Glastonbury 2016: Mud, filth and artistic diversity [REVIEW]
22 – 26 June, 2016
Alejandro De Luna
What would you do without a hurtful pair of wellington boots? After a couple of days wearing these ill-fitting pieces of rubber on your feet, every step into the creamy mud is an agonizing torment – even worse than the 11 hour traffic-jammed journey from Manchester to Glastonbury, and far worse than a visit to the filthy toilets.
By Wednesday when Glastonbury opened its gates, the place already started to look like the prelude of a post-apocalyptic wasteland of chocolate mousse in the ground. By Monday morning when it was time to leave the place, the farm looked like a strange combination between Mad Max, Wall-E and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s slums; with tractors and hungover zombies in rags walking through this swamp of human filth, mud and piles of rubbish – not very environmental friendly.
But even though the rain was shit, the mud was a living nightmare and the referendum results were infamous, Glastonbury is a 5-day fantasy of excess and artistic diversity. The options seem to be limitless: burlesque shows, political debates, circus, theatre, cinema, stand-up comedy, healing fields, DIY workshops, films, food trucks, and a musical heterogeneity that is hard to find anywhere else on the planet.
Like in 2015, the magic of Glastonbury relies on the unexpected. The small stages waiting to blow your mind with unfamiliar and underrated artists and sounds. The tempting idea of getting lost and missing one of the ‘big names’ is beyond appealing in a festival of this scale. A visit to the Unfairground, Shangri-La; Pilton Palais, The Rabbit Hole, Jose Strummerville, Tipi Fields, the Green Fields, or the Cabaret can be more appealing than a sing-along at the Pyramid Stage.
I’ll hold deeply in my memories The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn & Guests, Mercury Rev, Sleaford Mods’ Invisible Britain documentary, Savages, Ronnie Spector, Travis playing an intimate gig at Crossaint Neuf, PJ Harvey’s martial and superb performance, Underworld, Night Beats, Kangaroo Moon (playing their hundred-and-something gig at the festival), or revelations like The Eskies and Mik Artistik (one of the funniest acts I’ve ever seen).
In Glastonbury, it seems that everything is doable: the rain, the mud, the never-ending walks to other stages, the sore feet and back ache, the lack of sleep, your shitty tent, the filthy smells, the impossibility to sit for infamous periods of time, your dirty clothes, the morning cleaning rituals and the hangovers.
Glastonbury is not about the Adeles or Coldplays offering obedient sets that worship the establishment; it’s about your very personal experience and what you’ll discover in there. Like with a good trip, Glastonbury is about the journey itself rather than the conventional destination. It’s an utopian place of excess and a celebration of artistic diversity and tolerance. If you missed some of the “big acts” and instead discovered something new in a small tent, then I guess that you’ve nailed it.