The Big Two - V Festival 2009

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ben Rust | 17 August 2009

What is it?

V Festival is one of the most branded and corporate of the summers’ festivals, it’s also one of the cleanest and best run. The festival is seen by some as an advert for an extended version of the Radio 1 playlist, but it has more to its arsenal than that. The dual-site event is renowned for bagging the big names – where else are you going to see Oasis this summer? – and it usually runs like clockwork. There’s nothing here to attract hippies, ravers or musos, but it does give pop lovers an excuse to party outside.

When is it?

V Festival takes place on the 22-23 August and is held across two sites: Hylands Park in Chelmsford and Weston Park in Staffordshire.

Who to see?

The Specials
– V Stage (Sat – Chelmsford, Sun – Staffordshire)
After a triumphant, raucous and downright brilliant showing at Glastonbury, watch these old-timers every chance you get.  Joyful, bouncy, relevant ska classics that will have your knees bouncing by your ears, your voice shouting “Rude boy” and your brain wishing your dad was as dapper as the legends on stage.

Seasick Steve – V Stage (Sat – Chelmsford, Sun – Staffordshire)
Dirty deep-south blues sung by an ex-hobo pensioner, Seasick Steve is a marvel to watch. As well as being an old-fashioned Blues Man, Seasick Steve is also a masterful storyteller. He will charm the pants off you with tales from his remarkable life, leaving you to ponder if you’re wasting yours holding a warm cardboard cup of lager knowing full well that The Script are on next.

Elbow – V Stage (Sun – Staffordshire, Sun – Chelmsford)
The gruff Manchurians have firmly established themselves as national treasures on the festival circuit. They’ve been releasing more challenging, more beautiful and just plain better music than tonight’s headliners Oasis for years and with any justice they’d be taking their place. Go and see one of the most emotionally honest bands around in an otherwise staid line-up and have a little “moment” during ‘One Day Like This’.

2 Many DJs – The Arena (Sat – Chelmsford, Sun – Staffordshire)
There’s not a lot of dancing to be had at this year’s V so the inclusion of 2 Many DJs is a godsend to those festival-goers wanting to cut a rug or two. The Belgian cut and paste masters will have you dancing your wellie clad feet off, these two are a revelation for the first timer and an unmissable part of the line-up for those in the know.

Mystery Jets – Virgin Mobile Union (Sat – Staffordshire, Sun – Chelmsford)
The Eel Pie outfit will be bringing their particular skew-whiff take on post-Libertines indie to a devoted crowd. These guys are pitch perfect crossover stars and could be a surprise big draw this weekend.

One to miss

Where to start? Taylor Swift, Razorlight, Keane, The Twang?  No, my award for most insufferable band of the weekend goes to…tiny drumroll please…Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong.  Awful, pretentious rich white-boy indie from that twat who was once kinda funny in Peep Show (you know, Sophie’s brother? When Jez shagged Sophie’s mum?  That was a good episode thinking about it, wonder when the new series starts…). Just reading my mental transgressions then was more fun than listening to Joe Lean and his merry band of tossers, don’t do it to yourself.
Playing a rare festival date

James – V Stage (Sat – Staffordshire, Sun, Chelmsford)
These guys have been knocking around since the 80’s but only really achieved success a decade later with the explosion of the Madchester scene. They still know how to work a crowd and I guarantee you’ll know more songs than the one you’re thinking about right now.

Inside Tip

The Gay Blades
– Virgin Mobile Union Sat – Staffordshire, Sun – Chelmsford)
I don’t really know how to describe these two ruffians, a little bit Crazy Horse, a little bit garage rock, a little bit heartfelt ballads, all I know is that it all adds up to a bloody great band. Get up early and go and check them out, you might just stumble across your new favourite band.

Be at V Festival if you like…
Mainstream music in all its guises, this weekend makes Radio One’s Big Weekend look like Glastonbury. This is safe, clean and well ordered fun and is perfect for families and festival virgins. A mixed and loyal crowd united in their love of all things mainstream make V a sell out year after year so you’re obviously in safe hands.

Avoid V Festival if you like…
Anything out of the ordinary, this is not the place for the elitist among you, or the metal fan, or the raver come to think of it. And this is certainly not the place to get smashed and throw bottles of your own bodily fluids about, you’re a week early my friends, Reading’s next weekend.  

Festival Tactics
Avoid the main stage apart from the bands you really want to see. V’s, ahem, interesting line-up choices mean there’s a lot of rough to get through before you find the diamonds.  Also do check out the smaller stages, The Barcadi Lounge in particular, because they’ve got some great DJ’s and live acts going on. And it doesn’t matter if everyone else has got them, don’t under any influence buy a jesters hat.

Fashionista or Folky
Well there is certainly nothing Folky about this festival, and not that much fashionable either. Expect checked shirts and cargo shorts for the boys, and whatever Topshop and Primark are currently touting for the girls. Match with pristine Converse to try and gain a tiny shred of rock ‘n roll credibility.

Alcohol of choice

This is the most branded and corporate of all the summers’ festivals so I’m afraid it’s the usual beer in a cardboard cup job, and whatever you can carry into the campsite.  

Take your mum score

8/10 – This is perfect mum territory, all the bands she’s been singing along to in the car will be in attendance so just plonk her in a chair somewhere near the main stage and she’ll be happy as Larry, who, I’m well informed, is happy as hell.

Can I still get tickets?
Afraid not, V attracts a loyal crowd every year and they’re quick to snap them all up.

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