V Festival is now in its eighteenth year – which I find terrifying. Where has all that time gone? Will we ever see Elastica, Sleeper and Menswear on the same bill again? Will we ever get to see Blur perform one last time without Damon Albarn getting all sweaty and wheezy? If thinking about that didn’t upset you, think about this – all of those babies who were conceived during V96, the first V Fest ever, are now going to festivals themselves. Pass me my slippers. I can’t carry on.
Alright, a tad melodramatic – I apologise. I have bad memories of V Fest – back in 2000, I was dumped by a fella from Rayleigh who then proceeded to head to Hylands Park and make merry for the weekend – and I sat at home, leafing through magazines and wincing at the incredible line-up. However, this year I shall have my revenge – I’m off to this hugely-loved stalwart of the UK festival scene with the Almost-Husband (I cannot bring myself to use the term ‘fiance’ for the reason that I fucking hate it), and we shall we driving to Chelmsford in the middle of August to see what all the fuss is about.
I’ll admit to initially being quite confident about the demographic – young, middle class, fresh-faced; the kind of people that would describe seeing Beyonce as ‘amaze’ and call anything they found disagreeable ‘gay’. People, essentially, I would have no reason to mind after dark. ‘You are joking, aren’t you?’ said Almost-Husband, when I breezily suggested we would be the older, more established campers. I have recently found out that he camped in the traders’ area at V Fest three years ago, and there’s a reason he frets when he thinks about it. ‘All the girls were going up against the fences, like the men, and the shouting didn’t stop,’ he said. ‘It’s not like Latitude. Please don’t take your bumbag.’
Watch V Festival 2012 Highlights
Maybe the reason I’ve misjudged V Fest so far is this year’s line-up. Headliners Beyonce (amaze) and Kings of Leon will be worth a watch, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Everything Everything, The Vaccines and 5ive. Yes, that’s right – 5ive! The clutch of men who always looked greatly uncomfortable in group pictures of the band! And I was only listening to them a few weeks ago. I hope they sing ‘Everybody Get Up’ and that weird hidden track that appears to be a remix of Inspector Gadget. Essentially, everyone looks very safe. Stereophonics will be there (naturally – and they will probably make all the dads cry with ‘Mr Writer’), and the festival organisers have taken a punt on a sizeable chunk of the 14-18 year-old market plumping for The Saturdays and Little Mix. But there’s nobody playing who’s caught my eye and made me think, cripes, that’s brave – I hope they’re insured up to the hilt.
So is Almost-Husband wrong? Is he just a bit sensitive? Or are the creatures that frequent V Fest Jekyll and Hyde characters? They don’t mind rocking out to a bit of Diana Vickers (I’m not joking – she’s playing in Chelmsford on the Sunday) but at night, they shriek and curse and generally behave a bit like the cast of St Trinians if St Trinians had encouraged its pupils to drink 24/7. Can the ruddy-faced young man doing the Macarena by himself at 5am with a frightening intensity be the same polite chap who passed me the hummus at the falafel bar just a few short hours earlier?
I will admit to being intrigued – and I will admit to being excited. With bands like McFly and Calvin Harris playing, it’s looking pleasingly ‘T4 on the Beach’ at the moment, but I’m still living in hope that during Emele Sande’s set, someone’s mum will quietly take off her jeans, remove her shapeless Tesco vest top, and begin making terrible noises as she writhes around on the floor. I want to see sedate couples humping furiously after emerging in a catatonic state from Lissie. And even though Almost Husband is a bit cross when I poke gentle fun at his ‘terrible’ two nights in Chelmsford (his words, not mine) I’m curious to see what happens after dark. Maybe I’ll come home with a couple of new scars – or just a bit of sunburn. We’ll see. Either way, I like a bit of a gamble.
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