A look back at Glastonbury 2008

Alex Perrins | Wednesday, 09 July 2008

A look back at Glastonbury 2008

Before I knew it I was all pitched up and ready for the following morning's collossal hangover without so much as a bent tent peg. Even the mammoth trip down to Worthy Farm was pretty hassle-free. And being a self-confessed music junke, I couldn't help but ask myself the question of why this was my first time at Glastonbury (or any other festival for that matter!). Why was I still a virgin when it seemed like most of my mates had been doing it for years?

Although, of course, even after going to many, many gigs through my teens, dedicating a good five days to a music event was a completely different ball game than taking a trip to the nearest Carling Academy. So, there I was at arguably the most infamous music festival of them all, at nine o'clock on a Wednesday morning, with more weight on my back than a packhorse, and apparently around a half an hour walk ahead of me to our destination at the top of Pennard's Hill. Wherever that was.

After being tagged with a wristband and a programme thrust into my hand we were on our way and in a hot and sticky couple of hours my tent was up and chair gratefully unfolded. A brief gaze around revealed an endless concrete wall, surrounding numerous tents dotted around areas dedicated to other campers. Plus large sections for the markets and food vendors, with the very top of the Pyramid Stage just visible behind a cluster of trees.

Since the music didn't fully start for another two days I was intrigued as to how we would pass the time, however as soon as we had relaxed and were free of the aches and pains of the journey, a quick exploration past the stone circle and a collection of vastly tall flags, led us down towards a menagerie of shops and stalls in an area bigger than my home town. Clearly Glastonbury didn't do things by halfs - it would take some time to even get my bearings, let alone explore everything on offer. 

Although the time passed with ease, when Friday morning did bring the arrival of the first full day of music, there was a considerable buzz as the anticipation of the next three days cumulated in the opening of the Pyramid Stage by a slightly nervous, but nonetheless impressive performance by the energetic and heavily eye-shadowed Kate Nash. Of course, at the same time, things kicked off all over the Farm and foot traffic suddenly synchronised.

Consequently, there were now dense throngs of people taking the same routes to The Park, John Peel and Other Stage, (incidentally - what a great name!) looking through the guides attached to the lanyards around their necks, desperately deciding between the evenings entertainment of The Kings Of Leon or Dizzee Rascal and Pete Docherty.

Unfortunately, with the music also came the hints of something very synonymous to Glastonbury. The rain. By the end of the day, the dusty walkways were starting to turn to quagmires and me being a virgin-Glastonbury attendee, this was partly something that I had been very wary of beforehand.

I didn't really enjoy the prospect of the 'mud' thing and I'm sure it didn't really agree with me either. Nonetheless, the boots came on and the journey from camp to stages became longer, but even then the majority of the crowd took the weather in their stride and not once did the smiles disappear from everyone's faces. 

Surprisingly, the English weather did us all proud in the end and after Saturday morning, the sun surpassed itself and the mud disappeared just as quickly as it had arrived. Sadly however, it seems there were still minor pitfalls with going to Glastonbury (one of our group did have a substantial amount of money stolen from the zipped bedroom compartment within his tent) and I almost needed to take out a loan to eat (£5.50 for a single burger!), but mostly these were things which were easy to overlook.

When it had originally been suggested that I could quite easily fill those six days without actually seeing more than one or two bands I instantly dismissed such a ridiculous notion with the words, "isn't this is a music festival?" But, perhaps what really makes Glastonbury stand out from the crowd and retain its crown as the 'greatest on earth,' is that it isn't just a music festival, but a celebration of music, art, and arguably life itself. With the congregation of thousands of people dancing to music by day and around campfires at night, it almost captures the feeling of the roots of being human.

There is so much to see and endless diversions that getting lost is not only easy for the uninitiated, but almost certain. Although watching The Verve perform 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' will no doubt stay with me forever; it is the atmosphere and friendliness of those who attend that will no doubt make me come back, if not next year, but most certainly in the near future and for many years after that.