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Glasto: Lineup vs Lifestyle

03 November 2005

In the first of our online 'Field Debates' discussions we asked you to help explain the mystery behind our survey results that gave Glastonbury's lineup a surprisingly low rating...

More than 1,000 Glasto-goers surveyed after this year's event gave ALL the following aspects of the festival a higher rating than the Lineup of bands - Atmosphere, Food & Drink, Organisation, Camping Culture, Site Layout. Glastonbury's lineup also fared below every other major festival surveyed in terms of its Lineup rating. See full story.

We asked 'why?' and before long a lively debate had been generated on the offical message boards (see here) with dozens of Glasto goers throwing in their ten pence as to why the festival might have scored lower than expected on its lineup rating.

Perhaps the strongest conclusion drawn was the fact that Glastonbury is much bigger and more important than the bands it attracts.

One message boarder King Mob acknowledged that several other major festivals, including T In The Park and Reading, have outdown Glasto on lineup in recent years, but made the point that the Worthy Farm weekend is not exclusively a 'music festival'. He said: "Glastonbury isn't about the music, I've known people at the festival to not see any bands on the main stages over the weekend, so there's people there who see the line-up as not being too important."

Prue agreed, pointing out that many other festivals rely heavily on their lineup to sell out, whereas Glastonbury offers a lot more. She said: "The really special festivals create a whole space that is so much more than just the music. Why else are an increasingly large number of people arriving at Glasto early to savour being there for two days before the music starts? It's a place to be excited by the unexpected and unfamiliar, not just to hear your favourite bands."

Glastonbury is more a holiday than a music festival according to SecurityBoy. He observed: "Although the music is what it was originally based on it has now mushroomed (no pun intended) and grown into something far bigger."

And BOB2oo9 pointed out that the event consistently sells out before the lineup is announced, the only UK festival that does so and proof that fans are buying tickets for the festival itself and not to see certain bands. 

SquishyBG continued this theme, arguing: "So the main motivator is going to be the atmosphere and the culture at the festival. Those who place high importance on which acts are headlining are unlikely to go to Glastonbury in favour of Reading, V, TitP, etc where they know who they'll be seeing before they spend what is quite a lot of money on a ticket."

While many of the message boarders are Glasto veterans, one festival first timer Sammi agreed, describing the lineup as "just one aspect of the bigger picture" while barrenfluffit would like to see less popular, more obscure bands on the bill.

dorlomin agreed, saying the festival should give up trying to attract massive bands for its own sake. He reckons: "If the organisers wish for the festival to merely become another mass media event with a memory of a quirky, hippy past as a unique brand image, as hippy as a Walkabout bar is Australian, then its slowly heading that way in a hurry and is in danger of consuming itself. But if they wish to continue to add to the cultural community of Britain then they most likely need to step away from simply trying to offer the biggest line up they can."

So it appears that despite getting a low rating for its lineup, Glastonbury shouldn't worry one bit - in fact, according to those involved in this debate, it could even afford to cut back a bit. As anyone who has been will know, the festival truly is much more about NME tipped bands and celebrity spotting, its magic lies in the peripheral areas of the site, not in front of the Pyramid Stage.

But Glastonbury has an image, a reputation and a passion for great music to uphold. It consistently puts on great bands for those who want to see great bands. After all, you'd probably be quite upset if you paid 120 and queued on the phone for two hours only to endure the sound of the Yeovil Brass Band drifting across the site all weekend.

An interesting idea that has gathered a lot of support on the message boards is for organisers to keep the lineup a secret until people buy their programmes on entry - now that's a thought...    

But the final word must go to gearstick, who so perfectly sums up what Glastonbury Festival is all about: "For a week a city springs from the fields with one intention, to have as much fun as possible. It's a place where people really feel safe to let themselves go and enjoy the company of complete strangers in a way i just don't think is easy away from the site, and i hate to use this word...its vibe. Then all the people go back to their lives - but the festival is still in them."

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Want to get involved? Sign up to the boards here, give yourself a weird name, and get chatting! 

Log on here every Wednesday to discuss all things festivaly in 'Field Debates'.

- Click here to discuss this on the Festival Forums!
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