For me, summer means three things: a spatter of sunshine, a wave of wasps and a torrent of festivals. Having only seen highlights of performances on TV before, I was thrilled to be able to go to this year’s V Festival in Chelmsford with one of my best friends. With headliners such as Eminem, Rihanna and the Artic Monkeys, V Festival is undeniably one of the biggest galas around. Add to this the onslaught of stalls, food bars, comedy tents and a Just Dance bus and you have the makings of an unforgettable weekend.
|Olly Murs set|
It has to be said that the headliners had amazing performances – if they were anything less their prominence would be questionable. However, for me it was the smaller performances that demanded greater credit. Olly Murs was for me one of the best there, especially for entertainment value. The X Factor runner-up presented a mixture of his own chart-topping singles and a hilarious dance routine to some of Madness’ better known songs. His cheeky-chappy-smile is infectious even from a distance, and having seen him live I genuinely cannot understand how Joe McElderry beat him to claim the shows top prize. And naturally, my friend and I spent hours entertaining ourselves with impressions of the X Factor announcer calling out his name. Oh, and quoting Hot Fuzz with the accompanying accents. It’s bizarre the kind of things that just get funnier the more times you say them.
|Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs|
One thing that festivals are well known for are their ability to turn from serene one minute to bone-crushing and deadly the next. Although it was rumoured around camp that moshing had been banned for safety reasons, naturally there were still cases of drunken morons thinking that jumping and landing on relatively small people (such as myself) was an excellent idea. Then again, when you make the effort to make it to the barrier for acts like the Kaiser Chiefs, Lost Prophets and Razorlight, you really can’t expect to be left in piece. Ricky Wilson, lead singer of Kaiser Chiefs was particularly entertaining. Running along the border of the public mass, and at points jumping in amongst them, he really put on a show. Although it must be said he did look high. Still, when they played ‘I Predict A Riot’, they certainly started one where we were standing.
Another danger of being so close to the artists is not actually being one of their biggest fans. It may sound strange that we would have fought our way to the front when we weren’t actually so ‘hard-core’, but festivals are a display of artists you like, love and want to get to know. But the proper fans don’t seem to appreciate that blossoming interest and are decided instead to crush it under the intensity of their disapproving glares. I’m just beginning to get into Lostprophets, and so decided to go along to their performance; but I was surrounded by their true followers and I could feel their irritated glowers burning into the back of my head as they registered my lack of knowledge in the band’s music. Despite my effort to disperse this image with my enthusiastic dancing, they weren’t convinced. I felt like I was being watched by several angry teachers whilst I had a private rave in their office. Worse was not knowing the lyrics; and then managing to get the ones I thought I knew horrendously wrong. As I write this, my iPod is playing Lostprophet’s ‘Last Summer’, proving my point perfectly: learn their words before you see them live in order to avoid extreme discomfort and embarrassment.
|You Me At Six set|
The highlight of any festival is being able to see your favourite artist, and I was fortunate enough to see my favourite band You Me At Six. Of course I’m bias because of my love for their music, but they were undoubtedly the best act there. Right on the barrier, and caught sparingly on screen by the great overhead camera that swept across the crowd, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed music so much. What’s funny is the fact that bands like You Me At Six and Lostprophets even played at V Festival. They wouldn’t be classed as ‘Pop’ bands and V Fest isn’t exactly Reading & Leeds. Like Josh Franceschi said as they played: “If you guys could see what I can see… the amount of people who have turned up to see a rock band at a pop festival”. Why he seemed surprised though I’ve no idea: the power and intensity behind their songs is enough to bring a tidal wave of adoring listeners towards their shows. My only complaint is their miniscule 30 minute set – they deserve so much more.
You can always tell when an artist is a genuine performer. It’s not about the lights or the costumes or the set – they’ll interact with the crowd. Rihanna’s music is beautiful, but her set was cold; she sang, she danced, she left. But bands like The Script and Scouting For Girls, they talked to us and they sang with us, until we felt like another member of the band. And it’s that kind of atmosphere that makes live performances. It also showed the difference between those who had worked their way up from playing small clubs and earned a record and those that had gotten a record and been given a live slot.
Naturally, the weather greatly impacts the mood of everyone. We were incredibly lucky to have glorious sunshine for nearly two whole days. I say nearly – the heavens opened midway through our first day and drenched everyone during KT Tunstall’s set (best known for ‘Suddenly I See’, which will only ever mean the Pilot episode of Ugly Betty to me). We were immediately surrounded by complainers, covered in plastic anoraks. Having judged that the rain couldn’t do any more damage than it had already, we continued to enjoy the performance without cover, deciding to allow the rain to enhance the show rather than drown it. The rain certainly had one positive effect though – it managed to persuade half-naked men to put their clothes back on, to the relief of many who did not appreciate the sight of those that really need to be wearing a bra.