Glastonbury 2011

Originally published in The Student, September 2011.

What to write about Glastonbury that hasn’t already been said? Almost three months on, I can’t remember details of setlists or what band members were wearing. I’ve forgotten just how awful the choice between bladder pain and enduring the toilet stench is. The gargantuan queues have, in my nostalgic brain, become jolly moments well spent, and the taste of Brothers lemon cider is a sensation I’d gladly recover.

So I suppose the moments that I remember are the ones that matter. They might not be the biggest events of the festival – but then, you’ve probably already read about them.

Wednesday and Thursday have become blurs of food and dancing. Best moments: jerk chicken and sweet chilli rice in The Park, and laughing so hard at my friend falling over in Cubehenge (a circle of huge glowing neon structures) that I ended up in the mud myself.

I began Friday with the wonderful Metronomy, who seemed a little lost on the main stage at midday – their sound is much better suited to dark, closed in spaces (or anywhere people feel comfortable dancing) – but played a set that pleased the many dedicated fans down the front, and no doubt won them a few new followers.

For the record, Radiohead rumours first started really building momentum mid-morning, and although anyone who wanted to hear the hits would have been duly disappointed, the set was utterly transcendental – rain and whisky are mixed in my mind with an overwhelming residual memory of the sound: layers and layers of melody topped with vocals just begging to be howled into the wind.

My enduring memory of Saturday is not Pulp or Coldplay, magnificent though they both were, but the dance music in Chai Wallahs, a combination of tea shop, shisha bar and nightclub that only Glastonbury could pull off. We drank chai and brandy and ended the day – or, rather, began the next day – at the Stone Circle with candle flares and blankets.

Sunday was the only day I managed not to fall over, and what a glorious day it was. Most of it was spent at a silversmithing workshop in the Green Fields, bashing a small piece of metal for hours until it miraculously became a ring. Giddy with success, I ended the day lying in the sun in West Holts, listening to the Go! Team and wishing I had the energy to dance.

As you’ve probably deduced, I didn’t see that many bands, but the beauty of Glastonbury is its diversity. You create the festival experience you want to have, whether that is dancing amongst industrial salvage, flopping into a deck chair with a cider, or learning new yoga moves in the Stone Circle. Or maybe, like me, doing all of the above.


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