A Study Of A Pilton Field.

In a dilemma about what to see at Glasto? Clashfinder confused you even further? There’s plenty you WANT to see, but it’s physically impossible to see EVERYTHING? (A great shame).

Well worry no further, for here are my recommendations for Glastonbury 2010, including the big and the small, what to avoid, the unmissable, and the “go and see if you have bugger all else to do”. The latter being a dismal prospect as there should always be something to do on Worthy Farm.

(Dear lord, I am so excited)

Since the music starts (sort of) on Thursday, let us, too, start there. Having said that, there are minimal acts, therefore a very small proportion are actually good, so I give you Beardyman.

A beatboxer with a wicked sense of humour, how could you not want to see him? Hopefully he’ll come in full kitchen regalia, including wig. He’s performing on the WOW! stage at around the 8 o’clock. Miss him and you’ll have to watch Boy George afterwards. Unlucky. Also on Thursday, Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs are starting things off, at 1pm on the Pyramid Stage. Yes really. Not hugely known for their variance from song to song, they categorise themselves as “skunk” – a fusion of punk and skiffle. They are, however, a lot of fun, and a good way to start your Thursday at Glastonbury off. Try after an incredible breakfast from Veggie Heaven, just next to the Other Stage.

Friday – This is where it starts to get really interesting. And messy. We are all, of course, ecstatic that U2 are no longer performing – I thought they pulled out because they suck (therefore no one would go to see them), but apparently it’s to do with Bono’s health or something else that no one cares about. As a replacement, we have the wonderful Gorillaz, who I thought were just a small side project. But no, they are EPIC. This will be an epic performance, including many guests and potentially Damon Albarn crying again, although the latter is probably unlikely. Have a peek at their performance on Jools Holland, and if you’re poor, their latest album (+backcatalogue) resides on Spotify.

Also on Friday, may I recommend Hot Chip (their new album is WINNING), Seth Lakeman (I LOVE HIM, on at Croissant Neuf), Simian Mobile Disco and Boys Noize. This last chap is a German electro DJ, and awesome. He’s on last thing on Dance West, just after Simian, and definitely worth exploring.

Saturday – Muse suck so no one’s going to see them. It seems it’ll all be happening on what they are this year calling “West Holts”, which is in fact the Jazz World stage. Let’s just call it Jazz World. Everyone KNOWS it as Jazz World. It might not all be jazz, but at least it says “stuff here may be controversial”. Anyway, George Clinton is bringing his two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, to it that evening, and although they seem to get a groove on and stick to the same melody/rhythm/tune for the next five minutes, it will still be much more fun than “I have to be so bloody epic all the time” Muse.

Also for Saturday… Seasick Steve is on the Pyramid, though I’d rather see him in some ranch in the middle of America I think (should be good though!). Devendra Banhart could be an option if there’s nothing else to see, along with Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra – both on West Holts. Which means pint of strawberry cider at the same time. The Unthanks turn up on the Avalon Stage (very folky, very good), and and and – the band I am most excited about for Saturday – The National! On for a mere hour on t’Other Stage, they should suitably sap all the happiness from you, and leave you with a mellow, realistic look on the world for a few moments after. And then The Cribs take over (I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THESE WAKEFIELD WEIRDOS) and you shall be shaken back to reality, and will run far, far away from the Other Stage.

Sunday – As has previously been said, you can see Stevie, but he will not be seeing you. There’s even been a somewhat impractical suggestion of braille flags so there’s a chance he can get on-board with the waving flag vibe. Though it may be impractical, the suggestion did tickle me somewhat. Anyway, Stevie Wonder is to be the highlight of Sunday (he’s just too cool to miss, surely?), along with Faithless just before him. A few hours in front of the Pyramid Stage means time for wedges and pint, and you can get your groove on some electronica before singing along with everyone else to ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ with Mr Wonder.

Sunday also includes LCD Soundsystem, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Grizzly Bear for your enjoyment, although most of them clash (told you it got messy), and you DO have to weigh up which is better to see based on value for money, how regularly they perform, if you will ever see them again, and if it’s worth missing one of the other bands.  A great shame.

Generally speaking, the idea seems to be to avoid the main stages unless there’s something AWESOME on (as they get hideously busy and don’t seem to offer good quality music), look for the smaller things, have a handful of Definites, some Maybes, and use the rest of the time to experience something you’ve never done before.

Grizzly Bear – Anson Rooms, Bristol, Nov ’09

Now the Anson Rooms isn’t exactly the ideal location. Miles away from Temple Meads station, out of the main hub of Bristol, and with the venue itself representing something of a village hall, one could imagine the evening being a total loss from the beginning. But try this for size – the dulcet tones and tunes of Grizzly Bear, supported by St Vincent, who makes way more sound than you would think possible, eargerly onlooked by a crowd spanning all the demographics, with a lighting rig to match and overtake anything Fever Ray could come up with. Not too bad when you mix all the ingredients together.

Having only really started my in-depth gig research a week or so before the event (some how time just disappears…), I felt a little unprepared for what might meet me through the many, many doors of Bristol’s student union. However, with a pre-pint gig in the lovely Big Chill bar, two intrepid explores braved the rain and lack of directions and found the Anson Rooms. Unfortunately the competence of the bar staff here was somewhat lessened compared to Big Chill, but it is a derivative of a (slightly arrogant) place of higher education. One must pick ones battles. TIP – do not leave your ID in the cloak room as you may need it. I did. And was told I was “a lot older” than the barman thought when I’d retrived it. Charming.

St Vincent I was dubious about. I’d explored her myspace music, but that was about it. Truth be told, she seemed a little pretentious. A little Joanna Newsom, maybe. Only a lot less annoying. This evening, though, she was excellent. Far be it from me to judge her plugging an iPod into the equipment at the beginning, because this made the experience so much better than one person playing one intrument for thirty minutes. Not that that’s always bad, just quite commonplace. This girl was like a modern-day Mike Oldfield. And she was confident, and spoke to the crowd. She had good numbers, she strayed from the generic and, although she may have been faking it – who knows -, felt like it was an honour to be there, not like everyone in the crowd should already know her name. In short, she was an excellent support. It wasn’t a case of “Come on, try and impress me support band I don’t know much about!” Very, very unusual.

Grizzly Bear. Are these people almost as nice and as bashful as Guillemots, Belle and Sebastian AND Fleet Foxes all together? Yes. Just as talented? Of course. Why has it taken so long for people to sit up and listen? God knows. But they do now, and they should. We were treated to the delights of ‘Two Weeks’, ‘Colorado’ and, because Mr Daniel Rossen had a “twinkle in his eye”, ‘Deep Blue Sea’. Bass player Christ Taylor amazed us by getting out more and more instruments that he could play – and not just play, but play well – , and they, too, like St Vincent, adopted the “thanks for having us, it’s been lovely” stance that makes you want to see them again. It’s always much easier to pay for something when people are nice about it.

A very pleasant evening, minus the run for the train at the end!