What would you say your primary reasons for going to a festival are? To see lots of artists you like in one place? To discover new ones? To spend three to five days in a hedonistic vacuum away from the confines of society where you are duty bound to make the same, arduous journey to work every day, each turn bringing with it a new detail—like how someone will get out of their seat a full 45 seconds before their stop and make you move from your standing position to wobbly accommodate them when they could've just WAITED, GOD—that will get on your nerves and drive you inch by inch towards quitting your job in comms and moving to Lisbon?
Probably all three, right? We're all well-adjusted, capable people here. At Glastonbury, though, there is a lot more wiggle room in regards to what a festival can offer, what you can do and why you would even want to go in the first place. At most festivals your dilemmas will boil down to something like: oh, shall we see Alt-J or Bon Iver; shit, I lost my fidget spinner; what happened to your clothes, Kevin. Glastonbury, on the other hand, is a lawless land of possibility. You can do power ballad yoga. You can go to a "dance and laughter" workshop. You can have your chakras realigned by a man called Saffron. You have over 80 areas and hundreds of artists to choose from over the course of five days, with nothing but time on your hands and cans in your tummy.
My question, then, is this: why see all the stuff you already know is going to be great? Tempting as it is to economize the amount of walking you have to do by picking all the stuff from your Albums of the Year list, isn't it better to go rogue and see something completely unfamiliar at a festival where you can see a druid doing a DJ set in a tree? Why go and see Warpaint on The Park Stage when you could be watching Disgraceful Squids on Bez's Flying Bus?
This year, I wanted to do something different. In an effort to experience Glastonbury at its fullest, I intentionally picked the most ridiculous-sounding sets I could find on the line-up and went to see them all. Like Charlie Kelly busting out the back of a moving vehicle in a cowboy hat before me, I played the wildcard. Here's what happened…
Based on the name, you would think Thrill Collins would be one of three things: a Phil Collins covers group, four white dudes in Ray Bans playing chillwave, actual Phil Collins. They were none of those things. In the spirit of surprise I intended on chasing, I could not be more pleased to report that Thrill Collins was in fact a trio of hombres doing unplugged covers of such hits as "Low" by Flo Rida feat. T-Pain on an upright bass and a cajon while a lot of white people stood around going "BOMP BOMP BOMP," which neatly summarises quite a large percentage of Glastonbury if we're being honest. It actually wasn't bad for a group who get their moniker from your Myspace name circa 2006 that denoted literally nothing about you other than the fact that you were aware Phil Collins exists. They also came on 13 minutes late. Book them for your DIY wedding. 4/10
As we approach an absolutely packed Stonebridge Bar, my friend says: "Oh, Super Hans played here last year," and my heart sinks. If Thrill Collins was the precise opposite of what was anticipated then surely this statement denotes that "Baggy Mondays" will be the absolute nadir of what was anticipated. Sure enough, a DJ emerges and proceeds to play "Born Slippy" into The Stone Roses' "Made Of Stone" into anything else that falls under the infamous musical sub-genre 'pingers' to one of the biggest crowds I've seen two-stepping around a tent all weekend. Why please. 2/10
Big Kief Sutherland walks on stage in bootcut jeans with honest to god, he-has-really-put-some-work-in-here rips in the knees and a cowboy hat and suddenly I feel very serene. There are a lot of people here to see Jack Bauer/David from The Lost Boys sing some songs called things like "Shirley Jean," "Not Enough Whiskey," and "Gonna Die." They are the sort of people who carry a backpack full of sausage rolls and a picnic blanket around all day and they are precisely the sort of people I want to be near at the end of the festival because they remind me of my mam. His set is a dusty slice of classic country from his suitably morosely titled debt, Down In A Hole and to be honest it is genuinely quite good. I have no complaints. Like, if it were food it would be a Greggs pastry; decent enough, filling, reliable. He starts chatting about loss in a very meaningful way like three songs, which seems a little much for 5PM on a Sunday, but nevertheless. Very wholesome. A solid 5/10
STATUS QUO "AQUOSTIC SET"
I have been here for three, endless days now and things are beginning to go south. My nerves are shot to the point where a fly will enter my periphery and I shriek. Every now and again my eyeballs will vibrate as if to suggest: bed, perhaps? To which my brain replies: no, shan't. All of which is to say, the decision to ditch Radiohead—whose set can be summarized by the fact that they spent three minutes tuning their instruments and people clapped because they thought it was a new song—and watch Status Quo play the absolute hits in the acoustic tent full of soothing red drapes while couples in the autumn of their lives jig to "Rocking All Over The World" like pirates on speed was a fucking fantastic one. 9/10
BEZ'S FLYING BUS
You can go to Bez's Flying Bus, which is located in the "Unfairground," at any given time of day you will obviously find something fucking weird because fucking Bez is responsible for it. I'm not even going to bother rating the anonymous act on display here because I think one man furiously DJ'ing to a crowd of absolutely no one while, later to be joined by another man holding a sign that read "preaching to the perverted," pretty much speaks for itself.
"You guys make me feel cool!" a voice squeaks in the distance. "I don't ever feel cool!"
Katy Perry is performing "Dark Horse" dressed like a character from Earthbound after tumbling through RuPaul's workroom and I'm not really sure why this has been allowed to happen. A teenage boy in a Bob's Burgers shirt says "I hate this." Some girls under the age of ten on their dad's shoulders are having a nice time and there are some women emitting hen party vibes in "good girls go to heaven bad girls go to Glastonbury" T-shirts, which is difficult to argue with—we're all allowed our fun if it makes us feel good and it isn't hurting anyone, aren't we—but if I wanted to watch a cringe white girl absolutely butcher the high notes I would've stayed home and watched a video of myself doing karaoke. 0/10
THE BRASS FUNKEYS
This I stumbled upon by total accident, but it was probably my greatest accident since using hummus instead of butter on a marmite bagel. Not long after Jeremy "The Absolute Boy" Corbyn delivered a speech on the main stage on Saturday that made toddlers clap for joy and everyone on a comedown burst into tears, I heard the sweet sound of many brass instruments tooting out "Seven Nation Army." Buzzing off my tits on capitalism and hope for a more caring society, I was drawn to it as one is drawn to the chippy after five pints, despite the fact that I figured it would be a very similar "yer da" experience to Thrill Collins. But, to my absolute delight, I was greeted by nine of the most sufferable Goldsmiths students you could possibly imagine going absolutely HAM to a crowd of steampunks and students alike cheering "OH JEREMY CORBYN." The sousaphone player (THEY HAD A SOUSAPHONE PLAYER) was kicking the air barefoot and somehow—despite needing both hands to play—kept finding space between the notes to point passionately at his bandmates like your uncle at a pub disco. Brass has not been this good since that time Reel Big Fish covered A-Ha. I may regret this later once I have emerged from the depths of Glastonbury stockholm syndrome, but fuck it: The Brass Funkeys are my favorite band. 10/10
Follow Emma on Twitter.
(All photos by Jake Lewis)