From least surprising to least prepared for the weather, a full look at the famous festival, which took place June 25–29
This post is in partnership with Consequence of Sound, an online music publication devoted to the ever growing and always thriving worldwide music scene.
Tony Hardy (TH): The first rule of Glastonbury is that only you can create your own snapshot. Your experience could be totally different to the next person and the next and so forth. Whatever kind of music you are into, you’ll find it here. You can party like it’s 1999, 1970 or any year you want to choose. Or chill, take your time, breath in, bliss out.
Scott C. Moore (SM): Get there early, though. The scale of this mother of all festivals is nearly incomprehensible, so arriving on Wednesday or Thursday will help to accomplish the impossible task of taking it all in. While many of the main stages will still be under construction, food vendors and bars across the site are fully operational and everyone in attendance is in a celebratory mood. Don’t see any big names scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday? Don’t worry about it. Allow the feel of the place to lead you, and you won’t be disappointed.
TH: The size and scale of the festival site is still daunting but once you get over the sight that greets you as you gaze across the valley, it starts to fit into place. Glastonbury is arranged like a series of small, interconnected villages each with a stage or more.
SM: You can find yourself in the center of the market area listening to Irish folk music emanating from a quaint gazebo. Or you could drift over to a field in the English countryside for a throbbing underground night club in Block 9. It’s great.
TH: The signs that point the way are now taking on an antique quality, but they work. And despite a few necessary updates, the otherwise marvelous pocket guide produced by The Guardian does its job. I’m still trying to get over the absence of Robyn Hitchcock and the Spirit of ’71 stage and don’t want to be reminded where it was used to stand every time I open the map. And where, oh where is William’s Green!
SM: My advice? Walk around the site, yes, the whole site. You didn’t come to Glastonbury to get shit faced in front of your tent (if you did, you’ve overpaid for the privilege), so explore the grounds and figure out what it’s going to take to get from the Pyramid to West Holts when you need to rush between two can’t miss shows later in the weekend.
TH: Good advice, Scott. As you know, this year marked the festival’s 44th year, and host Michael Eavis has already announced he’ll be stepping down when it turns 50, handing both reins to daughter, Emily. He will leave a huge legacy. Why? Because more than any other music festival, Glastonbury is a cultural extravaganza the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.
What’s more, the organization is amazing, and the festival’s a tribute to everyone who works there, whatever role they have. From guides to guards, each staff member handles whatever weather and humans can collectively throw at them with grace and humor. (Let’s be sure not to forget the two tragedies that took place over the weekend.)
Though, I do have one grouse, festival goers: take your stuff home. I did. All of it, muddy or not. After all, the by-line of Glastonbury is “Love the farm – leave no trace,” but thousands don’t. Clearly.
SM: Two ubiquitous campaigns on Worthy Farm are “Leave No Trace” and “Don’t Pee on the Land”. I’m not sure what is was like before those campaigns started, but there are dudes pissing EVERYWHERE and there is garbage all over the place. Volunteers do a remarkable job of keeping up with the garbage but they aren’t getting a ton of help from the attendees.
TH: Whatever else hasn’t already been written about Glastonbury is possibly best left unsaid. Instead, enjoy our 30 favorite moments of the weekend and maybe push yourself to go next year. It ain’t easy, but what ever is?
The Breakfast of Champions: Jonny Greenwood and the London Sinfonietta
Friday, West Holts – 11:10 a.m.
Before noon on the West Holts stage on Friday, Jonny Greenwood opened on solo guitar and layered recorded loops to create a rich, sonic atmosphere. After 15 minutes of intricate strumming, the ever humble Radiohead star sheepishly thanked the crowd before leaving the stage. Greenwood was quickly replaced by the London Sinfonietta delivering Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians”. The piece dips and swells from quiet reflection to frenetic intensity, allowing a showcase for each instrument. It evokes the contemplation of humankind’s continuous struggle to understand the meaning of our existence and place in the universe. Just kidding. I have no idea what it means, but it was absolutely fucking beautiful and a perfect start to the day. –Scott C. Moore
The War on Blondie: Blondie/The War on Drugs
Friday, Other Stage – 12:15 p.m.; Pyramid Stage – 12:30 p.m.
A guiding principle of Glastonbury is that at any time during the day, there are at least two bands you really want to see at the same time. Without access to the inter-stage area, which turns the miry walk between the two main stages into a comparatively short hop, the following would not be possible. Thanks to an early surprise set by Kaiser Chiefs, Blondie opened to a huge crowd with a supercharged rendition of “One Way or Another”. (Just to correct the girl to my right: no, this wasn’t a One Direction cover). Age may have taken some edge off Debbie Harry’s formidable pipes but the trio of opening songs were predictably slick, fast, and dynamic, as gaunt guitarist Chris Stein matched Harry for silver-grey chic.
Meanwhile, over on the Pyramid stage, Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs worked through some sound issues, specifically an uncomfortable bass boom that spasmodically dulled their ringing guitars. Regardless, Adam Granduciel’s six-piece entertained a gathering throng to some classic guitar rock, chiefly culled from their recent Top Rated album, Lost in the Dream. The atmospheric, drawn-out “Under the Pressure” and emotional bruiser “Red Eyes” especially hit the spot with 2011 breakthrough song “Come to the City” providing a pinnacle closer. All through the set, Granduciel’s Dylanish drawl worked through heartache yet the music always lifted spirits. The war was won. –Tony Hardy
Artist Least Prepared (For the Weather): Deltron 3030
Friday, West Holts – 2:30 p.m.
The Deltron 3030 ensemble included a horn section, backup singers, strings, a live rhythm section, a conductor/hype man, and DJ Kid Koala working three turntables and a host of electronic gadgets. Whether a testament to Del the Funky Homosapien’s delivery, the excellent West Holts sound, or both, the show was delightfully devoid of “the muddle” that plagues so much live hip-hop. Deltron 3030 dropped mind-bending rhymes backed by soaring orchestral arrangements for a genre-defying performance that had the crowd bouncing. Throw in a guest appearance from Jamie Cullum and closing the set with Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood”, and it can’t get much better. Oh, and Del called out Mars Volta’s bass player for picking up a pair of wellies onsite while he just had to deal with his shoes being all fucked up. I guess nobody told him. –Scott C. Moore
Accessorizing with Mud: Summer Camp
Friday, William’s Green Stage – 3:00 p.m.
If you’re going to turn up amid a sea of mud in a brilliant white trouser suit, then playing an indoor stage seems a wise move. Summer Camp’s brand of breezy, intelligent dance music meant the youthful audience packing the William’s Green stage was far too occupied with having a good time to practice mud-slinging, and so their outfits stayed pristine throughout. (Mind you, I was tempted briefly to target the girl with the feathered headdress obscuring my view.) Husband and wife Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey, respectively, impressed with as much confidence on stage as they did with their fashion sense. And despite that booming bass once again, the two came out on top, specifically with a singalong of “Ghost Train” and a raucous closer in “Two Chords”, the latter ending in a barrage of feedback, rather than mud, of course. –Tony Hardy
Ready to Give Up The Day Job: Andrew Maxwell Morris
Friday, Bimble Inn – 4:00 p.m.
The path towards The Bimble Inn provides a welcome pint of real ale or cider and invariably a goodly selection of acoustic-based live music. It’s a kind of pagan heaven, decked out with knotted drapes and fairy-lighted foliage, and even camp beds for the weary festival goer. Andrew Maxwell Morris is something of a regular at the festival, though he’s usually on his own with a guitar. On Friday, he was flanked by an adroit four-piece band and two backing singers, who offered much more than simply eye candy. Criminal lawyer by day, Morris held a relaxed, if not fully captive, afternoon audience with Americana-drenched songs off his new album, Well Tread Roads, and some older favorites. An earnest, flowing “In a Heartache”, Knopfler-quality soloing from the lead guitarist on “Low Light”, and a storming “January Rain” were just three stand-outs. Given the crowd he nabbed, it might be high time to close the briefcase and go for the bigger stages. –Tony Hardy
A Dose of Midday Sunshine: HAIM
Friday, The Other Stage – 4:25 p.m.
The Haim sisters bragged about bringing some California sunshine to Glastonbury, and the ominous clouds held off just long enough to not make liars of them. A pair of covers displayed a range from sensitive (“XO” by former festival headliner Beyoncé) to bona fide rock ‘n’ roll chops (Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”). The delivery of their own work was crisp and emphatic and punctuated with personal stories and gratuitous “fucks.” The icing on the cake came when Este told the crowd she’d bet a stage tech 100 quid that Glastonbury knew how to shake their asses. Clearly the tech never had a chance, and the sisters owned the crowd from then on. –Scott C. Moore
Going Down a Storm: Jimi Goodwin
Friday, The Park – 5:00 p.m.
Nature wasn’t very kind to Doves’ frontman Jimi Goodwin on Friday evening. As his quartet played through “Panic Tree”, the singer announced that an electrical storm was on its way and the power was being cut as a precaution; though, not before he feigned an electric shock from his mic. He was in quite a mischievous mood, clicking with his band and warming up the crowd with a melodic rendition of “Didsbury Girl”, further amplified by his tight, wiry bass. For awhile, they ignored the gathering clouds and distant lightning forks, which creeped in during a therapeutic cut of “Oh! Whiskey”. Three songs later, the storm finally took over and I imagine the nearby Bimble Inn did some extra trade, as people took shelter, perhaps even joined by the band for a few pints. –Tony Hardy
Best Natural Phenomenon: Double Rainbow Over the Site
Friday, Left Field Area (But Probably Everywhere) — Approx. 6:20 p.m.
I highly recommend checking out the double rainbow that looks like it’s growing out of the cabaret tent, should the opportunity arise. Ever again. –Scott C. Moore
#NESK (Not Entirely Safe for Kids): Lily Allen
Friday, Pyramid Stage – 6:30 p.m.
The Lily Allen show attracted what seemed like every kid on the grounds at Glastonbury. Kids along the front barricade. Kids on shoulders everywhere. Kids kicking me in the heels of my rain boots because I stood in front of them to see the show. It occurred to me that maybe the parents who brought them were only familiar with her radio-friendly work.
The dance-pop diva appeared onstage in a flowing gown and pink polka-dotted, 8-inch platform heels. While initially pretty tame, eventually Allen shed the bottom half of her gown, was joined onstage by twerking backup dancers in high-waisted short shorts, and engaged in stage banter that ranged from her camel toe to calling a corrupt British politician a cunt. In other words, she was awesome. An unapologetic badass, not softened by motherhood, who only managed to chase off a few parents with kids in tow.
The show featured massive sing-alongs to old favorites and enthusiastic receptions for her Sheezus cuts. A chorus of boos erupted when she informed the crowd her set would be shortened by the rain delay, and she cheerfully reassured them that they had an amazing evening to look forward to with Elbow and Arcade Fire still to come. –Scott C. Moore
Another Sunset With My Sad Captains: Elbow
Friday, Pyramid Stage – 8:00 p.m.
Once the storm had passed, the late evening sun bled through and the Pyramid stage hosted an act that Glastonbury had taken to their hearts. Majoring on tracks from its 2014 album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything, Elbow was the perfect choice to accompany the sun’s descent below the horizon of this marvelous amphitheatre. Older fans might decry the lack of attention to their early catalogue, but there was no doubting the flow and grace of the latest songs, linked by Guy Garvey’s genial uncle of a personality: “Look at you all beautiful in the evening sun, your gorgeous creatures.”
Elbow simply captured the mood and moment, peaking with the beautiful eulogy of “My Sad Captains” and building audience interaction through “Lippy Kids” to the inevitable singalong closer of “One Day Like This”. It was a time for pride and passion and an amicable way to forget that England were out of the World Cup. Yet there was glory in this hour on Somerset, as we all sang: “Throw those curtains wide. One day like this a year would see me right.” Who could argue. –Tony Hardy
The Masked Man on Fire: Arcade Fire
Friday, Pyramid Stage – 10:00 p.m.
Friday could have arguably ended with Elbow, but this is Glastonbury, and so the festivities carried on with Montreal’s finest, Arcade Fire. Pyrotechnics accompanied the ascent of a mirrored colossus during opener “Reflektor”, indicating that this was going to be the sort of ‘true event’ spectacle worth bragging about online and in the very far future. Theatricality has always been the band’s forte, and they arrived with due aplomb. Win Butler wore his Lone Ranger eye makeup and his wife Régine Chassagne dazzled in sequins. Yet, bravado aside, Arcade Fire seemed genuinely humbled to be there.
Butler has come far since sporting a pudding-basin haircut in the early years, and it was great to hear the Fire reprising a classic like “Keep the Car Running” or deftly revamping songs from its back catalogue, such as “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)”, to fit its current rhythmic oeuvre. Because of this, there was a particularly smooth transition between numbers. The members kept the chatter at a minimum, focusing instead on keeping the adrenaline pumping. By night’s end, they closed up shop with a brilliantly reworked “Wake Up”, a proud closing statement and moment that further underlined the band’s status as a major league player. –Tony Hardy
Best Way to End Your Show: Angel Haze
Saturday, Pyramid Stage – 1:15 p.m.
Detroit rapper Angel Haze’s set boasted hard-hitting hip-hop as well as a sensitive cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again”. It also included the best way for a young artist to create crowd frenzy. Haze jumped down from the towering Pyramid stage to perform her last two songs while doing determined loops through the crowd. There are plenty of intimate stages at Glastonbury, but the Pyramid is not one of them, so kudos to Angel Haze for bringing the show to the fans. –Scott C. Moore
Baritone of the Weekend: Midlake
Saturday, Other Stage – 1:40 p.m.
From the opening verse of “Young Bride”, Midlake frontman Eric Pulido was in excellent form, comfortably offering the best vocal performance all weekend. He has a commanding though gentle presence, a rich baritone that arches over the lush instrumental patterns laid down by the band and complimented by fine harmonies. And despite losing leader Tim Smith in 2012, Midlake has gone from strength to endurance. “We Gathered In Spring” and a stripped down, emotional cover of The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” were among the highlights, while the always-delightful “Head Home” sent an enchanted and curious crowd onwards, many of whom had probably heard the Texans for the first time. –Tony Hardy
Betting on a Future Headliner: Kodaline
Saturday, Other Stage – 4:30 p.m.
After their triumphant Glastonbury debut on the John Peel stage last year, Irish four-piece Kodaline returned to the much bigger Other stage for a prime Saturday afternoon slot. Sunglasses opposed the strong sunlight and there was an audible sigh when lead singer Steve Garrigan later took them off. Good looks go hand-in-hand with strong hooks, apparently, and detractors who place the outfit as an Anthems-R-Us band who listen to too much U2 and Coldplay seemingly miss the point. “One Day”, “Way Back When”, and their much-anticipated closer “All I Want” host genuine sentiments and shared experiences forged by life-on-the-road camaraderie — they’re also just killer tunes. Towards the end, a huge downpour brought out macs and brollies, but the vast crowd stayed for the duration and sang their hearts out. Kodaline will be back, not necessarily next year, but they’ll be back… as headliners, too. –Tony Hardy
Pretending to Smoke Is Pretty Lame, But Can I Get Another Cigarette?: Lana Del Rey
Saturday, Pyramid Stage – 4:00 p.m.
Lana Del Rey’s set was plagued by technical difficulties and the banality of her performance style. She started late, seemingly due to a malfunctioning video screen that may have never been fully sorted out at any point during the show. She made a huge production of getting a cigarette from a side stage tech twice that she proceeded to light, hold for a minute or two, and never smoke. Admittedly, I wasn’t a Lana Del Rey fan before the show, but she didn’t do a single thing on the world’s largest stage to win me over. My own prejudices aside, there was no shortage of “We love you Lana!!!”s or young girls singing along. It’s possible she’s not ready or right for a venue this size. Her show seems more suited to a dark club or theater venue, but maybe the real issue is that I’m not a 15-year-old, at heart or otherwise. –Scott C. Moore
The Show You Wish Was A Reunion Instead: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters
Saturday, Pyramid Stage – 5:30 p.m.
Robert Plant took to the Pyramid stage in the early evening on Saturday amidst a few early pleas from the crowd to “play ‘Stairway to Heaven’!” While Stairway was obviously absent, they delivered a Zeppelin-heavy set that featured enough new material to spare the exquisite musicians Plant has assembled the feeling they’ve joined a Led Zep cover band. It would be wonderful to say the tunes have the same, old feel, but with bassist Justin Adams’ teenage son doing a spirited dance on stage and grade school girl guitar techs, the whole affair seems just a bit more family-friendly than the days of old. The show is still an incredible showcase of timeless classics and musical virtuosity, even if it’s not the reunion everyone wants to see. If they come to your town, or within say 50 miles of it, buy a ticket. Legends are hard to come by. –Scott C. Moore
Rumbling, Bumbling, Stumbling: Jack White
Saturday, Pyramid Stage – 7:30 p.m.
Apparently, Jack White’s beef with the press knows no borders, as he denied photographers the customary 10-minute window at the beginning of his Pyramid stage set. White sauntered out on stage drinking directly from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot yellow label champagne and launched into a feisty jam before settling into “Icky Thump”. It’s pretty clear White is no longer content with the standard versions of The White Stripes catalog, and each tune pulled from it had a fresh edge if not an outright extended jam. The resulting outcome was that Lazaretto selections had a tighter feel but were less familiar for a crowd that White occasionally had to coax with shouted questions. Being a consummate showman, he closed out with two White Stripes favorites in “Ball and a Biscuit” and perennial set closer “Seven Nation Army”. The latter eventually devolved into a sonic battle with his drummer, and, just for good measure, it took on a physical element when White stumbled through the entire drum kit. Maybe he should lay off the champagne until after the show. –Scott C. Moore
Play the Hits, Man: Pixies
Saturday, Other Stage – 9:00 p.m.
Indie Cindy, the Pixies’ first album in 23 years, didn’t win over any critics or fans, but there’s little denying the Bostonites’ iconic back catalogue. As such, Frank Black & New Co. stuck chiefly to the hits, limiting Indie to three appropriate tracks. Now, much has been made about the loss of original bassist Kim Deal, the brief tenure of another Kim (Shattuck), and further replacement, Paz Lenchantin. But at Glastonbury, the massive crowd of fans could have cared less, and with good reason. Paz was as enchanting as her surname. Joey Santiago’s soloing in “Vamos” and drummer David Lovering’s consistent work (and good humour when asked to sing an interminable chorus) also stood out. I appreciated hearing “Here Comes Your Man”, too. As for main man, Frank Black, he may eschew crowd banter but the voice, the aggression, and attack are all still there in spades. Pixies have had their ups and downs, but this set really felt like they’re back up there and aiming even higher. –Tony Hardy
Controversy Addressed. Do You Have Any Further Questions?: Metallica
Saturday, Pyramid Stage – 9:45 p.m.
In direct response to the controversy surrounding their invitation to the festival, Metallica opened their set with a video homage to the noble gentleman’s pursuit of fox hunting. In a seeming attempt to point out a parallel between the freedoms enjoyed by British sportsmen of the past and alleged activities that generated an entire Facebook petition to prevent the band from performing, the video had crowds wondering if the band could be THAT irreverent. And then bears with shotguns blasted the noblemen from their horses and revealed themselves to be the band members in costume. Irreverence grossly underestimated. Metallica proved to festival goers they earned their spot on the Pyramid stage by laying down a fiercely intense set of well-known classics interspersed with more recent work. Much as Jay Z threw off controversy in 2011 and delivered a performance to remember, all those who attended the Metallica show will have it ringing around their heads (and maybe ears) for years to come. –Scott C. Moore
Best Unrelenting Use of Graphics: MGMT
Saturday, John Peel Stage – 10:45 p.m.
Anyone who had their fill of Metallica, and didn’t fancy Bryan Ferry (!), could have done worse than stray down to John Peel to catch MGMT’s closing set. As usual, the stage was rammed, but there was some benefit to standing outside the tent, even if that area was pretty full, too. From there, festivalgoers had a perfect vantage point of the incessant back projections that gave a whole new meaning to the word unrelenting. Those who watched the entire carnival of creatures, flowers, and kaleidoscopic shapes might still be in for surgery. Musically, messrs Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser focused on tracks off last year’s self-titled third studio album, and 2010’s maligned Congratulations. Of course, “Time to Pretend” and “Kids” went over well. –Tony Hardy
Let’s Hear It For Emerging Talent: M+A
Sunday, West Holts Stage – 11:45 a.m.
The annual Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition gives UK-based unsigned artists the chance to win a spot on a main stage. Eight acts made it through to the live finals in April and winners, London-based Italians M+A, were rewarded with the opening Sunday morning slot on the West Holts stage which majors on dance acts. (Some of the other finalists, including Gibson Bull, Hero-Fisher, and Izzy Bizu, also found their way onto other stages.) Predictably, M+A drew a small initial crowd, but eventually won passersby over with their brand of percussive electro-pop, tempting a few early birds into throwing a few shapes down. Where they go from here is up to fate, but they’re working off some strong tunes, notably “Down the West Side” and “When”. –Tony Hardy
A Green Affair: Eyes for Gertrude
Saturday, Mandala Stage – 1:00 p.m.
While Glastonbury’s main stages run like clockwork – the occasional act of God permitting – the same cannot be said of its smaller stages in the Green Futures field. Times are wonky and signs are missing, but that’s part of the area’s laid-back, friendly charm, the likes of which occasionally manage to draw festivalgoers in. A brief walk from West Holts across to Green Futures saw me stray across the delightful string-driven Beaubowbelles and amazing hippy throwbacks Love Revolution. In between, I stopped by to listen to Eyes For Gertrude, who were one of my Emerging Talent picks. The duo’s voices sync beautifully; the first all-warm country tones, the second offering English purity. Taking sounds from the routines of daily life and reaching for higher ground with determination, EFG offers quirky, observational songs, illuminated by delicious vocal flourishes — definitely the start of a green affair. –Tony Hardy
Voice You Least Expect to Come from the Person Actually Onstage: Sam Smith
Sunday, The Other Stage – 4:00 p.m.
Sam Smith’s international star is rising, but his show on Sunday at the Other Stage proved beyond a doubt that his home country fans already know what they’ve got. In a set featuring work from his debut album, a brief interlude of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I know”, and a lounged-up full cover of fellow Brits Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know”, Smith stormed the stage. Everyone in the crowd participated in the massive sing-along. Everyone. Little kids in the front row, old men in bandanas, and a bro in a banana suit. No one was spared, no one. –Scott C. Moore
Anyone Seen Dolly?: Dolly Parton
Sunday, Pyramid Stage – 4:40 p.m.
We weren’t really prepared for Dolly Parton’s Glastonbury conquest. A 100,000 strong crowd duly lapped up Parton’s homilies and whimsy, madly singing along when it came to “Jolene”, “Islands in the Stream”, and “9 to 5”. Coming on like a rhinestone cowgirl, the lady performed with gusto, sang sweetly and toted various instruments for brief cameos. At times, the performance felt like a part of a strange, alien variety show, which further demonstrates Glastonbury’s diversity. In a surprise twist, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora joined in near the end to embellish a gospel treatment of “Lay Your Hands on Me”. Follow that, Ed Sheeran (and he did). –Tony Hardy
Small Man, Big Sound: Ed Sheeran
Sunday, Pyramid Stage – 6:00 p.m.
Ed Sheeran took to the Pyramid stage as a one-man explosion of sound. Looping his own rhythm section and using his guitar as a percussion instrument, it’s amazing so much noise can come from one tiny man with an acoustic guitar and some effects peddles. Sheeran busted out infectious dance-worthy beats and somber ballads with equal dexterity, all the while encouraging creative crowd participation. Be it a sea of fans hoisted on shoulders, waving of loose clothing, or singing the chorus to his closing song long after he left the stage, another kid-heavy crowd was happy to indulge Sheeran’s requests. –Scott C. Moore
Set You’re Most Likely to See at Their Next Performance: The Black Keys
Sunday, Pyramid Stage – 7:45 p.m.
The Black Keys started as a power duo and have expanded and contracted over the years. The current incarnation employs a bass player and someone to run the electronic wizardry, introduced primarily over the last two albums, in addition to Auerbach and Carney. It’s hard to tell if it’s the plethora of side projects or the difficulty of maintaining a primarily two-person creative team, but some of the raw emotion present in The Black Keys’ past live performances seems to be missing. There are still moments of absolute brilliance, with tracks like Turn Blue’s “Fever” holding their own against old favourites. –Scott C. Moore
Agreeable Alt-Rock Heroes: Family of the Year
Sunday, William’s Green – 8:00 p.m.
William’s Green is named in honor of Michael Eavis’ grandfather and the adjacent stage is fast becoming a shrine to indie rock. With a massive bar and plenty of outdoor seating, it was the perfect place to relax after a hectic schedule, especially to the sounds of Family of the Year. The Los Angeles quintet had to wait until Sunday evening to unleash its warm and friendly brand of melodic alt-rock, and despite a PA that really didn’t need to be turned up too high, the band’s brisk set proved rather joyous. Tunes off 2012’s Loma Vista sounded as fresh as ever and were warmly received by a small crowd that grew as the nine-song set progressed. The show was not without its dynamics — especially when strobes accentuated the punchy “Living on Love” — but the strength of the songs lies in the communal storytelling. Visions of a folksier Fleetwood Mac and Beach Boys come to mind, but their closing song “Hero” is a classic of its own accord. –Tony Hardy
Stop Milking The Applause: Kasabian
Sunday, Pyramid Stage – 9:45 p.m.
There were certainly some who questioned Kasabian’s stature as Glastonbury headliners. They clearly did not include the vast majority of another mega-sized crowd who celebrated the Midlanders’ Pyramid appearance with mass hollering, an impressive collection of flags and even flares. The band set the tone with a delayed entrance timed to a countdown clock, milking the audience for all its worth. Eventually, they strolled out and frontman Tom Meighan, dressed ironically in a white tux, oozed with bravado and attitude, even if a few of his lines felt drawn from the Liam Gallagher school of charm. (Mind you, I loved his brash pronouncement, “This is why you came,” as he introduced “Underdog”.) The crowd’s equally voluble response to a set spanning Kasabian’s 10 years in rock marked it as something of a triumph in the face of naysayers. Meighan proved to be the ringmaster, orchestrating crowd choruses and urging bodies up on the shoulders of many while his band mates provided plentiful sonic ammunition. –Tony Hardy
Least Surprising Dance Explosion (w/ Guests): Disclosure
Sunday, West Holts – 10:00 p.m.
After overflowing stages in the US at Coachella and Bonnaroo, Disclosure’s return to Worthy Farm was bound to be a super massive dance party to close out the main stages on Glastonbury’s final night. At 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, after five days of competitive consumption, a fair bit of the crowd looks a little worse for wear. However, a steady infusion of groove-heavy beats and hypnotizing rhythms from the brothers pumped an infusion of life into the weary crowd. Stacked with guest performances from Ed McFarlane, Eliza Doolittle, and Aluna George, the set had already delivered an epic performance, but the crowd sensed something was missing. Given Sam Smith’s earlier appearance on The Other Stage, where he mentioned the Disclosure show, it was a given he’d show up eventually; and he did not disappoint. Closing with “Latch”, the young crooner’s soulful performance transformed the group of exhausted travellers into a single, super-conscious being. –Scott C. Moore
Winner of the ‘We Don’t Need to Ask If You’re Having a Good Time’ Award: London Grammar
Sunday, John Peel Stage – 10:15 p.m.
Unlike Kasabian, London Grammar was only just hitting the road when the UK trio secured a small stage spot at Glastonbury 2013. To headline the John Peel stage as the final act on Sunday night just a year later was a big ask and singer Hannah Reid told the BBC two hours ahead of the show she was terrified by the prospect. As it turned out, there was no need to feel unworthy and maybe just seeing the size of the crowd as the band took the stage conversely was enough to steady nerves. Yes, people had actually turned up.
Dressed down in sweatshirt and jeans, Reid just played herself, letting her smoky vocals and timely excursions into the higher register do the business against the chilled backdrop of guitar, keys, drums, and a string section. The music did the talking as a rapt audience made for an unusually tranquil atmosphere compared to the usual festival bustle. Finally, the crowd joined in fervently for flagship song “Strong” while 2013 debut single “Metal and Dust” provided a flawless closer. A different kind of triumph to Kasabian, but a triumph nonetheless. –Tony Hardy
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