Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Glastonbury '08 Report

Well, well. I’m well behind on my travel blogging, but I’ve decided to skip ahead and report some of the details of my recent adventure to the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts which I experienced for the first time during the past week.

Glasto has the reputation for being a muddy and patience-trying experience. Luckily for me and my partner in crime, J-Kay ‘Janderson’ Anderson, we were fortunate to experience nearly perfect weather. I’ll quickly give a run down to which performances I thought was good, OK, and not worth the hype. Please note that for some (most) of the days I missed some of the main bands due to being intoxicated or asleep!

The Good!
There were many really good acts. As usual, at least according to my festival theory, these acts were nearly all confined to the side stages. The pick of Friday was the simon-and-garfunkel-esque Vampire Weekend who put smiles on everyone’s faces with their afro-beat pop songs. You have to love a band you can dance too!

To my surprise, one of the other great acts of Glastonbury was gold coast locals Operator Please. I had always heard these guys on the radio back home and thought ‘argh, just another one of these gimmick bands’ but this was the first time I saw them perform, and I must say, I was hugely impressed. Also, their cover of Salt’n’Pepa’s ‘Push It’ has to go down as one of the best covers I’ve seen. Also, I had no idea that lead vocalist and guitarist Amandah Wilkinson had so much guitar credentials – she was busting out the riffs like there was no tomorrow.

Eventually coming out as my second favourite performance of the entire festival was Crowded House’s Saturday afternoon set. I knew all the word’s to most of their song, and there is nothing better than a giant crowd sing-a-long on a warm Saturday afternoon. Most of their obvious hits were played (they finished with my personal favourite ‘Four Season in One Day’) and a few newer Neil Finn numbers placed in between.

The Hoodoo Gurus played an early slot on Sunday at around noon. Much like the Crowded House set of the previous day, it was littered with old classics. Dave Faulkner did talk a lot of shite at times, but generally the set was enjoyable with the band members indulging in some rock and roll showmanship.

I randomly went and saw a UK band called Friendly Fires at the John Peel tent (coincidently, the tent closest to my campsite). They were enjoyable enough to warrant a place amongst my favourite sets of the festival. They had wisps of the cure mixed with a lot of electronic backing tracks, and reminded me in some ways of Australia’s own Seabellies, albeit with less members. Also, I think the guitarist might have thought he was Johnny Greenwood reincarnate, though clearly he wasn’t.

My pick of the festival was without a doubt Caribou. Playing a lot of songs off their great album ‘Andorra’, Daniel Snaith a co really showed an initially unsure crowd what it was like to mix 60’s-esque melodies with an dab of electronic beats and effects. ‘She’s the One’ was a festival highlight. I also loved their stage setup, with Snaith and his drummer setting up their separate drumkits directly opposite each other, so when they manically smashed their kits it looked like the were entangled in a drum battle of gargantuan proportions.

Spiritualized also played a great set at the John Peel Stage early on Sunday evening. Never listened to any of their music before, apart from the song 'Come Together', but I might have to check out some more of their tunes.

Much to my surprise, My Morning Jacket, who closed off the Park stage on the Sunday night, absolutely rocked. I have a few of their albums, and I always thought they were OK, but I had no idea that Jim James, their lead singer and guitarist, was such a rock god. They mixed rock and country music songs interchangeably, and jumped round the stage like men possessed. It was a delight to watch. Their drummer looks like Animal from the muppets, and indeed, drums like him as well.

I’m told on good authority by Janderson that Hot Chip were brilliant and ‘boyfriend material’. Unfortunately, I missed out due to being passed out drunk in my tent.

The Yeah-They-Were-OK.
I won’t go into much detail, but the Raconteurs were OK. John Mayer was OK (he can play some mighty fine guitar), The Kills would have been more enjoyable had their sound been better (I frequently noticed that the John Peel Stage had a really bad sound mix), Stars suffered from the same sound quality issues as the aforementioned Kills, and their lead singer’s choice of performance outfit left me feel slightly ill. I didn't really mind the sounds of The Rascals, who played a mixture of punk and surf music.

The Over-hyped and Awful.
Actually, I didn’t see many bands that were that awful. Some that I thought weren’t all that good were Canadian stoner rock group Black Mountain. Their 8 minute plus medleys were just drawn out and boring. Maybe I had to be ‘under the influence’ to appreciate, but I wasn’t, so therefore, I didn’t. The hyped up Crystal Castles probably were good. However, they only played for half an hour, despite having an hour set time, much to the extreme displeasure of the audience who rightly booed them off the stage. MGMT were also another band for which I couldn’t even been bothered to stand through their entire set for, such was the quality of their set. They didn’t look interested in playing at all, despite a full house at the John Peel stage. Furthermore, their songs were uninspired and bland. Don’t believe the hype. Janderson mentioned to me that by far the worst band she saw was the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I’m not surprised at all.

Well, that sums up what I thought was good and bad about the performances of certain acts at the festival. Overall, it was a good few days, though extremely tiring. Unsure if I will do it next year.


Daniel said...

RE: Crystal Castles. Get your facts straight. It was well documented that security cut their set short because the singer was being too crazy. The crowd was booing at security, not the band. This made headlines around the world and only added to the band's buzz.

Darragh said...

Yes, I admit I was wrong. At the time when I wrote this review back in July 2008, I didn't though. I should have corrected it. Damn the security.