Glastonbury veterans Mark Muldoon (MM) and Marc Burrows (MB) offer you the ultimate guide to Glasto 2015... but first, here's a Spotify playlist to listen to whilst packing those extra pairs of socks.
DO bring waterproofs.
MB: Sorry guys, looks like it’s going one to be of those Glastonbury’s. Just go with it, it’ll be fine.
DON’T see Kanye (unless you, like, want to.)
MB: Griping about the headliner at Glastonbury is like complaining you got the wrong coloured paper hat at Christmas dinner- shut up about it and enjoy stuffing yourself with the lovingly prepared assortment before you. Playing at exactly the same time as St Yeezy are: Deadmou5, George Clinton, Jon Hopkins, Suede, The Moody Blues, Neville Staples, Enter Shikari, Public Service Broadcasting, Leftfield and, literally, ANOTHER SIXTY-SEVEN ACTS we don’t have space to list. It’s ‘Glastonbury Preview’ 101 to say “hey guys, check out the smaller stages” but really, check out the smaller stages.
DO see Kanye West (unless, like, you don’t want to.)
MM: It's been seven years since Jay-Z played the ultimate crowd-pleasing set that won Britain round to the idea of hip hop artists as major festival headliners. And, well, it can be difficult to imagine Kanye ‘famously accommodating’ West going to quite the same effort to ensure the whole audience is along for the ride. See, the thing about this year’s Saturday night headline slot is that it depends on which Kanye West shows up. When he launched My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at Coachella in 2011, he brought along a meticulously planned, high concept three-act show with ballet, opera and classical influences. When he headlined Wireless festival last summer in London however, he just bought along four of five musicians and a big screen for projecting his face onto. By this point he was well into the habit of his now-famed 15 minute long monologues about how misunderstood he is, how the entire fashion industry has wronged him, blah blah fucking blah. I mean don’t get me wrong, I get nervous and ramble on a bit when I have to do public speaking as well. But 15 minutes? Last summer, the Kanye West crowd responded by heckling 'move it on, bitch!' and 'I seriously don't know how he's going to come back from this', so we wish him the best of luck trying to keep a field of people on board that, in all honesty, probably would’ve preferred Blur to be headlining.
That said, Glastonbury is where he's chosen to launch his new album to the world. It's being broadcast and re-watched across the globe. One senses on this occasion he might be keen to keep his public happy. And if not, it's the perfect chance to nip to that cider bus at the entrance to the markets, and console yourself with the fact that he doesn't really talk for the rest of his set anyway, so it's not as if by going off on this big rant that you're missing out on hearing any of the hits. Should you wish, you can think of it as more of a 'consolidating all your stage banter into one handy toilet-break sized chunk' policy.
DON’T look at someone’s official programme on the way home on monday.
MB: Seriously, we did this last year and it’s just a list of the things you missed. You can’t see all of it, there’s too much, don’t sweat it, don’t plan too much, just see where it takes you.
DO See the Michael Clark company on Friday
MB: Michael Clark has been known for batshit mental ballet performances for nearly thirty years, most famously a completely bonkers collaboration with The Fall that saw him dancing with his arse out on The Tube to everyone’s bafflement and John Peel’s noticeable glee. Who knows what he’ll pull out the bag for the Friday morning drizzle at 11am. Ten years ago it was that exact slot that propelled the Darkness to superstardom, so it’s usually worth getting up for.
DO see Shields
MM: Here’s a thing: two of Drowned in Sound’s writers - Mark Muldoon and fiercely attractive senior writer Dom Gourlay - help out with judging Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition, and one of the bands we championed through the early stages went on to finish runners up in the competition, winning themselves a £2,500 development fund and a slot at the festival. What’s more is that it’s a sweet little slot at 10:30pm on the Thursday night, when you’ve not really got anything better to do on site anyway. So if you’re in the market for tightly-honed indie-pop that can get the dancefloor started, then have a listen to Mezzanine and see you down there. Plus - and we don’t mean to stoke the fires of speculation here - but there’s a ‘special guest’ on after them. Given that this mystery set is a fairly lengthily 75 minutes, and that they’re taking a surprisingly long 60 minute gap to set up before it – and we can only reasonably conclude that it’s a bloody surprise appearance from Prince, can’t we.
DON’T miss the Unfairground
MB: The brilliant “Mutoid Waste Company” have a long standing relationship with the festival, creating gargantuan and grotesque sculptures and art projects from scrap and waste. It’s this kind of thing that makes Glastonbury different to the raft of other events with near-identical main-stage lineups. This year the group have expanded the Unfairground to include more rides and sideshows alongside the now-traditional Acid House stage curated by Bez. Weirdo 4am delights await.
Foo Fighters Florence
MB: After scoring a UK number
two one album earlier in 2015, and having proved themselves herself over the years as a thoroughly reliable festival headliner with a bag of hits, what better time to see the current biggest rock band in the world solo star in the country than Friday night at Glastonbury? A truly unique festival experience.
DON’T speculate about The Who’s booking
MM: So it was as recently as May when the Who cancelled their sold-out Paris show to come headline Glastonbury for us. Is the ‘last-minuteness’ of this sounding a touch familiar to anybody else? Committed Glastonbury followers may remember that Prince pulled out in 2014 when the rumour mill started suggesting he might be our Saturday headliner. Now, it’s certainly very unusual for Emily Eavis to specifically deny headliner rumours in interviews, let alone taking to Twitter just for the purposes of issuing a denial. Yet a few weeks earlier - in mid-April - that’s exactly what she did.
Tabloid reports today about Prince playing or pulling out are unfounded and completely untrue. We'll unveil all the stages soon!— Emily Eavis (@emilyeavis) April 18, 2015
Is it fair to guess that just maybe, the same thing has happened here? That Prince got upset about all the wild speculation and did another disappearing act? If so, all this wild speculation is probably not helping matters all that much. quickly changes subject
DON’T miss Pharrell
MM: We don't doubt that Florence + the Machine will be a success. Were we given free reign though, we would've handed the sudden headliner slot to Pharrell. Florence is surely ready for headliner status, but Pharrell is overdue it. Last summer it was Pharrell supporting Kanye at Wireless, and he succeeded in gifting us the far better of the two sets. Of that performance, we'll just say this: beforehand, we were reeling off a list of five tracks it’d be jaw-hits-floor exciting to hear included, and all five were - plus two we didn't even dare dream would be played. If you’re a fan of joy, make sure you’re there.
Also worth looking out for is Pharrell’s underappreciated key role in the fourth wave of feminism. If Glastonbury is lucky it too may get to witness the pop superstar’s speech where he encourages the women of the audience to rise up and make 2015 the year of female empowerment. If he does, one hopes that this time it isn’t somewhat undermined 15 minutes later by his performing of that well known 2013 ode to consent, Blurred Lines.
DO camp out in front of the TV all weekend, if you didn’t get tickets
MM: As usual the BBC will be throwing a decent amount of money at covering the event. Which we’re all for, let’s say that for the record. We’re resolutely pro-BBC. There’s definitely something to be said for being able to move between stages in five seconds rather than 30 minutes, or spending an evening watching BBC Three and contemplating how amazing it would be to date Gemma Cairney. We don’t really understand why the BBC also feels the need to provide coverage of Reading festival every year as well though. Or T in the Park, come to think of it. Or, arguably, Radio 1’s Big Weekend. It’s surely all getting a bit claustrophobic at the centre of the BBC’s festival Venn diagram. The upside, though, is that it does provide you with an opportunity to track all the tiny incremental ways Ed Sheeran is improving his set throughout the summer.
The extra good news this year is that this is the first Glastonbury to be presented under the ‘BBC Music’ banner, which will strike a happy chord for everybody who watched the BBC Music Awards last year and found themselves thinking “you know the BBC could really improve its coverage of Glastonbury if it would just commit to interrupting proceedings every five minutes to tell us what BBC Introducing is”. Still, by December it’s fair to say Ed Sheeran’s performance was pretty fucking great.
DON'T pray for sunshine
MM: Right before you look to sacrifice us at midnight in Strummerville for saying this, it's worth considering: what really gets the party started: 23°c blazing sunshine, or a warm but still pleasantly cloudy day? Sunshine just gives you five days of lethargy and embarrassing oh-look-it’s-an-englishman-in-magaluf sunstroke. And isn't it just a dream when you can sleep past 8:30am in your tent when you were awake until 6am in Shangri-la the night before?
Obviously, rain is still the most disastrous event that could happen all weekend, mind. And we include a secret set from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in that.
DO leave the bindis at home
MM: You may have noticed that this year Glastonbury has told traders they cannot sell Native American headdresses, without first gaining permission from the festival. Which must be a real shame for the wardrobe plans of Dave, 37, from Clapham, who tends to enjoy his festivals with a healthy side order of reductionist spiritual and cultural insensitivity.
Bindis seem to have been wildly popular at every festival since Coachella 2014, and while the debate about whether they are acceptable or not is faintly more contested than with headdresses, can we all just agree that they look completely ridiculous on your average Glastonbury attendee? There are blogs and Facebook groups that are dedicated to publicly shaming your act of cultural appropriation. We don’t want that for you this Glastonbury.
DO come and see my band
MB: Yes, alright, this is shameless, but me (that's Drowned In Sound’s Marc Burrows) and my band, acclaimed Victorian-themed-cockney-knees-up-meets-punk-metal-fiasco that is The Men That WIll Not Be Blamed For Nothing, are playing the Rocket Lounge at 9pm on Thursday. I’d like it if you popped along, even if just to tell me how much you disagreed with that Vaccines review last month.
DO ignore the laughing gas salesman
MM: Glastonbury has specifically banned nitrous oxide from the stone circle this year, and maybe that in some small way is the festival trying to suggest that you reassess your leisure purchases? I mean if you want to pay some person £2 to feel slightly different for 20 seconds, do please feel free. It’s your money, and we’re keen not to get all ‘Martin Lewis’ on you, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that for less money you can buy 10 Vimto chew bars on the internet, which will make you completely joyful for up to five minutes, on ten separate occasions. There will certainly be a small sub-section of Glastonbury-goers for whom this ban is an assault on the very reason they attend the festival each year. Well, they need not worry: we’ve heard all about a new US festival and we’re already putting together our party to travel over there especially. Tweet us if you fancy getting involved, yeah?
Mark Muldoon wrote some of these, and he is on Twitter here and Instagram here.
Marc Burrows wrote others, he is on Twitter here.
Both Marc/k's will tweet as much as their batteries will allow.