So for the second year in a row, we found out we were fortunate enough to be playing Glastonbury! Last year was our debut on the Glastonbury scene, with three gigs in some of the smaller venues over three days we hit the ground running…well, maybe squelching with all the mud. This year was different…JOHN PEEL stage baby!!!
We couldn’t quite believe our ears when our booker Matt told us he’d manage to get us on the John Peel stage right before an amazing line-up of Black Honey, Dua Lipa and Declan Mckenna who we’d previously supported last year.…at first, we wondered who he’d had to kidnap to get us there, then it all made sense, he’s just a Glastonbury wizard.
The night before setting off for Glasto, we had a production rehearsal with our producer, ran the set and double checked our equipment. Shauna had brought a massive camping bag with all her clothes/sleeping bag/tent to put in my car ready for the trip.
Thursday morning rolled around and I packed the car to the rafters, literally floor to ceiling furnished with sleeping bags, wellies, baby wipes and most importantly, drums. I then set off to pick Shauna up from Uxbridge station, armed with an air bed pump and another set of wellies (which she later realised she’d left at work). We were soon on the road, headed to Glastonbury but first stop, Reading, to do a REWS takeover special for Don’t Panic! Radio.
Reading has some really stupid roads…the kind you don’t wanna meet in rush hour traffic. With the best will in the world, I’d planned a strict itinerary for our journey which had already been blown apart by Tom, Dick and Harry trying to get home from work on a Thursday night from Reading. We arrived at the radio station later than planned, but armed with some kick ass tracks ready to melt some faces. Chris and Dicky were the perfect hosts, with equal measures of mental and hilarious, just as hoped. We chatted about music, the impending album release, cakes and of course Glastonbury before saying our goodbyes and scooting off to buy a replacement air bed pump, bikinis (apparently there would be a hot tub at Glasto!) and enough alcohol to sink a small ship.
For those of you that have been to Glastonbury Festival before, you’ll know trying to find the right gate is like trying to find the fucking tiny door from Alice in wonderland, Glastonbury is basically it’s own country….the Sat nav took us to the middle of nowhere, like some low budget horror film, and we were on a race against time to get onto site before the production office closed. A few choice members of the security team who were clearly tired and grumpy after a long day made it slightly difficult for us to get where we needed to be, kind of understandable when security is so tight to protect everyone. When we finally got onto site at 11pm, we were met by Kim, the most awesome stage manager known to womankind. She got us in to the loading bay ready for the morning and off we went to set our tent up…in the dark. Luckily Shauna loves that girl guide shit so we got the tent up in no time. A little nightcap later at the backstage bar and we were exhausted and ready for bed.
Ahhh camping, that old sausage…..I’M FREEZING, I’M ROASTING, THERE’S A SPIDER….DID YOU FART? One terrible nights sleep later and finally….it was the morning of our biggest show!! We grabbed all the glitter we could carry and made our way to the backstage area to load in the gear. Splitter, tour bus, tour bus….my tiny car….but man does that thing hold its own! It’s the like the Tardis, you can just keep shoving gear in there. We got up the ramp, into backstage and marvelled at how bloody massive it was. I had a riser and felt like Queen Bee climbing up on there to set up my baby….Tama Starclassic bubinga kit. Shauna started setting up her pedals and was going to be using in-ears and a wireless guitar pack for the first time at one of our shows live, so there were a few things to get acclimatised to. We had our producer with us to do live sound so we knew the crew and sound guys would take care of us. We set the gear up, chatted to the guys from Black Honey, took some backstage pictures and then went to go get ready and cram some food into our faces in the dressing room. Our awesome manager John came to wish us good luck and we were starting to feel nervous with overwhelming excitement.
Half an hour to stage time and we wrote out a set list, checked our glitter was in place, donned our leather jackets and headed back stage to catch some of ‘Dam’ who were warming up the crowd. It’s always nerve wracking at festivals as you only get to line check, never a full sound check. This meant all our electronics, pedals, equipment had to be set up and ready to be rolled out.
Our stage time finally arrived and we hopped up onto the riser and stage, ready to test our gear and check out the crowd. We had a few technical problems on stage, I use in ears to play to click and didn’t quite have the right mix alongside my vocal. It was a bit of a rush job, everyone’s clock watching ready to launch into action come 12 o’clock. After a quick line check it’s show time and we smash into action with an intro track called ‘Shine’. Shauna’s running around across the stage and jumping off my riser and I’m head banging and swinging my hair around like a pink lion. Not far into the first song, Shauna accidentally rips her in-ears out so shouts to me ‘Collette, count me in!’….haha it’s not rock and roll if something doesn’t go Off paste!
The crowd were absolutely loving it and growing by the second, by the end of the third song the tent was crammed full and we were absolutely buzzing off our flaps!! The backdrops created by the lightening engineers were absolutely immense and completely captured our on stage energy, with flames, acid brights and polka dots they made our stage come to life. We were both in giant size on the tv screens that were either side of the stage, the cameraman seemingly loving my flowery socks and capturing Shauna’s interaction with the mic. We told the crowd to come catch us again that night at the Rabbit Hole if they enjoyed our set and wanted to see more and then ended with a brand new track ‘We Explode’ which Shauna creates a guitar loop for at the beginning. The end of the track is one big massive jam wall of sound, with both of us absolutely tearing it up and using every last drop of energy we have. I launched a brand new pair of sticks into the air (instantly regretted that) and we ran over to each other, had a trademark REWS hug and then disappeared backstage triumphantly. One gig down.
After packing down, chatting about how it went, hugging everyone in the team and just generally bouncing off the walls, we got back into gig headspace ready for our second set over at the PRS stage. Festival transport were so good to us this year, after carrying all our gear through the mud and rain last year by hand it was such a luxury to have help this time in the form of a Land Rover. We arrived at the PRS stage, really more of an industry showcase tent which had been decorated beautifully with little fairy lights and gorgeous furniture. Two magical words every artist wants to hear…’Free Bar’. We felt really privileged to have been asked to do a set alongside the likes of ‘Everything Everything’ and ‘Naughty Boy’. This was a really intimate gig, we played just a few songs really as an introduction to who we are and what we do. We saw a lot of friends, old and new and had a quick drink afterwards before getting ready to load in for our third and final set of the day.
We should probably mention that ASOS had been absolute babes and sent us a massive festival care package of clothes before we set off for Glasto, thank you massively to them. We were fully kitted out and rocking our new togs around the festival site all weekend. As well as that, GoPro had been kind enough to furnish us with some new toys and at every opportunity we were sticking cameras in each other’s faces and capturing any piece of questionable action (dangerous!).
We arrived at the Rabbit Hole which is up in the Park area by the massive ‘Glastonbury’ sign on the hill. The Rabbit Hole is Alice in Wonderland themed and really comes to life at night. Everyone was in costume, glitter beards, tiny hats, you name it they had it. We loaded in and then set off to watch some bands for a few hours before our set time at 11pm. We managed to catch the first 20mins or so of Radiohead, with their killer lightshow and haunting sounds before setting off back up the site to get ready for the third show of the day.
We set up, ready for a 30min sound/line check, which was actually a very comfortable amount of time…or so we thought. That time was quickly eaten in to with feedback, bits of house drum kit falling off and a general shit show of sound. This instantly put us on the back foot and meant we didn’t start on time, coupled with being really unhappy with the sound, we strapped in….it was gonna be a wild ride. After the earlier jubilation of playing the John Peel stage, this was a stark reminder that every show is important, regardless of stage size and you have to always be on your A game no matter what technical difficulties you’re faced with. We played our socks off, conversed with the crowd, got people dancing and had the best time we could on stage. Little did we know at the time that we had a few very important punters in the crowd. One being Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 6 music legend and pundit. During the BBC Glastonbury footage the next morning, we soon found out that he had named us as his highlight and diamond find of the night, describing us as a ‘female Royal Blood’!! We were absolutely Gobsmacked…..it got even better when he joined Huw Stephens and Jo Wiley for the final Festival review on Sunday evening and named us, alongside Chic, as his highlights of the ENTIRE FESITVAL!? I mean, bucket list dream much?! Thanks Mark, you’re a legend.
After our set at the Rabbit Hole we went out and partied, with our booker Matt taking us to an off-the-beaten track underground piano bar, he’s the kind of guy that knows all the best kept secrets and magic Glastonbury has to offer. It was whimsical as fuck, the kind of place you’d find in the film Labryinth. It was only big enough to fit about 30 people in and after asking the Irish bar man what was on offer, he handed us 6 shot glasses of some questionable lemon smelling moonshine….it was that or some sort of engine fuel. We then continued through to what I can only describe as an underground dug out theatre, the kind Shakespeare would have graced if he was an acid taking, festival goer. There was some dude reciting spoken word stuff, spewing intelligent, philosophical and political words before fellow Midnight Mango band ‘Mad Dog McRea’ took to the stage. It was basically one big happy shindig, people dancing, drinking and just having a cracking time underground. We stumbled back to the tent at God knows what time and Friday was complete.
Saturday saw us trying to find the on site Radio Station ‘Worthy FM’ for an interview with Welsh DJ ‘Minty’. Unfortunately, in our hungover state and forgetfulness of just how big the site was, we didn’t make it in time and had to reschedule for Sunday morning. A day of music, drinking and frivolities as punters lay ahead and the weather was cracking! Sunshine with just a few showers, the best weather we’d experienced at Glasto to date. We saw the likes of Wiley, Busted (Shauna loves Matty), Solange and topped the night off with Foofighters on the Pyramid stage. This was my highlight of the weekend, hearing ‘Everlong’ surrounded by so many music lovers, at Glastonbury was definitely a night to remember.
Sunday morning, off we trogged again to ‘Worthy FM’ this time, hearing Ed Sheeran sound checking on the Pyramid stage as we walked past and arriving in good time to meet the Worthy crew. We did our interview, discussed all things Welsh, our new track ‘Miss you in the dark’ and our festival experience. We had a nice cuppa then set off back to down to catch some bands.
We covered a lot of ground on Sunday, catching the likes of Haim, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (who had a lot to say re supporting female crowd surfers at festivals, legend!), London Grammar and Declan Mckenna. Shauna was particularly interested in seeing Marika Hackman, a British singer songwriter whom she’d found on Spotify and loved. I really wanted to see Biffy Clyro so we made our way to the Pyramid stage and shouted along with them at the top of our lungs. Afterwards we had a telephone interview with an Irish radio station whilst walking around site, we were struggling to hear but managed to chat through our impending album release, how we met and goals for the future. We had just enough time to cram one last set in, a completely off the cuff performance at the John Peel backstage bar. We borrowed a cajon and acoustic guitar and played a couple of ditties for the crew/bands and punters milling around. This was a totally different vibe from our usually amp driven, high energy rock sound.
All in all, it had been a bloody epic three days of music excitement, friends, food and development for us. We packed our tent up and once more took to the REWS mobile to head home. Glastonbury is having a fallow year in 2018, but in 2016 we stood watching ‘Nothing but Thieves’ on the John Peel stage and said ‘we’re gonna be up there next year….’ Et voila. So let’s say it now, ‘Pyramid stage 2019….WE’RE COMIN FOR YA!!!!!!’
The featured image on this article is courtesy of Mick Rees Photography.
Rews have just finished recording their debut album and you can keep up-to-date on their progress by visiting their website – Rews Homepage.