For more than a year, I've been warned about Glastonbury. The prestige of being the largest festival in the UK seemed to be overshadowed by the monster of a daunting task it has become. Many faces twist, and wince at the mention of the festivals name. I believed what everyone said.. It was just the magnitude I had yet to experience.
Landed at Heathrow after a sleep filled flight, grogginess was no where near over though.
Indiggnation filled on a bus for a 3 hour drive (after an 8 hour flight) from London to Bristol where would stay that night
Packaged a bunch of Royalty free CDs fresh from the pack that we'll be giving away through the whole tour
No amount of words could have prepared me for the complicated mess that was Glastonbury. The van left out with a small crew of myself, Claire, Protoje, Becca D and Greg. Proto was to perform the "Who Knows" Remix during Shy FX's set at DJ Annie Mac's stage, and Becca was doing a DJ set at the Rum Kitchen stage.
We sat in gridlocked traffic heading into the event for about an hour, seeing the mud take over the landscape with each small drive forward in the van.
I was worried.. I thought I was prepared for the mud- I brought an old pair of sneakers specifically for Glastonbury but I would soon learn first hand that it was nowhere near enough for the ankle deep mud we were to face. Looking out the window, everyone I saw was decked in water boots (apparently called 'wellies' in the UK) walking like half balanced toddlers through the mud. It looked so grim.
It really may sound like I'm complaining but it was just the most complicated experience... Glasto is HUGE, I mean huge! I'll link an aerial shot of the grounds here for you to have a look. it's about the size of a city.. 10 miles long. the best way to describe it- is multiple festivals.. within a festival. Our van being stopped about 8 different times to check tickets and bands by annoyed security.. walking from the entrance to the stage we were headed to would surely have taken anywhere over 45mins- so serious.
If you look at this photo above.. the little silver coloured specs near the forrest.. is Glastonbury.. just one part. It was bananas.
eventually we reached Annie Mac's BBC radio 1 stage in time. Shy FX was already on playing a variety of Jungle remixes.
After leaving the stage, and a short wait.. having to switch vans at one point.. I fell in the mud. My track shoes didn't have enough grip to hold firm in the mud, and (because I have bad knees) my kneecap slipped out and I fell on my back in the mud. I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't kill my vibe.. considering we had about 5 more hours at the festival. I was mostly grateful I didn't hurt myself OR MY EQUIPMENT. something told me to keep them in my backpack as I traversed the mud, so I was only left with my pride bruised... which would eventually recover quickly.. but the discomfort of being 30% covered in mud was a bit harder to shake.
Having to get out the van and walk another distance to get to Becca's stage was honestly a short ordeal.
before she went on there was a trap/poet artist performing who's name escapes me, but he was good.
Becca's diverse dancehall set had people grooving in the mud (if you look closely at the ground), even me in my clay-face outfit found myself bumping at some points. Dancehall away from home just.. get's you more pumped than usual
after this, was another long muddy drive back to the hotel. got in at about 2 something am.. and spent the rest of my night (morning) washing my hoodie and sweats and kicks to wear the next day. I was feeling far too sorry for myself, to even take a photo of them. I was downed by the unsureness if they would dry in time for the morning because I was certainly NOT about to risk another GOOD set of clothes for tomorrow's longer adventure at Mudfe- I mean Glastonbury.
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The fall from before really set me off, to be keeping honest. I had an increased waryness that I didn't have the day before. But I was armed with some wallies of my own for 10 euros, so that boosted my confidene probably back to a regular number.
Day 2 was scheduled to have been much more of a task than yesterday. Today's Agenda included two sets with the band at different stages, and after would be three feature sets with Proto at some tents of industry friends of his.
the same squad we built yesterday came over in the van today. Driving past all the mud a second time was like returning to a lost fight, unsure of how today's tussle will go.
The band arrived at the venue, earlier than our bus to do line check and all the necessary pre-band stuff. Claire bought waterboots for everyone, so once we reached backstage it was... quite a thing.
Vince staples was chilling backstage, scheduled to perform right before us, and after his dope coachella set, I had to steal even a piece of his set the day.
One thing about Glasto, in comparison to Coachella, is there was veeeery little aversion to photography. While I was shooting with a smaller camera most of the time, even when I did pull out my clunky DSLR there were no threats to take away my equipment lol
First performance above was at West Holts stage. where we got a very riles up and enthusiastic crowd. While shooting front stage, I had to move quite gingerly through the mud, but my wellies made this a very manageable affair, I was pleased.
Shots of the stage above to give you an idea of what it looks like.
Afterwords I sat and watched Proto sign a long line of autographs, with some very peculiar looking fans
After the performance at west holt, we had a few hours before Proto's next performance.I was gathering myself when Becca mentioned that Stormzy (one of my favourite british grime acts) was performing on a stage nearby. I became instantly conflicted, because we had to walk through the actual crowd for a distance to get to the stage where Stormzy was. It looked pretty shaky. the general crew seemed interested in seeing the Stormz so we gathered some morale to head over there.
Even in my boots, it was super deep mud, everyone in the crew almost slipped.. the whole walk was filled with flashbacks, but excitement increased as I could hear Stormzy's actual voice floating through the air.
Got to watch the show from backstage and sidestage and sang along at max volume to his closing song "Shut Up". can't believe how lucky I was to catch it. Just need to see Skepta live now.
Even got to meet stormzy... #worthit.
Here my glasto story ends on a pretty wack note. While driving from stage to stage, SOMEHOW, my wellies fell out the van... actually one of them. I'm certain I placed them carefully to one side but I think traffic moving in and out of the van accidentally tossed one. So being short one boot, I was unable to go with Proto to the rest of the Glastonbury perfomances.. (which I heard were lit) Bummer.
overall to be honest, I thought Coachella was a bad experience, but for me Glastonbury was much worse. It has its pros and cons. Glastonbury is like three times the size of Coachella (maybe even larger, I've walked around and across the whole grounds Coachella, while it took us 20 mins to even get to one stage to a next via Van). I'm not a big fan of mud or dirt. I really like to be nimble and free in my work, so the mud was a restriction for getting images as well as getting comfortable enough to enjoy the whole experience. Also the grounds seem way too large to even navigate to see the acts you want to. I'd have to admit it's just a different culture. I don't think most Jamaicans would enjoy Glastonbury as the UK patrons do. Most of them were pretty "comfortable" in the mud, and camping on site. That's just not for me. It was certainly cool to be able to say that I experienced it though!
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Vlog on the way