Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Views from Glastonbury

Here's someone who at the moment perhaps for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous
I received no fee for playing Glastonbury, in fact it cost me £500-600 to play. Artists' camping was an afterthought, we found a tiny patch between a swamp and a skip, and no artist showers were provided. Also we weren't fed. But Glastonbury's all about supporting music isn't it?
Average price for any hot food at all was £8. Lots of space for cars provided. Cigar smoking delegates. I'll just pay the bills with artistic acclaim huh? Was 50/50 whether I could afford the petrol back home. But Glastonbury' s so amazing, its all about supporting the artists.
Also they don't facilitate / allow you to sell your own merchandise, so you can't benefit / make a few quid on that either.
Final point, for balance..it remains to be seen if / how the band benefits from playing in front of 1800 fans. Playing Glastonbury wields currency for future opportunities, which is good. We stayed at / saw the Festival for free. I just think that the basic needs / costs of the artists should be covered, given the whole massive venture is based around us, the people who write songs and stuff.
I tapped into a huge audience and having played there will help future things, so it's worth it from that point of view. But not covering basic artists' needs is pretty disgusting
...and here's The Bug letting rip
So against all my better judgement i decided to try and convince my mcs to play two shows for nothing, twist Ninja Tune's arm into frontin tour support as a label debt, paid myself sub-zero, and desperately tried to avoid any pre-conceived thoughts of typical festival traumas....All of which effectively meant, i definitely lost money and sanity to play this year's Glastonbury Festival..
Foolish maybe, but speakin to a journalist a couple of months ago, who said a previous Techno Animal show at Glastonbury had been "absolutely inspirational" for him and the third of the crowd that didnt run for cover when me and Justin played the festival years ago...It was that conversation that spurred me to take a dive into the mud of Somerset in the hope we could alter spine's, dna's and pre-conceptions, and more importantly shake up the conservative middle ground/middle mass neutrality of the festival's line up(Sleaford Mods asides..)..Plus my agent's assistant, and all round badman Ahsan, egged me on to take a crack at a fresh audience.....So this led to me and the Bug crew to climb into the belly of a giant, robotic, mechanical spider, in the early evening sunshine on Saturday night..
And for sure, whatever the outcome of the set, it was a fantastically surreal memory, that will stay with me for life(even the split second of vertigo when the wind started swingin the gigantic arthropod many metres from the ground was a trip too...lol).. But, i cant lie, when i saw just a handful of people millin around minutes before showtime, the reality set in that we were basically just a small, fairly anonymous number on the bill, and fundamentally a support act to the incredible circus like pyrotechnics of the ARCADIA bug...For us, there was virtually no lighting, fanfares or for that matter, crowd, as i pressed play on the voice of The Spaceape. But again, massive credit to Flowdan, Manga and Miss Red, who immediately put all their energies into the set, whilst i hid behind my wall of noise...They showed again, clearly, they were commited, genuine and fired up...and they seemed to relish clambering around the junkyard beast to magnetise passers by to our racket....As a unit, im happier battlin with these three mic murderers than any previous vocal combo i have worked with live..Their disparate, yet complimentary flows, are a joy to witness and work with, and each mc is respectively a ninja at their chosen flow/lyrical weapon, and even better, they seem as hungry as me to get medieval on the masses..And although, naturally we would of preferred to play to thousands who came out after dark,instead of hundreds, it was still mad vibesy seein more and more people coming to congregate around the droid and brucking out proper at the feet of the insane monster. And having just read this tweet alone, it justified the madness of the decision, day and setting : "Dan Harris @danielharris627 3h3 hours ago
@thebugzoo You were fucking incredible on Arcadia, one of the best sets i've ever seen. "
But if Saturday avoided many of the pitfalls of festivals..(hell we even managed a tiny soundcheck in the spider...haha)...Sunday was a different story...Firstly a small car incapable of seatin all of us had been sent to pick us up from the hotel, so Flowdan/Manga had to be left at the hotel, as me, Miss Red and our soundmaster Goh, drove hastily to the site and WOW tent for set up...
I got to the tent as Four Tet was playin, tryin to set up my shit in pitch black conditions, waiting for bits of gear, concrete and foam to be found, watchin the clock tick closer to showtime....When George Fitzgerald steps up to follow Kieran, the crowd clears considerably, and im side stage in the darkness wonderin why the hell the bookers would put him and us back to back in this tent as his fairly generic house set, amplifies my doubts, and seems planets away from my intentions artistically...
Surrounded by Dan Dirt's sick sound system, and his rig's great crew, i hoped we could sort some decent quality of sound out, despite knowin there would be no soundcheck at all, and the organizers had allocated literally zero time for a changeover(Fine if u show up with a USB stick, but not if u are armed with bags full of hardware toys like mine),that scared me, as did the fact the organizers had not been even able to find a vehicle to go pick up Flowdan/Manga at the hotel until very late in the day, so late in fact, that the organizers informed me "we're not sure we can get your mcs here in time for your set, but we'll try our best."..Zzzzzzz
Bearing in mind we had left them at 6.30, and it was 10, the irony of the slow reaction wasnt lost on me, but my nerves were registerin seismic tremors that didnt allow panic on any one problem, just general stress meltdown on all fronts hahaha...When the roll deep masters literally rolled up 5 minutes before start time, i breathed a hefty sigh of relief, which was soon lost, as the sound guys couldnt manage to set up any monitoring for me.. Havin taken 15 minutes to sort the monitorin, and reposition the stage set ups, i ask the stage manager if were still good for the hour, to which he says "definitely not, you have to finish at 11 as stated in our programme.."...Ho hum, and FUCK, down to 45 minutes and thinkin fast how to re-arrange the set, whilst noticing the tent is now virtually empty...Ah festival stylee...here we go again...
So music kicks in, hideously distorted at high or low levels in the monitors, zero vocals can be heard in my monitors, and later i find out Manga and Flowdan couldnt hear any of their voice in their monitors either...The dirt crew tried their best to salvage the situation, but soundchecks are as useful for the sound guys as the artists, and virtually impossible at festivals unless yr Pharrell etc...SO the choice was get fucked off, head butt a monitor, walk offstage or grin and bare it, hopin the energy of the tracks still manages to translate over the front of house speakers...Luckily i chose the last option...and with Flowdan in demonic form, the tent filling up fast, and then Manga and Miss Red firing out their verses, the shortened set, adrenalin od and sonic friction led to a mad atmosphere on and offstage as the tent went mentalist...Apologies we couldnt play longer, but MAJOR props to the wicked crowd who helped us ignore the bullshit and concentrate on bringin the fire....We had went from an empty tent to a full one, and again Flowdan, Manga and Miss Red had made me proud to share the stage with em, as they achieved energy god status..So the end result was that which counted....A fucka that the organizers had arranged our pick up 30 minutes after we finished tho, so i had to pack up my gear in record time, and then miss Mumdance/Novelist and Mode Selektor sets....
Ridin in the van back to Bristol, the inevitable post weekend post mortem occurs..The 5 of us, discuss Glastonbury festival proper. ie 1/ Officially £225 a tkt, conservatively 198,000 people on site, plus revenue from food/drink stalls. Who gets the cash ? we knew we didnt..lol ..2/ Lionel Richie drew the biggest crowd of the weekend(Zzzzzzzz), why ? 3/ None of our mates would want to or could afford to buy tickets,who comes to this sort of festival ? 4/ We only had time to see one show(Kanye) over the two days due to setting up/breaking down gear and organizers issuing us with our itinery/timetable etc etc etc.....
BUT more importantly, and satisfyingly we agreed we had come to Glasto as an experiment to see what the unsuspecting would make of our attack, and we had collectively enjoyed giving it our best shot, and seein people reacting with ENERGY.
All in all, playin four festival shows in four days, had proved to us that random festival crowds are def open to our sonic/lyrical avalanche, and the crowds responses at all the festivals had been absolutely fantastic, so therefore fuck the problems !!!...Glastonbury, we got paid in minus figures, got treated like numbers, got fed shit, and had time to see nothing. BUT still VERY glad we did it..The battle continues...
PS Sorry for the book
PPS Still waitin for those BBC cameramen to arrive..LOL

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