May 2010: a festival year in review

Marina And the Diamonds at Leeds Festival 2010 by Shirlaine Forrest
Marina And the Diamonds at Leeds Festival 2010 by Shirlaine Forrest

We continue our retrospective on a great year of festivals in 2010 with a look at the month of May. It seems so long ago now...were we ever that young?

Before we get down to business, let’s take a quick look at some of the other news from those 31 days. The big news, of course, was critically revered and universally-loved Jedward’s recording of a Shake ‘n’ Vac advert to celebrate 30 years since that woman danced around her living room. The short-sightedness of releasing the song on a free download meant the bitter injustice of their (c)rap version of the classic jingle failing to brutally assault the charts and that lies heavy on our hearts, but who said life was fair? The other main story was the general election, which saw the nation ConDemed to five years of coalition rule, but let’s not insult the memory of Jedward by banging on about that.

Right, on with the festivals…

The Drums
The Drums' very own Colonel Mustard.

Camden Crawl 2010 kicked off the month with its sprawling festival, giving miserable May a boot up the backside with an atmosphere described by VF’s Luke Warren as “constantly buzzing” with a “friendly, feel good vibe”. The Blues Kitchen, as compact and noisy as a newborn, hosted hype-engorged New Yorkers The Drums, who lived up to the praise with an energetic set of post-punk that left those inside in a daze and those stuck outside in a malaise. Elsewhere, Lightspeed Champion delighted the heaving Electric Ballroom, The Sunshine Underground drove the Black Cap into a frenzy and Plan B had a mixed evening showcasing his plan B: singing most of his way through an album of retro soul seasoned with hip hop.

Things hot up at Glastonbury's Arcadia Spectacular.

In a saturated festival market within an economy in rough seas, it’s not uncommon for some festivals to drown. One of the most prominent losses this year came in early May when Glade Festival 2010 was cancelled. At the time, the rising of cost of policing was among the reasons behind the event being pulled, which prompted Joseph Taylor to look at how rising police costs are throttling smaller festivals. Just before the announcement, we also spoke to organiser Nick Ladd – along with Pip Rush of Arcadia Spectacular – about creating alternative worlds at festivals. Here’s hoping that the festival can be rekindled at a later date – hopefully in a more forgiving economical climate.

Now back to the festivals that are alive and well. Jamie Skey checked out All Tomorrow’s Parties, which he said, “quite simply, should be tried by everyone at least once.” ATP runs four times a year and has guest curators from the world of leftfield entertainment and this May it was the turn of indie act Pavement, who arranged a line-up that included themselves (naturally), Calexico, Broken Social Scene, Boris and The Fall, amongst others. Between acts, many ATPers made the most of the resort, jumping in the wave pool, playing in the amusement arcade and going to the cinema.

The Great Escape
Many revellers make The Great Escape to Brighton seafront.

Tom Goodwyn made The Great Escape when he travelled down to Brighton for the best in new music from up-and-coming, underground and more established acts. The event is usually a good indication of who’ll make a splash at the summer festivals; acts like Delphic, Chapel Club, The Futureheads, Marina and the Diamonds and Rolo Tomassi made a big impression this time round. Similar to Camden Crawl, this festival spreads across Brighton in various venues, whilst guerrilla acts pop-up and play shows anywhere they can.

Liverpool Sound City 2010
received 10/10 from VF’s Stephen Greenwood, supporting its position as one of the most important emerging festivals. Just three years old, it had 35 stages running over its four days, offering up some of the globe’s most exciting talent like The Sunshine Underground, The Phenomenal Handicap Band, Mickey 9s and Christine Owman. As well as praising the variety and close proximity of the venues, Stephen found Liverpool had much more to offer: history, culture… Oompa-Loompa coloured women. Even if you’re a southerner who gets a nosebleed past the South Mimms services, it looks like it is well worth checking out.

Things went from back to worse for Bono as U2 pulled out of Glastonbury.

As May neared its end, the big news on the scene was a headline cancellation and their replacement. U2 pulled out of Glastonbury Festival 2010, set for its fortieth year, to be replaced by Gorillaz; both stories brought mixed reactions, much like the initial inclusion of U2. As one devilishly talented writer (that’d be me) put it in a VF blog, “a phonic phenomenon, which I can best describe as what a pig mating with a foghorn might sound like, rumbled in the ether as festival-goers collectively groaned or cheered in equal numbers.” It fits the reactions to the subsequent stories, too, although Gorillaz’s inclusion did seem to garner more favourable responses. Rumours of possible collaborations teased the Glasto faithful: Snoop Dogg seemed an obvious one; Mos Def looked likely, too; what about Shaun Ryder? There was a month to wait until all would be revealed…

Obviously Glastonbury was set to go ahead with or without U2, hence why we choose their single of the same name at the top of this article. Enjoy.

Read the upcoming VF review of June to see how Glastonbury and the rest of the month went down. Please be advised: the World Cup may be mentioned, so England supporters of a sensitive disposition should beware.

Click here to look back on June in festival review.

Click here for our retrospective of April and March.