on a breathtaking audio/visual show witnessed only by a fortunate few hundred people who dared to turn their backs on the more popular acts. The hip-hop DJ legend mixed heavy beats and rocking tunes all within a massive white orb which, through the magic of projectors, became a Death Star floating through space, a basketball being slam-dunked, and various other amazing 3D effects. Judging by the crowd’s response there is no doubt that these effects looked all the more impressive to the many wide-eyed spectators that were high on something-or-other.
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