Glade Festival 2007

The rains came but Glade kept going

Daniel Fahey - 23 July 2007

Just as I set off to leave for the first day of Glade, a months worth of rain hammers down in just two hours.  The festival site in Berkshire is just one of the many areas with a severe flood warning for the weekend.  With posts on internet messageboards reporting that the event was flooded and organisers were not allowing people onto the site I decide to do what every festival goer would do in this time of crisis – get very drunk in the pub and leave early the next day.

So with a heavy hangover and blackening crowds I begin the journey down from London.  The closer I get to the site the worse the scenes become.  As the train pulls in near Reading station water has flooded halfway up bus shelters and is rapidly turning fields into lakes.  A quick hair of the dog in Reading whilst waiting for my next train allows me the chance to knock away my headache and buy a kag in a bag.

Anoraked up, I board my next train to watch the watery devastation worsen as Aldermaston train station approaches.  I decide to get off the train here because the station I actually need, Thatcham, was closed the day before due to the floods.  Things start to go wrong when I find out it’s a two mile walk to the festival site, just as the rain bullets down at the beginning of the hike. 

I can hear the humming of Glade’s music from around a mile away sounding like a boy racer playing garage through excessively loud speakers.  Then the wind changes direction dragging the bass drone away and the rain down harder.

Luckily, a fellow Glade goer notices how soaked I am (so much for the kag in the bag!) and offers me a lift up to the site.  The grass has already turned brown and straw has been laid down to prevent cars getting stuck in the mud.  I pitch up my tent, fill my pockets with beers and get into the arena to start dancing.

The first thing that strikes you is how small Glade festival is.  The majority of the tents are lined along the bottom of the valley allowing you to catch drifts of sounds from around three stages at once.  The second thing is that some of the stages have been cancelled due to excessive flooding, with the Overkill Tent the worse affected.

After a short walk around the site to get my bearings I go to check out the end of up and coming German electro Gods Digitalism on the Glade Stage.  The crowd and I are drawn closer to their beats mainly to dance but secretly a few are just sheltering from the rain. 

Meat Katie steps up to the stage to play a selection of breaks, techno and electronica.  The London DJ’s set is very well received until he decides to play a remix of 2000 chart hit 'Operation Blade (Bass In The Place London…)' by Public Domain.  With that drilling out about as welcome as a migraine I head to the Breaksday Stage to catch the end of Eddie Temple Morris’ set. The XFM DJ gets the crowd rocking as he plays a selection of addictive breaks and uses his MC to good effect. 

Then Drum Monkeys take to the stage to stomp out a strong set across the very muddy tent.  The DJ lays down some funky breaks with dubby basslines while a female MC sporadically sings over the top when she feels like it.  She’s probably not used enough, especially as a lot of his tracks are instrumentals.

After seeing three dance acts in a row I head to the ID Spiral chill out tent.  The soothing sounds of Nick Interchill and Tipper make the chill out area very soothing.  A pole dancer twists and turns in front of the DJs in the tent, which looks a bit like a spider’s web, but she isn’t the only reason I spend the next hour or so there. The bars at Glade seem to have more staff then they do customers and it’s very easy to get a drink, whereas the queues to use one of the 24 onsite water taps are also very popular destinations.

Water escaping from the taps added to the torrential downpour accumulates into the almost endless amount of water which tears down the valley to create a series of muddy stagnant ponds by the stages at the foot of the hill.  Ironically, as the festival shares its name with an air freshener, the sitting water and mud really smells and is only covered slightly by the incest candles burning from the nearby market.

As I move over to the Liquid Stage with the lure of a DJ playing Fatboy Slim’s 'Star 69', I notice the thick mud has claimed a band’s van and I’m dragged in to help push it out.  After helping to push our van out at Glastonbury, I’m aware that the most important thing is to stay on my feet. Unfortunately the steward who helps as well doesn’t have this nugget of golden information and falls face first into the mud.  It’s going to be a very cold couple of days for him especially as the rain starts again.

Walking back to the Breakday Stage I notice even the Inflatable Church has run out of puff.  The last time I came past I saw a bride in a wedding dress getting ready to get married and now the deflated church is cordoned off by industrial tape as it sinks into the mud. Feeling rather deflated myself I grab another vodka and orange and made my way up to the Breaksday tent where I plan to stay for the next few acts.  Wading across the site I have to avoid a naked gentleman who's painted bronze as he tries to cuddle passers by.

The Breaksday Stage is now packed for the ultimate run up to the best in breaks. Plump DJs deliver an awesome set of Behemoth basslines and squelching sounds, but yet again that may have been the dancing wellies in mud. Adam Freeland and Ali B play as Saturday turns into Sunday morning but the party is still looking far from over. Then the breakbeat boss Krafty Kuts takes to the stage at 2.45am to produce a show full of phat beats and well known remixes. 

Exhausted, I saunter back to my tent at around 3.30am to try to get some sleep before Sunday.  As I unzip the front and the rain starts to get harder, I notice its already beaten me to bed.  Somehow my little two-man is flooded with water so I throw off my wellies, lay down my sleeping bag and try and catch a bit of sleep in my kag in a bag.

I can still hear the party rattling on way past my bedtime and it seems to go on all night, leaving me shattered when the sun boils me out of the tent at around 10.30 Sunday morning.  I head to the Oxfam tent for a lovely fry-up before hitting the bar again and braving the quagmire to see Beatnik’s set wake up the sleepers and keep up those who haven’t managed to sleep yet.  His psychedelic trance tunes blow away any cobwebs that may’ve settled in overnight.

The Bays hit the Glade Stage to perform a superb live set.  For a band that don’t rehearse and don't have a set list, let alone have any 'songs', they make an incredible connection with the crowd which sees some very happy ravers.  They just play together, much like an ad-hoc jazz band but more 21st century, and bring the festival back to live after a late night.  Certainly a must see act if you ever get the chance.

Then it’s all over for me.  I’m knackered, wet, cold and still drunk so I decide to ram all my soaking bits back into my bag and like Dick Whittingham head to London, just in search of a shower and bed rather than any gold.  I jump onto the packed shuttle bus back to the reopened Thatcham to endure the long train home with my three day hangover setting in before getting to sleep.

Glade is a truly welcoming festival full of very happy people and some brilliant cutting edge electronic music.  It was more about meeting new friends and dancing to top DJs than the weather, but the rain played a huge part.  The site began as an area of outstanding beauty but once the tents have been moved and the organisers are off-site, Mother Nature is going to have to buy one giant Glade plug-in to stop the stench.


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