Connected by an old Roman road, built in 270AD by Caesar Julius Branson, it wasn't until 10 years ago that the empire had enough cash to put on the first ever V Festival at two ancient sites in Chelmsford and Staffordshire (they had to wait until mobile phones were invented first you see).
Ten years on and little has changed in what the festival is about; a massive branding exercise heralding the marvels of Virgin Mobile and its identity at the heart of middle of the road music. Richard Bransonís Virgin logos are cattle-branded all over the site with not a free glass of tap water, clean bog or bottle of real Coca-Cola to be seen - but you can get a free mixed donner should you wield your WAPing weapon at the keepers of the hallowed kebab emporium (Virgin only of course).
Much like the Romans in their mapping of the western world, organisers at V have little time for the finer points, no airy fairy hippy nonsene or frilly extras. Instead their cause, love it or loathe it, rests soley in placating and educating the mainstream populas, the chavs and the footy fans, the hair dressers and the lorry drivers, plus a number of well placed inspirational figures and leaders to keep the scum in line, known as 'the Hollyoaks actors'.
And why not? Why pretend to be something you're not? Charity? Well that's supplied by the hundreds of press and VIP guests who converge on the two sites. Atmosphere? Minimise the beers queues and ply them with ale seems to be the solution. Evolution? Bigger and better bands, including exclusives so that Franz can't play anywhere else, ought to work. Raison d'etre? To give everyone a no nonsense festival that doesn't try to be too clever and simply knocks out big mainstream acts one after another.
This is the real festival for real people who don't give a shit about water irrigation policies in Eastern Africa, who don't find stand-up comedians the least bit funny, who would rather have a singalong and a scrap rather than a Lebanese lentil burger, and have no intention of driving outside their own county to get to anything other than an England football match.
It's about big bands, not buddy rubbing some new found camping companion, so let's not go on about its f**king ambience, let's hear about the BANDS! ... click on the links below for more...
Channel 4 Stage
The Strongbow Rooms
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