A few weeks ago, some people in the U.K., who like their guitars soft and jangly and their vocals sung and not growled, had their knickers in a twist about the fact that Metallica was picked to headline this month's Glastonbury Festival in England. It's the first time a metal act this heavy has ever topped what is traditionally an indie- and hippie-leaning gathering.
This week, just as the controversy was beginning to subside, Metallica's James Hetfield went and pissed in the faces of the Earth-loving tofu-munchers who attend the
festival by narrating a History Channel series about hunting Kodiac bears in the wild, for fun, thereby also advertising his love for such activities. Unsurprisingly,
there is now a campaign to get the Bay Area metal titans booted off the Glastonbury bill once and for
all -- which would be a wise idea, given the plethora of problems Metallica now presents for attendees of the festival.
Let's first put this in context. Glastonbury started in 1970 and has always embodied Earthy values -- and not just because of its close proximity to Stonehenge. The first time the farmer who organized the festival made a profit, he donated a large sum to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. And while the audience has recently become more mainstream, with anybody and everybody who's ever enjoyed indie music going to this thing, the left-leaning, non-violent, peace-loving roots of Glastonbury have never completely dissolved. Those values remain the backbone of the festival.
Glastonbury is also considered a calmer alternative to the likes of the Reading and Leeds Festivals, which were set up specifically to give heavier alternative bands a place to perform. (The Download Festival was also launched to focus on metal, punk, and hardcore.) Put simply, the vast majority of Glastonbury attendees are unlikely to want to watch Metallica, and the vast majority of Metallica fans in the U.K. would probably much rather go to one of the other summer festivals, where they won't have to tolerate all the wussy indie nonsense that goes on at Glastonbury.
If it weren't for the added bear hunting issue, the incongruous nature of Metallica headlining Glastonbury could have merely been an interesting experiment -- a chance to see if you can sell metal to an audience usually there to see Coldplay, the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, or Mumford and Sons. And a chance to see if metal fans will actually go to a mellower festival for the sake of seeing Metallica.