Fan-fucking-tastic. An absolute classic, if anything only helped by the weather making things dramatic and interesting
Helluva lot of good bands seen. Submotion Orchestra, Grouch in Dub, Xavier Rudd, Talisk, Infected Mushroom, King Kong Company, Bellatrix, Kosheen, Beans and Gogol Bordello all fantastic. Caught Kate Tempest again going with the group flow - had to swallow a lot of giggles at a bunch of younger citizens dragged by a mate and completely broadsided, busy apologising for needing to wait to stop crying before they could leave. Bunch of new proper fans made right there. Four Tet's set in the rain on Nucleus was everything I've hoped for from a Four Tet set that I'd felt denied, Alkan excellent after. The Saturday night at Relic from Chase & Status on was just gold, that whole day was pretty much two stages for me and glorious for it.
The layout and set upgrades were extensive - barely knew my way around Downtown and Metropolis's towers were as impressive in their simplicity as the massive murals in Barrio Loco. The New Town Centre was impressive but I sorely miss all the projection mapping. It made for a particularly unique and interesting centrepiece. The rear of the set was mostly dressed too so very little scaffold on sight which really added to the feeling it was all solid. Relic's collapsed and precarious looking state was just glorious with the design and lighting planned tightly together. You'll see a lot of videos, it's far better when it's quite so gobsmackingly large with an endless sea of raving people in front of it.
The sound was far far better and handled really professionally throughout, when it used to wander and get worse over the weekend seeming more like it was thrown together than properly planned. This was almost all tight straight away across the whole of the big arenas - and O M G the level it got to during the closing show at Relic - I can only assume everything else on that side of the festival had shut to make that OK. Genuinely one of the loudest outdoors things I've seen.
For years after it shuts down at midnight the end of the festival has been full of roaming hoards desperate for more, it seemed much happier this time. Even the campsites were relatively calm - while I still heard a few grumblers almost everyone I asked thought they nailed it.
Seemed like fewer food options? Urinals still not signposted in any way whatsoever and fenced off in the same style as everything else - they were essentially private facilities for the first two days. By Sunday it was hard to leave a busy one without a conversation and finding people sitting down in them - fecking boomtown.
The theatrics didn't really intrude into normal citizen's lives other than the shows and changes in AMI - felt a bit more distant but still there as something changing.
Despite that I think this one finally beat Behind the Mask. Really hope they'll put more into making the story intrusive for everyone as it was back then but otherwise sign me up now.
What's that Glastonbury? You've got Iicon now? Hold my beer....