2014 festival shows how diverse cultural roots are inspiring pop mainstream

Eyes for Gertrude catch the ears of Consequence of Sound
Eyes for Gertrude catch the ears of Consequence of Sound

With 200,000 people, or a veritable city, airdropped into a huge farm in Somerset, promising performers of all persuasions were going to attract a crowd.

Audiences

As acknowledged by Sophie Ellis Bextor, pop and disco have once again found their places at Glastonbury, allowing audiences and acts to bond over some classics to sing along and dance to. Eager faces of all ages could be seen lip-synching to every word along with Ellie Goulding, Bryan Ferry, Caro Emerald and Dolly Parton.

The disco finger - Sophie Ellis Bextor leads the dance
The disco finger – Sophie Ellis Bextor leads the dance

It was wonderful to see the return of lighter mainstream genres, popular for good reason that they are great to let your hair down to, singing and dancing along, rekindling happy memories.

Fans can be themselves

Compared to some harder dance genres that have dominated the charts, pop and disco say “I like this whatever you think” and are free of the occasional self-consciousness of rap or hip-hop while leaving fans to be themselves without prescription dress, moves and lingo.

Evident this year was the rise of the DJ to rock star stats, as Sasha, DJ Pierre, David Morales, Shy FX, Above and Beyond and many more entertained large crowds.

Bomba Estereo - Columbian band capture the UK audience
Bomba Estereo – Columbian band capture the UK audience

United by music

Music showed its power to stay on top of life, with audiences consuming whole performances of new unknown acts, instead of demanding the hit songs of even headline acts on the Pyramid stage. There was a return of the former spirit of a music festival, with musical curiosity drawing crowds to unknown but infectious new acts.

Legendary acts still drew crowds but couldn’t rest on their laurels. Dolly Parton enthralled audiences with not just her hit songs but witty banter of a hilarity that the younger generation may not have anticipated. Dolly gauged the audience with as much panache today as in her hey day.

New chart topper Kiesza
New chart topper Kiesza

New chart topper Kiesza put in a choreographed performance to her two hit songs Hideaway and Giant in My Heart, but also wooed people with slower covers of What is Love? and Halleluiah.

Language no barrier

Columbian band Bomba Estéreo and Belgian group Stromae showed that language was no barrier to good dance and instantly audience-grabbing pop music, by drawing in passers by with magnetic stage presence, while singing in their native languages.

Stromae - stage presence
Stromae – stage presence

Admirers

Pop stars in the traditional sense with audiences predominantly being devoted fans, such as

Ellie Goulding, won over new admirers. Goulding displayed what could be the “female long-haired stadium rock” – very different from the male form. Meanwhile Bryan Ferry and the Yoko Ono band rekindled the early days of Glastonbury with some 70s classics.

Popular female artists Caro Emerald and Lana Del Rey kept the girl power flame alive on main stages, while female led Summer Camp showed how irresistible arty pop rock is, by performing an infectious set in the musically strong William’s Green tent.

Eyes for Gertrude performed when Tony Hardy of Consequence of Sound was straying past:

“…I stopped by to listen to Eyes For Gertrude, who were one of my Emerging Talent picks. The duo’s voices sync beautifully; the first all-warm country tones, the second offering English purity. Taking sounds from the routines of daily life and reaching for higher ground with determination, EFG offers quirky, observational songs, illuminated by delicious vocal flourishes — definitely the start of a green affair.” –Tony Hardy

Kangaroo Moon play backstage in Greenroom bar
Kangaroo Moon play backstage in Greenroom bar

Defrosted architecture

Architecture played its part as usual, with DJ booths in Block 9’s London Underground, NYC and Genosys, Shangri La’s Heaven and The Blues, which looked like a shantytown. As Flanders and Swann said: music is defrosted architecture.

Popular new male vocalists such as Jake Bugg and Sam Smith brought their dulcet white blues tones to the line-up.

The Sonic stage hosted the newer digital-based acts, with some filling out their sound with live instruments, and these reflected the international stage of today’s mainstream music scene. Bajofondo played strings, Bomba Estéreo brought Latino, Stromae did camp French pop and Kiesza brought her new brand of house all under one roof.

Nate meets Ella Eyre behind Sonic stage
Nate meets Ella Eyre behind Sonic stage

Backstage bar

Backstage bars provided a variety of entertainments, from the Seniors behind the Acoustic stage, Kangaroo Moon in the Green Room Bar and a Venezuelan DJ from Bristol called Django playing new house and garage, in the Sonic backstage bar.

Enjoying the festival as a punter for the first time was Nate Valentino who arrived with a detailed itinerary of performers to see and meet to inform his next DJ sets such as; Sasha, MNEK, Foxes, Kiesza, Bomba Estéreo, Above and Beyond, Ella Eyre and Fatboy Slim. He was won over by Dolly Parton’s command of the Pyramid stage.

Article submitted by Sophie Sweatman

Here’s an interview with Sophie Ellis Bextor after her gig:

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