Glastonbury 2017 is finally upon us and with so much going on around you can take it one of two ways: either go where the wind takes you and be surprised at every turn, or be hyper-organised and see some great stuff without wondering around in circles.
We like a bit of both so we’ve picked out a few sets that we can’t miss, whilst also allowing time to absorb the festival spirit. For Gigwise the festival spirit is mostly contained in the fields closest to the stone circle as it's a relief from the crush around the main stages. We spend time doing some wood carving, making bread, or getting the mud off at a solar powered sauna - it's this lifestyle arm of Glastonbury that does make it truly stand apart from other festivals.
But we don't relax properly in these other activities if we’ve not seen some great live sets. And picking them right is so important. Here’s who we who we advise you to definitely catch, and we doubt you'll feel even a hint of disappointment walking away after seeing these truly phenomenal acts:
The new Heavenly signees are one of the best live bands we’ve seen in years and bring a bit of disco house with some deadpan humour, stunning synchronised dances and a routine sharing of champagne among the crowd. The last time we caught them was down at The Social in London and Andrew Weatherall and Heavenly boss Jeff Barrett were among those invigorated by their LCD Soundsystem meets B-52s sound. It’s great to have some silliness on stage that makes a welcome antithesis to the boregaze bands that they started out in in Brisbane before being engulfed by the Melbourne party crowd. These are the band of the summer.
Boy Better Know
BBK will top the other stage whilst Sheeran is a few hundred yards around the corner on the Pyramid stage and sorry Ed, but the opportunity to see Grime collective BBK – consisting of Skepta, JME, Wiley and more – is too much to pass.. The energy that will be seen here, as the genre's best MC's take it in turns to come centre stage, is going to be immense – and the audience will feel extra special thanks to the appreciation that will be give towards the their collectives influence in earning labour the youth vote. With this in mind expect heavy mosh pits flailing arms and general ecstasy all around. Perhaps even Corbyn will poke his head out?
We caught Badbadnotgood for the first time in Sonar 2016 and they were in our top three of the whole weekend alongside New Order and Laurent Garnier. They’re a band that sound great on record as their album IV - that features the likes of Anderson, Paak and Colin Stetson - can testify. But they reach a whole other level live thanks to extraordinary individual talent and a collective ambition to push the boundaries of hip hop and jazz and combine t in an intoxicating sonic cocktail all their own. It’s solely instrumental sounds are best paired with a pint of cider in the sun – this is the perfect festival band for the 21st century.
With new album Gargoyle, Lanegan is continuing on the electro blues path that he started going down with Blues Funeral in 2012. His love of Joy Division is shining out brighter than ever and using instrumentals created by Rob Marshall, who adores the work of Martin Hannett – famed for producing Unknown Pleasures – helps this. Lyrically, the imagery draws a lot on biblical visions of hell and he draws stunningly imaginative pictures in your mind as he sings in his undeniably powerful husk. Expect to be blown away by material from this and throughout his amazing back catalogue that goes as far as the late 80s with Screaming Trees.
Foo Fighters do have plenty of singles to jump about in a field to but they’re also far heavier live than you’d expect if you’ve never seen them before. Grohl’s youth spent listening to the likes of Bad Brains and Motorhead hasn’t gone amiss and with their new single ‘Run’ showcasing the most hell-raising side. Expect an onslaught of heavy metal riffs alongside some sweet melodies that will make you feel euphoric under the humid night sky in the Somerset valley. ‘Everlong’, especially, will be a song to remember as it’s up there with the top rock cuts of the last 20 years.
Paranoid London are DJ’s who only play from vinyl to get the most out of their analog sounding electronic drum beats and experimental synth patterns, and ominious bass - expect to feel the bass right in your chest as you digest electronic music of fine audiophile clarity. They also use a vocalist live and work with a few. Our favourite they’ve recorded with does an ace monologue on ‘Eating Glue. It's NYC’s Mutado Pintado, aka the lead singer in Fat Whites' side proejct Warmduscher, and acclaimed solo artist in his own right. Check it out below.
The success of Dave’s first EP has been staggering. Even before Drake came along and remixed his track ‘Wanna Know’ he was racking up a viral number of views thanks to his raw talent. Now co-signed by Drake, the Streatham-based 19-year-old has released more new music; the most recent he teaming up with SG Lewis for his latest single ‘100Ms’. The cut has a very London sound; high BPM’s, street slang, and heavy basslines and is catchy as hell. Dave is easily England’s most exciting new rapper and he’ll be on the big stages next year so see him on a relatively intimate place now.
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips’ Glastonbury sets have become the very stuff of legend, and rightly so. From the New Bands stage in 2000, the Pyramid Stage in 2003 and the Other Stage in 2010, Oklahoma’s finest have delivered sets of such mind-melting wonder that they remain indelibly stamped on the brain. This year’s Friday night headlining slot on the Park Stage should prove no different. Coupled with the fact that this is the stage with the best views, few bands put as much work into the visual aspect of their set as The Flaming Lips do. This is going to be one to savour.
Radiohead’s 1997 set is spoken of in such hushed and revered tones that those who where there can allow themselves a smile that suggests both smugness and a degree of wryness. Smugness because this was a genuine tipping point for the band and pop culture at the moment the Britpop party was turning sour, and wryness because the utterly awful weather conditions of ankle-deep mud and rain made the set feel more like an endurance test. With the re-release of OK Computer, Radiohead will doubtless be mindful of the anniversary of their groundbreaking set and will deliver a show for the ages.
Thanks to Saturday Night Fever’s enduring soundtrack, it perhaps becomes a little too easy to overlook the contribution made the Bee Gees. Barry Gibb is the last surviving member of the band – brother Maurice and Robin passed away in 2003 and 2012 respectively – and he’ll be bringing with him some of the most incredible songs ever written from a time period that covers every decade from the 1960s to the present day. Their songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Faith No More, Tom Jones and many others. You’ll be surprised by how much of this stuff you’ll know.
And now for something completely different. Japanese expats Bo Ningen have been bringing the noise to festivals all over Europe and frankly, we can’t think of a better way of kicking your Friday at Glastonbury. Mixing head-swimming psychedelia with a brutal, guitar onslaught and some of the most colourful and breathtaking kimonos you’re ever likely to see, Bo Ningen are a complete package that ticks a whole variety of audio and visual boxes. Moreover, they’re just the kind of kick tart that you’ll be needing after the excesses of Thursday night – and don’t try to kid us that you’ll be having a quiet one in by the campfire.
As evidenced by stunning sets at the Green Man festival in Wales and the OFF festival in Poland and plenty more besides, Mali’s Songhoy Blues have got this festival thing sown up. Described as “desert blues”, their music is both energetic and utterly infectious. This isn’t a band that stands around and looks at its shoes because those feet are moving too fast for the eye to catch them. Indeed, this is music that’s made for Saturday night and with their appearance set to coincide with the moment that the sun begins to contemplate resting its weary head, this is the official start to Saturday night.
Given The Moonlandingz propensity for um, extracurricular activity and that they’re scheduled for an early afternoon appearance at the Park Stage, this one could go either way. That said, we’re pretty confident that The Moonlandingz – the self-professed semi-fictional outsider Ouija pop group featuring members of Fat White Family and Eccentronic Research Council – are going to deliver the goods. And what goods they are – a healthy blast of psychedelic pop, metronomic Krautrock beats and squelchy electronica all add to a whole heap of Glastonbury fare that’s a whole lot more nutritious than those cold noodles from last night that you’re thinking of having for breakfast.
British Sea Power
No strangers to the Vale of Avalon, Brighton’s British Sea Power know exactly what’s needed on a Saturday afternoon. This is going to be some pretty rousing stuff so we certainly recommend you get psyched up for this one. What makes British Sea Power such a wonderful prospect is that this is a band infused with humanity with a capacity for a unique sense of eccentricity that’s in all too short supply these days. Factor in a desire for a good time all the time, you’re well advised to bring something big and colourful to swing around when they inevitably play ‘Waving Flags’. It’s a festival moment waiting to happen.
South London socialists with a penchant for theatrical punk rock in the vein of Fat Whites, it makes complete sense why they’ll be playing on the Leftield stage, blasting the door down for more new bands to come along with politically riled mindset. Shame benefit from having been mentored by Elastica’s Paul Jones over the past few years, and their guitar sounds are incredible whilst their frontman is a genuine nutter - and that's thrilling to watch. Expect a big turnout for these; the band who received more festival bookings than any other new band in Europe after blowing away booking agents at industry showcase festival Eurosonic in January.
Rex Orange County
The Surrey-born teen has made quick progress since releasing lo-fi bedroom produced songs inspired by Frank Ocean and Thundercat. He’s been tipped by Tyler, The Creator, Badbadnotgood and in one of only a handful of live dates he’s done every major label has showed up. Most recently he released his debut album Apricot Princess, digitally, which is a tip toe into the mainstream as he’s held back massive collaborations. But once those names come along, and a major label album release happens he won’t be the under the radar artist he is now. Get to see him live early on.
Praised as a worthy successor to Leonard Cohen by The Guardian, it’s easy to see why they’d shower him with such praise; his voice is beautiful. The South London musician doesn’t just rely on the seductive power of his croon and stunning production work by Maccabees' Hugo White - The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones, though. He has something meaningful to say. The best place to start with him is ‘As The World Caves In’, the crushingly romantic and sinisterly evocative ode to Theresa May and Donald Trump making love after triggering the nuclear apocalypse.