This week: my thoughts on the Glastonbury hoo-hah plus a quick round up of forthcoming London music festivals for every budget
I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend this morning to have breakfast and catch up but got blown out because she wanted to stay home on the internet trying to get Glastonbury tickets. I'm fine with that, after all I understand how important it is to get tickets to see your favourite bands.
The thing that annoys me is the rigmarole involved in getting tickets for Glastonbury this year. Not only is there the usual scrum to buy the tickets themselves when they go on sale (I imagine the 9am Sunday start time for ticket sales was designed to cut out all the people who had a few too many the night before and will wake up late, cursing themselves) but everyone who wanted a chance of getting a ticket had to register beforehand, submitting a load of personal details and a passport style photo.
To an extent I can make my peace with it, it must be hard deciding what measures to take to try and help the real music fans get hold of tickets instead of touts. Something had to be done. I just don't like the idea of a festival that's always been about freedom of expression and the love of music and art and people bringing in such Draconian rules without even announcing what bands are playing. I've been to Glastonbury three times - 1998, 2000 and 2002 - and while I loved the atmosphere and the festival spirit, there aren't that many band's performances that I hold in my memory as "wow, that was a cool gig".
Seeing Blur in 1998 was great because they were my favourite band and it was the first time I'd seen them live, plus it was made even more memorable by the fact that the festival was so muddy that year that you were literally wading through fields, unable to see where pavements once were. Trying to pogo up and down during their set was pretty squelchy but lots of fun. Portishead were amazing too but came on stage about an hour late while I stood shivering in the freezing cold and wet conditions waiting for them. That was the year I left my tent pegs behind because I couldn't find them in the mud.
In 2000 me and a few friends managed to pay our way through a broken bit of the fence which was rather handy (you can't do that any more) and watching Moloko was pretty great especially as the sun came out when they performed "The Time Is Now". I don't remember anyone else that I saw that year.
I really enjoyed watching Coldplay and The White Stripes in 2002 and the weather was really nice for most of that weekend, but Ian Brown was really out of tune and by the Sunday afternoon I was ready to head home, all the supposedly zany festivalgoers were really starting to do my head in and I didn't think watching Rolf Harris was kitsch or interesting so I was off!
Glastonbury Festival can be a wonderful experience but I can't help but think that it's grown a little self important over the years. I'm not willing to pay £145 plus fees for a three day festival when I have no idea what bands are going to play. I wasn't willing to give a load of personal information over to a computer system along with a passport photo (sorry, would you prefer to scan my retina and take some DNA?) and I think it's hideously unfair that, if through sickness or having to take work that you can't turn down you can't attend the festival, your ticket is absolutely non-transferable/refundable.
I do really hope that the measures that have been taken to make the ticket buying experience a fairer one this year work (they're sold out now, regardless) and that all the people who are dying to go to Glastonbury get to go. But I won't be jealous of anyone who gets through the many hurdles to get there. Reading has an excellent lineup this year - NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Arcade Fire - and there are countless smaller festivals that have grown up around the country as an antithesis to the more corporate events which, sadly, it seems that Glastonbury will soon join.
If you like the idea of music festivals but can’t stand camping or travelling very far, you may be interested to note these forthcoming London festivals – there’s something for every budget:
The Camden Crawl, 19th – 20th April
2 days of music over 15 venues in Camden with more than 80 bands including Air Traffic, Killa Kella, Scott Matthews, Pull Tiger Tail, Popular Workshop, I Like Trains, The Hot Puppies and many more. 2 day passes are £45 but will soon sell out so hurry if you want to go…
New Cross Festival, 5th May
12+ venues, 100+ acts, 30+ promoters all in one day! Tickets are £15 and all the gigs are in New Cross, hence the name.
Foxfest 004, 5th & 6th May
The marvellous 2bob present a two day festival at The Fox & Firkin, Lewisham with a brilliant lineup including William, David Goo, Chet, Bretton, Popular Workshop and many more.
O2 Wireless Festival, 14th – 17th June
The White Stripes, QOTSA, Faithless, Badly Drawn Boy, Kaiser Chiefs, Editors and others play in Hyde Park. Day tickets £40, 2 days £75, 3 days £105, 4 days £135.
Tower Music Festival, 28th June – 14th July
A series of musical events at the Tower of London including performances from Seal, Elvis Costello, James Morrison and Katherine Jenkins. Tickets range from £35 - £55 per night.
Tinpan Alley Festival, July?
Last year’s featured British Sea Power, The Holloways, The Violets and many more and was absolutely FREE. No news about 2007 as yet but watch this space…
This Week’s Five
1. Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor
2. Jumpers – Sleater Kinney
3. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
4. Violet – Hole
5. In Shock – Kristin Hersh
Glastonbury Festival image courtesy of Richard Holden's Flickr stream.