The mother of all festivals
Mother of all festivals, Glastonbury is a fantastic place to go for dance music fiends — and indeed for fans of pretty much any style of music. The DJ Mag crew arrive on Saturday morning, having already missed a wealth of talent such as Boys Noize, Simian Mobile Disco, Julio Bashmore and Gold Panda, as well as Chic, the Arctic Monkeys and Portishead, but it doesn’t matter as there’s plenty more to be had over the next two days of frivolities.
After setting up camp, we immediately head over to Silver Hayes. This is the new name for the Dance Village, which has been given an overhaul for 2013 – as have plenty of other stages. The Dance Village itself grew out of the Dance Tent, which first made an appearance in the mid-90s after it became obvious – following triumphant sets by Orbital, The Orb etc on big stages, and the festival’s conquest by acid house – that dance music wasn’t just a passing fad.
We immediately bump into Barry Ashworth, who’s just finished playing The Blues. This new stage is built like a sprawling shanty-town or adjoining fucked-up favelas, and we catch dancehall legend Chris Goldfinger nicing up the area and vibe off his natty ode to rum and Red Bull.
The other stages in Silver Hayes — La Pussy Parleur Nouveau for new acts like classical beatfreaks Clean Bandit, the sprawling three-cornered Sonic (Sub Focus, Hot Natured etc) and the boat-themed Wow (Maya Jane Coles, Carl Craig, Ben UFO and so on) — are all also new additions, while The Gully is the location for sizeable dance bands such as Dreadzone, Dub Pistols and the mighty dubwise Iration Steppas. For dance heads though, this isn’t even the half of it.
Walking back past the Other Stage – effectively stage two, the main place for indie bands – you pass Arcadia, a magnificent giant metallic spider structure in whose head Fatboy Slim pops up around midnight on Saturday night to conduct proceedings. Moving south-east, The Glade has been restored to its original area, in a small copse of trees. This wooded glade is where Glade first started (natch), before spinning out into a stand-alone festival of its own.
Next to the big Glade tent there’s another new stand-alone stage, Spirit of ’71, where Stanton Warriors, Elite Force, MixHell and Eatstatic brock out, and a cute little backstage bar that you enter through a tardis, run by the Ghetto Funk crew.
Walking down the railway track past the frequently surreal Theatre, Circus and Cabaret fields, you encounter Block 9, the amazing post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style field populated by the NYC Download brigade. Three amazing different structures, built by the artistic travelling community, are all nightclubs of their own. For the NYC Downlow itself, you have to buy a fake moustache to get in to see Horse Meat Disco or Kerri Chandler, while entering the faux concrete London Underground – complete with mutoid tube train art – is like going into the main room at the Ministry. This area, organised by evergreen drum & bass DJ Miss Pink from BM Soho, is where many of the junglists play, as is The Cave in the next field up. The other mad building Genosys, meanwhile, has Seth Troxler, Bill Brewster, Greg Wilson and many more.
Looking like demented Alton Towers installations, The Rum Shack, The Cave and The Temple in new area The Common are full of urban, hardcore and acid techno freaks, and then in the far corner of the site is the Shangri-La area. This gigantic field itself has 13 stages, ranging from Bez’s Acid House – with a hilarious picture of a tripped-out Bez on the side – to Shangri-Hell, a giant wooden bomb-blasted enclave that hosted Radio 1 jocks such as B-Traits and Zane Lowe on Friday, electro swing acts like ubiquitous Chris Tofu and Kitten & The Hip on Saturday, and the kubicle kru on Sunday morning onwards, with Jamie Jones, Richy Ahmed, Lee Foss, Craig Richards and so on. There are all sorts of other sideshow curios
There’s also the gorgeous Heaven, a vast ambient tent curated by chill-out guru Mixmaster Morris, where we catch former DJ Mag editor Chris Coco dropping some lovely ambient sounds, and where Prince Harry, no less, is spotted kissing girls on Saturday night during a secret set by Thom Yorke and his Atoms For Peace. Also in Heaven we see two guys in Daft Punk helmets wandering around. “What time’s your secret set?” we ask, knowing the Nile Rodgers in also on site. “Ssshh!” comes the reply from Bangalter (possibly), holding a finger up to his visor.
Our DJ Mag crew prioritises checking out the Rolling Stones, headlining the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night, who we all think are bloody fantastic. Most of Silver Hayes finishes at 3am, so we head to Shangri-La and party til dawn, ending up bouncing to some dynamite dancefloor dubstep being thrown down by A-Skillz on the rip-roaring Hell Stage.
Sunday morning is a bit of a write-off, but watching some outdoor circus acts proves to be good medicine. Public Image on The Other Stage, fronted by former Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon), are a highlight with their mutant post-punk disco – including a great version of ‘Open Up’ that Lydon did with Leftfield in the ‘90s. Then it’s more of the same, taking in the romantic restraint of The xx – a kinda 21st century Cocteau Twins – and moving through Rudimental’s live drum & bass, some Hacienda classics from Graeme Park in Bez’s tent, and finishing up with some hardcore drum & bass from Goldie in Hell. Amazing doesn’t even come close.