The former question is a tricky one – if you say ‘I went in 2000, jumped over the fence every day and got off my box every night’ (as actually happened) you can be marked out as a dangerous munter – remember it’s not the 20-something whatever crowd who are interested in the festival these days but a more general demographic who now sees a minibreak in Pilton in the same light as a trip to Centerparcs, a leisure option. Same with my parents, occasionally I like to bewilder them with allusions to previous hedonism at such festivals, before pulling back from the conclusion to assure them that drukqs r bad and never dabbled in by their son.
And here was the marker of its institutionalisation. Mum and Dad, up for the kids’ 1st, freely discussed the crack habit of Pete (that’s not Pete Doherty to you) while eulogising the songs of the Kookkks (I damned their faux liberal Brighton ways on a text), and I explained how Amy Winehouse is so thin on account of her own predilection for rocks, booze and anything but food (BTW, they’re extensions in her hair). Edith Bowman’s look was discussed and I told them that Zane Lowe was a kiwi like myself, although I could never muster his level of enthusiasm for that mundane indie fayre. And even they could see that Editors were U2 clones.
By the end of Saturday evening, whatever potions were being pumped out of the videodrome seemed to work on my mum, who was adamant that she had packed me off to an early Pilton Pop, bags in hand and rain coming down. Absolute guff, dearest.
Glstnbry certainly doesn’t want for exposure. At peak times during the weekend it was effectively on five BBC tv channels – BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 and two interactive portals turning up as 701 and 702 on our Freeview.
More on the bands themselves then. I failed to be moved on Friday by Arcade Fire’s naturalised stomp, earning a text rebuke from Creams74 for saying No Car Go sounded like Prefab Sprout. We reconciled in our verdict on Kasabian (“processed gits”, quoth Creme); Saturday troughed further with the continuous harrowing of the Editors (the lead singer really needs to lose the 80s bankers’ haircut if the shards of glass Edge-guitar is to convey emotion), CSS ditching the icy cool of their records for a festival knees-up, Calvin Harris going round and round the Acceptable roads and the erstwhile Kooks doing their ‘just opt out with guitars’ act, before picking up with the clinical brilliance of the Arctics. Like the eds, those guys know how to transmute guitar musicality into industrialised sound but they’re not ripping anyone off, the drummer is shit-hot and they’re about the only indie rock act who make sense in a post-dance world.
Sunday had more diverse fayre – in the good corner were Gossip (like disco divas these guys are wringing emotion out of dance’s braindead pulse but they need to expand their instrumentation beyond guitar and drums) and Tiniwaren (desert sufism to the usual crowd), in the interesting was Mark Ronson (he had Tim Burgess, looking cooler than the nu-ravers in preposterous fringe and colourful hoodie, doing The Only One in the northern soul style as predicted, while I might have to rescind my view on Merriweather’s Stop) and in the turgid were The Who. When this more than ever is a time for skinny young things in tight jeans, Roger Daltrey’s huge muscular top torso just looks silly – audience reaction seemed muted too.
For the old dears, the televisual exposure was welcomed – they have never owned any records so always rely on the transmission of music to keep abreast of the pop scene and the hit parade (which is why they lament TOTP’s passing). So it’s still many different things to different people, people will still have experiences like mine (an experience of such alterity it’s still the only thing not to be reviewed in my diary, such regrounding seemed irrelevant and meaningless). But it would be nice if all the hype and coverage added up to something more than insatiable media appetite.
Now Czukay where’s the l!ve review?