Very First Glastonbury


2 Jul 2008, 10:52

Fri 27 Jun – Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

Since this was my first Glasto and since I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd give you guys a run-down on how I thought each band I saw went.

Given the horrendous rain there was only really time to catch one act, which was an hour-late Emmy the Great. Kind of a "secret" show in just a little pub in Shangri-La this was short but sweet.

Had to kick the festival off with the opener, even if it was Kate Nash. I'd give her bonus points for making an effort with the set design but still this was awful. On the way to Patrick Watson (didn't really get into it) I wandered in to the Guardian Live Lounge and caught most of the set from Golden Silvers. I'd never even heard of them before, but with their funk bass-lines, Hendrix-style organ lines and three-part harmonies they won me over. Great set. Next up was the hyped-up Glasvegas. These guys were not worth the column inches; too much noise, no melody and without the charm of The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Lunch beckoned and despite the rain continuing we found our way to the first set from Vampire Weekend. I had listened to the album endlessly and their performance was nothing I didn't expect it to be. Great music and near-flawless recreation of how it sounds on record.
Time for the first major surprise of the weekend - The Feeling. Overly cheesy, overly camp and great showmanship all round. Covers of Video Killed the Radio Star and Take on Me were the highlights although the amount of hits they had themselves came as a bit of a shock. Brilliant singalong.
Because my friends wanted to see Lupe Fiasco we headed over to the Jazz World Stage and caught the end of Candi Staton who excelled as the veteran diva. From one veteran to another, I made it over to see Edwyn Collins playing all his Orange Juice hits. The band was spot on, although their appearance was a bit suspect, especially the brilliant Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera.
Even more hyped than Glasvegas were MGMT. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of them on record, but this set was the biggest disappointment of the day. The sound quality was abysmal, some of the earlier songs were poor at best and the ending of Time to Pretend and Kids somehow managed to get turned into a The Enemy style lads singalong. Terrible.
My mood was lifted hugely by the surprise appearance of Franz Ferdinand. Their new songs sound like they could be huge, and the old favourites got the crowd going mental. Seeing a band this brilliant live on a tiny stage was truly a highlight.
Kings of Leon were the headliners for this night. I'm not a huge fan of the third album because I think it sounds very lite-U2. However every song off the first two albums were a huge success and the atmosphere was electric.

Saturday: (best weather - super sunny all day)
After the joke of a set from Dogtanion (truly the worst band I have seen in a long long long time), Emmy the Great took to the stage. Great songs and a great set, although my one regret is that I should have seen St. Vincent instead. Los Campesinos! went for energy over singing ability but were enjoyable. The Teenagers were top notch showboaters - going right into the crowd and inviting stage invaders. The highlight of the day has to be Alphabeat. They are so much more than one hit wonders and insanely catchy.
I then went across to Vampire Weekend (again) who played a slightly better set, including Boston and a better new song than they played on Friday. Band of Horses were enjoyable although didn't quite last the whole set for energy and tunes. Hot Chip were excellent until the last song (a Prince cover). Highlight of this set was the guest appearance from Wiley - got the crowd going nuts.
The one unmissable act of the weekend was of course Jay-Z. The jigga man was unable to top his first 10 minutes but the opening video was a masterclass in crowd management. The irony of Wonderwall somehow managed to elude every single person around me, and then 99 Problems was amazing. A great set, even for the non-hiphop fan like me. A good call.

The last day (sniff sniff) arguably had the weakest lineup. I started my day of music with Yeasayer. The only I'd seen of them was on their Take Away Show, so understandably their set in the biggest was very different. The Whip were OK, not the best thing I've ever heard but a good atmosphere.
Admittedly, this was the 6th time I'd seen Mystery Jets but they were brilliant. Stage banter was hilarious in parts and all the songs were flawless. Added bonus of a guest appearance from Laura Marling for her part on Young Love.
Mark Ronson's set was amazing. A great performance from every member of the band and all guest vocalists. Lilly Allen was a bit shambolic - forgetting her lyrics despite taking the sheet on stage. Whoever sang on Just had the best charisma - even singing a verse from the top of the stage after climbing up there.
Crystal Castles were more of a mess than Amy Winehouse and got pulled off after only half an hour, leaving myself with nothing to do except watch The Zutons from afar.
My choice of headliners were Groove Armada who managed to deliver a great set. They weren't outstanding like Jay-Z but you knew what you were going to get and you got it.
Highlight of the day had to be the last band I saw all weekend. Taking to the stage in a tiny barn at 130 am is never easy but The Mules were sublime in every area - technical precision, great songs and boundless energy.

In conclusion - one of the best weekends of my life and make sure to check out:
The Mules
Golden Silvers
Emmy the Great and


  • JustJuice

    Thanks for taking the time to review. Too many people just list the bands they saw. Trainspotters. One thing though: I was also at The Whip gig and thought it was amazing. SO much better than their recorded output. Really great sound and vibe. Brilliant.

    3 Jul 2008, 8:56
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