Ignore the cynics, Glastonbury's still got it
It may be more mainstream than ever, but Worthy Farm is still the first stop for magical memories, says Rob Sharp
Monday 21 June 2010
I'm still trying to work out whether I'm looking forward to Glastonbury, later this week.
With its endless nights, Met Office baiting, diverse age-range – which isn't useful for anyone apart from the organisers, really – and Top of the Pops talent, it could become a bit of a schlep. To go there to work is a privilege, but grafting at a festival can sometimes feel akin to going to a party and being told to stand in the corner. Don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal of getting messed-up, amorous tumbles on heathery hillsides, cementing future memories of bands to soundtrack your life to. But these days much of my enjoyment can depend on the random divinations of a hormonal cocktail influenced by sleep and how my mood chooses to greet alcohol and caffeine. Without the buoyancy provided by a large group "getting the lagers in", maybe it'll just eke out a faint echo of what used to be.
Whatever happens, though, I'm certainly looking forward to Worthy Farm more than Brendan O'Neill. Writing last week in The Spectator, O'Neill, editor of the often-provocative online magazine Spiked, and a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, maligned what he perceived as Glastonbury's "Nanny State" – the attempts by police to catch criminals by planting tents with their flaps purposefully open, for example – and the widespread use of CCTV. "Now older, greyer and more money-minded, they think that the young are not trustworthy or sensible after all, and therefore must be prodded and goaded like cattle," he writes.
How provocative. On the one hand, we have O'Neill's insistence that people regard Glastonbury as an isolated island of "mud, drugs, drunkenness, moshing, free love" – er, free love? – on the other, we have his libertarian aversion to over-policing. Angles are like bottom-holes in journalism, everyone's got one, but O'Neill seems to have got the two confused. Summing up the experiences of 130,000 people like this is akin to stating New York "isn't what it used to be", shamelessly reductive.
My experiences last year were exactly the opposite – I felt like "young people" were dominant, I certainly didn't feel restricted in any way – but would feel somewhat embarrassed about expanding that into a jeremiad. All I can say is that in 2009 the most enjoyable elements were Neil Young's titanic performance, Blur's comeback and Damon Albarn breaking down on stage – I now find "The Universal" almost painful to listen to – and renting a convertible, like a poor emulation of the reckless human I would like to be, and careering down the motorway at 90. But maybe I'm not cool enough to climb fences.
Glastonbury has become a mainstream event, akin to Hay-on-Wye or the Edinburgh Film Festival, and that slide has gained momentum over decades. While I'm disappointed at the selection of Muse to headline this year – it seems to be a cynical attempt to reprise their success in 2004 – the possibility of seeing the show Gorillaz took to Coachella makes me excitedly foam at the mouth. And who could appeal to more people than Stevie Wonder? The XX? Woodstock is as anachronistic as England's World Cup win in 1966. Good bands are certainly there if you look hard enough – Dirty Projectors, LCD Soundsystem – and if you're looking for new ways to have a good time, 900 acres seems like a good place to start. I think I'll give Glastonbury a proper shot, after all. Maybe I'll massage my endorphin peaks with righteous indignation. Not against "The Man". But against the protectors of a world that no longer exists – "this new morality of 'safe sex'... is the polar opposite of 'free love', which was based on the idea that exploring other people's bodies and minds is a fun and uplifting thing to do," writes O'Neill – seeking to stifle the enjoyment and well-being of others with sensationalist diatribes against safe sex and security.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Mal Peet dead at 67: Tributes to children's author who was 'universally adored'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'