• Sun, music and hysterical euphoria – Glastonbury replaces the ‘Alleluia!’ feeling

    The best music festival in the world, Glastonbury, is on and the sun is shining. The BBC are showing highlights, and their website is well geared to showing the best of what the festival has to offer. Perhaps overseas viewers may not be able to see it due to licensing laws, I don’t know.

    I went to Glasto a bunch of times in the 90s and I think 2000, as well as Reading a bunch of times and a number of other festivals. In those days, I lived for music; immersed myself in it; loved everything particularly the alternative music scenes had to offer.

    Nowadays, in my philosophical geekery, I have little time to donate to enjoying this most universal of arts. Festivals are brilliant because they, rather like a church, bring together humanity for a common appreciation of a spectacle, performance and an entity raised on a pedestal – God / band.

    I have spoken to Christians about their euphoric experiences in church and, though they clearly think it does not equate, it is the same as seeing one of your favourite band amongst thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands (given the capacity when I used to attend (after jumping the fence before it was properly erected) of just over 200,000, just imagine the numbers watching the main stage) of devoted followers ritualistically gushing out the lyrics. The followers of these bands often give their idols divine status. Their hymns are learnt by heart and shouted with extraordinary gusto and passion.

    Simply put, seeing your favourite band with tens of thousands of other ecstatic followers is akin to a hysterical religious experience.

    Anyway, it got me thinking of some of the great Glasto performances. So I have embedded some here for you.

    It’s not so much the music, though Florence and the Machine are great, but the manipulation of the crowd.

    Couldn’t resist another one.

    Take Coldplay, perhaps not everyone’s cup tf tea, but they can produce anthems which get the crowd going, such as this excellent version of Fix You. It’s all about the crowd.

    The crescendo and crowd involvement on the Ting Tings last song was supreme. For just a two-person band, it is genius:


    I couldn’t resist adding this as I was one of the ones going crazy in the crowd. The Stone Roses had just dropped out (split up) and Pulp filled in last minute. And how good were they!


    And to please the Americans amongst you, a bit of ole Bruce:

    And a classic singalong; even given the rain, the crowd are in ROUSING form:

    And for a blinding finish to this eclectic Glasto mix is another crowd singalong favourite. Rockers Muse belt out their crowd-pleaser, Feeling Good.



    And so we have these moments of sheer elation; of euphoric oblivion whereby we seem to transcend this material world to feel connected to those around us and before us. To those who deny the parallels just haven’t seen the right bands at the right venues. If there is a god, she can be heard and felt through the sound waves, in the effects of a serotonin overload, in the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. She rocks.


    Category: MusicPsychology


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce