Glastonbury Festival 2017: A year of discovery

Sometimes, not having a clue whom you’re going to see at a festival is the best way to enjoy it. Last year, seeing all three headliners (Coldplay, Adele and Muse) was a no-brainer. However, with Glastonbury 2017 offering a less exciting list of headliners (save for the Foo Fighters, whom I was excited about ever since they were announced) and the line-up offering a more wide-ranging mix of artists, this year was all about finding new bands to add to my Spotify library.

Pyramid Stage with sunset

Where else to start than Royal Blood? As someone who isn’t usually a fan of the hard-hitting rock genre, I was a little bit unsure (solely relying on my faint knowledge of Lights Out to judge how good I thought they were). Yet, the end response was one of awe. For those who have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a drummer. Well, Ben Thatcher (Royal Blood’s drummer) had me spellbound throughout the hour-long set.

Aside from music, there have been a few performances and stages I’ve never visited, purely for the fact that the long walk back to the next stage meant that I could miss a lot of the following artist’s act. This year, that wasn’t a problem.

This meant I finally got round to seeing Doc Brown live (and grab a selfie with him afterwards, which was cool), as well as attend debates on democracy and fake news – the latter proving very useful for my upcoming university dissertation. Cheers, Glastonbury!

Oh, and 2017 was the year that I finally got to see the fire-breathing spider. Yes, in one corner of the farm is a giant metallic spider which is home to electronic music, and a Metamorphosis Show. I won’t spoil the show for those planning to go to Worthy Farm in future years, but I hope the below picture gives you an idea.

Arcadia, the giant metal spider.
Arcadia – the giant metal spider where the absolutely bonkers Metamorphosis Show takes place.

I also felt that this year had a lot more TBA acts than usual, and when you have you no strict schedule to adhere to, you have nothing to lose. Stopping by the BBC Introducing Stage led to me hearing a quick set from Glass Animals and Blossoms – the latter dealing with a minor clash I had earlier that day.

At this point, I have to thank the @SecretGlasto account on Twitter for tipping us all off about who these TBA acts could be. It meant that I could watch The xx knowing that Elbow were playing The Park Stage and I wouldn’t miss much (sorry Elbow fans). However, what was far more exciting was their correct prediction for Sunday’s John Peel Stage performer – The Killers. All I need to say to prove how incredible their set was is this: imagine a large crowd of people singing Mr Brightside at the top of their lungs. That’s right, it was incredible.

The xx on the Pyramid Stage
The xx, with stunning visuals and a chilled sound for a Friday night.

Speaking of The xx and thank yous, I have to thank vlogger Grace Mandeville for recommending that – if you get the chance – you should see The xx live.

At first, I was a bit unsure about whether it would be my sort of music. Yet, with stunning visuals and a musical style which sounded like a mix between Of Monsters and Men and Porter Robinson, I was hooked. Thanks, Grace!

The whole weekend came to a close with Ed Sheeran’s headline slot on the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday night. In a bid to beat the traffic, we often leave before they finish their set. Plus, since the rest of my family weren’t too fussed about seeing Mr Sheeran, I was only able to listen to the first few songs.

That wasn’t a problem though, as I was interested in Ed’s set for a different reason. If you’ve read my review of his latest album, Divide, you’ll know that I’ve been quite sceptical of the Shape of You singer’s new material. This, combined with the fact that I found his 2014 V Festival performance fairly forgettable, repetitive and average, made me curious to see whether he would step up for the big spot at Glastonbury.

Long story short, with the soulful Castle on the Hill being the opening track and everyone getting their phone torches out for The A Team, there was something for the audience to do during the quieter song, whilst the more fast-paced songs kept everyone on their toes. With thousands of people huddled together on a field, one wonders if the intimate environment had a large part to play in that.

Now, one week on from the event, I still have a few songs and bands to look into. The XX’s entire song library is now in my Spotify, along with Lights Out by Royal Blood.

So, even when there are artists on the bill you may not have heard of, taking that risk at Glastonbury and trying something different is never a bad decision.

Artists/bands/speakers/panels watched: Biffy Clyro, Birdy, Blossoms, CassetteBoy vs. DJ Rubbish, Circa Waves, Clean Bandit, Craig David, Doc Brown, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Everything Everything, Faces of Disco, Fake News: Post-Truth Politics, Foo Fighters, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Gabrielle Aplin, Glass Animals, Is Democracy Broken?, Jeremy Corbyn, Katy Perry, Kirsty Newton, Major Lazer, Rag’n’Bone Man, Royal Blood, Silver, The Amazons, The Jacksons, The Killers, The Magic Gang, The xx.

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