The sun was shining, the vibes were good and there was a special something-something in the air on Saturday. Oh yeah, it was my first UK festival! Chelmsfordís Hyland Park was to be my first ever foray into the UK festival season and a bill that included Coldplay, Ash, Feeder and the Foo Fighters at The V Festival seemed like a pretty decent start. It was time to see if the reality matched the experience I had expected in my mind.
As we waited in the line to make our charity donation and get our wristbands, I could hear the summery sounds of The Bees and their outstanding ì'Minha Meninaî and I knew the day was starting off on the right foot. Luckily, my bestest friend Stephen Taverner and his posse at Out There Management had hooked me up with guest passes so our wristbands allowed us a separate area to relax in if we tired of the great unwashed. Amazingly, the unwashed were more washed at V than at most other festivals. The venue was surprisingly clean, with many staff circulating to ensure it stayed that way. As I wandered around the sprawling expanse and past the NME stage, I heard Damien Rice take the stage. Although his Radiohead-inflected acoustic strummings didnít make a whole lot of sense at 4 p.m. in the full sun, the sheer turnout for the second stage let me know people appreciated his newest work, O, as much as I had. These were not the proper circumstance under which to hear Damien properly, but he did the best with what he was given and the second stage fanatics were more than pleased.
Back to the Main Stage for Swedenís darlings of yesteryear, The Cardigans. Frontwoman Nina Persson has always been hot, but with black hair, sheís more stunning than ever. Songs spanning their career were heard on the afternoon, with new single ìYouíre The Storm,î ìLovefool,î ìCarnival,î and especially, ìMy Favorite Game,î which Nina said, included ìtheir favorite guitar part,î standing out on the glimmering afternoon. But, as this is a festival, as soon as one band ends, itís time to run off somewhere else. Like to get BEER! But, my boy Rupert Leigh at Channelfly had been kind enough to include me in his reindeer games and had acquired passes for me to obtain entrance into the Virgin Mobile VIP area, which had free beer and free food and Jack Osbourne, sadly. Other celebs seen on the day included many stars of the UK soap Hollyoaks, including the actors who played the characters of Ben, Lee, and Obie, as well as as English ìIt Girlî Tara Palmer-Tompkinson and radio host Zoe Ball. The bar even had jacks to charge your phone, had your battery drained while texting all your mates about this band or another.
Next up was Athlete. A summer band at a summer festival, it seemed perfect ñ and it was close. ìWestsideî shimmered, ìEl Salvadorî shone and ìBeautifulî was just that. Off and running now, to catch the nattily outfitted Hives. It's been a while since I had seen the boys from Sweden live, but their back to back attack of ìMain Offenderî and ìHate To Say I Told You Soî was a one-two punch of garage greatness. Now hurry up and finish your rekkid, kids.
Back for more free beer and sitting on inflatable chairs (the English do festivals RIGHT, at least at V) and veggie kababs and bean salads and the like, then out again to the Main Stage for the lovely Ash. I had just seen them two weeksí prior, but an Ash greatest hits set, especially in this environment, is better than almost every other band. And so it was, with ìAngel Interceptor,î ìGirl From Mars,î ìShining Light,î and ìBurn Baby Burnî making me feel just fine. Just fine enough to get more beer when they ended and get ready for Foo Fighters. Is Dave Grohl the ultimate showman or what? Every time Iíve seen him in big outdoor events, he has always been on fire and so it was Saturday night. Everything they played was like sonic gold and the 40,000 strong lapped it up like kittensí milk. ìOne By One,î ìEverlong,î ìMonkeywrench,î "Breakout," "All My Life, "Low" and even oldie but goodie ìThis Is A Callî had the crowd in good voice, screaming out the words to each and every tune. Festivals are amazing in this respect. Tons of humanity, most of ëem loaded, but singing their hearts out and having a blast. It ruled.
I caught a bit of Turin Brakes, lucky enough to hear ìPainkillerî and "Underdog (Save Me)" before heading back to the big stage for the one and only Coldplay. They are close to being the biggest band in the world right now and with the quality and quantity of their hits, thatís no surprise. I only caught the first six songs, but during that period, I heard ìPolitik,î ìGod Put A Smile Upon Your Face,î ìTrouble,î ìThe Scientistî and the two songs I had wanted to hear the most, the epic, Bunnymen-esque ìOne I Love,î and the bandís first proper single, ìShiver.î All was right in my world and I wandered over to the NME stage for its headliner, Feeder.
This lot has a committed fan base. From the moment the quartet took the stage to the football stadium-like chant of, ìFeed-uhî ìFeed-uh,î Grant Nicholas and his posse had the crowd eating out of their hands. The thing is, with the tunes this band have, they should have Americans eating out of their hands, too. For the 35 minutes or so I was allowing myself to stay there before battling the line for the bus back to the train station, we were treated to hooky song after hooky song, with the beer bit now affecting my song recalling memory. The football chant started back up between each and every number and Nicholas thanked us for seeing them when ìColdplay, the best band in the worldî was playing just across the way. That statement endeared him even more to me and as we were walking to the bus I thought back on my first UK festival and thought that Iíd had a pretty damn amazing time. Once again, big ups to Tav and the Out There kids and Rupert and Channelfly for making my V rate an A. Now, anyone want to send me to The Reading Festival on Saturday?