Saturday, July 04, 2009

Glastonbury 2009 - Monday and Review

The next morning.. early.. it was time to go. I felt distinctly ropey, probably due to the Smirnoff Ice plus vodka that we were on last night instead of my usual ale. Nevertheless, leaving Glasto is a question of timing, as the later you leave it in the morning, the longer the delays will probably be getting off-site. I tried to get us on our way by 7am, it actually ended up more like 7:40 as we pulled away. But first.. how the hell do you pack away these pop-up tents?! Despite having successfully completed it before, I just wasn't able to muster the mentle faculties to work it out, so it went in the van half-folded!

How the hell do you pack pop-up tents?!

Dad had been given a beautiful colourful star medallion thing by Tygr Rose, and so before saying goodbye, returned the gesture with a solar-powered merry-go-round toy which he'd found in the marketplace somewhere.

Dad with Karen, Matt and Tygr Rose

I'm so pleased we had such lovely neighbours, it really does make all the difference to the Glasto experience, and especially for Dad, and they've been so good to us. See you next year, guys!

Packing was a shambolic affair, assisted by those of us who were awake (Alex!).



Jonathan was very pleased to be woken, especially as their coach back wasn't till the afternoon - they tried unsuccessfully to get on an earlier one, so should have stayed in bed really! Luckily they picked up the souvenir programmes for us though, as there weren't any sellers on the camper routes out.

Jonathan most pleased to be woken

Packing up

Tiger Rose sings Ei eye ei eye ohhhh!


Finally on the move, we crawled out of the site, but it really wasn't too bad - and in half an hour or so we were on the A37 heading back to Exeter.

Pylle Church

Unfortunately we were to have some bad luck, as the upper window in the front of the campervan wasn't secure and snapped off as we were driving along. It took a while to work out what the problem was - Dad saw the car behind us swerve, and it was only at a service station that we spotted it. That plus the other window can't have impressed the rental people when the van went back.

It's over

I left the others explaining things and hopped on the train back. First Class of course, required for some sleep catch up. Paddy Ashdown sitting just across from me!

When home, it was time to get respectable again..

It has to happen sooner or later

Some people keep them on for years! Not me. As far as I know Dad still has his on though!!

Also given the heat, this was long overdue:


Hippy to Salaryman in two easy stages!

Another Glastonbury over. Thank you Michael and Emily Eavis for once again hosting the best party on earth. See you next year!

Rocking the dairy

Over the past five days I have missed the following bands, all of whom I would have liked to see, if clashes and time permitted:

Metronomy, Stornoway, We Have Band, Neil Young, The Specials, Fleet Foxes, N*E*R*D, Gabrielle Cilmi, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Kasabian, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dizzee Rascal, Tinariwen, Blur, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Tony Christie, Status Quo, Bloc Party, The Ting Tings, Lady GaGa, Friendly Fires, White Lies, The Maccabees, Franz Ferdinand, Pendulum, Paolo Nutini, Jason Mraz, Glasvegas, Bon Iver, Bat For Lashes, The Broken Family Band, Doves, Jamie T, Jack Penate, Jarvis Cocker, White Lies, Florence And The Machine, Passion Pit, Gaslight Anthem, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Wombats, Noisettes, Ladyhawke, Q Tip, Playing For Change, Baaba Maal, Ray Davies, Fairport Convention, Jamie Cullum, Black Eyed Peas, Manu Dibango, Roots Manuva, Animal Collective, The Horrors, Noah And The Whale, Seun Kuti and Fela's Egypt 80, Cold War Kids, Tunng and Tinariwen, Dan Le Sac Vs Scoobius Pip, Slomo, Fight Like Apes, Rob Da Bank, DJ Yoda, Timo Maas, Peaches, Dirty Vegas, Scratch Perverts, Krafty Kuts, Chase & Status, Caspa, Speech Debelle, Badly Drawn Boy, Stereo MCs, Stanton Warriors, The Mummers, Africa Express Soundsystem

That said, I have seen some or all of the following:

Golden Silvers, Alessi's Ark, Liz Green, The Gentle Good, Charlene Soraia, Lily Allen, Regina Spektor, Kasabian, VV Brown, Madness, Tom Jones, Amadou & Mariam, Easy Star All-Stars, Peter Doherty, The Prodigy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Billy Nasty, The Qemists, Noisettes, Emmy the Great, Rolf Harris, The Streets, Black Eyed Peas, Imelda May, Emiliana Torrini, 2ManyDJs, Eric Prydz, Deadmau5, Pete Tong, La Roux, Wiley, GoldFish, Reverand and the Makers (DJing), High Contrast, London Elektricity DJ Set, MJ Cole, The Lancashire Hotpots, 6 Day Riot, Cashier No.9

along with countless other smaller nameless bands and snatched fragments of music everywhere.

Overall... WIN!

The highlight set for me.. has to be 2 Many DJs. They win based on the raw inventiveness of their set, the playful way in which they twisted my emotions with teasing intros and thumping baselines, the fantastic animations and energy with which we saw them scrabble about on their decks, the buzzing crowd going wild for song after song, the cute security guard and the stunning finish. Frankly I would have paid the festival ticket price just for that one gig.

Though not far behind were the lovely Rolf Harris, High Contrast, the Qemists, Madness, and Easy Star All-stars performing Dub Side of the Moon. It's all good at Glastonbury! And next year is the 40th anniversary, let's see what bands they conjure up for that party!

Bettering the Best
Glasto is amazing, but there are always areas of potential improvement, and unlike lots of the moaners on eFestivals boards, I think it's important to make your views known to GFL. The following is the email I will be sending through:

Dear Glastonbury Festival Organisers,

Firstly may I say thank-you to all of you for another incredible festival, and I know it is your hard work that makes it the wonderful experience it is for us punters.

Being the sort of person that I am, I have put together a number of comments and suggestions I have following this year's festival. I did the same last year with a smaller number of points, and Dick Vernon kindly replied to every point. I am absolutely not expecting such reply for this list, given its length, but hope that some or all of the feedback may be useful to you or the festival review process. If not, well, I have given my tuppence-worth anyway!

Hope to be back next year.. and thank-you so much again to the entire team.

Kind regards,
Sam Crawley

Toilets / Water Supplies
Please can we have more urinal areas.. The toilets in Shangri-La didn't even have a urinal area, which was asking for trouble, especially as there was a quiet walkway area behind that Igloo dance tent. The urinals were not big enough around Pyramid either.

All toilets should have washing facilities nearby. Anyone who wants to use antibacterial wash will probably have some with them anyway, and so I would say this is unnecessary compared with having running water.

Long-drops are overall very good, but need cleaning more often and to have better flooring around them. It was also very unpleasant in areas where sinks drained towards toilet areas, eg near Pyramid. The ones near the entrance to Park were terrible this year and last.

It seemed like the frequency of toilets being drained was not sufficient in some areas, plus the liquid waste tanks filled up, eg in E17.

The water supply was struggling again this year, despite apparently having a new reservoir in place since last year. The water for the campervan areas went completely during the day for the last few days of the festival.

More taps, more sinks, perhaps both low flow and high flow taps, so if you want to wash your hands you won't waste so much but everyone can still fill up their water bottles in reasonable time? Make all taps the kind where you need to press and hold the tap down to keep water flowing, with a very short time to stop the flow. Perhaps place signs encouraging people to not occupy sinks for longer than necessary, eg if brushing teeth, especially at campsite sinks.

Fix leaking taps.

More Sheepees in other areas that aren't around the Pyramid. Also make some of the toilet areas female-only in areas where there are large banks of urinals for men.

More green police around the areas where people pee and at key times, possibly with the threat of eviction?

Stages and Layout

Make Pyramid’s D shaped surge barrier area larger again, perhaps 50 yards back, and request that the area is chair and flag free, and have a one way system for going in and out of it, as there are dangerous crushes going each way in between acts.

Bottleneck overflow. When masses are flooding away from Pyramid after a headliner would it be possible to open up some small overflow paths away from the area – perhaps further up the hill... Doesn't matter where they end up, just to relieve peak pressure.

How about some sort of barriered walkway looping across the field much further back in the Pyramid area. Not convinced it could work, but with the crowds this year it was getting silly trying to get across from one side to the other.

Other Stage
More speakers for Other Stage? Prodigy on the last night was way too quiet, and there was often a problem with sound bleeding from Glade into the right hand side of the audience during many Other Stage performances, worse than the Queens Head used to!

Is it necessary to test the lights on the Other stage all night on Wednesday and Thursday? Some are concerned about the energy used.

Dance Village
Dance Village needs a bigger venue... Dance East is just not big enough for the largest acts it plays.

There are big sound clashes in the Dance Village, particularly between G Stage and Dance West. Could the G Stage also stay open later?

The sound system in Dance West was kept too low.

Shangri-La and Trash City
Even if not complete, I think it would be good to have Shangri La and Trash City open on the Wednesday and Thursday, giving people more time to explore them and “gawp” rather than the entire festival piling in on Friday and Saturday nights.

More than one exit out of Shangri La – during busy times there were fearful crushes along the railway line.

How about a reorganisation of the site, moving Dance Village to be closer to Trash / SL, Avalon and Jazz over to Dance area? Or splitting the night areas so one doesn't get mobbed? Perhaps use the Acoustic area as a 2nd late area?

Other Stages
Bigger Speakers Forum.

Bring the open air cinema back. The inside cinema tent was way, way too hot and the screen was much smaller than the outside one. Also, the cinema tent make the acoustic field a bit cramped.

It felt like there was more vehicle traffic running down the main thoroughfares this year, despite the lack of bin collection etc. Surely this is to be avoided as much as possible?

Laying down wood chippings certainly helped with the mudbath pinchpoint at Gate C this year, maybe do this at other notorious mud-spots? That and metal tracking all main thoroughfares without exception.

Screens for the medium large stages like Jazz and Park where you have decent sized crowds but can't see anything!

Given that the principle of Glastonbury is that the tickets gets you access to all areas, why does NYC Lowdown club insist on a “donation” payment for entry. This does not seem in the spirit of things, regardless of where the money is going.

Move the Lost Horizons Sauna back to The Healing Fields. The Tipi Field doesn't give much privacy (especially to those who wish to relax on the lawn nude), as people walking along the main pathway can easily see in.

Acoustic tent with the audience faces uphill makes it difficult for the crowd to see the stage. Could the tent be moved to the bottom edge of the field by the entrance, facing uphill so that the crowd looked down into it. The cinema and the toilets and the bar and the crew areas could all be at the top. Also how about making it a stage rather than a tent, not as big as Jazzworld or Park but a little bigger than say Blazing Saddles. This would be more suitable for the sort of bands that play there.

Scheduling and Crowd Control
Could most stages host more specific musical styles? Leave the pyramid as it is with a mixture of main stuff but go down the route similar to the Jazzworld where you only have indie on one stage, funk, soul and disco on another, drum and bass on another etc etc. It would eliminate the clashes problems for similar types of music and give people defined stages where they will hear the music they like. For instance it seems odd to have acts like Prodigy after Glasvegas who were after Bon Iver. All very different types of music and a bit of a weird mix.

Avoid crazy scheduling like encouraging everyone to go to Maximo Park in the Queen's Head on Thursday when there are 150,000 punters on site and nothing else scheduled! Completely predictable logjam which really inconvenienced people just trying to use that area. The Lions rugby also created a similar problem. The meeting point area with main information point should never have large events scheduled in front of it.

I think some more thought needs to be given to the pre-Friday entertainment. My idea is to put on BBC Introducing bands on the main stages as they sound-check etc, without any schedules or guaranteed performances, so people don’t rush to particular stages. Starting up with scheduled and advertised well-known bands in tiny venues like Queen’s Head or Pussy Parlour is a disaster waiting to happen!

There should be a “recommended” size limit imposed on flags, perhaps through advice in the Fine Guide? I'm all for them, although there were an awful lot this year, but they should be something like 1m across maximum.

The chair rules in Acoustic (i.e. designated chair zones near the back) were interesting and something possibly to be rolled out to other tents and stages, i.e. no chairs beyond a certain point. We all like a sit down, and some need it, but it does kill the crowd quite a bit if there are too many. Perhaps a point in the Fine Guide asking people to refrain from using chairs beyond the mixing desk points at each stage?

The festival felt very busy this year. I don’t know whether this was a combination of more draws to the Pyramid, more ticket numbers, many more hospitality tickets, people getting in without tickets, or a combination of all of these factors. Either way, the consensus is that it is getting too busy for the central marketplace areas and access to Pyramid to support comfortably. Perhaps this would be helped by dropping capacity onsite by 10-30k, back to 2005 levels? It feels similar to the “dangerous numbers” year of 2000.

Access to NE pedestrian gate needs to be wider and metal trackway used.

Choke points around main stages possibly expanded, especially to handle the crushes leaving Pyramid. Could the main Pyramid to Other route be widened?

If mass scheduling changes are going to be made, eg the Other Stage shifting several bands by half an hour on the Sunday, it would be nice to have PA announcements on the main screens in between acts to let people know.

Encourage the Camping Crew stewards to be a bit more proactive in space management on the Wednesday - a friendly "Hi guys, could you pitch a bit closer to your neighbours please", and "Hi, can you make sure the gazebo overlaps the tents please" would surely be acted on by the vast majority and help reduce the space problems that arose this year.

Instruct campsite crew to remove or cut down any fences or ropes blocking routes through campsites.

It seems a shame that the tipi field is completely surrounded by barriers.

Hospitality and Media
Hospitality tent - lots of unhappiness about the number of hospitality guests in general, especially cutting out key routes between camp sites, from Gate A to JP etc. Even staff and security didn’t seem pleased about this path being removed from Gate A. It strongly sends a signal about the increasing commercialisation of Glastonbury. Hospitality fields are fine but they should be outside the fence.

Many have found it frustrating that the BBC are blocking personally-shot festival video clips on Youtube.

There is some disappointment with the limited coverage by the BBC of the festival despite the well-publicised army of over 400 staff in attendance. The highlights video focuses on the commercial and mainstream side and ignores much – the only shots of the Jazz World stage are when Black Eyed Peas were playing for example!

Traffic Transport
Limit vehicles as much as possible from the road at the back of the Jazz World Stage when the area is full.

Better signing or stewarding of the car parks for getting out. To a certain extent it appears to be left as a free for all, and stewards do not seem to be advising cars much.

Coordination with other councils re: roadworks clashing with Glasto - eg A303 on Monday.

How about some sort of priority route or opening the gates an hour earlier for those arriving on site by bus / coach. It would encourage more people to use public transport.

Have more things on the Monday to encourage people to stay and ease the traffic.

Consider “early bird” camping tickets, so those arriving on Wednesday or Thursday pay extra?

Vending and Bars
Deposit scheme for cups, which seemed to be the number one litter issue across the site.

Cheaper food! I was totally unimpressed with the "Best Buy" scheme that they were running this year, it seemed to me all the vendors did was either have a half portion cheapo thing that wasn't worth the money they were charging for it, or they would give you a much smaller portion.

Whilst there were some interesting and new foods this year, along with all the old favourites, there are still an awful lot of ”crap” food places. Is there demand for all of it that I'm not privy to? How many burger vans or cheapo noodle places are needed?

Invite Brothers to have a second bar – the Jazz World one was often very busy.

It would be useful to be able to provide feedback on food stalls and bars, which would help improve offerings over time.

Some more places like the bedouin tent/chai wallah/Avalon cafe areas which were great places to chill, eat ,meet and drink.

More Tacos stands!

More merchandise on the official merchandise stalls. Selling out of a range of sizes / colours so early in the festival suggests there is room for lots more, particularly the XL sizes, which appeared to be all sold out very quickly.

Services and Mobiles
Mobile networks. These were a shambles this year, especially O2. I know a number of punters are complaining directly to the networks, but surely an official complaint from GFL ought to be lodged.

More regular rubbish collection is essential if people are to have confidence in the rubbish facilities and use them. There seemed to be more litter than ever this year unfortunately. The Love the Farm – Leave no Trace slogan seemed a cruel joke standing in the Pyramid field from Thursday onwards.

Re-iterate to all that camping gear left at the end of the festival is not donated to charity. This is an unfortunate common misconception!

Safety, Security
Please can we have an obvious central police tent where you can report crimes. Should be somewhere in the Market Place I guess. The police are to be congratulated, I thought their handling of the event was excellent again.

Make it clear on the Fine Guide or in the Programme that only the Ivy Mead medical centre has a pharmacy, not Park Home. Awful long walk between them if you're ill. I also found that the signposting of which medical centre was closest was not very good, how about putting a number of minutes to the centre next to the sign, also ensuring that stewards were aware where they were (several I spoke to were not).

If there is going to be queuing for venues, make sure it's reasonably managed by stewards with crowd barriers – stop large-scale pushing in to the queues for venues like Pussy Parlour and the smaller places in Trash City.

More helpful stewards. I appreciate they are all volunteers, but they ought to have a good understanding of the layout of the site. I wonder whether a rule that volunteers must have attended at least one or two Glastos before would help or hinder? I asked a steward where the medical facilities were and they had little idea, even after looking at the (admittedly bad) map in the mini-guide. I got the impression that they didn't know the site very well at all.

I wish bag checks were better - lots of glass seemed to make it in to the site sadly.

More shade / shelter from the rain.....more covered areas that aren't stages / tents would be great dotted about where you can just chill / get out of sun for a while and watch the world go by. Might help when it starts raining and people all pile into often already busy music tents for shelter.

Have stewards keep an eye out for and clamp down on fires in the fields near stages after the music has finished.

Clarify rules on being naked. Despite this being something of a Glasto tradition, there were warnings issued to several naked people by security. Is this right?

Any confiscated drugs at security gates should be thrown into a visible confiscation bin like at airports – there are stories abounding of security guards taking drugs then selling them on.

The random security checks at gates, (gate C in particular) didn’t seem very random at all – some people were checked almost every time, others never.

Please make the Guardian mini-guides of a size where they fit more easily into the plastic pouch – they were a tight squeeze this year.

Get more small stage listings into the programmes, large and small. Where was the poetry and words tent line-up? Blazing Saddles? Departure Lounge? Even BBC Introducing! There are lots of good stages that would have been helped by inclusion, certainly in the main programme, and I'd hope the small booklet too, and it may draw people away from the main stages which seemed overly packed this year. Lose some of the nonsense in the booklets, make band summaries more concise with less rubbish (eg "ice cream loving fun boys" ) and include more or even all stage line-ups!

There's no need to hype up bands in the programme that are clearly going to be rammed anyway. The programme should be highlighting things people don't know about, the arts side, smaller things happening in the Green Fields and elsewhere, not telling us to go to Bruce or La Roux...

Special guests – please avoid having these unless there is a genuine contractual reason why they cannot be announced.

Souvenir programme sellers on the campervan routes out would be nice.

The Q Daily seemed worse than ever this year in terms of being full of nonsense with little useful except the revised daily schedule. Surely this newspaper is the way to highlight the arts and cultural side of the festival, the theatre, the circus, the amazing things happening in the Green Fields. Instead in between silly articles about how well the festival was going, it advised us to go to see the biggest acts. Not useful at all.

Campervan Fields
More toilets and more frequent cleaning, especially of the waste tanks.

Better water supply – I know the fields are up high which must make things difficult, but they are effectively without water for about half the festival.

Stop security driving aimlessly around on the grass making the mud worse.

More control by stewards for people leaving the site, no-one was separating walkers and vans on the Monday morning, as it was so muddy it was very dangerous for both walkers and drivers, neither was there any attempt to direct vans along the best routes to avoid getting stuck in the mud, perhaps some people experienced in this area should be used so it is safer for all.

Changing some of the entry points at Gate C to re-entry once the majority have arrived, perhaps on the Friday to make re-entry quicker.

The order in which the fields were filled was very random and unfair on those arriving earlier who quite often were put in fields much further out than those arriving later!

Security might be improved if the main walkways to the car park fields did not cut through the middle of the campervan fields, instead running along the edge?

***That’s all for this year, thank you for reading and I hope some are useful***

Sam’s Glasto 2009 Blog Index: Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
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Anonymous said...

Totally in awe of the time you must have spent allowing us to see your Glastonbury experience! And I bet your dad loved every minute.
Thanks for sharing it with us!
StoneCircle x

Anonymous said...

Great write up fella.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it brought back many memories of last year.

Hopefully you will do it again this year and will comment on all the extra urinals they had !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your review of Glastonbury 2009 Sam. I have Just booked up for 2013 and this will be my first time to Glastonbury. Your review has provided lots of inspiration to create our own festival experience! Cheers. Rich