As the annual D-day for Glastonbury tickets approaches, Oliver Keens considers the unfairness of the whole system.
Two things have bugged me about the Glastonbury festival lately. One is the creeping inevitability that, one day, it will officially be known as ‘Glaston-berry’. American acts like Kanye or Dolly Parton just can’t get to grips with the pronunciation, and the Eavises never seem to have the heart to correct them. A bigger bugbear, though, is that, in recent years, Glastonbury has become more depressing to apply for than Dignitas.
Tickets for next year’s festival go on sale at 9am this Sunday morning. Last year’s sold out in just 30 minutes, about the same time it takes to walk from the Pyramid to the Other Stage. It wasn’t always thus – punters in 2010 had a luxurious 12 hours in which to book – but now, thanks to the hyper-intense ticketing system, Glastonbury is fast becoming the sole preserve of one group of people: alpha-keeno festival smartarses from hell.
If you’re not one of these, then disadvantages abound. First there’s the obvious hurdle of having to be awake at 9am. Wreckheads and professional wasters used to be the bedrock of a British music festival, but no longer. They’ve been filtered out by ingenious scheduling.
‘It risks becoming the festival equivalent of the Premier League’
Then there’s the disadvantages of being a loner. Big groups of alphas own Glasto ticketing by nerding it up like Warcraft players – sharing tabbed Google spreadsheets with banking info, staying in constant communication over Skype and IM until victory is theirs.
The most extreme alpha-keenos go into their offices – often at big law or accountancy firms – fire up every computer in sight and refresh en masse like a grandmaster playing 12 simultaneous games of chess. How are the betas and omegas out there supposed to compete with that?
Glastonbury is undoubtedly an incredible event. But as demand increases, it risks becoming the festival equivalent of the Premier League, thanks to its agenda-setting headliners, lavish TV coverage and increasingly prohibitive ticket price, up from £145 in 2007 to £238 in 2017. A change to the way tickets are sold would help keep that in check. Otherwise it risks becoming locked in a spiral of its own success, until it becomes inaccessible to anyone but the most affluent and aggressive. In a curious modern paradox, hedonistic escapism might soon become the sole preserve of the mind-numbingly organised.
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