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The Most Iconic Music Festival Moments Of All Time

Beth Fraser on Tue, Jul 07, 20

With the festival season sadly put on hold and making moves towards the digital world we thought we’d remind ourselves of the most standout moments we have seen in the history of Music Festivals.

Jay Z Mocks Oasis (Glastonbury, 2008)

When Glastonbury 2008 announced Jay Z would be taking the main stage there was outrage, most notably from Oasis’ Noel Gallagher. Pre-2008 it was unheard of for hip-hop to take the place of rock and brit-pop bands on the main stage with Noel Gallagher being particular vocal in his disapproval of the announcement. In a classy and statement move, Jay Z went on to headline the main stage and opened with a rendition of Oasis’ Wonderwall – to the amusement of everyone, but probably not Noel.

Stormzy's Stab Vest by Banksy (Glastonbury, 2019)

Not only was he the first black solo artist to headline the Pyramid stage, Stormzy began his set in a Union Jack spray paint bullet proof stab vest designed by the iconic artist - Banksy. He wore it as a political statement to highlight Britain's knife-crime crisis and the racial inequality within the criminal justice system.

Tupac’s Hologram (Coachella, 2012)

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg shocked the world in their 2012 performance at Coachella when they performed with the late great Tupac Shakur – well a hologram of him. It had sparked a lot of controversy and left the audience in a state of silent shock after the performance.

Alex from Glasto (Glastonbury, 2019)

The moment we were all talking about last year when rapper Dave brought 16-year-old Alex Mann, dubbed “Alex from Glasto” on stage with him after seeing him wearing a Thiago Silva shirt in the crowd to sing AJ Tracey’s verse on Dave’s Single ‘Thiago Silva’. Alex stunned Dave and the whole of Glastonbury when he knew and rapped every single word of the song. The performance went viral, and what a performance it was.

Fyre Festival Fail (2017)

The most talked about festival experience of 2017, it got a whole lot of press and even two documentaries… but not for good reasons. The Fyre Festival was hyped up to be an unmissable event with thousands of people spending thousands of dollars on tickets to attend the prestigious festival in the Bahamas. Only to soon find out it was a huge disaster and most likely a scam - with soaking wet tents, cheese slices on bread served as food and no performances scheduled. The organiser of the event is now serving a six-year prison sentence for fraud and has been sued for millions.

Kurt Cobain Pushed on Stage In Wheelchair (Reading, 1992)

Nirvana were the headline act for Reading 1992 but there were rumours about whether the performance would go ahead due to Cobain’s ill health. It did go ahead and in good humour he even famously came on stage in a hospital gown and wig being pushed in a wheelchair. He went on to play arguably the best set of his career, though sadly it was one of his last.

Bob Dylan (Newport Folk Festival, 1965)

Described by Billboard as “Rock ‘n’ Roll’s moon landing” Bob Dylan made musical history when he betrayed his folk music roots and went electric at the Newport Folk Festival where some of the crowd even booed him. However controversial this moment was, it has since been considered a huge turning point in Dylan’s career as well as a momentous moment for the evolution of folk rock.

Jimi Hendrix (Woodstock, 1969)

Closing the festival with a 2 hour set at 9am with a performance that defined the 60s, Jimi Hendrix defied all odds with an iconic solo performance of the “Star Spangled Banner”. The violent rendition of the national anthem and Hendrix’ entire performance became emblematic of Woodstock festival and the 60s. It was argued to be the greatest political statement ever made without a single word being spoken.

Eminem Blocks Filming Headline Set (Reading Festival, 2013)

Despite it being his first appearance since 2001, rapper Eminem refused to allow the BBC to film his headline performance at the Festival. Since it was a sold out event, many fans were left disappointed they missed out on the set. Luckily though, some fans managed to capture amateur footage for us to enjoy.

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