Glastonbury – independent weekend review

2014 festival shows how diverse cultural roots are inspiring pop mainstream

The Seniors play backstage at Acoustic Bar
The Seniors play backstage at Acoustic Bar

With 200,000 people, or a veritable city, airdropped into a huge farm in Somerset, promising performers of all persuasions were going to attract a crowd.

As acknowledged by Sophie Ellis, pop and disco have once again found their places at Glastonbury, allowing audiences and acts to bond over some classics to sing along and dance to. Eager faces of all ages could be seen lip-synching to every word along with Ellie Goulding, Bryan Ferry, Caro Emerald and Dolly Parton.

Bajofondo funk it up with strings
Bajofondo funk it up with strings

It was wonderful to see the return of lighter mainstream genres, popular for good reason that they are great to let your hair down to, singing and dancing along, rekindling happy memories.

Fans can be themselves

Stromae attracts crowds with cracking performance
Stromae attracts crowds with cracking performance

Compared to some harder dance genres that have dominated the charts, pop and disco say “I like this whatever you think” and are free of the occasional self-consciousness of rap or hip-hop while leaving fans to be themselves without prescription dress, moves and lingo.

Evident this year was the rise of the DJ to rock star stats, as Sasha, DJ Pierre, David Morales, Shy FX, Above and Beyond and many more entertained large crowds.

Li Saumet fronts Columbian band Bomba Estereo
Li Saumet fronts Columbian band Bomba Estereo

United by music

Music showed its power to stay on top of life, with audiences consuming whole performances of new unknown acts, instead of demanding the hit songs of even headline acts on the Pyramid stage. There was a return of the former spirit of a music festival, with musical curiosity drawing crowds to unknown but infectious new acts.

Legendary acts still drew crowds but couldn’t rest on their laurels. Dolly Parton enthralled audiences with not just her hit songs but witty banter of a hilarity that the younger generation may not have anticipated. Dolly gauged the audience with as much panache today as in her hey day.

Kiesza - photo by Nate Valentino
Kiesza – photo by Nate Valentino

New chart topper Kiesza put in a choreographed performance to her two hit songs Hideaway and Giant in My Heart, but also wooed people with slower covers of What is Love? and Halleluiah.

Language no barrier

Columbian band Bomba Estéreo and Belgian group Stromae showed that language was no barrier to good dance and instantly audience-grabbing pop music, by drawing in passers by with magnetic stage presence, while singing in their native languages.

Sophie Ellis Bextor challenges anyone not to dance along
Sophie Ellis Bextor challenges anyone not to dance along

Pop stars in the traditional sense with audiences predominantly being devoted fans, such as Ellie Goulding, won over new admirers. Goulding displayed what could be the “female long-haired stadium rock” – very different from the male form. Meanwhile Bryan Ferry and the Yoko Ono band rekindled the early days of Glastonbury with some 70s classics.

Flame alive

Popular female artists Caro Emerald and Lana Del Rey kept the girl power flame alive on main stages, while female led Summer Camp showed how irresistible arty pop rock is, by performing an infectious set in the musically strong William’s Green tent.

Eyes for Gertrude - hot talent according to Consequence of Sound
Eyes for Gertrude – hot talent according to Consequence of Sound

Eyes for Gertrude performed when Tony Hardy of Consequence of Sound was straying past:

“…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

East India Youth - building up to a frenzy
East India Youth – building up to a frenzy

Defrosted architecture

Architecture played its part as usual, with DJ booths in Block 9’s London Underground, NYC and Genosys, Shangri La’s Heaven and The Blues, which looked like a shantytown. As Flanders and Swann said: music is defrosted architecture.

Popular new male vocalists such as Jake Bugg and Sam Smith brought their dulcet white blues tones to the line-up.

The Sonic stage hosted the newer digital-based acts, with some filling out their sound with live instruments, and these reflected the international stage of today’s mainstream music scene. Bajofondo played strings, Bomba Estéreo brought Latino, Stromae did camp French pop and Kiesza brought her new brand of house all under one roof.

Nate Valentino catches up with MNEK
Nate Valentino catches up with MNEK

Backstage bar

Backstage bars provided a variety of entertainments, from the Seniors behind the Acoustic stage, Kangaroo Moon in the Green Room Bar and a Venezuelan DJ from Bristol called Django playing new house and garage, in the Sonic backstage bar.

Enjoying the festival as a punter for the first time was Nate Valentino who arrived with a detailed itinerary of performers to see and meet to inform his next DJ sets such as; Sasha, MNEK, Foxes, Kiesza, Bomba Estéreo, Above and Beyond, Ella Eyre and Fatboy Slim. He was won over by Dolly Parton’s command of the Pyramid stage.

Article submitted by Sophie Sweatman

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