For NEWSWEEK: To play the Glastonbury Festival is to participate in a piece of musical history that has been going on since 1970, just a year after Woodstock set the worldwide stage for popular music. The annual event is still largely considered hallowed ground, not just for British music but for musicians and fans worldwide: a 2003 performance helped the Flaming Lips, who had been plugging away for 20 years, achieve global recognition; after rumors of sluggish ticket sales and trash talk from Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Jay-Z opened his 2008 set, guitar in hand, playing a version of Oasis’s “Wonderwall”—and subsequently became the first hip-hop artist to perform on the festival’s signature Pyramid Stage.
Although it was canceled in 2012 due mostly to a shortage of portable toilets, which were needed for the London Olympics, at least 135,000 people are expected to flock to the concert this year, and gate-crashers have in the past bumped up attendance. Set on more than 900 acres of rolling hills at Worthy Farm in South West England’s rural Somerset county, Glastonbury has expanded to showcase comedy, theater, dance, and other arts and activism. For £205 plus a booking fee, fans can listen to nearly 200 acts that range from household names like the Rolling Stones to new acts such as Jake Bugg and Rita Ora. All 250 hours of the festival, which runs from June 26 through 30, will be streamed live online and broadcast on TV by the BBC for those who can’t be there for what is expected to be a particularly wet and muddy year.
The full story, with a list of five choice bands to look out for, is at NEWSWEEK.
Photo courtesy of lauramvula.com