It won’t be long before another Glastonbury is upon us. I have neither the means, health or desire to hike to the west country for the exclusive pleasure of potentially camping in mud glorious mud but as an armchair music listener I often watch the BBC coverage even though it means suffering the inane presenter punditry. It’s all got very corporate over the years and the more interesting stages on the periphery are seldom suitable for much beyond blink-and-you’ll-miss-it coverage. Too niche. Too homespun. Not mainstream enough. Coldplay are hardly a prime representation of a counter culture are they now? Or maybe they are to the middle class crowd Glasto attracts these days?
This year the Beeb is perhaps pointing to the future of television for some events in that they will be providing multiple Internet streams rather than (or as well as?) trying to crowbar coverage across three TV channels and the now severely pruned red button service. The Olympics was the last huge undertaking but that offered up 24 temporary TV channels on free-to-air satellite in a deal cut with Sky. Aunty doesn’t have that kind of moolah these days. They’ve already scaled back the red button service which is slowly being redefined via Internet connected streams instead as a way of doing more for less money.
But even a multi stream coverage of Glasto may not yield total coverage. Already this year’s headline act, The Rolling Stones are still negotiating with the broadcaster to limit coverage of their set to a few opening numbers. Apparently they’re worried that rain and performing to a lass than 100% partisan crowd might turn in a performance they wouldn’t want to see recorded for posterity ala Led Zeppelin at Live Aid way back when.
Other artists have excluded TV coverage of their Glastonbury set over the years. Elvis Costello springs to mind as does Joe Strummer’s petulant attack on a cameraman during his set. The Stone Roses are the most recent blockers of broadcasting their live gurglings just last year. Mind you some may argue that Ian Brown’s live vocals are best reserved for true fans anyway.
Of course these days artists have to contend with a sea of amateur coverage at their gigs as they look out at into the crowd to see arms outstretched not in adoration but in the act of holding a camera phone aloft to somehow capture forever their own experience of the performance.Or at least their own experience of experiencing the gig via a camera. There are even web sites where gig attenders agree in advance which songs in a set they will record so the whole gig is eventually edited together from the various angles (and footage qualities). Resourceful but not quite surrendering yourself to experiencing the live experience. Recently artists have been requesting that their fans leave their phones in their pockets. Fat bloody chance. How about a ban on Flags at Glastonbury?
Anyway I look forward to breaking my Internet data limits chasing the various Glastonbury Internet streams. At least I’ll have a greater choice in watching what I want when I want. That is if said precious artist will allow me to.