This year we had the incredible privilege of being asked to play perhaps the most prestigious event on the music festival scene; Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.
Obviously we jumped at this opportunity and all of the band had been counting down to the festival for months…..and it didn’t disappoint. We thought we’d share our experiences of the festival, so here’s Phil’s thoughts and musings about the week at Glastonbury.
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I’ve been lucky enough to experience Glastonbury a few times before, so kind of knew what we’d let ourselves in for, however the rest of the band were newbies to the Glastonbury scene, so spent the first few days wandering round with mouths open in amazement. During the build up to the festival all of us felt like kids at Christmas and I’m sure our friends hated us, as all we wanted to talk about was how excited we were for Glastonbury.
Although the drive down was a good six or so hours, with the anticipation of the festival upon us, it just flew by. Arriving in Glastonbury is a wonder, the minute you walk in through the gate, it’s as if you’re transported to a different universe, where everyone is happy and friendly, everything is bright and colourful and the menial worries of normal life are left behind. It also helped that we arrived in glorious sunshine, but I’m sure we would still be super happy in the rain.
From here, I could easily give you a minute by minute account of our week, but I’m sure you don’t want to read about that, so I thought I’d just share some of our highlights.
Before talking about specific moments that made our festival, it’s worth taking a few lines to appreciate the atmosphere and lifestyle you experience whilst at Glastonbury. From the minute you arrive through to when you leave, you walk round with a smile on face, most of the time you’re dancing or moving to some music (and even when there isn’t music, you still want to dance) and you can talk to everyone and anyone you come across. It really is quite amazing to have so many people in one place and have such a harmonious and feel-good atmosphere. I think for me, one of the highlights of Glastonbury is just wandering around the quieter fields with your friends, not worrying about what’s going on in the real world. Obviously, it helps that you’re pretty tipsy 90% of the time as well…..
Gigs at the Avalon Café
So, the main reason we were at Glastonbury was that we had been invited by the lovely Lisa Pickering to play a couple of slots at the Avalon Café. We played on Thursday and Sunday, and both shows were absolutely unbelievable, I still pinch myself now and then when I look back and think; ‘wow, I played Glastonbury.’ I think the Thursday lunchtime set was my favourite show; the sun was out, a lot of people were adventuring Glastonbury for the first time, although we had our wonderful regulars there were scores of people new to The Seniors who were bobbing and clapping along. Looking out from the stage and seeing people craning their necks to see what’s going on inside the tent is a great feeling….especially when the ones at the front are singing and dancing along as well!
As well as the extremely generous crowd perception, another aspect that really made these gigs special, were the kind words from bands on before or after us; the Avalon Café seemed to have such a great team spirit and egos were definitely left outside the festival gates. Every band wanted to hear what you sounded like, were so encouraging and kind with their reviews and were genuinely happy if you’d had a good set. This was so refreshing to see, as often on the gigging scene people will have egos, but at Avalon, everyone was honest and just happy to listen to good music.
Thanks to everyone who came down to those gigs (especially those who missed the start of Dolly for us), and a huge thanks to Lisa Pickering!
Gentlemen of the Road Stopover
On the Saturday the lineup for the Avalon Café was a mysterious one, merely stating ‘Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Presents…’ for seven hours. Being huge Mumford fans, the band camped out early doors to see what was going on. Standing in the same place for seven or so hours was definitely worth it. We saw the likes of Nick Mulvey, King Charles, HAIM, Beans on Toast, Johnny Flynn and even a few cameos from the Mumford boys. The best band of the day though had to be Brooklyn’s Rubblebucket. These guys know how to put on a show. From jumping into the crowd underneath a multicoloured parachute to choreographed dance moves for the brass section, these guys nailed it.
Seeing such amazing music and musicians in such an intimate setting is unbeatable…even if it did mean numb legs.
Busking in the Avalon Staff Food Tent
To make sure we were super on form for our big gigs, we decided to give our songs a bit of a run out on Wednesday afternoon. The lovely staff at the food tent kindly lent us an extension lead for a little amp and with Lewis on the cajon we did a quick run through of the songs. We may only have been playing to about twenty people, but it was a load of fun, so thanks for letting us steal the space in your food tent and glad you enjoyed our songs!
Worthy FM Session
The lovely folks over at Worthy FM had got in touch before the festival and asked if we wanted to do a couple of songs and an interview….so we of course said yes.
We were told to go and meet Jez over at the Circus Fields with our gear and he’d sort us out. Jez was a top bloke and it was a pleasure being on his radio show. It was a bit of a squeeze though. The mini-studio at that side of the festival is a tiny portakabin, already filled with radio gear, so squeezing in six of us with our instruments was pretty cosy, but I think that added to the sound!
Hopefully the session will be up on worthyfm.com soon, so keep checking.
Before our set on Sunday we heard some exciting sounds coming from the big Avalon Stage so popped over, only to be blown away by the fantastic CC Smugglers. These guys know how to write songs and are an amazing band live, so definitely check them out if you can. We spoke to a couple of them afterwards and they’re such humble lads, definitely a band to keep an eye on.
Backstage Acoustic Bar Gig
We also played a little gig in the wee hours of Thursday morning at the backstage acoustic bar. Everyone here was working the acoustic stage and although they had been working hard getting the acoustic stage ready for the festival, they still wanted to party hard. There were definitely some wild wizards here showing their dance moves, so thanks for having us guys.
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I could continue to list all of the things we enjoyed, but I promised at the start I’d keep it reasonably short, so I’ll stop now.
Basically, Glastonbury was an absolute delight and we had the time of our lives, both on and off the stage. It was great to discover loads of amazing bands, see some of our favourite bands and make loads of friends….and of course, playing to all you guys was pretty sweet too.
People keep asking me how Glastonbury was, and I think it’s almost impossible to sum it up in words. It was a proud time for the band and we were honoured to be invited to play.
Hopefully we’ll see you next year Glastonbury.
Apologies for rambling about how much fun I had, but thanks if you’ve read this far.