We need to talk about Glastonbury, and Kanye, and the media.

I should probably have called this ‘We need to talk about something’, such is the achingly slow nature of music news. For reals. What is ‘news’ if not literally new knowledge, and yet look at music journalism; all you’ll find is ‘this new band is making an album/video’ or ‘top 100…’ lists. That’s all. It’s quite sad really. I made the mistake of reading a bit of Q magazine the other day and my heart sank; why exactly do I need to know which album changed Luke from the Kooks‘ life? For that matter why do I need to know anybody’s? If an album moves me so much that my world view changes then either everyone would know (as I’d scream it from the rafters like a diseased prophet) or I’d keep it personal. We’ve really gone lost this concept of ‘the personal’, haven’t we. Shame. Still, regardless of that not, everybody has a Damascene moment and Q is making us out to be fools should we think differently. As much as artists bluster to the contrary; the music press (and by extension the public at large) dislike people who think differently. They don’t like the boat being rocked (unless it is uniquely marketable) and get very angry if you try. So we sit and lap up the empty words they tell us and follow the trends they set and get interested in things that don’t really matter because they have the monopoly and they have power. Lots of power and nothing to say. How deathly dull. Of course the flip side of that is that there are people like me with no power and everything to say so lets all run with this freedom and rock this boat like there’s no tomorrow!

       mmm, nothing like a bit of 'counter-culture' in the morning

I don’t like Glastonbury. I don’t mean the place (which being in the West Country is likely gorgeous) or (surprisingly) the festival itself which is sound. I just don’t like the collective dream of what Glastonbury has become. Every year around this time the press begin working us up into a lather about who will be headlining the main stage and every year it is same. It’s never news. Just variations on ‘[insert name] headlining! [insert social group] disagree!’. Case in point; Kanye on the Saturday and the minor backlash that followed. I really can’t believe we’re going through this again after Jay Z in 2008. Actually, I can; because we are kept fickle by journalism and our embers of unease are often fanned into these collective flames of stupidity. It sells more papers. Kanye headlining will be really cool and proof that the festival itself is not to blame (and, if anything, commended). Yet still we dream that Glastonbury is this pocket of utopian joy left over from the 60s where we can pretend we’re free spirits and not machines and be all peaceful and love each other. A dream thrust at us from all angles. The BBC push the rustic love-in by reporting from bivouacs and having delightful acoustic sessions by forgettable artists as the sun sets. The magazines slipping into primary colours and counting down as if the festival is all there is of life. Even your friends will be going and peer pressure tells you that forking over hundreds of pounds for a secret lineup will be some kind of transcendent experience. I find so, so tiring.

                        and not in a good way

The thing is that it shouldn’t be like this; Glastonbury could be perfection if we didn’t hype it into some mythical-Arthurian-druidic-commune and saw it as it really is; a very successful modern music festival with crafts on the side. We should go because we like festivals as a whole and not one in particular. Or even better; don’t feel like we have to go at all. Or even EVEN better; try not to fall into the same trap as I did and refuse to have an opinion on it. Because it doesn’t matter. None of it matters and to give it special significance over everything else is going to blind you to the sheer variety of options out there. I don’t care about Kanye because I have no reason to. It’s just a festival, it’s not life. That said, were they to get Bowie; well that’d be a whole different kettle of fish.


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