Absolutely everything on the IICON stage
The must-see musical experience of the weekend is this brand-new stage from the Block9 crew, whose club spaces routinely provide the festival’s best after-hours moments. IICON will have artists playing from a giant sculpture of a head, and they’re a who’s who of cutting-edge electronics: galaxy-cartographer Larry Heard, dub geniuses Raime, thunderously angry poet Moor Mother, junglist poet Lee Gamble, South African pairing Okzharp and Manthe Ribane, and tons of forward-thinking techno: Bruce, Zenker Brothers, Karenn and more. Sleep all day, bring a carrier bag of falafels, and you could happily spend your entire weekend here.
Georgia (The Park stage, 14.00, Friday)
One of the year’s breakout stars: this Domino-signed pop producer was due to put out her second album earlier this year, but the runaway success of its singles – the brilliant, Larry Heard-indebted Started Out and the Robyn-worthy About Work the Dancefloor have both climbed to Radio 1’s A-list – has delayed its release to give her time to build. She’ll have bangers for miles on a (hopefully) sunny Friday afternoon, and give you “I saw her first” bragging rights in the months to come.
Langa Methodist Church Choir (Pyramid stage, 11.00, Sunday)
If you’re feeling a bit special by Sunday morning, it’s raining and you just want to drive to the nearest Harvester, this lot will get you back in the game. Even the most godless will have their souls soothed by the sweeping, swelling power of this Cape Town choir, backed by simple drumming.
The Love Unlimited Synth Orchestra (The Park stage, 15.15, Saturday)
Had Barry White lived long enough, he would have made the perfect Sunday legend slot. But this year has the next best thing: recreations of the lush orchestral backings of his Love Unlimited Orchestra by the British Paraorchestra – made up of disabled performers – and a host of synth players. Out front will be a remarkably diverse range of singers taking on Baz’s bass: Gruff Rhys, Nadine Shah, Larry Heard and more.
Babymetal (The Other stage, 14.35, Sunday)
Having embraced jazz, dance music and rap years ago, Glastonbury has been slow to bring metal fully on board but this year has a sprinkling of seriously brilliant names. Venom Prison and Employed to Serve are not to be missed, while the awesome Gojira – used to playing vast outdoor gigs – can be seen at the tiny Truth stage. If you just want to dip your toe though, check out Babymetal – the Japanese duo are far from a gimmick, with recent singles such as Elevator Girl and Starlight pairing awesome high-speed drumming with pure pop melody.
Koffee (The Park stage, 14.00, Sunday)
Spearheading the roots reggae revival is this teenage Jamaican singer, who flips between plaintive vocals and nimble rapping with enviable ease, and who can absolutely translate her talent to the stage.
Stella Donnelly (Left Field, 15.00 Friday; 18.00 Saturday)
Perth songwriter Donnelly has cited Billy Bragg’s “very suburban, relatable way of talking about real life” as a formative influence on her own brilliantly detailed, strikingly low-key songwriting. This weekend she gets to meet her hero on his Left Field stage, participating in Bragg’s Radical Roundup on Friday alongside Emily Barker and Connie Constance, and playing her own set on the Saturday. “I had to tell Dad to sit down when I called him about this one,” she said.
The Heatwave v Butterz (Clash, 00.00, Saturday)
The Clash stage will bring together different crews in chaotic, combative soundclashes, and this pairing will induce absolute pandemonium: dancehall from the Heatwave meets grime from Butterz, resulting in more friction than a pair of chafing wellies.
Nilüfer Yanya (William’s Green, 16.00, Sunday)
The gem of Glastonbury’s sweetest, most indie stage, Nilüfer Yanya’s sound falls somewhere between Sade’s bruised heartbreak, the xx’s intimacy, and – improbably yet brilliantly – the Libertines’ most chaotic and galvanising moments. Her live shows mix volatility and earnest sing-alongs, with Yanya a guitar hero in the making.
Yola (Avalon stage, 13.55, Sunday; BBC Music Introducing, 18.00, Sunday)
With a voice that could carry across the whole of Worthy Farm, and excellent Dan Auerbach-produced songs to do it justice, Yola – from just down the road in Bristol – should by rights be massive. See her at close quarters before she inevitably ends up that way.
The jazz takeovers
In addition to individual sets, a number of London’s boldest jazz collectives will face off in h2h smackdowns over the weekend: the Wormhole has the Comet Is Coming v Steam Down (00.00, Friday), Ezra Collective vs Sons of Kemet (00.00, Saturday) and Kokoroko v Joe Armon-Jones (00.00, Sunday), while London’s jazz space Total Refreshment Centre takes over the Stonebridge Bar (16.00 – midnight, Friday) with the Steam Down Soundsystem, Emma-Jean Thackray, Emma Warren and more.
Giant Swan (The Spike, 23.30, Thursday; Glade, 21.25, Sunday)
Another local act, but from the other end of the musical spectrum, this Bristol duo recently and improbably played the Albert Hall supporting the Horrors. Their tough, swampy rave tunes, menaced by echoing vocals, are extremely Glastonbury-appropriate: untamed, joyously odd and just a little bit crusty.
Hollie Cook (West Holts Stage, 12.30, Sunday)
On a similar reggae tip is Hollie Cook, whose third album, 2018’s Vessel of Love, was criminally underrated. Singing about romance and resistance, Cook – who played in the last incarnation of the Slits in her teens – updates the 70s lovers rock sound with dirtier production from Killing Joke’s Youth. A Sunday-morning balm after the previous night’s excesses.
Bicep (Arcadia’s Pangea, 23.00, Friday)
The pick of the sets at the new project from Arcadia, they of the fire-breathing spider of previous years: the Northern Irish duo are already legends to a young generation of ravers, and combined with plumes of flame they are set to deliver one of the most euphoric moments of the weekend. They also play two only slightly less eye-catching sets on Saturday, at the Beat Hotel (21.30) and the Gas Tower (01.00).
Peggy Gou (Sonic, 21.30, Saturday)
By now everyone knows Peggy Gou’s understated house shimmy It Makes You Forget (Itgehane), probably the only song to unite the usually disparate patrons of BBC 6 Music, Radio 1 and Mixmag last year. Whether or not she chucks it into her Sonic playlist on Saturday night remains to be seen; whats guaranteed is an abundance of glorious filtered disco and extraordinarily lush vibes.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard (BBC Music Introducing, 14.15, Sunday)
Buzzard by name and buzzed by nature, this denim-loving quartet play good-times rock’n’roll, and just wrote a brilliant swaggering anthem for the Homeless World Cup. If you’re not swinging from the tent scaffolding by the end, you’re doing it wrong.
Shanti Celeste b2b Moxie b2b Peach b2b Saoirse (Stonebridge, 19.00, Thursday)
Four women who have helped define a joyous, breakbeat-friendly corner of the house and techno underground come together to fire the starting pistol on a weekend of dancing.
Kiddy Smile (Pussy Parlure, 2.00, Saturday)
Paris-born Pierre Hache was trying to make it as a dancer in the mid-2000s but rejected for his size. He decided to throw himself into his own project, and Kiddy Smile was born, evolving through DJ sets that bounced with Jersey club and house, to voguing, releasing his debut album One Trick Pony in 2018, and acting in Gaspar Noé’s movie Climax. Last year, he even DJ’d for President Macron at the Élysée Palace, subverting the controversial invitation by wearing a T-shirt that made his position unequivocal: “Fils d’immigrés, noir et pédé” (“immigrants’ son, black and faggot”). He plays live at the Pussy Parlure after dark on Saturday.
Keith Flint Appreciation Hour (Truth stage, 04.10, Friday)
Expect tears before bedtime at this late-night celebration of the Prodigy’s late green-haired mischief-maker. We don’t know what form this is going to take exactly, but fires will be started in everyone’s hearts.
Sampa the Great (Pussy Parlure, 18.30, Friday)
Zambian-born, Botswana-raised, Australia-dwelling rapper Sampa the Great emerged in 2015 and has been building ever since, supporting artists including Kendrick Lamar. It’s a journey that her brilliant, brassy new single Final Form traces, celebrating growth over anxiety about not having made it.
Jayda G (Wow, 22.00, Thursday)
One for the early ravers: Canada’s Jayda G is an environmental toxicologist by day, disco house maven by night, and responsible for one of the year’s best albums in Significant Changes. Her banging live sets mainline the soulful DNA that links Chicago house, disco and R&B – expect a radiant start to your weekend.