The age-old saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ has rarely been more true than it was over the cold, blowy and often rainy weekend of this year’s Glastonbudget.
The New Bands stage succumbed to the high winds, shifting its performance programme to the indoors New Bands Marquee (which in turn downsized to a large tent in the campsite area which would otherwise have been used only for after-hours open mic acoustics and the Sunday morning church service).
Last year, in driving rain and temperatures barely above zero, plucky local teenagers and hardier new bands alike played to a sparsely populated field while the majority of the clientele made the most of Pink Fraud et al on the larger Tribute Bands Stage next door. This year, the non-tributers were handed a massive advantage: you might not have heard of them, but they were indoors, where it was dry and warm(er). Suddenly, not even the greatest hits of The Beatles sounded as appealing.
With three indoor venues to choose from – The New Bands Marquee, the new bands in the Acoustic Tent, and the ‘Charny Arny’ tent featuring more leftfield acts championed by Charnwood Arts Project, there was always going to be something to take your fancy. And, as in previous years, the more we expanded our musical horizons, the more we were shown that doing so was well worth the effort.
From the amazing Echolocation – a spoken word and lightshow extravaganza that recalled Mike Skinner fallen through a timewarp and landing in the UFO Club forearmed with the knowledge of 21st century club graphics and a desire to get Andy Warhol in to help – to Ska-amanga, who had the entire tent dance/exercising with ska-anetics (like Calisthenics but with more saxophone), the acts on offer ranged from the genuinely innovative to the plain good fun.
Young local bands such as pop punk Busted-alikes Neon Sarcastic and the exuberantly energetic Capture The Flag, who came across as an underage Pete Doherty/Gallows hybrid both made the most of large audiences to prove they deserve to be playing further afield sooner rather than later. Coventry-based Deride, already well-known around the Midlands and with their eyes set on the national pie, proved they have the professionalism and the stage presence to make it.
With the real Bad Manners this year’s token non-tribute band festival closers, there was a definite ska/2 Tone influence in the air, and while many of the bands have a more likely career ahead of them in corporate party entertainment, cruise ships and holiday camps than on MTV, on a wet bank holiday Monday they deserved as much opportunity to showcase their talents and raise crowd morale as anyone. Gambo’s Blues Band proved to be our pick of the bunch.
There was also a palpable sense of local pride, in the music on offer and the festival itself. The bands loved the chance to play a festival, to learn the ropes and to dream of where it might take them. The locals in the audience were pleased that ‘their’ festival is growing, and that music fans from all over the country come to see ‘their’ bands. For atmosphere alone, there are few festivals that come close.
Of course, out on the main stage, the tribute bands were as good as ever. The Fillers were a particular highlight, sounding better than the real thing at the real Glastonbury last year despite no more welcoming ‘atmospheric conditions’, perennial Glastonbudget favourites Ded Hot Chili Peppers were fantastic Friday night headliners, Maybe Winehouse looked like a cleaner, better fed version and Mercury were as excellent as ever… and so it went on. It was just the case that this year, we didn’t need them.
So. Glastonbudget. Another year over, and the festival is going from strength to strength. You can’t help but feel that by continuing to focus the media attention on the likes of Oasish and Guns2Roses, while offering up excellent new music and value for money entertainment at every turn, it might come down to word of mouth alone to spread Glastonbudget’s charms beyond the local area. Next year, make sure you give it a chance. In the meantime, at least make sure you check out Echolocation and Capture The Flag on Myspace.
Glastonbudget 2008 @ Turnpost Farm, Leicestershire