Max McElligott, the man, songwriter and clever London School of Economics dropout behind Wolf Gang's lean, Bowie-savvy electro-pop, made his Glastonbury Festival debut this past weekend with his bandmates. It was a triumphant moment for the fast-rising group, especially since Glastonbury founder (and dairy farmer) Michael Eavis introduced them prior to their Leftfield Stage set on Saturday.
Wolf Gang, who've released a handful of vivacious, sunny singles like "The King And All of His Men" and "Lions in Cages," have supported bands like Florence and the Machine and Editors. The band's debut album, Suego Flats, produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Tame Impala) will be released via Atlantic Records on July 25 in the UK. A summer packed with UK and European festivals lies ahead, including T in the Park, Leopallooza (in Bude, UK), Belgium's Pukkelpop, and the V Festival.
TAS asked Max if he'd blog about the band's excellent Glastonbury adventures with mud, falafel, Paul Simon and too much cider and he happily sent this on:
I'm just on my way back from Glastonbury. My feet hurt, my finger nails are black with dirt, I am deliriously tired. And badly sunburned. [Ed. note: and yes, that's Wolf Gang's van getting stuck in the mud]:
Although I only arrived yesterday (Saturday), I feel like I've been camping for months. I would have gone down earlier, but my band was called in last minute to support the Killers at Hyde Park on Friday. Any other reason would have paled in comparison to a Friday night at Glasto, but this was an offer we just couldn't turn down. In fact, my drummer had to come back to London from the festival on Thursday, having just pitched his tent. Anyway It all turned out for the best; up until Saturday there had been torrential rain of biblical proportion, but when we rocked up, a serious heat wave began. We arrived just in time to pitch our tent, have a beer, and set our instruments up onstage, ready for a Wolf Gang Glastonbury debut.
I knew it was going to be a good gig when, as we were waiting to go on from the side of the stage, a familiar looking man walked up to my microphone to address the crowd. Of all the tents and stages sprawled across this mammoth festival, it struck me as a very good omen that Michael Eavis, founder of the 41 year old institution, had made a last minute cameo appearance, thanking the audience for coming and introducing the start of the evening, us.
It was also handy for our sound engineer Iain, who hadn't had time to eq the lead vocal, so he used Michael's speech to get the right amount of treble and bass. We went on and smashed through our set, really enjoying ourselves.
After the work was done, I set myself up for the night with a few obligatory rotations of beer, red wine, and vodka red bulls. Feeling a little unsteady but incredibly optimistic, I left the backstage area to embrace the tented metropolis.
To be completely honest, what happened next is a bit of a blur; the quilt of patchwork memories that I've managed to weave has many holes and sporadic gaps. I do remember dancing underneath a giant flame throwing spider ....
escaping from a haunted house/bar ....
dancing to my friend Jackson's flamenco band, watching Janelle Monáe in awe as she and her entire band performed while lying flat on the stage, wearing a red wig and a turban, and videoing one of the gang taking a leak while sleepwalking and then falling flat on his face, into the fresh puddle.
Anyway, the short of it is that I woke up this morning surrounded by watermelons and wearing a peacock feather earring, obviously the butt of some hilarious joke [Ed. note: below is someone else Max spotted who who forgot their tent].
Today (Sunday) there was one thing and one thing only that I had on my mind. Paul Simon. Pyramid Stage, 4pm. I spent the morning drifting through the hippie communes, searching for something to fix my hangover. Through the plumes of smoke and bells and flags I wondered like a lost soul, eating falafel here, watching wood carvers there.
I found respite from the noise up in the Stone Circle, where the ancient stones were lending their air of grace and wisdom to the few hundred who had partied just a little too hard. When it came around to 4, I had wormed my way to pretty near the front of the Pyramid Stage. Armed with cider, a few friends, and a hundred thousand strangers, I was ready to hear some of my favourite songs, from one of my favourite albums, Graceland. Needless to say, the man delivered, singing softly to the crowd as though we were only a small few, lulling an army of drunkards into silent admiration. Small though he may be, his songs are of a size that cannot be matched, and when the band finally played 'Call Me Al,' having teased us by leaving it until after the encore, Glastonbury erupted into a massive dance. Drunk on wine, beer, elation. I had goosebumps, it was so good. Sharing one of your favourite songs with such a massive crowd, your joy is multiplied with each soul that sings out the same chorus.
Now, tired, maybe a little broken, I can return to London knowing that I've seen something, and been part of something, that was really incredible.