Ready your rowboats folks, because this summer’s Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Somerset, England, is a setup for which it might be worth floating abroad. (Plus, if it’s like the 2013 edition, festival-goers who attend by public transportation or an otherwise green means receive prizes, including discount food vouchers — grab the canoe.)
The 2014 Glastonbury, scheduled for June 25-29, is bursting with artists seldom seen nowadays, including the likes of Blondie, and the refurbished Lily Allen. If any hopes were raised for an OutKast or a Neutral Milk Hotel set, it could be potentially unfortunate that the majority of artists that seem to be doing a circuit of the U.S.’ festivals aren’t making it over to the U.K. for this one. There are still a few that can be captured on both sides of the Atlantic, like Arcade Fire, Disclosure or Jack White, but largely it seems Glastonbury is slated to be really one-of-a-kind. Those who were able to nab one of the now sold-out three-day passes (they were being sold for 160 euros, around $220) are in for an experience they can rightfully brag about. (There is a resale scheduled for later this month, though, when those that decided they can’t make it anymore are choosing to sell back their tickets.)
Cutting out most of the bands that proliferate American festival lineups, below are five that set Glastonbury apart.
1. De La Soul
Just this past Valentine’s Day, hip-hop group De La Soul shared its whole discography for free during a one-day download frenzy to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its 1989 debut record, “3 Feet High and Rising.” Needless to say, I downloaded all of it. Though I’m still delving into a lot of the catalogue, it has become clear the group is an expert at meshing together innumerable samples with introspective, smart lyrics. To boot, this festival gig might be the soonest possible date to hear fresh material from De La Soul’s record-in-the-works “You’re Welcome.”
Listening to breakout hit “Milkshake” from 2003 is so odd, especially when contrasted with R&B singer Kelis’ new single “Jerk Ribs.” While the former could be found to be a sultry — albeit catchy — piece on bringing boys to the yard, the latter, a single from her upcoming “Food” album, is on a neo-soul spectrum, showing organic arrangement and production technique. Kelis actually sounds older now, which I’m into and I encourage her to “do” her, but you best believe I would be yelling for “Milkshake” the whole set anyway.
This batch of new wave New Yorkers, named after frontwoman’s Debbie Harry’s bleach-blond hair of the band’s mid to late-’70s heydey, churned out tons of unforgettable tunes, ultimately pushing the band to become an icon of sorts for its genre. There’s “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” and “Dreaming,” among a plethora of others, most of which I can hardly imagine won’t be making an appearance at Glastonbury.
4. Lily Allen
With the announcement of her third-full length “Sheezus,” due May 6, singer Lily Allen has contributed to whipping this year into shape with another anticipated release. I don’t think she’ll ever catch up to her snarky singledom that was 2006’s “Alright, Still,” but without much from her since 2009’s “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” (she went on a hiatus to focus on family) there was a void of in-your-face wit in pop music that I feel we all were suffocating in. Now she’s back to fill it again, thankfully.
I cheated a little bit in adding Chvrches here, as the Glasgow, Scotland, synthpop trio have several stops in our country before Glastonbury, including a show in Columbus in June. They still deserve the recognition — their 2013 debut record “The Bones of What You Believe” is 12 tracks of pure, hook-after-hook ear candy. With one listen to album-opener “The Mother We Share,” it will all make sense.