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Festival season 2010: half time analysis


United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Jamie Skey | 16 July 2010

So far, this season has been a scorcher. There has been plenty to talk about Download's change in tactics to Glastonbury's undeniable strength in unrelenting heat. Elsewhere, there have been sturdy, reliable performances by some of Britain's most promising stars. Forget Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson, here's our expert half-time analysis of the summer's talking points.  

Glastonbury: Who'd have thought it? Five days of searing heat for the 40-year-old titan. The weather conditions were wholly unprecedented, conditions alien to manager Eavis and his team. Some punters were carted off with heat related illnesses, but it didn't stop the explosion of magic and drama that we have all come to love. And without a shadow of doubt they put on their best showing in a trophy-filled 40-year career, packed as it was with breathtaking shows by world-class acts.

Secret guest appearances in the shape of Thom Yorke and Biffy Clyro were mind-blowing and pulled in the biggest crowds The Park has ever seen. Muse opened proceedings on the main stage with an effortless performance of epic proportions. At half-time Gorillaz brought on a host of substitutes to invigorate their ranks with Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and Shaun Ryder all bringing their own styles to the table. But on Sunday it was a champion performance by soul legend Stevie Wonder that sealed the deal to an unforgettable weekend.

From the carnival atmosphere to the blissed-out healing fields, the heavy weight names to the rising stars, and the sublime to the ridiculous, Glastonbury continues to improve with age and will be here to stay for the next ten years at least.

Download: This season's Download outing was also highly significant. Not only was it the 30th anniversary of heavy music at Donington, but was a celebration of the lives of industry heroes including Ronnie James Dio, Pete Steel and Paul Gray.  You'd think there would've been a sombre, melancholy air in the camp, yet there wasn't. The mood was decidedly upbeat. The event, the loudest and dirtiest in Britain, kicked off with all its guns blazing and barely relented all weekend.

In the past, Download has been known for its lacklustre management. 2008's sloppy organisation and nonsensical layout was frustrating and left hardly any space to manoeuvre about the pitch. However, this year's compact, easily navigable site ensured a great atmosphere, and its further tactical changes -Glastonbury style cafés and a wider variety of food stalls - were welcome too.

With their own platform and barmy on-stage antics, ageing Aussie rockers AC/DC pulled off one hell of a set on Friday night. The remaining headliners, Californian agitprop stalwarts Rage Against the Machine and the flamboyant Aerosmith, weighed in with stunning exhibitions as well. Moreover, it was a marvel to see Steve Tyler out of rehab and at the height of his game again.

All Tomorrow's Parties:
For reliability, All Tomorrow's Parties is second to none. One can always trust it to showcase cutting edge line-ups, pull in discerning, up-for-it crowds, and above all, reverberate with overwhelming atmosphere. And May's Pavement-curated event was no exception. It came into its own in the golden, late spring sunlight and proved that the beautiful festival game can be played just as skilfully indoors as it is on grass.  

ATP genuinely has style and flair of its own. It's starting formation, always picked by the headlining act, is guaranteed to include talent rarely witnessed on Britain's shores. Highly influential indie darlings Pavement haven't played here since 1999 and Mark E. Smith's The Fall are hardly a prolific live act. There are always international superstars adding nuance and dynamism to the team too. This year it was Japan's Boris and Syrian folk-rave legend Omar Souleyman that gave their Western counterparts a run for their money.

But the weekend was, like every ATP weekend, about the fans. They are intense, obsessed and very vocal. They make ATP what it is.

Sunrise Celebration:
Sunrise is a minnow compared to heavyweights like Glasto, Reading and T in the Park. Nevertheless, its modest size and pure dedication to the grass roots is its greatest strength. Its team is small and dedicated and the prevailing atmosphere is warm and family friendly. A joy to behold, Sunrise's presentation is easy-going and laid back. And one never knows what to expect over the weekend: that's precisely what we love most.

The festival strives to be more than just a display of live music: it aims to be educational and a place to connect with nature. In the healing area, the ‘mainstream’ therapies of reiki, massage and herbal remedy mingle with more esoteric treatments such as matrix re-imprinting and Mayan galactic signature. Certainly not the typical fare one is used to, but it’s an empowering experience nonetheless.  

Sunrise has already built a name for its self and in the next few years it will look to expand its squad and reach a wider audience.

Overall it’s has been an exciting season, let’s hope the rest of the festivals can cope as well with the heat as we go back to our commentators for the remainder of the season, Virtual Festivals…

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