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A Kick In The Festivals 

By Kirsty Walker 


Drunkenness, class wars, casual racism and a complete rip-off. Yes, the Glastonbury Festival is the most British of events. What escapes me is how the failure of a multi-million pound company to sell out a festival in three hours should be of any concern to anyone, anywhere, at any time.


I’m sick of hearing about Glastonbury. I was sick of it before I even heard of it. Why this overblown monster, this idiot taxation system, this money-grubbing behemoth of corporate whoredom should be greeted with such dewy eyed reverence by the music fans of this country is beyond me. The news that ‘Glasto’ , as it’s bog snorkelling ‘disciples’ insist on calling it, hadn’t sold out in under 4.0 nanoseconds was greeted with more wailing and gnashing of teeth than the death of John Lennon. Could it be that the World’s Greatest Music Festival (TM and don’t you forget it you snivelling internet pirates) was losing its grip on the zeitgeist?


Well hold the phone Martha, Glastonbury isn’t on the cutting edge? You could have fooled me, they even had Shirley Bassey there last year. It was a faux-ironic move that the made the students piss themselves but which was lost on the urban youths of Hackney, which is possibly why this year, when dear Emily Eavis announced  - shock horror – Jay-Z as the headliner, the regular Glastonbury crowd started burning their crosses. ‘This isn’t irony, this is just unexpected! This will not stand!’ bleated Effie and Hugo Thorntonley-Smythe as they ditched daddy’s credit card and started making plans to plant cotton fields in Ecuador instead.


Glastonbury has finally been seen for what it is, another hollow ‘experience’ for those with more disposable income than imagination to tick off their Observer Music Monthly ‘Do Before You Die’ list. It’s been a long time coming but finally the wheels have come off the Worthy Farm bandwagon. The ‘Glasto tourists’ have realised that although it might be a mildly diverting after-dinner topic to mention that they’re forgoing the South of France this year and taking the kids to ‘really experience Glastonbury’, they don’t particularly want to spend over £600 to subject Kitty and Basil to ’99 Problems’ while a load of cidered up City boys vomit on their brand new Jeff Banks tent.


The new generation of festival goers are not fooled by Glastonbury and its fake hippy ethos. They have more choice than ever before, more new festivals cropping up every year, and they go not necessarily for the lineup, but for the fun of it. Remember fun? It’s what festivals are supposed to be, a weekend away camping, listen to a few bands you might not normally bother with, have a few drinks, etc. You know, fun? Glastonbury over recent years has become more like a stint in Vietnam than a weekend break. First there’s the ridiculous notion of pre-registering, where you hand over more information to Festival Republic Ltd. than you would to a national census. Then if you’re actually lucky enough to win the ticket lottery you have to plan for the inevitable deluge where your tent and all your belongings are washed away on a river of someone else’s feculence with your only comfort being an acoustic set by The Pigeon Detectives which you can’t even hear properly. Yeah, that sounds like a blast.

Vacuous proto-hippies will claim that the best of the fest is actually away from the music, in the ridiculously contrived Field of Lost Vagueness and the Healing Fields but even they are being ploughed over this year.


The day Glastonbury failed to sell out isn’t The Day The Music Died, it’s the Day That Music Woke Up And Punched Michael Eavis In His Great Big Beardy Face. The fact that organisers believed Kings of Leon and The Verve would offer value for money demonstrates just how clueless and out of touch they have become. The Verve reunion must be the least wanted comeback since legwarmers so why foist them on an audience who were pre-pubescent when they last charted? It’s almost as if they were trying to counteract the boat-rocking signing of Jay-Z with something purposefully bland and inoffensive, like having cucumber dip with your Balti.


However, the headliners can’t be blamed for the lack of interest in Glastonbury, after all T In The Park also have The Verve and Kings of Leon and they managed to sell out, as did Leeds/Reading (The Killers, Rage Against the Machine and Metallica). The fact is that the Glastonbury ‘experience’ which cons so many into going is losing its sparkle year after year, starting with the sell off of the management to Mean Fiddler in 2002, which was brought on by the fence-jumpers and the ridiculously over populated 2001 and 1999 festivals. So in essence it was the freeloaders who killed Glastonbury, trying to force the hippy envelope and take advantage of the naïve security and the ease of spreading the ‘weak fence pole’ hints online.


If Glastonbury truly is a national treasure there needs to be a re-think on what exactly it is there to achieve. If the original aims were trampled during the Battle of Yeoman’s Bridge in 1991 when New age Travellers clashed with police, they certainly haven’t been allowed to resurface since, instead the festival has moved further and further away from the mission of free entertainment and co-operation. Personally I blame Thom Yorke, and until he’s burned in a wicker man on the Field of Lost Vagueness the ‘Glastonbury Highlights’ programme on the BBC will be mis-named.





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