Hhello from Glastonbury! This week’s newsletter is being written from the Guardian’s cabin at Worthy Farm, where we’ll be covering the festival in exhaustive detail (more on that in a bit). After an enforced pandemic-era break, Glastonbury feels particularly wild and antic this year, everyone hopped up on the prospect of a mass gathering after two years of the rule of six, Zoom pub quizzes, substantial Scotch egg meals and the likes. Festival-goers of every stripe are here – ravers, metalheads, poptimists, jazz aficionados, glamorous hospitality hangers-on, lads in SuperDry T-shirts throwing each other in the air for some reason – all drawn together by the promise of revelry, community and some pretty spectacular music. There genuinely is no place like it.
Obviously, if you aren’t at Glastonbury, you may well find all this talk of the “magic of the festival” envy and or rage-inducing. But the good thing about Glastonbury is that it’s pretty easy to vicariously enjoy the festival from wherever you are. The BBC’s coverage alone will see to that: this year they have live streams from the festival’s “big five” stages – Pyramid, Other, John Peel, Park and West Holts – as well as TV coverage of the Pyramid’s huge headlining acts: the planet Conquering Billie Eilish on Friday, some bloke called Paul McCartney on Saturday and Kendrick Lamar, performing live for the first time since the release of his new album, on Sunday. There’s a load of other stuff too, including a plethora of other sets to stream and the usual extensive radio coverage – check here for full info of the Beeb’s offering.
And of course, the Guardian will be covering the festival in microscopic detail – every last squall of feedback, special guest appearance and celebrity sighting (one of our lot has already spotted Tilda Swinton) will be feverishly reported on. Each day we’ll have a liveblog stuffed full of news, reviews, pictures, videos and all manner of entertaining ephemera. We’ll also have standalone reviews of all the big hitters, photo essays from the site, interviews and tons else besides. In fact we’ve already kicked things off, with musicians, broadcasters and writers recalling their favorite festival moments, and Guardian music editor Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s picks of the 30 acts not to miss at this year’s festival.
To add to Ben’s list, a few picks of my own:
Manchester-based DJ Anz (playing the Sonic stage at 7.30pm on Friday) serves up a warm and inviting garage, house and bassline hybrid perfect for those hazy summer early evenings.
The marvelously monikered geordie stoner metal band Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs already played Thursday night, but are still worth mentioning because a) they’re excellent and b) it’s fun to type the word ‘pigs’ seven times in a row.
Wu-Lu is a very exciting south London producer who dabbles in everything from psych rock to fuzzy electronica.
The relentlessly energetic Baltimore hardcore group Turnstile – who Ben did mention, but are worth doubling up on as they might be the most exciting live act on the planet right now.
The good news is that, even if you have a total aversion to Glastonbury, all the above acts are booked in for a host of gigs and festivals this summer. See you down the front!
WATCH For sheer unrelenting outre-ness, I’m not sure anything on television can quite match The Boys, Amazon’s superhero satire, at the moment. Unquestionably the goriest show on TV – to a point where I, a squeamish coward, frequently find myself watching scenes from its third season through the tiniest cracks between my fingers – the show has managed to become the filthiest, too: this week’s episode features an extremely detailed superhero orgy. There’s substance behind the shock value though, with the series skewering Marvel’s chokehold over popular culture, the military industrial complex and even corporate pinkwashing. Plus: here are seven more shows to stream this week.
READ I always enjoy a New Yorker deep dive into some piece of popular culture breathlessly, though more shallowly, covered by everyone else. This week E. Tammy Kim has delved into the BTS phenomenon, timed perfectly to coincide with the Korean boyband’s hiatus.
CUE UP The story of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s Black power salute on the podium at the 1968 Olympics feels so familiar by now that you’d assume there’s little more to say about it. Yet Malcolm Gladwell has managed to do just that with his new podcast series Legacy of Speed, which takes an extremely long view of the incident. Gladwell is just as interested in how the pair arrived at the podium in first place – by dominating the 200m discipline – as what they did when they got there, and introduces us to the coaches and mentors who made them “fast enough – and brave enough – to change the world.
You be the Guide
Last week we asked you for your favorite comedy movies, and you served up some stone-cold classics. Here’s a handful:
for me, Team America is top of the pile for comedy movies of the last 20 years. Razor sharp satire of Dubya-era American foreign policy, mixed with top drawer songs and perhaps the most ludicrous sex-scene in film history. – Mark Stewart
The Coen brothers’ late-century neo-noir western, The Big Lebowski. The screenplay’s clever rhetorical tricks combined with outstanding timing, delivery, and dialogue never gets old. Dude. – Jennifer Reimer
Sticking with the Spinal Tap/Popstar vein, and in fact very clearly indebted to the former, I might suggest the rap spoof Fear of a Black Hat from 1993? It’s totally of its time but the musical numbers are spot-on and I still laughing at myself silly at so much of the dialogue. – Martin Donnelly
Next week, as we inch into July, I’m going to be rounding up the best culture of the year so far. I’ll be offering up some selections of my own, but I’m also keen to hear from you. Is there a film, album, game, podcast, TV show or book that you’ve found particularly riveting in the first half of 2022? Let me know by replying to this email or dropping me a line at email@example.com.