Circa Waves kick off Glastonbury perfectly with a ferocious secret set

Circle pits, brave feats and fiery riffs kicked off the weekend on William's Green

At Glastonbury, there’s no such thing as easing yourself in gently – especially not when Circa Waves are around. It’s now tradition for William’s Green to kick things off on Thursdays with two bands playing secret sets and the indie juggernauts are the first surprise to hit the festival this year.

It turns out the Liverpool four-piece are basically the perfect way to start your festival. They’re unrelentingly boisterous, setting the tone for an energetic weekend, their songs constantly lifting their set from one peak to the next. The tent is already rammed to the seams long before the band take the stage and it erupts as they make their way up the ramp and into the bright lights. The searing riff of ‘Wake Up’ immediately jolts the tent into a giddy mass, its thundering drums escalating the atmosphere to urgent levels of dance-your-heart-out-or-get-out-of-the-way.

After a buoyant ‘Fossils’, frontman Kieran Shudall pauses breathlessly to address the stacks of people crammed under the red canvas. The long, loud blast of noise that comes in response makes it clear these are no casual observers, but fans eager to get an early, intimate glimpse of one of Friday’s big draws.


‘Stuck In My Teeth”s jagged melodies gently pumps things up to the anthemic chorus, before Shudall indulges in a bit of crowd orchestration. “Bigger!” he yells at the audience, motioning at them to form as sizeable a circle pit as possible. Everyone dutifully follows his orders, spreading far and wide until ‘Goodbye”s rumbling rock riffs cut in in dramatic fashion.

In what feels like mere minutes after Circa Waves began their ferocious onslaught, things come to a close. As a parting shot, they leave the crowd with one last treat. Drummer Colin Jones nimbly clambers up and along the lighting rig before hopping down onto a dangerously swaying amp below. Seconds later, the rest of the band launch into ‘T-Shirt Weather’, wrapping up their blistering performance with three minutes of arms-aloft indie-pop joy. If the rest of the weekend’s bands are this fun, we’re in for a vintage Glastonbury.