Has Glastonbury found a new groove?

By Steve Jenner on 01 July 2009

There was something different about Glastonbury this year and I've been trying to put my finger on it since I first arrived on-site.

It was a good thing, an intangible thing and (at the risk of sounding like I left my wizard's hat in the Sacred Space) the only way I can describe it is that it seemed to have a freer flow of energy - a release - to it, like a river surging through a newly unclogged dam. 

Everything just felt more relaxed, uninhibited and lighthearted - easy - from the performances to the general friendliness of the crowds and working staff - whilst the operation ran like clockwork, a finely tuned machine. Every band started bang on time, it was easy to move around the site, you could get a phone signal, queues were low at bars and loos, the drainage was much improved and the site recovery after Friday's wet weather was military. It feels wrong saying it but the organisation actually felt slick - and that was new.

Whereas the old Glastonbury always felt like some lumbering, chaotic monster let out of its cage for a few rampant days - a collision of intense energies flying about in all directions - 2009's event was a well-trained animal with its yin and yang perfectly balanced to create a cohesive spirit across the board that everyone could tune into at the same, or close enough, frequency (I found my wizard's hat in my laptop case).

It was as if the festival had been put through some kind of magical filter that let the good bits through and sivved out the darker elements. This may have reduced the spikes of intensity on the really good bits (was it me or did the Healing Field seem a bit more Covent Garden than Tibet this year?), but it meant that everything was more consistently positive, culminating in an overall more upbeat atmosphere.

Perhaps it was all just down to the sunshine which we all know does make all the difference. Or maybe Glastonbury really has entered a new cycle of its existence - rejuvenated with a lighter, bouncier spring in its step (ready for the great new recession-fuelled creative movement that already seems to be stirring up the music scene).

Either way, it does still need a lot of toilet training.

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