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V festival, Weston Park, 18-19 August 2012 | FESTIVALPHOTO

V festival, Weston Park, 18-19 August 2012



This was my first time at V festival and I'd heard mixed reports about it, so was keen to see for myself what the festival was like.

The festival is held at two sites - Chelmsford, Essex and Weston Park, Staffordshire on the same weekend with bands who play one site on the saturday, playing the other on the sunday and vice versa. It's a good system as it lets the organisers effectively split one massive festival into two more manageable sized ones.
First impressions were good - the site was well signposted from the motorway all the way through to the sites. Sadly the problems arose once I arrived at the site as the VIP car park wasnt signposted and most stewards had no idea where to send people, so I had a long tour round the standard car park before encountering a steward who knew the right way to go. Once parked, it was a walk to the box office to get wristbands sorted out, then into the arena.
There are lots of food stalls around the site, but bars were a bit on the sparse side which didnt seem to bother most people who just brought their own booze in past the security checks. The site was pretty well laid out in terms of food stalls and stages, but the toilets tended to be badly sited well away from the main stages so people didnt bother with the long walk and just relieved themselves elsewhere (more on that later).

Saturday on main stage was a very mixed lineup - you had classic 80s bands, Madness and The Stranglers alongside Tom Jones, and then had Tulisa, Olly Murs, Tinie Tempah, Snow Patrol and The Killers - very diverse. Surprisingly all the bands pulled large crowds and that is probably the key to V's success - it's the diversity that keeps things interesting.
For me, Madness, The Stranglers and Tom Jones were the best acts on the Virgin Media stage, although it was easy to see why Olly Murs is so popular. For me though the Arena stage had some great acts. Rita Ora was the first act I saw there and the tent was absolutely packed out, and as people dried off after the earlier rain, the tent got hot and steamy and was pretty much turned into a sauna. Rita Ora put on a great show and was clearly having a great time. At the other end of the scale, Cher Lloyd was in my view pretty awful, but at least she didnt get booed off as happened the next day in Chelmsford. The absolute highlight of the days bands for me though was The Human League - a band I'd never managed to see. They played to a busy tent and were going down very well until they came to the last two songs when "Together in Electric Dreams" got the crowd going wild, before the set ended with "Don't you want me" and they had the whole crowd singing along. Even after the band took their bow and left the stage the fans were still singing along for several minutes - magical stuff.

We were lucky with the weather on Saturday - despite a damp start the afternoon and evening were pretty hot. Sadly Sunday wasn't so nice and started with torrential rain which dampened spirits (excuse the pun), but once the rain stopped people started to cheer up. Today was definitely a good day for fans of Indie rock with Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher The Charlatans, Insipral carpets and more all playing and drawing good crowds.
Emeli Sande, The Proclaimers, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and The Ting Tings all put in great performances, but really The Stone Roses were the band most people were here to see judging by the sea of people that flooded to see them end the festival with a great set.

V is a huge festival which means a lot of walking, so its exhausting but if the lineup suits your taste then it's worth the effort.

To view more photos of the weekend's bands, and people around the festival, the galleries are here -

Ok in brief, the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the festival.

The good:

Lots of choices of food stalls

Some great bands on the bill - fans of Indie rock in particular were very well catered for.

The four stages mean there is normally something worth watching at any given time

The bad:

The fact that the organisers refuse to release stage times in advance to force people to buy the lanyards when they arrive - I haven't come across another festival in the UK that does this - the rest all release times in advance so people can plan their days in advance

The lack of adequate toilets and the fact they are located well away from where people want them.

The tendancy of mindless idiots to throw bottles or cans at the artists performing on stage.

The ugly:

The walk to the toilets coupled with long queues means every single fence in the place is used as a toilet by both men and women. I've never seen so many people urinating in public, and by the second day the stench was revolting. Some festival-goers were even worse and just relieved themselves in the middle of the arena as they were too lazy/rude/ignorant to go to the toilets. This is unacceptable behaviour yet was ignored by security staff.


Skribent: Anthony May
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