So You Want to Play at Glastonbury?

Gecko Will at Glastonbury

Hello. I am Gecko, a London based singer-storyteller. Over the years I have been lucky enough to have had my music featured on Fresh On The Net a number of times. Like I imagine you are, I’ve been a keen digester of all the invaluable info this website has to offer. 

This year I performed ten times at Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts*. Recently I found an email in my inbox from Tom Robinson himself asking me how the hell this was allowed to happen? Well actually he sent a rather lovely message asking if I fancied talking about my experience and how it came about. So that’s what I’m doing here.

So you want to play Glastonbury? I mean who doesn’t? Other than potentially Fleetwood Mac. 

Route 1: Apply for the emerging talent competition. If you’re on this website I feel you already know what that is but in case you don’t, it’s Worthy Farm’s annual open competition and it’s an obvious place to start. Each year, usually around January you can fill in a simple form, submit a live video and have the potential of making the ‘long list’. An intrepid team of bloggers** work their way through the literal thousands of applications and slim it down to around a hundred. The ‘long list’ is then whittled down to 10 or so that play a gig in Pilton’s Working Mens Club, the winner gets a slot on one of the main stages and a few flipping thousands of pounds from PRS. This is all very nice, but a bit of a lottery, so whilst always worth entering it’s not your only route in to the holy land of counter culture.

Will from Gecko at Glastonbury

If you would like to play at a festival my main advice would be go to festivals. Most festivals have smaller stages that you can only really find out about by exploring them in person. This year was my fifth Glastonbury as a performer and each time I’ve built up more friends and contacts at different stages.

With Glastonbury there are lots of areas with different distinctive personalities, so just like you might research the type of radio show that fits your genre you can do the same here. Left Field is where the radical political music lives, the Green Fields are a folky/hippy/acoustic land, the South East Corner and Silver Hayes are the big areas for dance music. Sift through this year’s full line-up and see where artists you identify with played. When you do approach a stage understand that the bookers are absolutely inundated with requests, make your email as clear and simple as possible, a couple of links to music (1 recorded + a live video) is probably sufficient. My word is certainly not gospel though, we’re all finding our own winding path along this musical landscape so if you want to send a short novella about your connections to the stone circle maybe that could work.

This year I was initially booked by the wonderful Theatre & Circus fields and then I added extra shows with Greenpeace, the Toad Hall and the Bread and Roses. The smaller stages are always particularly fun on the Wednesday and Thursday of Glasto as this is before the main stages are running.

These smaller places are the beating heart of what makes Glastonbury the best festival on earth. Getting lost down the madness that is the rabbit hole, catching a beatboxer command a packed Rum Shack in The Common at 3 in the morning, being swept into a late night cabaret when you thought you were going to bed. I feel for the artists that drive on to site and have to leave straight after they’ve played. Glastonbury is the best place to start small and build your Worthy Farm audience from the muddy ground up. I saw a particularly special set this year from Glastonbury grafter Grace Petrie on the big acoustic stage and you could feel all those years of playing the smaller tents just made it all the more emotional***.

Now go forth and prosper, bag that Glasto slot! And if you get a gig at West Holts can you sort me out a pass for the backstage bar?

Gecko finishes the year with two headline shows:

Dec 11 St Pancras Old Church, LONDON Tickets

Dec 21 Cube, BRISTOL Tickets

*Wherever possible I like to give it its full title.

 **Due to a quirk I have noticed it seems this competition is always divvied out to the judges based on the letter your act begins with so if you’re not set on your project’s alias yet why not go for one of the lesser used parts of the alphabet? Maybe that’s how it all kicked off for The XX? But maybe they would have been submitted under ‘T’. God knows.

***One of her songs ‘Ivy’ is about Grace driving back from Glastonbury early because her niece is about to be born. She appreciates the fact that Ivy left it until the Sunday to decide to arrive and that she didn’t even have to miss Dolly Parton! Ivy is now five years old. It was a beautiful moment to hear this song in its natural habitat.

Gecko is a London based singer storyteller, his playful lyrics cover the big things in life; think iPhones, Libraries & Guanabana fruit juice.

Gecko has previously appeared at Glastonbury, Bestival, Latitude, BBC Radio 1, 6 Music, BBC Scotland, BBC London & the Edinburgh Fringe. 

He has toured across the world from Stockholm to Wellington, Amsterdam to Harrogate. His album Volcano was made ‘Album of the year’ in the Morning Star.

He has shared stages with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Robin Ince, Josie Long, John Hegley & Billy Bragg.

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All photos from Gecko’s Facebook Page

Guest Post

One of a series of guest posts from bands, bloggers and other colleagues reviewing our Fresh Faves, sharing their expertise, and writing about their current projects.


  1. What a great read! I have Glastonbury as a glaring hole in my festival CV and would love to get there for the 50th bash. Advice here is gold. Cheers Tom for asking and cheers Gheko for sharing.

  2. Very interesting article and just the kind of information we need to be sharing on Fresh on the Net. Well done Tom for asking and thank you Gecko for obliging. 🙂

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