Monday, 1 July 2013

Why I hate Glastonbury

So have you just got back from Glastonbury? Were the Stones still Rolling? Were Mumford and their sons mewling. Quite frankly my dear, I couldn't give a damn. I've never been to Glastonbury and doubt I ever will. I take the view, each to their own, and if people enjoy it, that's fine by me. It's just that it ain't my idea of Rock and Roll.

To me, Rock and Roll is all about small venues, up and coming bands, excitement. It's all about the unexpected. I don't care if bands sound like the record. If I like the band, I've got the tracks. I want to see a show. Glastonbury to me exemplifies everything that is wrong with the music industry today. It seems as if "you have to play Glastonbury" to really be taken seriously. For me this is the antithesis of what I believe music should be about. I've been to mega shows before. I saw the Stones in the 1980's on the Wheels of Steel tour. I've seen better gigs in the pub at the bottom of the road.

Live music to me is all about intimacy with the audience. It's all about seeing the band and them seeing you as well. I've played hundreds of gigs in my musical career. We even played a few outdoor festivals over the years. The best ones were in small, sweaty clubs. In such an environment, the band can make an impression on people. At Glastonbury, all of the up & coming artists are overshadowed by the monoliths. Sure there are several stages, sure some people get into stuff that they wouldn't have seen otherwise. But at the end of the day, the whole thing is all about what you see on TV. It's all about homogeonised, sterilisied music for people sitting at home, sipping Chardonnay and pretending they are part of the experience.

There are still billions in the UK music scene. The trouble is that none of it is filtering through to support young and upcoming bands. Sure a gig at Glastonbury "raeses the profile", but this was the year of the Stones. That will be the abiding memory in ten years time.

What upsets me is how many people won't even walk to the end of their road to see a show. I've been involved in live music for 35 years. When I started, people would take a chance paying to see unknown bands. I saw dozens, just on a three line review in the NME. Bands such as The Fall, The Cure, Wire, The Ramones, The Ruts to name but a few. All in small venues, all for the cost of a pint. If I liked the band, I'd buy the music. I've had some of the best nights of my life in small, smelly venues watching bands I'd never heard before.

These days we have a two pronged assault on creative and original musicians. On one side we have the Simon Cowell X-Factor culture of instant success for artists playing other peoples money and most of the  the cash going anywhere but the artist. On the other side we have the corporate culture, which squashes truly original and creative people who say something that the "brands" don't want to hear.

I got into Punk Rock music aged 14 through alienation and because it vocalised my fears, concerns and feelings. Nowadays teenagers go with the the blessing of Mummy and Daddy, sandwiches packed. I love the music the Rolling Stones recorded 40 years ago, but we have to move on. I hate the fact that the Guardian devotes the whole of G2 to the Tawdry shebang. Most of all I hate the fact that the up and coming musicians think that Glastonbury is the endgame and playing festivals is the sign of success.

To me it isn't rock and roll. That is why I hate it.

1 comment:

caroline said...

Well it's over 30 years since I went to Glastonbury and even then it felt as if it was getting more commercialised by the year. What put me off most was the drugs were being dealt by guys in masks with walkie talkies which felt pretty threatening to my younger self (not that I bought any of course).
The point for me back then was not so much the music as the occasion. I'd meet with people I didn't see from years end to years end and see lots of stuff I wouldn't get to see otherwise. It wasn't just music either, there was dance, comedy and probably loads of other things too.
It's very easy to watch the TV coverage and say 'it's the Stones year' but there will be thousands of people there who didn't see the Stones and don't think they've missed out.
I don't watch Glastonbury or any of the other festivals on TV because the sound is so often rubbish and it's all a bit cliched, guitar solos and pretty girls/outlandish outfits in the crowd.
Instead of equating Glastonbury to a night out at a gig, think of the last time you went camping with all your mates in a field. Then add in some great bands that you can stagger over and watch if the mood takes you. Oh, and if you get the munchies there are lots of food stalls, you don't have to put up with your friends doing impersonations of bacon frying noises.