The best sets at Glastonbury’s Silver Hayes dance area

Including Skream & Benga’s emotional reunion, Charli XCX’s debauched Party Girl show and experimental techno inside a new indoor club venue.

A big part of the Glastonbury experience is the constant debate about where to rave next. The WhatsApp group gets flooded with front left” messages and controversial pitches to sack off the Pyramid headliner to try and beat the south east corner dance area’s queues. In recent years, THE FACE’s team has been spending more and more time in the Silver Hayes section, which hosts a lot of the festival’s most cutting-edge electronic acts and rappers. And every year, the Silver Hayes team steps it up in terms of production.

At Silver Hayes, you’ve got the option of partying in the stadium-like stage The Levels, at or at the Lonely Hearts Club stage, the bass-heavy Firmly Rooted Soundsystem or at the new indoor club, Assembly. This year the Silver Hayes slogan was Optimism is a Political Act” and sure enough, you could engage in political debates and discussions over at The Information stage. Film, art and tech was showcased at The Hayes Pavilion, while anyone needing to take a breather could get involved with yoga, meditation and sound baths at a wellness area called Room.

Read on for THE FACE’s five best adventures in the Silver Hayes area this year.

Skream & Benga

Who knew that pulverising dubstep drops could be so heartwarming? Here’s an abridged version of the backstory: the Croydon boys pioneered the genre back in the 00s, and up until the early 10s, they were an unstoppable duo. Then they both got bored of the big bass wobbles, Skream went off to chase Ibiza sunsets as a house DJ, while Benga sadly suffered with serious mental issues. But in recent years Skream and Benga have been gradually rebuilding their partnership. Their Glasto set, which kicked off on the Lonely Hearts Club at 6pm, felt like the victory lap of their 2024 comeback tour. The old dubstep crossover hits – from Benga & Coki’s student party anthem Night, to Katy B’s crossover hit On a Mission – probably raised a few eyebrows in the underground at the time, but now they just sound like classics. The set climaxed with a moshpit-opening curveball – Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name – while Benga jumped around with his young son in front of the decks and Skream held his toddler-aged daughter. 7.30pm on the Thursday was a bit early for people to be crying tears of joy, but it happened. DR


Charli XCX

Thanks to the success of Brat and unhinged genius of the campaign around it, recent FACE cover star Charli XCX could have easily played a massive slot at Glastonbury (let’s say, the headline show on the Other Stage while Coldplay were on). But the Silver Hayes team managed to book her Party Girl DJ show for The Levels stage on Friday night. It was inevitable that the queue would be huge, so you had to forfeit the latter half of Dua Lipa’s Pyramid headline show to make it. A worthwhile sacrifice. Rocking a leather jacket and shades, Charli jumped around and gassed up the neon-green clad crowd while dropping bass-boosted reworks of Brats hardest bangers, also bringing out Robyn, Shygirl, Romy and her fiancé and collaborator George Daniel to assist her intense and unpredictable set. If you were there, you’ll probably (half) remember this one forever. DR


Aurora Halal

There were so many great acts to choose from playing at Silver Hayes’ first ever indoor stage, Assembly, which replaced the previous years’ Wow stage. Taking the shape of a proper nightclub, Assembly’s most striking feature was the wood-carved, eyeball-shaped structure looking down from the ceiling, spitting out plenty of juddering strobes and beams of blue light down into the darkness of the crowd. This setting lent itself particularly well to Aurora Halal’s set on Sunday night. (Honorary mention to Facta and K Lone, who played a couple of hours before.) Halal, who founded Brooklyn’s long-running Mutual Dreaming club night and runs the cult upstate New York festival Sustain Release, had her grip on Assembly thanks to her spinning industrial techno. The vibe was particularly euphoric: up on the red-lit platform lining the walls of the stage, festival-goers could be seen embracing each other throughout the set. JW



After people dispersed following Casisdead’s set at the Lonely Hearts Club stage on Saturday evening, things didn’t look so great for the comparatively less well-known Bristol-based MC Emz. He started his set to a thinning crowd, which, to be fair, didn’t stop him from injecting it with bucketfuls of energy. Born and raised in Stockwell, South West London, Emz cut his teeth as a musician in Bristol as a grime MC at the city’s 140 raves. Now, he spits bars over wobbly drum’n’bass rhythms. About 15 minutes into his set, Emz galvanised a much bigger crowd, many of whom were racing to the front of the stage, phones in hand, ready to record a slice of the action. Come on, guys, I’m tryna get on the BBC!” Emz shouted out, before closing with a rendition of his best-known song, READY4DEM, a freewheeling tune made in collaboration with the trio Watch the Ride. This guy definitely left Worthy Farm with a few new fans. JW


Pangaea b2b Tasha

This one was a meeting of heavyweights from two of the UK’s most prolific electronic music labels. Tasha is a Rinse FM resident and founder of the club-night-slash record label Neighbourhood, while Pangaea is one third of Hessle Audio. Switching seamlessly between plenty of heavy UK bass music and brain-bending dub techno tracks with a few soulful vocals thrown in, some stand-out moments included the crowd going wild to Overmono’s 2019 tune Le Tigre and electro slammer Hypocritz by Blumitsu. There was no one better suited to revive a crowd of weary-legged partygoers on Sunday night at Silver Hayes, particularly in the Assembly stage’s dungeonesque setting. JW

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