In many ways, watching Glastonbury on TV is a lot nobler than actually going to it. You don’t pretend cognac-strength cider is tasty, no one’s going to take a picture of you in a hat shaped like the Pyramid Stage (pyramid-shaped is what I’m trying to say) and you don’t end up dancing to Extreme’s ‘Get The Funk Out’ at half three in the morning in front of a ‘wine bar’.
With that in mind, it’s time to make the most of sitting at home – and fortunately the BBC has really gone to town this year. This is the first time Glastonbury has gone truly digital. There will be live streams from the six main stages (Pyramid, Other, Park, West Holts, John Peel and BBC Introducing) all weekend and more than 250 hours of TV coverage to get your teeth into. Really, you’ll barely miss a thing. Sure, there’ll be clashes but – unlike the people there, who’ll just have to lump it – you can just record the other performance or flip between the two on your laptop like a mad tab-hopping machine.
So, here are 10 acts to look out for on the Friday.
The advantage the armchair festival-goer has over the actual camper is the chance to see Este Haim’s bassface up close. There is a spiritual oneness between Este’s cosmic gurning and every pull of the bass string that’s wonderful to behold. Quite apart from all that, Haim are shaping up to be one of the year’s true success stories and this might be where it all happens, that Glastonbury Moment that can be the springboard to a glittering career. Haim have the singles (‘Don’t Save Me’, ‘Forever’, ‘Falling’) – the album campaign starts here.
The mouth from Nottingham is currently working on his second album – or he would be if all those promising collaborators in Nashville actually came up with the goods to his satisfaction, so new stuff might be thin on the ground. Most of the music industry has felt the sharp edge of Bugg’s tongue by now, but with only one album behind him he’s still got a decent clutch of songs to back up his bravura. A touch immobile on stage, he’s developing a kind of Gallagher-esque charisma to make sure it isn’t an issue.
While not quite the slot that big sis Beyoncé enjoyed in 2011, this is still a big opportunity for the hipster Knowles sister. She’s had the whole world going crazy over her ‘True’ EP this year – well, music journalists at least – and has a full album to follow later, all with the help of Test Icicle turned Origi-Sugababes producer Dev Hynes. Anyone who caught her low-key shows earlier this year knows Solange is more Prince than Queen Bey, and a hazy afternoon in the Paisley Park will suit her just fine.
If anyone’s going to make you feel close to the party from your supine position on the sofa, it’s Dizzee. Ever since he soundtracked an afternoon scorcher at the Pyramid Stage in 2009, he’s looked like a home banker to bring the good vibes and the cider-fuelled singalongs. He was doing it again in support of The Stone Roses at Finsbury Park the other week, his new single ‘Goin’ Crazy’ providing the most literal of follow-ups to ‘Bonkers’.
As their math rock has expanded to take in stadiums (and other GCSE subjects), Foals have honed their live act – and Yannis even looks at the audience every now and then. This year’s Glasto slot sees them edging up the bill with half an eye on future headline status, and if they can keep the tunes vast like ‘Inhaler’ it might not be beyond them.
“Featuring” Nile Rodgers? Nile Rodgers is Chic. The disco pioneers obviously have enough pulling power in their stellar back catalogue to attract the punters, but this year carries an extra frisson. No one’s genuinely expecting Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel Homem de Christo to turn up in their helmets – and no one’s likely to see Pharrell Williams either – but you can bet there’ll be rumours. Anyway, it should be ample to see Rodgers handle ‘Get Lucky’ himself, as well as ‘Good Times’, ‘Le Freak’, ‘Dance Dance Dance’…
Barely out of shorts when they headlined back in 2007 – has it really been that long? – Arctic Monkeys are old hands now. It was different back then. ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ had been out a couple of months, so Alex Turner and the boys were hawking a bunch of familiar songs; this time around we’ve got the promise of their fifth album just around the corner, so as well as a typically spiky, consummate show we can probably expect a chunk of new stuff. Splendid.
Headlining the Other Stage on the Friday night, Portishead will be showcasing their new album. Only kidding. On standard career trajectory, that’ll be coming in another half a decade. No matter, with their capacious back catalogue covering three studio albums in 19 years, the West Country trip-hop progenitors have a high hit-rate of classics to draw on and should offer an intense experience. Maybe leave the glow sticks in the tent though.
Alice Glass and Ethan Kath have a formidable Glasto rep to live up to – when they played the John Peel Stage in 2008 they had the plug pulled on them. Someone took exception to Glass hurling her self into the photographer pit once or twice and clambering on top of the speakers. Health and Safety gone mad. Their own music has lost some of its hyper edge since so maybe this’ll be a calmer performance, but don’t bet on it.
Recent gigs have failed to air any of the new material we know Southend’s leading exponents of goth-hued krautpsych are working on, but you know, maybe they’re saving all that for Glastonbury. While they’ve advanced vertiginously through the phases from ‘Strange House’ to ‘Primary Colours’ to ‘Skying’ they’ve always put on a brilliant show, with Faris Badwan a literally towering, spidery presence you can’t keep your eyes off. Watch out for his ‘holding hands out straight ahead like a zombie’ dance move.