V Festival 2012 review: ‘urine, drug overdoses, degenerates’

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So – urine, drug overdoses, degenerates, vomit, troglodytes and two deaths. V Festival 2012. Christ, this is already sounding pretty dark and archaic – you would have thought I’d come back from a council estate in Glasgow and not a festival. Were there any highlights? Well, yes…

With an ever increasing reputation for purely commercial music, degenerate tits and arse patrons and a soulless atmosphere – pops biggest holding pen – V Festival still sells out. Is this T4 on the Beach part II or can V Festival prove commercialism to be exciting?

My festival family and I took on its Chelmsford site and returned with only mild sunburn, bruising and dysentery. There will be large gaps in this review.

Friday

Awakening still in bed with my bag half packed in the early hours to the sound of my friends door knocking and desperate pleads to use my toilet, I threw on a shirt and loaded the remains of Camp Bestival into my awkwardly large festival cricket bag, launched it into the car and rode the tiger out of Brighton to assemble at our meeting place at Starbucks on the edge of the M23 for a coffee binge and group hug with the other half of the team. We drove up to Essex to the sound of 90’s reggae, and arrived on site loose and jazzy fresh. After pitching our tent and patting ourselves on the back for our Bear Grylls achievement, we celebrated – as I believe Bear Grylls normally does when his tent is pitched – with a cursory Jagerbomb.  We soaked up the already blazing sunshine, threw some meat on the BBQ, and headed over to the partially opened site before the food coma kicked in. The heat was still lingering and we dived into Southern Comforts ‘carnival meets drinkers dive’ Juke Joint to make love with alcoholic slush puppies. We then watched Grease. Because we’re awesome. Fuck you.

Saturday

Waking up to the realisation large alcohol consumption and suicidal fairground rides should only be for suggested for those considering service in Afghanistan  – we arrived at hangover central, crying over our BBQ breakfast, trying to take the edge off with more of the pains contributor and some prescription drugs courtesy of our resident nurse. After the alcohol and ibuprofen took effect, we headed over to watch festival whores The Proclaimers and after waiting for ‘that one song’, we stumbled over bodies to catch the back end of Inspiral Carpets set for some Madchester nostalgia, before Reverend and the Makers brought some indie electropop to the 4Music stage, bringing everyone off their bums, provoking hands in the air, and inducing a waterfall of sweat down everyone’s back. Despite The Rev’s thinly veiled attack on those not bringing a guitar on stage (possibly a swipe at Pop Justice and their recent Twitter spat over ‘good’ music) pleading to the crowd to go see “The Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher, and The Charlatans… proper fucking music” – a carnival spirit was unleashed, cider was poured and we skipped our way, firstly to the bar – then onto the Arena for Wretch 32 where I’ve never felt so old.

A wave of fresh faced ‘youths’ poured into the arena to greet the Tottenham boy as I sucked the cider dregs from my beard, and pretended the stage was a shooting range as ginger overlord Ed Sheeran appeared onstage as a guest – something which would become a familiar scene for the festival. More sunshine poured over Hylands Park as Labrinth and Rizzle Kicks upbeat summer anthems created a heartbeat throb from the pit. The Red Devils parachuted down in the summer sky causing some of the already unsteady crowd to keel over as they watched the Devils twist and turn, projecting red smoke – leaving a menacing stain on the horizon.

Queuing for alcohol and water seemed to be at the merciless hands of the V Festival bastard gods, with the queuing system – firstly for alcohol longer than a death row sentence and as for drinking water, you’d think festival organizers were playing warped mind game as people were dropping like flies whilst they waited for the mirage at the end of the queue. However, I found a cider in my hand as the sun started to set over the back of the Main Stage, providing a warm glow over the stage as Amorphous Androgynous and NGHFB’s psychedelic dream-like reworking of ‘If I Had A Gun’ into ‘Shoot A Hole Into The Sun’ provided a somewhat Balearic feel to proceedings as the little known former Inspiral Carpets roadie Noel Gallagher strolled onto the stage kicking off his set with the now ironic Oasis track ‘(It’s Good) To Be Free’, then inspiring crowd sing-alongs with ‘The Death Of You And Me’ and ‘AKA…What A life!’ and later providing a crowd pleasing moment in dedicating ‘Supersonic’ to Mo Farah, then signing off with the anthemic ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.

The Stone Roses were next, and suddenly a dramatic change in faces occurred. People in their late twenties, thirties and even forties remained. Yet the teenagers seem to have been pulled from the ground, like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – which was to be honest… quite nice. I knew why though. David Guetta was headlining the 4Music stage. And I felt quite disheartened that the younger crowd didn’t realise what The Stone Roses being here at all meant.  But my worry and concern for today’s youth was quickly forgotten as Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni walked on stage – with Brown wearing a ‘Bye Bye Badman’ (album cover with lemons) jacket, as the surging crowd screamed with joyous relief over the opening riff of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ with Brown asking the crowd “How you doing? Who wants me jacket?”

Twisting and distorting ‘I Am the Resurrection’, ‘Love Spreads’ and ‘She Bangs the Drum’ to prog-like proportions under the stage lasers providing a fitting Northern Lights skyline above John Squire’s artistic backdrop including the infamous  and somewhat psychedelic lemons. A heartwarming hug between Brown  and Squire, along with a fireworks finale of Olympic proportions kept all eyes fixed on stage. Aside from the girl next to me who puked, then sat in her puke. Lovely. And as the crowd walked back to their tents singing along to ‘I Am The Resurrection’ whilst policeman were playing on the dodgems, all seemed right with the world. We got the BBQ going and stared at the stars, before noticing our fuckwit neighbour had started a barbeque from a pile of rubbish and nearly burned down the site.

Sunday

From now on this day shall be known as ‘Cher Lloyd Day’. We’d made it our plan to leave after the headliner – there’s only so much Essex a man can take. We woke to the remarkable surprise of a missing hangover. With the sun already inducing sweat from every pore, we put right to that with a breakfast beer and jager, winced and loaded our gear back into the car. We then sat in the car for five minutes with air con on full blast and wiped the sweat from our backs with a towel, wondering why we didn’t pay more attention in P.E. Free from the reigns of a tent and pyromaniac neighbours, we ventured into the site with a refreshing five minute downpour of rain taking the edge off the onslaught of heat and were ironically provided with more water than the festival organizers did. The crowd themselves got a soaking of the bland, with X Factor judges and rejects, somewhat killing the festival atmosphere. Tulisa, Olly Murs and the excrement sodden Cher Lloyd, providing people with time to head to the bar. As for Cher Lloyd – After a packed out Arena Tent for Wiley’s set (who stepped in at the last minute for Frank Ocean) was left with just a few remaining corpses after noticing the Cher Lloyd banner go up, some degenerate fuckwits decided to fill their empty bottles with piss in ready for her arrival on stage. Now for me, Cher Lloyd provides the type of music that should be played to war criminals. But urine? How about a simple yet affective boo? And seeing some very young kids leaving the arena with their parents after her walk off was pretty heartbreaking. But then again, why the hell would you bring your child to V? Why is anyone here? Why am I here? Anyway, enough of this – I can feel a panic attack coming on.

Miles Kane offered some well needed rock n’ roll soul, somehow inducing the sweat soaked, over heated crowd into a arm waving collective, thrashing out hits ‘Rearrange’ and ‘Inhaler’. Over at the Main Stage as the sun began to dip, Example and Tinie Tempah continued the tribal collective rave, before Snow Patrol slowed down proceedings and warmed the crowds hearts with ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’- and as the sun set, couples young and old sang into each other’s eyes. Sickening.

And now for something completely different. Drunk and ready to dance, we headed over to the 4Music stage as LMFAO replaced Nicki Minaj (she had the sniffles). Throwing away questions of why I was there, and staring at a man in his pants wearing a cardboard robot head; I danced like an idiot with my friends, relinquishing any ‘cool’ I had left and said goodbye to V Festival 2012. Our little group staggered back to our cars, so tired we barely said our goodbyes and fled to Brighton with my friend doing a superb job at not falling asleep and driving into the sea.

Final word

V Festival seems to have lost its way in recent years – typically with its choice in music and well… its patrons – attracting a crowd that you feel aren’t really there for the music, and more so to display fake tan, muscles and tits. Though it may follow the trend of commercially friendly pop music, it’s in need of a reboot. In the past they’ve seen – Blur, Daft Punk, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead and James Brown. That’s not to say V doesn’t still attract some pretty decent headliners – they gave us The Stone Roses this year, but their initial promotion of small bands seems to have diminished. The road to V was cancelled, despite producing winners such as The Young Knives and Bombay Bicycle Club. What happened?

And with contemporaries Glastonbury and Bestival, who aren’t just about music and provide an array of alternative areas and acts – V lacks this. But maybe that’s what makes V… V. You’re just there to sing and dance. Love it or hate it, there’s none other like it.

As my Editor put it – the mark of a good festival is the after taste. Despite my gripe about the music and small percentage of idiots, V does offer some daft, bizarre, endearing and beautifully heart warming moments. The crowd I attend festivals with could make a trip to Auschwitz fun. And though V’s festival soul seems to have diminished slightly, there’s enough dancing, sing alongs and eclectic moments to induce a wry grin on your mouth and warrant a return. Unless I hear one more fucker yell ‘Alan!’.

For more  V Festival Chelmsford coverage, click here. For V Festival Staffs coverage, click here.