While the telly shows you plenty of action from Glastonbury’s Pyramid, Other and John Peel stages, there’s an alternate Glastonbury that’s little known to those who haven’t been, thanks to over 75 venues of all shapes and sizes.
The Bandstand is one such micro-stage where festival-goers can be charmed by unknown acts. NME catches Nasrudin, a six-piece folk band with two guitars, a flute, a violin and a cello perform for a crowd of 12, who are holding hands and dancing around in a circle to the Arabic-influenced music.
“I’ve been walking past and stopping at stuff,” Linda from Melbourne, and second-time Glastonbury-goer says. “It’s great that this is set up here and so central.”
Though many come to Glastonbury for the headliners, the undiscovered charm of the festival is still the backbone of it. Georgia D’Arcy-Roden, at the Crooner’s Corner has set up an iPad and is singing covers such as Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’.
Catching a bit of shade while he watches, James from Manchester says, “It’s worth it because you don’t want to wait anywhere. You can just sit and listen to music while not being bothered.” Linda says, “My Friends are over at Fontaines D.C and the tent is so stifling hot. I was like, No! I’m going out.”
At the open mic underneath the Oxfam meeting place, two goths are on the stage dressed in all-black. Wearing skirts and dresses, playing the cello and singing nonsensical spoken word poetry, they’ve gathered a crowd of around 20. “It’s a comedy and music show,” Sophie from Huddersfield declares.
Acts like these or Ulysses, a four-piece guitar band reminiscent of the ’70s hard-rock groups, are the bread and butter of the festival. They reward an exploring spirit with unique experiences, and there’s always something around to see around the next corner. They’re the small, the weird, the unique, the unusual; few other festivals care to give them a platform.
And that platform is often used to convey a message. At Shangri-La’s SHITV stage in the small hours of Saturday morning, NME catches a band called Henge, whose singer has a hat with a plasma ball in it and whose bassist is dressed in a cape and alien mask. Their set, in the cramped, black-box venue, is surreal space rock imploring the people of earth to demilitarise, unite and, er, colonise space. By the end of their track ‘Demilitarise’, the whole crowd are singing along with their mantra. See you on Mars then. Or, at least, in the far-flung corners of Glastonbury 2020.