It’s just a field full of students. It’s just a field full of middle-aged people. There’s too much indie music. There’s not enough indie music. Greta Thunberg.

Glastonbury is the largest and most famous performing arts festival in the world. Music’s biggest names take substantial cuts to their standard festival performance fees in order to play.

Thousands of acts appear over five days across dozens of stages in a bombardment of colour and noise. You can stumble upon cinemas, a circus, a stand-up comedy tent, nightclubs, numerous bars and pretty much any kind of non-musical entertainment you can imagine. 

Glasgow Times:

If your thing is a man dressed as Mr Motivator encouraging five-year-olds to lose their minds to drum ‘n’ bass music by telling them to pretend they’ve been grounded for life and there’s no Christmas, you can find it. If your thing is a 67-year-old man covering Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love but just singing the first line over and over again in an increasingly aggressive manner, you can find it. 

If your thing is a Spice Girl sporting a t-shirt reading ‘ALEXA PLAY SPICE GIRLS’ and performing high-kicks while mixing Who Do You Think You Are with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit during her DJ set, you can find it. If your thing is one of the most significant figures in the history of popular music casually bringing on two of the biggest rock stars in the world two hours into his headline set a week after turning 80, you can find it. 

Glasgow Times:

And yet, every year without fail there’s a barrage of criticism directed at the festival and those who attend it. According to whichever right-wing hack’s rant you’ve read today, your average visitor to the farm is either a skint student who should go out and get a job instead of rolling in the mud, or a middle-class champagne socialist cosplaying at activism.

Those are the only two types of people represented apparently, as working-class people aren’t into music.

Climate activist and Facebook uncle-upsetter Greta Thunberg spoke briefly ahead of Haim’s set on the Pyramid Stage. There were around 74 other stages for you to be at if you didn’t want to watch her, but her speech was portrayed by some as representative of everything happening at Glastonbury. 

Glasgow Times:

Broadcaster Dominique Samuels told her 135,500 Twitter followers that “places like Glastonbury aren’t for me because I don’t like s*** music and lectures from people that don’t know what they’re talking about”. 

Speaking of “people that don’t know what they’re talking about”, in 2020 Samuels tweeted: “I love rap music”.

The most acclaimed artist in modern rap music is Kendrick Lamar, who closed the festival on Sunday night. That’s not to mention the countless other rappers who appeared, from Little Simz to Megan Thee Stallion. 

What music does she like that isn’t covered among the 3000 acts who performed at Glastonbury? None of the critics harping on about the acts they don’t like ever actually specify what exactly a ‘good’ line-up would look like. 

Anyone can point to something in the line-up as proof of whatever they want to complain that Glastonbury is. Paul McCartney? It’s only for old b*****ds. Billie Eilish? It’s only for daft teenagers. Kendrick Lamar? Whatever happened to real music like Paul McCartney?

Making a generalisation about the entire festival based on whatever act the BBC happen to be showing at any given moment makes as much sense as deciding you’ll never shop in the Buchanan Galleries because you don’t need anything from Claire’s Accessories. 

Glasgow Times:

Shortly after I purchased my ticket in October 2019, Kendrick Lamar was installed as bookies’ favourite to headline. For months on my walks to and from work, I’d listen to his song Swimming Pools (Drank) and imagine how good it would sound at Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage. 

When 2020’s festival was called off, that song was on my home workout playlist, and the dream was pushed back a year. By the time it was cancelled again in 2021, exercise had fallen by the wayside and I was considerably less optimistic about life. 

Then, on Sunday night, I was among tens of thousands losing it to Swimming Pools (Drank) and it was as if the last 27 months had just been wiped from my memory. The fears, frustrations and flatness that had weighed me down left my body. I doubt I’ll ever forget that feeling. 

Everyone who went to Glastonbury will have a story like that. 

Glasgow Times:

Those who sneer at the festival and its attendees do so from a place of ignorance. Everyone who’s been will have endured moments they’d rather forget (usually near a sign that says ‘TOILETS’), but I’ve never spoken to anyone who’s regretted going.

Festivals aren’t for everyone, but anyone with a ticket can curate their own experience. The critics should give it a try. They’ll very quickly realise they can enjoy a life-affirming Glastonbury that’s very different to the Glastonbury they’ve concocted in their imagination.

Until then, my message for them comes in the form of another Kendrick Lamar song…

‘B***h, don’t kill my vibe’