Every pop sensation has a real moment at Glastonbury in their rise. Lady Gaga’s came in 2009 when she smashed it on the Other Stage, then compounded the hype with a late-night showing down in the South East corner. Adele’s was a finger-pickin’ acoustic set on a sofa in 2007, a moment she’d refer to when she returned to headline the Pyramid a decade later. As Glastonbury 2019 comes to a close, it’s clear Billie Eilish just had her first Glastonbury moment.
Her 2019 has been staggering. When we first met her at the start of the year, she was still a bit of an underdog. The kids had flocked to her, but the mainstream wasn’t quite ready to join the cult. It took a run of sell-out shows here in the UK and the release of her debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ to get the attention of the rest of the nation. ‘Bad Guy’ has since become a bona fide-hit (and meme), and she’s now become a relatable icon to Gen Z’s stars of the future.
This year has been so big, that Emily Eavis was forced to bump Billie Eilish up the bill for her Sunday showing on the Other Stage. There’s an argument to be made that she could have leap-frogged the rest of the bill and headline Glastonbury’s second stage entirely: she’s that popular.
But this spot works just as well for her. Entering the Other Stage to a screeching-soundtrack and visual set straight from a horror-film, the crowd go bananas for the rising star – every time she prowls the stage, the lucky side scream back. Opening song ‘Bad Guy’ is a thumping pop belter which has the crowd bouncing-around – including those forced to watch from the bogs at the back – and the curious parents who’ve swung by are just as involved as their thoroughly embarrassed kids.
Her stage presence is more animated than usual and gees up the crowd for big drops – despite the sound issues that she says explains her “angry face” throughout. She need not worry, it sounds superb from where we are. Particularly, ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’ a destructive and affirmation of her current reign over pop music right now. ‘Copycat’ throws down the gauntlet to all the pretenders and phonies: “Copycat trying to cop my manner/Watch your back when you can’t watch mine”.
Billie has long been a live-force to reckon with. Even at her first ever shows in the UK at London’s Courtyard Theatre a couple years back – which she remembers fondly halfway through this set – she’s been a captivating performer for songs both loud and quiet. She lays flat on the stage for the twinkling ‘When I’m Older’ and for ‘Ocean Eyes’, she wants people to live in the moment: “Hold your phones down and look at me in the eye. We’ll never be in this moment ever again.”. Her ballads are just as impressive, too. ‘Wish You Were Gay’ is simply majestic and the swooning ‘Xanny’ is as addictive as they come.
In a matter of months, she’s transitioned from Instagram icon to pop sensation – and this almost certainly won’t be her last time at the festival. From what we’ve just witnessed, there’s every chance that she lands the top spot on the Pyramid eventually. “It’s like the whole world is looking at me right now,” she says mid-set, both excited and wistful. It’s hard to imagine anyone turning away from this spectacle now.