The annual Glastonbury review (part 2)

Festivals are always a triumph of the human spirit. Where else can you party from midday til the sun comes up, then get up and do it all over again, five days in a row, always with a smile on your face and a spring in your step?

As an only-just-30-something – at the wrong end – those days would ordinarily be well behind me, but there’s something in the Pilton water / 100% cider diet that gives you super-human strength to charge on through. [NB: It expires as soon as you leave the arena though – we spent three hours at Victoria Coach Station on Monday, waiting for the Chap’s extreme motion sickness to subside enough to get a cab home, and it’s taken me all week to get back to something even vaguely approaching normal.]

By Glastonbury Saturday, we already had 72 hours of festival good times behind us, yet if anything, Saturday was even more fun than the previous days. (And just wait until we get to Sunday.)

Sadly, by this stage, recollections start to get hazy indeed, so I apologise in advance if the below accounts bear little resemblance to the reality. Just go with it. If you weren’t there, you’ll never know the difference.


#1: Son Of Dave, Croissant Neuf, Sat

I’ve raved enough about Dave’s mighty Son on these pages. It was no shock to me that he’d be one of the supreme highlights of our festival, but I suspect this took the Chap, a SOD virgin, by surprise. After his Friday Hell Stage gig was either cancelled or moved, we tracked him down to the Croissant Neuf tent in the Greenfields on Saturday, where he took the stage to an embarrassingly tiny crowd. (Do they not know of his genius? How? Why?! I shall continue the evangelism.)

In his manic insurance salesman guise (surely the greatest Coen Brothers character never written), this magical one-man-band quickly won over the assembled throng and enticed in more with his unique blend of comedy and driving blues-rock, culminating with a storming rendition of Black Betty as only he can storm. I say this every time I preach his gospel, but please do not miss the chance to see this man live. He truly is one of the best things you’ll ever see. Just don’t mention the Crash Test Dummies.


#2: Daptone Super Soul Revue, West Holts, Sat

Second row from front! That’s my silver-jacketed arm, clutching at Charles Bradley’s hand (again – see the Pussy Parlure 2013). That’s the Chap, just behind. THIS WAS AWESOME. Sharon Jones (note Chap in crowd at 2.40). Charles Bradley. Antibalas. Saun & Starr. Sugarman 3. The Dap-Kings.

But then you knew it would be. Despite the downpour. Despite the mud. This is what you came for, with a bursting heart and tears of joy hidden by the rain. This is what makes it the kind of memory you take to your grave.


#3: John Grant, Park Stage, Sat

Alas we only caught half a set as we had other places to be (jeez, does it get any more middle-class than avoiding Metallica in favour of Bryan Ferry?). But by god, I wish we could have stayed. From heart-aching ballads such as Where Dreams Go To Die to the greatest motherfucking singalong that you’re ever going to see (GMF) to ground-shaking dance such as the below, I can only imagine it got even better after we left. Typical.


#4: Illuminaughti Ball, Sensation Seekers Stage, Sat

Fire eating, sword swallowing, nostril drilling, puppet dancing, festival song chanting (“What the fuck are you wearing?!”), the Illuminaughti Ball’s collection of carnival acts and oddities had it all. We only caught half an hour as we waited for the Cuban Brothers, but frankly, after this lot even the mighty CBs came in short.


#5: Bryan Ferry, West Holts, Sat

Approached this with some trepidation after his particularly poor, cheesy performance with Roxy Music to a bunch of old housewives in New Zealand some years ago, but I needn’t have worried. It was incredible.


Honourable mentions:

  • Justin Robertson for laying down exactly the rave soundtrack we fancied at 3am at Bez’s Acid House
  • The DJs and drag queens of NYC Downlow and the Downlow Radio, our nightly haven
  • Conrad the indie DJ at the Lizard Cafe playing Eno Hyde and other gloriousness as the sun came up
  • DJ Sneak (the surprising recipient of the first tit flash we’d seen all festival from an extremely keen older busty fan)



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The annual Glastonbury review (part 1)

Once again I’m writing this on the saddest, snivelliest day since returning from that muddy old homestead known as Worthy Farm. This evening saw me leap on completely the wrong bus because my eyes were full of tears brought on by listening to The War On Drugs and wishing I was back in that soggy field. More sleep is obviously still required (although it’s a glorious evening and a pint is calling, even though I’ve only just weaned myself off the Rennies from a week-long cider diet).

Anyway, while I’m in a Pilton state of mind, the highlights of my Glastonbury – part one, Wednesday to Friday.


#1: The War On Drugs, Pyramid Stage, Fri

Obviously my heightened emotional state makes me somewhat biased because their lush soundscapes have been making me weepy all day, but this set was just sublime. Frustratingly, the BBC chose not to record anything on the Pyramid Stage before 1.45pm on Friday, so there’s no decent video recording apart from this acoustic number recorded later on and the dodgy-audio am-cam below – you’ll have to take my word for it. Soaring, swooping, immaculate – this was just the ticket to kick off our “official” Glastonbury (even though we’d been going 48 hours already). And there’s no one on this earth who can “Woooo!” like Adam Granduciel.


#2: Vintage Trouble, West Holts, Fri

The biggest disappointment of the festival was this amazing band getting pulled off stage after just two songs due to lightning strikes and what turned out to be the biggest downpour of the weekend. These guys are IN-FUCKING-CREDIBLE, despite what the frankly rubbish BBC sound mix would have you believe. (And playing the Islington Assembly Hall later this month – my kingdom for a pair of tickets…)


#3: Old Dirty Brasstards, Williams Green, Thurs

The ODB cheekily wiped the floor with Sean Rowley at his own Guilty Pleasures night with a selection of their own even guiltier, brassier pleasures. I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing the Chap belt out Lady Gaga – I never even knew he knew any Lady Gaga lyrics. (The video below is from another gig, but you get the picture.)


#4: New York Brass Band and Booka Brass Band, Toad Hall, Fri

A while back, I wrote a post about the sheer mass of brass happening at Glastonbury this year and tweeted about it, @-replying the various suspects, which rather delighfully led to the bands making plans for a mass brass attack during the event. Sadly the ODB couldn’t join the fun, but I was stoked beyond belief to see that the NYBB and BBB made it happen – and in superb style. I can’t find a clip of the madness that was the Toad Hall set, but check out this one from the Greenpeace field the previous day, and double it.


#5: Seth Troxler, NYC Downlow, Fri

We arrived yet again to the welcoming nightly bosom of the Downlow, the best gay disco since the Gallery and the Garage, after a meandering route from Arcade Fire (who were good but not mindblowing, probably given they’d blown our minds when we saw them three weeks ago). This protracted journey saw us take in the many and varied delights of Glebeland and the Circus field, including the astonishing “kings of cowpunk”, Pronghorn, on the Summer House stage. After an hour of stomping to Pronghorn, we were refreshed, revitalised and ready for anything the Downlow could throw at us. Luckily this was the mighty Seth Troxler, whose cosmic disco set proved to be just the ticket and saw us dance our mud-covered wellies back to bare rubber before the legendary Danny Krivit took the reins.


Honourable mentions:


  • Just one – that the queue for David Morales’ Frankie Knuckles tribute was so obscenely long that entry was impossible.

Part two to follow…

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Glastonbury countdown – two days to go: Dance, damn it!

It’s true, I am a slack music blogger. Every year I get all excited about an event, promise much, deliver little and gradually taper out completely until I finally escape to the event shamefaced. Anyway, it’s now just two sleeps til Glastonbury and there are still shedloads of tips to share, so I’d better get busy (ish).

So, dance. If you are of a dance persuasion, you’ve always been spoiled for choice at Glastonbury. Though actually, that’s not strictly true – before Orbital’s legendary set in 1994, dance wasn’t firmly on Glastonbury’s official radar (to be fair, it was still early days for the mainstream). However just a year later the festival launched a Dance Tent, which turned into an entire Dance Village in 1997 (rebranded as Silver Hayes last year).

Now, you’re spoiled for choice – if you can handle the crush of the main stages, Silver Hayes’ multiple sites cover everything from reggae and dub to house, techno and everything else besides (although dubstep seemed to be the overwhelming flavour every time I walked through last year). This year, the new Despacio tent is a shining beacon of goodness, and the Pussy Parlure is always reliable (and under cover).

Then there’s a stack of good times at the Beat Hotel, amazing line-ups and secret gigs at the Stonebridge Bar in The Park, eclectic delights at the HMS Sweet Charity and Bimble Inn, the madness of Shangri-La, and of course the new daddy of dance, Block 9, home to my favourite festival “homo hangout” NYC Downlow, as well as Genosys which also sports a tidy lineup this year.

My weekend picks?

David Morales’ tribute to Frankie Knuckles, NYC Downlow, Thu

A chance to farewell the Godfather with what’s set to be a roof-raising, tear-jerking set, not least when Robert Owens joins Mr Morales to sing Tears live. Wah

Mr Scruff, Arcadia, Fri

Lord only know how Mr Scruff’s blend of hip hop, funk, disco and delightfully weird musical oddities will go down alongside giant spiders and car-crushing machines in the insane arena of Arcadia, but presumably the man knows what he’s doing and is prepared for all-comers.

Bomba Estereo, Sonic, Sun

Can’t guarantee I’ll get to this as the Sonic stage terrifies me a bit, being as I am VERY OLD. But I’m picking these guys will be great.


Francois K, Genosys, Sun

Pardon My French DJs, Downlow Radio, Fri

Desperate Sound System with Jarvis Cocker & Steve Mackey, Optimo, John Wizards DJs, Ben Fat Trucker and more, Stonebridge Bar, Fri

Scream Team DJs (Primal Scream DJ set), Acid Lounge, Sat

Pete Fowler, Crows Nest, TBC

And the aforementioned Miles Cleret, Danny Krivit and Despacio Soundsystem.

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Glastonbury countdown – 7 days to go


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Glastonbury countdown – 9 days to go: Dub Dot Dash selects

​Since I’ve done such a slack job of keeping up with my daily recommendations as we count down the days (I managed to lose an entire weekend and only part of it was due to the alcohol), I thought it was better to hand over to the professionals, so I put a call out to some of my favourite musicians and bloggers for a different perspective on what to see at the mighty G.

Many promised but it was left to the irrepressible Peter McLennan, aka Dub Dot Dash to deliver. Peter’s is a site that should be immediately added to your blogroll if you’re a Kiwi or a fan of Kiwi music, and added even if you’re not, as he always has something interesting to say. Top blog, top bloke. Over to Peter…

Ladi6 Gully Outernational, Fri

Check this down-under soul diva, her latest album was produced with Wajeed in Detroit. Electro space-age soul styles, and great live energy. Can rap up a storm too.


Daptone Super Soul Revue West Holts, Sat

This will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Unstoppable soul excitement from beginning to end. ​Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, Charles Bradley and more.​ [Ed’s note: <– THIS! A hundred times this. Charles Bradley was last year’s Glastonbury highlight and the majestic Ms Jones never disappoints.]



Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra West Holts, Sun

The former Madness cat with his magnificent, jumped-up ska ensemble  – their album is a killer, so this will be a skanking good time.


Connan Mockasin The Park, Sun

Gloriously eccentric pop from NZ. This dude’s live shows have been getting rave reviews in the US.


Danny Krivit NYC Downlow, Fri

Legendary NYC producer, remixer and DJ who will play so many great tunes, you will dance til your feet hurt. Then you will lie down, and keep dancing. [ED: Amen to that]


DJ sets from Dave Rodigan, Norman Jay, Todd Terry, Francois K, Don Letts and ​many ​more. You spoilt little bleeders.

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Glastonbury countdown – 12 days to go: Despacio Soundsystem

Just announced: Despacio are not only playing Glastonbury but they have their own tent, with daily seven-hour sets! *faints*

My love for Despacio has been well documented on these pages. You could go back and read all my over-excited ramblings, or you could head along to Dylan Petit’s Soundcloud, where’s he’s assembled a fantastic set post their Roundhouse outing, and hear it for yourself.

Not sure how you achieve immaculate audio in a tent in a field but I know they’ll give it their very best shot. This changes everything.


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Glastonbury countdown – 13 days to go: Melt Yourself Down

The Spaceport Sat, West Holts Sun

Being ever so slightly obsessed with this impending festival, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks obsessively pouring over the line-up and clicking through the links so helpfully provided by the good people of the Glastonbury Festival. Through this, I’ve discovered loads of great stuff I wasn’t aware of before. Including today’s act, Melt Yourself Down, a jazz-funk-multi-genre band from London (begging the question why I hadn’t heard of them before).

They seem to be playing nearly every festival of merit this summer (Secret Garden Party, Beacons, WOMAD and Bestival to name but a few) and it’s not hard to see why – their frenetic tribal rhythms are just the thing to whip frazzled festival-goers into a frenzy (how do you like my alliteration?). For my money, these guys look set to be the perfect early afternoon wake-up call, whether that’s on the vast expanses of West Holts or the slightly more intimate setting of the new Spaceport stage in the Glade. Here’s a taste of the live action.

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Glastonbury countdown – 14 days to go: The Cuban Brothers

Cabaret Tent Fri, Sensation Seekers Stage Sat

No strangers to these pages – in fact I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen them, but I still will drop everything to catch them. These boys ARE festival.

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Glastonbury countdown – 15 days to go: Danny Krivit

NYC Downlow, Fri

Where do you start with Danny Krivit, re-edit king?

Our hero came of age in disco’s golden era, hanging out in the hottest clubs with icons such as Nicky Siano, Walter Gibbons, Tee Scott, the godlike genius that is David Mancuso and mates Larry Levan and  Francois Kevorkian*, before going on to grace the DJ booths of epic NYC clubs including the Roxy, the Limelight, Danceteria et al. Then, in the 90s, he regularly played the likes of Twilo, the Palladium + many more, as well as founding legendary NYC club night Body & Soul (see below).

If all that wasn’t enough – and more importantly to anyone outside the Big Apple / too young to take part – he’s also created some of the best disco edits on the planet, managing to retain everything that made the originals great while turning up the dance to 11.

Favourites include Dance to the Music by Sly & The Family Stone (apologies for tiny snippet, it’s impossible to find online – buy the first Edits By Mr K album, you won’t regret it), In the Light of the Miracle by the phenomenal Arthur Russell and the incredible edit of an incredible track by an incredible woman – Chaka Khan’s I Know You, I Live You.

If you’re still going at 3am on Glastonbury Friday (Saturday morning to be precise – and hell, why not just keep going?), then perhaps you owe it to yourself to get down on the disco floor with Mr Krivit.

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Glastonbury countdown – 16 days to go: The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing

Hell Stage and the Rocket Lounge, Thu

Because festivals are all about stumbling across steampunk bands singing about 19th century industrialists.

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