From when we started in the Indie music scene, getting to play at Glastonbury has always been one of those closet dreams that you openly wished happened, and secretly envied all the acts that did get to play there. And that, inspite of so many acts playing there every year!
When we got the call to play at Glastonbury, and not just at any stage, but the super cool ‘John Peel Stage’, we were overjoyed. But our management in the UK did not have enough, they used that as leverage and booked us for 4 other stage performances, one audio recording and 2 TV appearances / interviews and a whole load of press and people to meet! This way, we knew for a fact that there was no boredom ever entering our minds throughout the fest.
We arrived on site by 4PM and it took us over an hour to get all our access sorted out and passes for everything and then, by the time we were done with finding our instruments and clothes a safe haven, we were asked to load stage equipment into the Glastonbury van and then walk to the venue.
The continuous rain over the entire week meant that the site was filled with sticky mud sludge, which regulars said was commonplace, but for us, was nothing like we had ever seen before. Imagine this – 200,000 people, with about 75% of them camping on site, all in their wellies, on a HUGE field that is filled with sludge. No really, imagine that. That is Glastonbury when you first step there.
For a first time visitor, it turns out, Glastonbury is as confusing as it is big, and the funny part was, no one on site seemed to know where the stage we were playing our first show was at. To cut a long story short, while all of us were running helter skelter trying to find the venue, and Gary, our tour manager trying to get our equipment to the stage Raghu was already at stage (since he arrived on site the preivous day) and had to do the show solo because we couldn’t get our equipment to the stage on time
But that running around meant that we knew every single nook and corner of the festival site and on the first night, a few of us stayed back to watch U2, while the rest of us went off site, to a dorm that we found at the last minute to crash! If you haven’t been camping before, like us, then I don’t think Glastonbury is the best place for a first time, especially if its raining!
By the next morning, we thanked our stars for choosing the dorm and headed back to the site, ready to take on a really busy day! At 9AM, the Glastonbury festival site looks like it is the set of ‘Braveheart’ – like a 100,000 soldiers just went to sleep after battle! But we had a major battle ahead – getting to our venue on time
Our first job was to record at the ‘Cowshed Studio‘ for the Cowshed Compilation album that was going to be auctioned as a limited release of a 100 box sets to raise money for charity. We did our brand new version of Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo with Bhaskar on the violin ripping it! The ‘Cowshed Studio’ was the one dry, non-muddy, quiet corner of Glastonbury and was equipped with such fancy equipment, that it was a pleasure recording there!
Following that, we just did a quick hop skip and jump to the Croissant Neuf, the solar powered tent for our show in the evening. A relaxing break and we were on stage to a sizeable crowd, and started belting our set out, when suddenly, the PA goes blank at the end of ‘Mysore se Aayi’. A short break where we engage the crowd with whatever we can, and the power comes back, and it was smooth sailing from there on.
We had finished early on Saturday and it was time to go check out the rest of the festival including Coldplay, who were headlining the Pyramid stage.
Sunday morning was the big one, our show on the ‘John Peels Stage’, our TV recording for BBC 2, and then our last set at Glastonbury at the Leftfield stage. We were at the venue well ahead of time, some of us even got massages before we were ready to go on stage, and then the moment arrived, it was time to go play on what I think is the most prestigious stage we have played on in a while.
An entire Indian indie contingent was waiting in the flanks watching us and we began on a fantastic note. But as luck would have it, half way through the first song, and in what feels like DejaVu now, the PA goes blank, and not just that, there is a massive power failure on stage and everything goes blank a second later. This certainly doesn’t happen too often at Glastonbury, so the engineers go running around to quickly bring things back to order. And after what seems like eternity, we are back!
The rest of the set went through in a daze, it was quite overwhelming to be playing there and the fantastic audience that we had at noon on a Sunday, like Vijay Nair mentions, 20 who turned into 2000 at the end of it, had a big part to play in tiding us over.
Right after our set at the John Peels Stage, it was time for Raghu, Bhaskar and Vijay to head to the BBC studio that was set up on site for a video recording, and only when they reached there and were about to start, were they told that it was going live to all of the BBC’s viewers in the UK, just a couple of million people, no pressure! But they were stunning and going by the tweets we saw after that, it made a huge impact, inspite of Raghu wearing his Kurta inside out on National TV!
For those of you in the UK – watch the song at 9 mins on this video on iPlayer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b012bs4z/Glastonbury_2011_Paul_Simon
The last set of the night was at Billy Bragg’s Leftfield stage where I think we had our best set of the night. It was a perfect set, the energy, the vibe, the sound, it was all perfect! and it did help that we did not blow any fuses :p
The perfect was to end what was a fantastic festival. Our first time at Glastonbury and I don’t know how to not ramble on and on about how fantastic it was. From the brilliant artists we met to the experience itself. Nothing I say will come close to describing how cool it was, you have to have to go experience it for yourself.
Also check out some of the fantastic press coverage we got, to be mentioned in a festival review that had over 200 artists performing is quite something! – Caspar Llewelyn from the Guardian | The Independent | Adam Sloan