Friday, December 19, 2014

the top 10 albums, singles, gigs and comedians of 2014 + end of year awards

Here are the Top 10 albums, singles, gigs and comedians of the year, as well as awards for the film, exhibition and articles of the year. Maybe I could call these awards 'The Muldoons'? Thoughts welcome. As with previous years, an act can only appear in the top 10 albums list, or the top 10 singles list, not both.

A couple of weeks ago I also put up my annual review of the year mixtape, and it was such a great year, the shortest I could make it was double the length of the previous years! You can listen/subscribe to it on Spotify here or on Youtube here.

Top 10 Albums of the Year

1. The War on Drugs - Lost in The Dream
2. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
3. Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters - Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar
4. Damien Rice - My Favorite Faded Fantasy
5. The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
6. FKA Twigs - LP1
7. Caribou - Our Love
8. Kiasmos - Kiasmos
9. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
10. SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

Top 10 Songs of the Year

1. Sia - Chandelier
2. Tourist ft. Lianne La Havas - Patterns
3. Jenny Lewis - Just One of the Guys
4. Lowell - The Bells
5. Ed Sheeran - Sing
6. Elbow - My Sad Captains
7. Duke Dumont - I Got U (ft. Jax Jones)
8. Bonobo - Flashlight
9. Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting on You)
10. Royal Blood - Little Monster

Top 10 Gigs of the Year:

1. Prince, Koko
2. Pharrell, Wireless
3. Mogwai, Glastonbury
4. Prince, the Roundhouse
5. Nine Inch Nails, The O2
6. Robert Plant, Roundhouse
7. Olafur Arnalds, Roundhouse
8. Nas: Illmatic in full, Lovebox
9. Prom 57: Mahler - Symphony No. 2, 'Resurrection', Royal Albert Hall
10. Dolly Parton, Glastonbury

Top 10 Comedy shows of the Year

1. Alex Horne: Monsieur Butterfly
2. James Acaster: Recognise
3. Daniel Kitson: Captain Bang Bang's Magic Castle, The Hob
4. Sara Pascoe: Sara Pascoe vs History
5. Mark Watson: Flaws
6. Pappy's
7. Bec Hill
8. Red Bastard
9. McNeil and Pamphilon Go 8-bit
10. Cupcakes with Colebook & Khoshsokhan

Film of the Year: Pride
Exhibition of the Year: Exhibit B (yes, that one that protestors prevented from opening in London)
Article of the Year: Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone, by Rutger Bregman (there's also a short version available here)
The Onion Award for Best Onion Article About US Gun Policy: ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens' - The Onion

Fans of ye olden day music can also reminisce about my top 10 albums from 2013, 2012, 20112010, 20092008 and 2007, as well as my top 10 singles from 2013, 2012, 20112010, 200920082007 and 2006. Maybe when I hit 10 years of singles countdowns I'll do a top 10 countdown of the last 10 years. Treat the blog on our anniversary.

Monday, December 01, 2014

zane lowe, coldplay and bbc 6 music: has the festive countdown been ruined forever?

There are some that suggest that the magic of awards season has fallen away somewhat in our modern world. Are they right? Let's examine the issue via Relentless energy drink's (just the 50.6g of sugar and 160mgs of caffeine per can, folks!) lead brand ambassador Zane Lowe, who has - for the third year running - mined his BBC Radio 1 show's longstanding 'Hottest Record in the World Right Now' feature to create a 100 strong list that this week will be placed in order, from the least greatest, to the most greatestest.

Nobody of sound mind could contest that it needs to fall to somebody around here to work out what the greatest song of 2014 is. This is no superficial matter, dear reader. What could be more vital than finding out whether Sam Smith or Bastille represent the greater pop high of 2014? But more on that thorny issue later. Such countdowns are quite the en vogue thing at the BBC lately. You'll surely instantly recall that last year, to celebrate their first decade on air, BBC 6 Music compiled '6 Music's Greatest Hits', inviting Joey Public to vote for the 100 best songs released over that same 10 year span.

As one could perhaps expect, fans of the participating acts were keen to see their favourite songs do well, and so piled in to cast their ballots. Soon after, seeing an opportunity to deftly spin publicity from such good-hearted public service broadcasting, plucky acts realised they could use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to ask their fans to vote, possibly helping push them higher up the all important final league table.
Amongst said plucky upstart bands experimenting in these bold new promotional frontiers were London four piece Coldplay, who scraped together what votes they could from their 13 million Twitter followers and 38 million Facebook fans, in the process narrowly managing to nudge victory in the poll in their favour.
It might dismay you to learn that there were dissenting fringe voices within music journalism that had the temerity to suggest that Clocks by Coldplay isn't the greatest song of the last decade. Of course, such comical views will hold no weight here. They may even have suggested that Clocks by Coldplay isn't even the best Coldplay song of the last ten years, hotly contested race we all know that to be. Well if you manage to find traces of any of these voices then post their Twitter handles in the comments so we can all online bully the fuck out of them. We, of course, will stand together in our respect for the honourable decision of the ballot box.
So perhaps it can actually be true that Lowe's poll this week will come down to whoever has the most fawning and gullible 'active' fanbase? In search of evidence, there's actually a fun game to be played in counting up the likes and retweets in order to get a good idea of what the top five will be. So *drum roll* here comes Drowned in Sound's possibly exclusive (!!) unveiling of the top five: 1. Coldplay (they'll obviously win, with their ample 32,637 likes, 1,357 retweets and 3,137 favourites) 2. The 1975 (11,081 likes, 1,228 retweets, 2,826 favourites) 3. Sam Smith (12,503 likes, 392 retweets, 1,280 favourites) 4. Ed Sheeran (a paltry 1,427 likes, but a solid 1,266 retweets and 3,680 favourites)  and 5. Bastille (4.300 likes, 307 retweets, 870 likes). Memo to Sheeran's social media team: raise your Facebook game.
Anybody choosing to suggest that this marshalling of fanbases may be ever so slightly turning the process into something other than a noble quest to determine the year's best song may at least be able to spare a thought for the management of Kasabian, who've only had 60 retweets so far for their 'Eez-eh' campaign, somewhat raising the possibility that even Kasabian's loyal fanbase have come to recognise it as 2014's worst song. It's an even more dire set of circumstances meanwhile at The Horrors battle HQ, who've managed to enlist just 13 retweets. Special mention must also be given to the social media interns representing Team Disclosure (12 retweets) and Team Metronomy (9 retweets) for not being sufficiently versed with Twitter to yet know that if you tweet your promotional message as a direct reply to @zanelowe, rather than as a publicly viewable message, none of your fanbase are going to see it. It's certainly not a mistake you'd catch Team Slipknot (246 retweets) making.
Congratulations then to Coldplay, whose prize is a valuable little moment of #Q4 publicity. Chris Martin will say something simultaneously lightly amusing and self deprecating, and will also be sure to mention how Coldplay have the absolute best fans in the world. All of the online voting commotion clearly points to the true purpose of our modern festive countdown: no night time radio show could ever hope to engage this many potential listeners by just sitting around and drawing up their own top 10 songs of the year list. There's a radio show to promote, and albums to sell before Christmas. Campaigning awards are here to stay. As the final winner is revealed on Thursday, we should celebrate the infallible methods these countdowns have of determining once and for all the greatest song of the year.

Monday, July 07, 2014

i saw kanye and pharrell at wireless festival, kanye went on a big rant and it was pretty awful

Have to say, I couldn't have been happier with our Friday evening plans in London town: off to Finsbury Park in glittery North London we were to go, to enjoy a spot of Kanye West and Pharrell Williams of an evening. Let's spare you the finer details and indulge in heartfelt emotional reaction for now.
Of Pharrell, let's say this much: beforehand we were reeling off a list of five tracks it would be jaw-on-floor deliriously excited to have included in the setlist, and every one of them was - plus two neither of us dared dream might be included.
We were also profoundly moved by Pharrell's thoughtful and impassioned speech that called upon the ladies of the audience to rise up and make 2014 the year of female empowerment. Pharrell! You hero! Come on board! What a key cog in the flourishing fourth wave of feminism you'll be! Like we said, we were genuinely moved by Pharrell's sermon, and didn't feel it remotely undermined 15 minutes later by the performance of one of his big hit songs of 2013, where he and his pals famously sing their wholehearted tribute to consent and the No More Page 3 campaign: Blurred Lines.

At least we can rely on Kanye West for a consistent viewpoint on gender politics though, right gang? (Sample Yeezus lyrics: "hurry up with my damn massage/hurry up with my damn ménage/get the Porsche out the damn garage")
Anybody that's familiar with Kanye's live show will be aware that he's become partial to an occasional rant or two. Tonight's is much longer than I'd previously witnessed. A fair estimate, avoiding all temptation to exaggerate, would put this at a 15 minute long tirade. A harsh critic might suggest that this was something of a drop in pace from the rest of his set, but it's okay Kanye! We understand! I get nervous and ramble when I have to do public speaking too! During a strict Catholic upbringing, I was in a school play re-enacting Jesus's crucifixion, and formed part of a mob that had to repeatedly chant “crucify him!”. I had gotten quite into the role, but had not heard the previous instruction to only chant said phrase three times, meaning my young self chanted “crucify him!” at the top of his enthusiastic voice, on his own, to his entire hysterical school. I've gotten nervous about public speaking ever since that day, but I've learnt some tips I feel I can pass on to Kanye whenever he too gets all 'angsty' in front of a crowd: if you want to hold their attention, make your point in two minutes, not fifteen! You'll still have people's attention then! They'll totally get on board with your 'vibe'!
One doesn't doubt that there's truth in Kanye's claims that he's felt discrimination from the fashion industry, but by the end of the 15 minute rant, nobody was listening anyway. Amongst the many, many heckles audible from the crowd came calls such as "move it on, bitch!" and "I seriously don't know how he's going to come back from this". He partly does; he knows most of his fans would rather stick around and hear tracks like Through The Wire, All of The Lights, and All Falls Down than go home early, but tonight still represents perhaps the worst a Kanye show can be without actually turning the whole thing into a KLF-esque experiment in actively trying to ruin as many people's nights as possible.

Elsewhere, fond memories remain of Kanye stopping 'the Good Life' halfway through to insist that whoever controls the feeds to the giant videoscreens that flank the stage not cut between different camera angles – God forbid they might try and give the impression of a dynamic live experience – because the camera angle which is head on with Kanye is Kanye's favourite camera angle. For our money, we delighted in the revelation that Kanye evidently insists on having monitors in his eye-line on stage at all times so he can constantly watch how the audience is seeing him perform on stage. The realisation was of great comfort to us on our two hour commute to Old Street.
I am therefore happy to recommend Pharrell for all future festival headliner engagements. Kanye has begun the final stage of transformation into the celebrity he's going to be – his Axl Rose phase, if you will. And like Axl, he'll perhaps be better off in the long run if we don't continue to give him our attention and money year after year, tour after tour. And with that, we're off to listen to She Wants to Move again.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

burning man 2013: The drowned in sound review

I've been feeling pretty ready for my big trip to Burning Man. We're driving thorough the Nevada desert (perfect soundtrack discovered: the Chromatics album), and I'm wowing my recently introduced campmates with some piece of Burning Man knowledge I've previously picked up. 'I'll be honest with you guys, I've already been doing a lot of reading up about this music festival', I say, allowing a smug smile to briefly dart across my face.

'Well, don't call it a music festival, for a start', snaps back the reply.

As is often quoted, 'Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind', but allow me to attempt the basics: Burning Man is a truly vast arts and community festival, a seven day experiment in radical self-reliance held on a swelteringly hot ancient lake bed in the Nevada desert.

Burning Man, or 'home', as regulars warmly refer to it, sits far apart from the rest of the US's festival scene, so amongst many attendees there's a reluctance to even call the event a festival. Europeans, however, are much more likely to find familiarity is the diverse range of art, entertainment, talks and quirky side attractions that make up Burning Man, so let's call the event what it is: a festival.

There is much to separate it from its major festival stablemates, however. Firstly, I'm not an attendee at this festival, I'm a participant. Our 13-strong group has put together the theme camp Barechested Baristas, and every afternoon we are barechested - men and women, alas - serving our delicious iced coffees to the Burning Man masses.

Significantly, all this delightful caffeine is offered free of charge. No money is permitted at Burning Man, the festival instead employing what it calls a gifting economy. It takes me a while to not get this confused with an exchange economy. In an exchange economy, I give you a delicious iced coffee (you gain something), but you give me an item or money in exchange (you lose something). It's a win-lose scenario. In a gift economy, I give you iced coffee (you gain something), and I feel a really warm glow in my heart for doing so (I gain something). It's a win-win scenario. Replicating this across seven days, and 70,000 people means you've got an awful lot of winning going on, and across the festival site people tend to exist within a permanent bubble of happiness. Certainly, long time 'Burners' I talk to throughout the week say they started enjoying the festival exponentially more once they became participants. An incomprehensible thing about Burning Man is the people who will spend all year, and significant portions of their income, on, say, the art car they're bringing to Burning Man. Or the people that design and build one of the 250+ officially recognised artworks dotted across the site. Or simply the people that will just drop a shit ton of money on running a free bar all week.

Not that a week in the desert is all love and hugs, mind. Setting up our camp (kitchen, dome lounge, giant shade structure to house all our tents) and ensuring it can withstand the harshest of desert sandstorms takes a full day of hard graft, during which I massively endear myself to my new campmates by crashing out asleep three hours before everything is finished. Throughout the day, the amount of people screaming with excitement because they've spotted friends from previous years is astounding.

The following day, I cycle out (protip: bring a bike. Light it and lock it. Two of our seven bikes get stolen over the course of the week) to the entrance gates for some further participation: I am volunteering for a four hour greeter shift in the midday heat, welcoming everybody 'home', initiating first time attendees in a way that I won't detail here (but suffice to say that we were pleasingly encouraged to make it up as we went along), and generally being the kind of cheerful irritant that would wind people up so much in London.

Ahh yes, that place. We socialise people hard in London. No talking to strangers, looking at people on public transport, being friendly in shops, or acting in any way cheerful or upbeat about the day ahead. Stepping from this into Burning Man's focus on radical inclusion and immediacy, where you welcome all strangers with a hug and your immediate trust, is a jarring gear change, and one that that I do not successfully make in just one day. It's the image people that haven't been to Glastonbury imagine for that event. Out here, it's real.

The bewildering number of side attractions across the site only adds to the overwhelming feel of the event. Amongst all the art installations, theme camps, talks, sound camps, workshops, and various unannounced oddities ('Armpit Smelling Booth', anyone?) waiting to be discovered, there's a lot of spiritual workshops, yoga classes, and quirky installations to choose from. Plenty of sex, too. BDSM in particular seems to be having a popular year, and we are camped next to the 200-person 'Poly Paradise' camp. They run the 'Human Carcass Wash', where you cup your soapy hand, and wash a load of naked bodies, before in turn getting to be the person to have a load of cupped hands wash your naked body.

I presume the 'Skyping With Grandma' event will be just as fun as any of that. Run by a "human powered internet cafe", I get condescending advice, bunion complaints, and technological incompetence from a real life grandma (20-something male in a wig, holding a cardboard cut-out of a screen). The folk running 'Write Your Future Self A Letter', meanwhile, allow you to do just that, and they promise to mail it to you 1, 2, 5 or 10 years later

Always fancying myself as the next Example, I also give Haiku Rap Battles a go. As the only person going to the effort to write down their haikus before taking to the stage, I'm confident the crowd with respond with hearty cheers and lols. What I get instead is silence, with the odd pocket of confused laughter.

All the cycling and finely spread entertainment means you never get the swirling, immovable crowds that your average Glastonbury goer regularly does battle with. It's not the only difference. Glastonbury for a few years now has tried, with little success, to impart a 'Leave No Trace' message. Here, the message gets through, and to a startling extent. Nothing - not so much as a flick of cigarette ash - is dropped on the playa floor.

Music wise, Burning Man shows signs of beginning an upward trajectory, and things have apparently improved after a couple of years of what is described to me as 'Skrillex every five minutes'. The overwhelming music trend seems to be bass music, mind, and it occasionally takes a fair effort to find a music camp that deviates from this norm.

Over the course of the week, the one DJ I make an effort to find out the name of is Stylust Beats, who plays Camp Question Mark on Friday night. Rather than a teeth grinding 60 minute set of pure trap music on offer across so much of Black Rock City, he successfully weaves the more inventive material the genre has to offer around the kind of party playlist that would set any clubnight alight. It's one of the best atmospheres all week.

I spy an afternoon talk called 'Sex, Drugs and Electronic Music', which sounds like a combination that could catch on doesn't it. Arriving late, the speaker is asking the audience 'How many people here believe we are birthing a new world?' Oh. Okay. Half the audience raise their hands. Right. Faintly hope I'm at the wrong talk? There's plenty of discussion about consent (which I am all for, incidentally. Just putting that out there), a little about sensible use of drugs, and nothing whatsoever about electronic music.

The speaker begins an exercise: we are to stand, wander around, and when she says stop, we are to immediately connect with the person nearest us. I 'connect' with another man, also as it happens, visiting from South London. We are instructed to share with each other our hope for the world. 'Creativity' he enthusiatically offers up. 'The basic goodness of the human heart', I manage to come up with, whilst successfully keeping a straight face. He seems satisfied and engaged by this answer. We are then told to share our medicine for the world with each other. 'Kindness' he quite reasonably suggests. 'Errr, the basic goodness of the human heart...?' I return with. This is deemed a satisfactory answer, although there's some acknowledgement that we're both essentially saying the same thing. He hugs me, and we're allowed to return to our places. There's some further talk about how 'we need to reclaim the solidarity of our connections', and 'let our emotions flow freely down through our bodies and into the earth', before we are finally free to go.

Not that it's all hippies at Burning Man. There's ravers, California's high fashion set, your nerdy music fan, a few jock types, loads of over 40s, and many of the greats of Silicon Valley are in attendance. You still occasionally come across the type of person you'd never want at a festival though. One member of our camp, Jessy, is walking her bike along the road one afternoon when a guy cycles past her and, with a confidence in his own hilarity sadly not matched by his material, shouts at her 'you're supposed to ride it'. Jessy somewhat understandably dislikes this. He cycles on in front of her, before suddenly losing his balance, falling off his bike, and collapsing in a heap. Jessy calmly walks her bike past him, turns around, and calls back 'you're supposed to ride it'.
Also not fitting the Burning Man stereotype are the brilliant, vicious rockers that put on the Mad Max inspired Thunderdome. Inside, they suspend two contestants in harnesses, pull them back, then fire them at each other armed with pugil sticks, whilst the baying crowd erupts. The weaponry is virtually inconsequential - the rules seem to be anything goes. On one occasion two young female festival-goers are fighting and the bout ends with one manically rallying the crowd whilst treating her opponent as a human surfboard. On several occasions battles end with blood splatted on the sand below. Throughout, the audience watch not just around the Thunderdome, but climb up the structure from all sides, in order to gain the chance of seeing each battle commence.

It's one of the things that is most remarkable about Burning Man: a pleasing disregard for health and safety legislation. Several times throughout the week you may find your group dancing late at night atop some shimmering art work, and you will think 'one wrong move here, and I am a seriously injured festival-goer'. Your safety is your own responsibility, a point somewhat hammered home by the fact that the back of your festival ticket states that ticket holders voluntarily assume all liability in the case of their own death whilst at the event.

Which, in such a harsh environment, means that every attendee must practice what the festival calls radical self-reliance. You take entire responsibility for your own well being. Everybody is more than welcome to climb that 30 foot ladder, then carefully climb up on top of the roof to be able to lie back and stare over Black Rock City, but if you put a foot wrong and fall to the ground, you've only got yourself to blame. Radical self-reliance also means that everybody must bring every single thing they may need to survive for a week in the desert environment along to the festival with them, including for example, 1.5 gallons of water per person, per day.

Feeling all too settled by midweek, I drink far too much on Wednesday night, and fail to take responsibility for my own safety. Whilst at a nearby camp to our own, I am unable to work out where I am, unable to make it home, and oddly unwilling to seek help for the matter. I wake up hours later in a separate camp, without memory of how I got there, or my bag. I have failed to practice radical self-reliance. The bag's contents include my UK passport, and five days of notes for this article. I spend 90 minutes searching nearby camps without luck. Each day I queue at Lost & Found to ask if it's been handed in. It never is.

I consider myself to be reasonably knowledgeable about dance music, but scanning the lineup before the festival, there appears to be just three DJs I have heard of: Paul Oakenfold, Seth Troxler, and Elite Force, and I'm not really sure how I've heard of Elite Force. This is perhaps unsurprising - it's down to the non-profit sound camps to try and book big names, and a couple of the major camps don't show up this year. Any veteran will tell you this is not the point of Burning Man, however. And for the kind of music fan that usually spends the whole of, say, Glastonbury darting all over the site like a headless chicken, the opportunity to spend an aimless week in the desert is an appreciated one.

There are unannounced sets, mind, and Diplo shows up as both a solo DJ ('superb', reportedly) and in his Major Lazer guise ('awful', reportedly). Paul Oakenfold is the only appointment we keep all week, though. 45 minutes into the set however, and it's all seeming a little pedestrian. It's at this point that a rumour spreads around our group that he cancelled at the last minute. We have no idea if we're dancing to a perfectly serviceable unknown trance DJ, or a somewhat unimaginative Oakenfold set. Either way, we leave. In the early hours of the morning, friends who stayed announce Oakenfold later showed up, and played a blinding set. I'm fairly gutted. They are in a jubilant mood. Later on that afternoon, I'm told that no, Oakenfold never did show up. Then I'm just confused. I still have no idea what happened.

'The only thing worse than attending a Doctor Who party at Burning Man, is publicly admitting it', a friend tells me. So I opt to only go for an hour. The tasty, strong sonic screwdriver cocktails are freeflowing. Three girls come dressed as sexy TARDISes. A guy asks one 'are you bigger on the inside?' 'Yes, and available for public use!', she cheerfully retorts. We also grab a drink at the Dead Celebrity's Champagne Disco, where you are encouraged to dress as your favourite dead celebrity, and enjoy all the drinks they can't any more. The 'Critical Tits' bikeride, meanwhile, sees a couple of thousand women take a topless cycle on mass around the playa. I think I can say with confidence that it's the most amount of topless women I've ever seen within a five minute period.

I spot a session called 'Speed Counselling', which sounds like good fun. In a speed dating format, you'll have five minutes to co-council with someone before DING!, the bell rings and you're on to the next person. What a nice afternoon activity that will be! What a fun format! I arrive, and settle in. The event is certainly busy. We are encouraged to really go for it and make the most of the opportunity, and to seek a moment of immediate resolution. I council five people, and then are counselled by five. And obviously, it is the exact fucking opposite of fun. I have to talk about emotions! For a full 25 minutes! I'm male and live in England, the most I've ever spoken about emotions is for three seconds in hospital in 2006 when a doctor asked me if my arm was still hurting. Even then three seconds seemed a little indulgent. Here though, everybody is sharing very deeply felt problems and emotions. There's one hell of a lot of people in tears (all except one guy, who spends his five minutes telling me about the psychology book he's about to have published, and is agonising over whether to put a photo of himself on the front cover or not). It's traumatic, but it's also a brilliant hour. I leave a nervous wreck.

All through the week there's a sense of escalation. The festival always feels like it's building to a climax. On Tuesday, paragliders can be seen descending on the festival, before landing amongst passers by on the wide open playa. I witness one land, and the nearest person to him immediately runs up, puts a beer in his hand, and promptly walks off again. On Wednesday and Thursday the same paragliders have grown long colourful ribbon tails as they cascade down from the sky. By Friday night their tails have become fireworks leaving a trail behind in the sky.

All this escalation is building to one thing. With no main stage to speak of, Burning Man feels like it doesn't have a focal point to concentrate your mind - or media attention - on. Instead, the festival offers a thousand different stories happening simultaneously across the site. A thousand moments of awe, pain, laughs being shared, or perhaps lives being changed. The exception to this rule is the final night. The whole festival gathers around the iconic Man that sits at the centre of the site, to watch as he is finally, spectacularly burnt. Much of what overwhelms about this experience is perhaps because, after everybody here has had such an intense, yet disparate week from each other, the whole festival is finally together as one. It certainly provides a more exciting climax to a festival then, say, Mumford & Sons headlining your final night.

Burning Man is one hell of an ordeal. There were certainly lows, but there was also countless highs. Its beauty, its weirdness, its vibrancy, and its constant, unfaltering welcome. It's truly a unique way to spend a week. Name me a better festival.

This article originally appeared on here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the final of glastonbury's emerging talent competition is a thing that happened.

SO last weekend we went to sunny Glastonbury. We were lost! Or horribly early! Either way somebody made a fairly severe administrative error.

Whilst we were there though we stumbled across the final of Glastonbury festival's Emerging Talent Competition. We'll recap: thousands of excellent acts entered (well I mean, not all of them are excellent obviously. The odds of that happening are reasonably remote. Let's say the standard was 91% excellent) and the best eight were invited to play this final at Pilton Working Man's Club.

With so many entrants, it stands to reason that after all that whittling down we would be left with eight reasonably high quality acts by the end doesn't it. And having now seen them all live, I can confirm this previously deduced fact to be true! Take the winners M+A for example, a Friendly Fires-esque band that will hopefully bring the carnival atmosphere to many more festival stages to come. Watch one of their funky little numbers just below these words I typed that you're just finishing reading now:

ALSO you should note the two runners up, which must have made the judge's final decision damn near impossible, the cruel scamps:

ALSO FINALLY there's these other competitors. If you're thinking "oh I've watched three videos, the standard can't possibly remain so high for the rest of the finalists" then you'd totally be wrong.

Maybe if you were following @glastofest on Twitter you'd get to see each video as it's released. That would be a quite nice thing to have happen wouldn't it.