The Popularity Of Glastonbury’s Electronic Stages Proves Underground Music Is On The Rise
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Glastonbury is truly an all-encompassing festival.
From Kylie dominating the Pyramid stage with a magnificent array of shimmering outfits to Keane’s emotional reunion after a six year hiatus, to the dark, energetic sounds of HAAi at Genosys when the sun went down, the festival covered every genre and provided a space to explore music in all its dimensions.
Initially, I was a little overwhelmed by the festival. Whilst I was able to waltz in on Thursday with my tent already set up and no queue, my luck seemed to run out with dense crowds and burning temperatures transgressing 30 degrees – making it the hottest Glastonbury on record. Every stage on Thursday was flooded with people, trying to watch Jayda G at Wow was impossible due to my short height and tightly packed crowds and while Gully Blues was a masterpiece to look at – a shanty town contained within the festival – I could barely hear as I desperately tried to listen to Laurence Guy (as Mall Grab pointed out they really needed to turn up their sound). Additionally, throughout the festival NYC Downlow and The Stonebridge Bar continuously boasted impressive queues, which I decided not to join, there was plenty of other areas to discover.
However, it was later on when people started to spread out that the festival really started for me with Paranoid London taking over the Wow stage in their usual captivating fashion. Mutado Pintado donned his cowboy hat and sunglasses, muttering nonsensical phrases over lines of booty shaking acid and jacking Chicago basslines absolutely dominating and captivating the dancefloor in its brilliant absurdity.
This year Block 9 tripled in size in the South Eastern corner, indicating the ever increasing popularity of the electronic stages and allowing the erection of the IICON stage, where legend Larry Heard’s deep house loomed out of a giant sideways face in a live set with the fantastic Fatima and Paul Cut. Next door, the dark stuttering beats of Randomer’s faced paced techno rung out from Genosys which rose at least 60ft high and was made up of greenhouse cages and visual effects.
The electronic music wasn’t restricted purely to this area however, it covered the whole festival with the Greenpeace Stage hosting the likes of Crazy P and Norman J, while The Beat Hotel carried the grooving beats of Palms Trax through the air of a BnB which even had its own bed.
Interestingly, for me it was Glastonbury’s second biggest stage which seemed to encompass the spirit of electronic music. Watching The Chemical Brother’s set on The Other Stage seemed to be a part of history I’ll never forget. While they toe the line between the mainstream and underground – demonstrated by their continuous placement on Glastonbury’s major stages with more than five performances across both the pyramid and The Other Stage – they never fail to be innovative. And what is the underground if not original?
The careful interweaving of their visuals and their music was precisely this and actually seemed to be highly political. Messages of freedom unified their narrative, with the images conveying a much deeper meaning than that that could be portrayed purely through music. Figures desperately tried to escape their own prisons, ropes bound whole bodies, strings controlled human’s movements and boxes surrounded frantic, crazed figures amiss squelching melodies, energetic percussion, euphoric effects and sonic zaps.
Yet, for a moment we did all feel free. Abstract shapes and objects flew by, colourful creations shimmered in and out of our eyes, lasers beamed straight into our brains and marshmallow creatures grooved autonomously whilst the crowd lit off flares left, right and centre.
And indeed even watching it back gave me goosebumps and nearly made my sister cry who only witnessed it on TV. To think I was part of a crowd that was able to lose control and revel in the hedonistic nature of music is quite sensational.
It’s this that made Glastonbury unique from other festivals, the sheer volume of crowds united as one, no matter what genre.
That’s really what Glastonbury’s all about.