Who’s got the cleanest boots in the rain-sodden, mud-slicked Vale of Avalon this weekend? Kelis, that’s who.
The R&B diva is backstage right now in spotless purple-striped wellies, with her cute young son running around making animal noises and punching a giant wooden cockerell. Not something you get to see at every festival. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the fabled Glastonbury vibe in a nutshell.
Rewind an hour, an Kelis brings all the boys to the Pyramid Stage yard with her glamtastic hot-pink ballgown and full brass-section big band. She looks fabulous, but the performance feels a little perfunctory, a knowing retro pastiche of vintage soul rather than the gutsy, lusty, life-or-death immediacy of the real thing. Still, her cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” packs a punch, and the tropical carnival version of “Milkshake” is a vivid reinvention at least.
Up against Kelis on the John Peel Stage are Fat White Family, whose profane raggamuffin sleaze-punk racket is currently generating major buzz in hipster media circles. Nothing is more flimsy and insincere than hipster buzz, of course, but this South London collective definitely have something, even if it is simply their hunger to be the next in a long line of vaguely transgressive art-yob rockers, from Flowered Up to Alabama 3 to The Libertines.
Judging by their gangly frontman Lias Saudi and his whippet-thin naked torso, the name is clearly ironic. Their embryonic sound is still slouching towards Brixton, waiting to be born, but their slower numbers ooze lascivious Nick Cave menace while the faster songs have some of the caustic Prole Art Threat of vintage Mark E. Smith. Enjoy them before the hipster backlash starts!