This is the year that metal and hardcore came to Worthy Farm - brace yourselves
Glastonbury; land of easy-going flower children, ‘free hugs’ signs and early morning yoga workshops. The kind of place, you would imagine, where folk yelling, growling and generally being aggro would not be best welcome. Well this year’s arrival of a stage booked by legendary Nottingham metal label Earache Records has blown that theory out of the water.
Situated in the Shangri-La field in a disused Victoria line tube carriage, the Earache Express is a hotbed of all things heavy and hard. A sign behind the bar states the house rules; ‘Don’t be a dick’, ‘No glitter’, ‘No hippies’ and ‘If you don’t like the music, fuck off’. A Sex Pistol (Glen Matlock), is on the bill, as is Crass co-founder Steve Ignorant and Ho99o9, the most exciting thing to come out of New Jersey since The Sopranos.
Wearing a wedding dress and straitjacket, the duo leap out of the carriage like they’ve been stuck in the rush hour crush for the last week, before leaping into the crowd and attacking their debut album ‘United States of Horror’ head on. A circlepit forms on the small grassy patch just under the tube door. There is much crowdsurfing, impressive considering the tiny size of the area. I tentatively remove my earrings in case someone accidentally rips my earlobe off. It is hot, sweaty and criminally good. But best to not replicate this on your commute home anytime soon.
But it doesn’t end there. Across the field, on the much larger Truth stage, Earache have also been allowed to book a couple of bands. Their choices? The current incarnation of OG California punks Dead Kennedys and grindcore heroes – and mates of Ed Milliband – Napalm Death.
Playing to a massive crowd made up of dedicated followers and inquisitve first-timers, Napalm Death’s full-throttle Thursday night set is loud, intense and very, very angry. “By the way, if you’re not following, lyric sheets can be obtained,” jokes frontman Barney Greenway of his incomprehensible vocal stylings.
Inbetween tracks though, he’s much more understandable – he rallies against slave wages, slave labour, GMO crops and borders, makes right-on statements about women being in control of their own bodies and slams slum landlords, a statement that seems particularly pertinent right now. Strangely, for a band who formed well over 30 years ago, they might just be the most relevant thing on the bill. “Everyone deserves a life of dignity and happiness,” he muses before a searing cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’.
“Thanks for sticking around, I know to the untrained ear it’s quite an oppressive noise,” says Greenway, as a man in a Chabuddy G shirt crowdsurfs over the barrier for a third man. “We wish you a terribly pleasant evening, you’ve been very kind.” Metal at Glastonbury then, not just a long time coming, but also wonderfully polite with it.
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Napalm Death photos: Gobinder Jhitta