I'm leaving Saam to write a more comprehensive festival review (much like I did for Glastonbury 2010) but I've compiled a few of my Glastonbury 2011 highlights - namely the "secret" Radiohead and Pulp sets, as well as the bizarre Rabbit Hole experience.
Following on from Thom and Jonny’s secret show on the Park Stage last year, Radiohead performed at the same location on Friday, though this year it was better publicised, having been leaked onto the internet earlier that day. The crowd stretched a long way up the hill, but somehow I managed to get about 8 or so rows from the front.
I’ve since read a number of reviews decrying the group for not playing a greatest hits set, and whilst I can understand that the subtleties of the new album might have been lost on people too far away from the small stage to hear properly, I don’t think there was anyone who was really expecting much else apart from the latest album. So it was actually a great treat to additionally hear tracks from 'In Rainbows', as well as a couple of earlier ones, 'I Might Be Wrong', and 'Street Spirit'.
After a slightly inauspicious start when they messed up the start of the opening track, fears that it might be some sort of open rehearsal were dispelled, and the whole thing flowed enjoyably and all had a good time, or so it seemed to me near the front. But maybe it might be better if next time they play a stage that befits their popularity, so everyone can see and hear.
The same can be said for Saturday’s performance by Pulp, which was also exceedingly busy. But by getting there over an hour before, I once again managed secure a good spot right near the front. Pulp’s set was undoubtedly one of the weekend’s highlights for me with Jarvis Cocker’s long, yet extremely entertaining ramblings between songs betraying his recent forays into radio presenting.
Scattered with poignant moments, you realised the group’s sincere affections for the festival, yet by playing nothing but the hits, the atmosphere remained euphoric, with mass sing-alongs and the sun finally shining. Jarvis even threw sweets and frisbees into the crowd. A ‘Glastonbury Moment?’ If anything's deserves to be called that, it was this.
After seeing Radiohead, then a phenomenal set by Caribou (who incidentally have just remixed a Radiohead track - listen below), none of the headliners really appealed to me, particularly as I would have had to trek through the mud and the rain to get there from The Park. So my friends and I decided to visit the mysterious Rabbit Hole.
We saw a sign informing us that we could not enter without a carrot and that they were only available from the booth outside. We went outside. The booth was unmanned. We asked a security guard about when we might be able to enter. He looked confused. And cold. And wet. But mainly confused, and he told us he had no idea and that every now and then he received a signal ‘from over there’, at which point he gestured over his shoulder to what seemed like nothing in particular.
A little later some people dressed as rabbits arrived at the booth. Whilst we waited to speak to them people ahead of us in the queue were posed nonsense questions masquerading as riddles. "How many carrots can you fit inside a glass bowl?" When I arrived at the front I wasn’t sure whether the man dressed as a rabbit was in character. He made some non-revealing small talk. I tentatively tried to get into the spirit of things, asking him if he’d been kept in the rabbit hole all day. He hadn’t. He’d gone and seen stuff at Glastonbury, like the human he was. He granted us some carrots.
We then had to queue up again, whilst being entertained by Alice in Wonderland. Eventually the bemused security man received his signal, and we advanced, before being greeted by the Mad Hatter or someone like that. He asked us a few questions to check we had imaginations, and luckily we gave satisfactory answers. Then we had to crawl through a tunnel for a while and when we got out some people cheered and high fived us and we were in a club with a light up dance floor. Much merriment ensued.
When we wanted to leave, some more people dressed as rabbits told us to go through a flap in the bottom of a painting of a never-ending staircase, and we did and then there was another tunnel and when we got out of that there was a 20 seat cinema showing a documentary about break-dancing with German subtitles and we watched that and then left through another tunnel marked ‘exit’ - only to find we were back in the club again.
Eventually we found the real exit, and although it was sad to leave the rabbit hole, we were still in Glastonbury, so everything was okay.
STREAM: Little By Little (Caribou RMX) by Radiohead
Head to Glastonburyfestivals.co.uk for more details on the festival, which returns in 2013.