It’s Sunday morning at 1am, and Glastonbury festival-goers are making their way across the fields and into the early hours of the night, magnetised towards the fiery glow emanating from the Arcadia spider. Kids dressed in space suits, would-be dancers donning glow sticks, and campers still buzzing from Paul McCartney’s headline set, convalesce under the 50-tonne arachnid, anticipating a hit-heavy playlist from Calvin Harris, and he doesn’t disappoint.
Standing in the belly of the fire-spraying spider, the Scottish DJ launches into ‘Blame’ at the start of his ceremony, but even with this forewarning of the crowd-pleasing set to come, the congregation isn’t exactly pleased. Though the gigantic structure can be seen from the other side of Worthy Farm, Harris’ tunes are playing at such a low decibel they barely make it to fans who aren’t standing directly under its blaze.
Still, this is Glastonbury, and although there’s talk of the sound being “shite”, the high energy on the farm is palpable, and Harris’ audience is more than happy to amplify their singing and dancing to make up for any gaps in the volume.
By the time the words, “Baby this is what you came for” hit the dancers’ ears, the focus shifts from analysing sound levels to finding the best motion necessary to syncopate their hip movements to Rihanna’s voice. The set drills on, with revellers swaying to ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ and ‘One Kiss’ under green laser beams, only taking breaks to embrace one another or sing along.
Blame it on the ley lines, or the otherwordly experience of standing shoulder to shoulder with ecstatic music lovers with the stars as a backdrop, but the lovelorn dance tracks Harris is known for take on new optimistic tones under the metal spider-fueled inferno. ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ transforms from an angry inquisition to a recognition that boundless adoration is possible. The lyrics “we found love in a hopeless place” mutate from a proclamation of a sad memory into nostalgic gratitude that even dejected spaces can be fertile ground for romance.
As the night leans into the morning, it’s abundantly clear Harris’ fans aren’t listening to the optimism-laced words of ‘Feel So Close To You Right Now’, as a nightcap, but as a precursor for an all-nighter. The DJ once said he makes songs “sonically designed to make you feel fucking incredible,” and as 2am hits on Sunday morning, there’s no doubt that declaration is true.