Last weekend we had an incredible time at Glastonbury Music Festival. It truly is a place like no other, the kind of place that you really have to see to believe. I don’t think I will ever see anything close to crowds this size ever again, let alone more than 100 stages in a single festival. It was such a unique and once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget, but I still want to document some of the best parts. Here are the top 10 things I loved about Glastonbury 2017:
10. Tipi Village
The Tipi Village has always been my dream camping spot at Glastonbury. Located at the base of Worthy View, the village has been an iconic landmark of the festival for years. Unfortunately, we were NOT able to snag tickets for a Tipi (very limited amount sold), but we were still able to find pre-erected camping right next door. I spent most of my mornings over in the village, gazing over the festival grounds with a tipi vendor’s coffee in-hand. The tents are quite massive inside, many decorated with interesting art and designs, and the canvas offers a much cooler interior than your standard tent. If we ever do make it back to Glasto, we need to try and make Tipi camping a reality. They are by far the best camping option available at the festival and I would recommend them to anyone looking to book tickets.
9. SE Corner
The Southeast Corner is the main late-night area of Glastonbury, picking up steam around midnight and filling to capacity by 2 AM. It contains around 15 different stages, some very small and some quite large, and most of them play music until sunrise each night. The Block9 section of the SE Corner contains two nightclubs, actual physical structures complete with overpriced cocktails and bathrooms, built right there on the farm. Shangri-La might be the real highlight of the SE Corner, with its giant installations, live art and unique, wrap around venues, it was my personal favorite. I wish we had gotten a chance to spend much more time here, but unfortunately most nights it was filled to capacity before we had even arrived. If there is one lesson to be learned at Glastonbury, it is to arrive very early to anything you do not want to miss.
One aspect of festivals that I have always despised is having to wait in line to use the bathroom. Nothing feels worse than missing part of your favorite act because you had to wait in line for 30 minutes to pee for 30 seconds in a porta potty. I was really dreading what the lines were going to be like at Glasto, a festival with over 150,000 attendees, but it turns out I had no reason to worry at all. While porta potties are available for use, there are dozens of enormous urinal stations that never require more than a 5 minute wait, and yes, there were female urinals available as well. Not having to plan my festival around my next pee was a huge relief and allowed me to hydrate as much as I wanted without fear.
7. The Crowd
In my experience, most major festivals in the US have their fair share of issues, and it is usually tied to the type of people you are forced to experience the festival with. Whether it be raver bros pushing their way past you to get a better spot 30 minutes into the set or rednecks screaming every lyric right into your ear, it can really put a damper on your fun. While of course there are always exceptions, the crowd at Glastonbury was phenomenally well-behaved and respectful, and surprisingly everyone seemed to have their shit together most of the time. I was at least expecting way more drunks disrupting everyone around them, but we encountered almost none. We met tons of people in between shows and all of them were so friendly and genuinely interested in getting to know Americans that came all the way to the UK for a music festival. My one complaint with the crowd is everyone likes to just throw their trash on the ground, so by the end of each night you feel like you are partying on a landfill instead of a farm.
Probably the coolest stage on the grounds, Arcadia resembles a giant spider and is built from repurposed military hardware. It is imposing to look at it standing silently during the middle of the day, and it is downright terrifying to see it shooting 60 foot flames into the sky at night. We didn’t get a chance to see the acclaimed Metamorphosis show, but the shows we did see there were still brought to a whole new level by the awesome stage setup. DJ’s work their magic from the spider’s body while fire is spitting out all around you and laser beams are coming from its eyes. If I could do Glastonbury all over again I think I would aim to spend a little more time here because I’m not sure we will ever see something quite like it again.
5. The Food
One of the biggest surprises of the festival was how fantastic the food was. There are hundreds of vendors selling almost any type of food you can imagine and nearly all of it was delicious and affordable. Over the course of the 5 days we were there, I had a vegan taco, falafel burrito, shawarma wrap, buddha bowl, sausage & egg bap, welsh oggie, chorizo steak sandwich, arepa breakfast sandwich and more I am definitely forgetting. Halloumi was on probably half of the things I ate and I never got sick of it. This is such a stark contrast to US festivals where you have around 10 potential options and none of it sounds that great, not to mention it is usually too hot outside to actually enjoy it. If you ever come to Glastonbury, make sure you throw caution to the wind and stuff your face, it is so worth it.
4. The Cider
I have never been one to drink much beer at music festivals, for the most part it is overpriced and not all that refreshing. Thankfully, here in the UK they like to drink cider and it is very well suited to the festival environment. For just about $6, you can enjoy an entire pint of refreshing, yet quite potent cider found nearly anywhere on the farm. Hell, you can also just buy cases of it from the grocery store and bring it with you. Since you can’t buy any ice at Glastonbury we opted to just buy pints at the bars, and every time it just hit the spot. Enjoying the Kaiser Chiefs, but feeling a little parched? Boom cider time, now I am enjoying this TWICE as much. I really hope some day cider gains more of a foothold in the US someday because it just makes everything better.
3. The Pyramid Stage
An iconic place, the most recognizable festival stage in the entire world, the Pyramid Stage fully lived up to the hype. We spent more time here than any other stage, seeing acts like Royal Blood, The XX, First Aid Kit, Radiohead, Chic, Katy Perry, Barry Gibb, and more. Even British politician Jeremy Corbyn made an appearance on the stage this past weekend, we could hear the speech from a full mile away. Since I was a 16 year old kid I have dreamed of waiving a flag among crowds of 80,000 people that routinely attend shows at the Pyramid. We put together a makeshift flagpole using a tent rod and some duct tape to hoist our Chicago flag, and it surprisingly went off without a hitch! I can say I lived through that dream of mine, while at the best Radiohead performance I will ever see, which brings me to my next item on the list…
Photo Credit: The Guardian
As an embarrassingly hardcore Radiohead fan, nothing excited me more than the prospect of seeing the band play at the Pyramid Stage for the first time since 2003. Their performances at Glastonbury have all been legendary (two surprise sets!), and this year was no exception. Hearing songs like “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Creep” live for the first time was mind blowing to a long time fan like me. Every Radiohead show I have ever been to I have yearned for “Fake Plastic Trees”, and it does not disappoint. I had goosebumps for most of the show, certainly throughout all SEVEN of the OK Computer songs they performed, very fitting as this show coincided with Radiohead’s remastered 20th anniversary edition of the album. Thom’s vocals sounded 10 years younger, as he nailed the studio sound for most of the tracks, and if he didn’t, I think he might have actually improved upon it. Without a doubt this will go down as one of my favorite shows ever, but still it cannot quite take the number 1 spot away from the big Sunday evening surprise.
1. The Killers Surprise Set
Around 4 PM on Sunday, Jenny and I were at the Barry Gibb show trying to figure out who was playing the TBA set at the John Peele Stage, when we finally found a tweet from the official twitter of The Killers confirming they were playing at 5:30. The Killers are massively popular in the UK. “Mr. Brightside" has spent the most weeks on the UK Singles chart of any other song in music history, including 11 of the last 13 years. We are also huge fans of The Killers, and as soon as we read the tweet we packed up our bags and bee-lined our way to John Peele with only 90 minutes to showtime, fairly certain we would not be able to get into the show. A smaller tent that surely cannot hold an entire Killers crowd, yet we somehow managed to squeeze our way just to the edge of the tent with a view of the stage and great sound quality. The show was fantastic and such a wonderful surprise to end our Glastonbury experience, there really is no other place I can put it than number one. You will never see Brits go harder than the 1-2-punch of “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Mr. Brightside” to close out the show, so wild. I would like to see some unannounced headliner sets at US festivals, I think we can definitely take a page out of their book to generate a little more of that festival magic.