What It Means to Have Boy Better Know Headlining a Major Glastonbury Stage

Emily Eavis announced BBK for the Other Stage, adding another chapter to the festival's history with grime.
April 6, 2017, 2:01pm

Glastonbury is for the kids now. Its most recent line-up announcement reflects that, as it's pretty clear that younger-skewing acts are shouldering their way to the front at an event well-known for catering to all ages. But perhaps most notable of all are the recent moves the festival as a whole has made in favour of grime, which, more than any other, is the genre that seems to represent one element of Britain's big-city youth best right now.

The latest is that Emily Eavis, the festival's organiser, has confirmed that London's Boy Better Know collective – which you probably already know includes artists like JME, Skepta and Wiley – will be headlining the event's Other Stage. It's one of the largest stages on the sprawling farm, though as yet Eavis hasn't confirmed which day will become BBK Night. Of grime's importance, she told NME: "Everybody's listening, even the Americans. It felt like we were witnessing something really exciting and fresh and the whole scene has kind of shifted. Grime has entered our lives in such a big way and it's brilliant that we're representing that as much as possible." She goes on to say that grime "feels like punk," and considering the history of Glastonbury as a rock festival and the protectiveness over it as such, this is actually a pretty big statement.

It seems that the aim here is for Glasto to be seen on the right side of history where grime is concerned, which fits into the festival's remit with booking so far. Rather than stick to one genre, Glasto's always been known for branching out, with everything from jazz and world music to electronic music and obviously rock. Grime in particular has been edging its way onto the lineup for a number of years, starting most noticeably with Dizzee Rascal, who has so far appeared four times. He was first invited to perform in 2008, after the 2007 release and success of his grime/pop opus Maths + English, and then again in 2009, 2010 and 2013 – on all of these occasions, he played the Pyramid Stage, which is the event's biggest, reflecting his massive crossover success as a dance and pop artist, as well as a grime MC.

It wasn't until 2013, when Wiley was invited to perform and then pulled out after he arrived, that Glastonbury reached out to grime proper, and over the last couple of years, recognising the genre's massive appeal in its second wave, the festival has been on a bit of a charm offensive. From Wiley being re-wooed for this year's event (he was previously pissed off about the rain, which is fair enough), to last year's all-grime Friday on the Sonic Stage, the festival seems to be sitting up and taking notice of what the kids want.

By giving grime pride of place in one of Glastonbury's most hallowed spots, they're putting their money where their mouth is in a way that feels significant – if a little belated, as has been the game of catch-up played by most of those in British music who weren't embedded in grime from the beginning. But from where I'm standing, that can only be a good thing.

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(Image via YouTube)