V Festival Chelmsford 2009: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 26 August 2009

Overall - 6/10

Part of the big three festivals, you’re always guaranteed that there will no shortage of big acts on offer at V and this year was no exception, well up until Sunday that was. When the news that Oasis had pulled out due to illness the sound of jaws crashing to the ground and widespread jeers could be heard all around.

However, in true British style most punters put on their stiff upper lip, and saw it as an opportunity to see what other delights this behemoth of a festival could offer. From the randomness of the DJ in the Barcadi tent spinning the ‘Only Fools And Horses’ theme music to the thrill of the white knuckle rides, even the Gallaghers could not bring a stop to the alcohol fuelled revelry.  

Getting There and Back - 5/10

For those of a green disposition, the site is easily accessible by public transport. With shuttle busses running between the campsite and the local station regularly and at no extra cost, it couldn’t be easier to keep that carbon footprint down.

However, for those who didn’t fancy carrying their tent and several packs of cider on a crowded train, the car is the only option. Easily accessible by the M25, the drive from London is perfectly straightforward and entrance to the car park well signposted.

Come Monday morning it’s a different story. With only one road leading out of the car park, motorists are forced to sit and wait for hours to travel just a few feet forward. With a lack of stewards and proper organisation, the whole car park descends into a state of chaos with cars lying ten lanes wide angrily beeping horns in unison. If you are driving it is advised you leave on Sunday night or before the sunrises on the Monday.  

The Site - 6/10

Set in the picturesque Hylands Park, the site comes complete with quaint wooded areas and even its own neo-classical house. The site split into three areas, the Arena, the Red campsite and the Yellow campsite, all of which are large enough to hold their own complete festival. The expansiveness of each can make it incredibly disorienting, especially if you access an area via different entrance.

The main arena is split into four stage areas with a couple of smaller stages placed in between. The main stages 4 Music and V Stage are vast chasms flanked by beer tents and burger vans, which can easily fit a 100,000 people in and once you’ve lost sight of someone you may as well say goodbye until Monday morning. To their strength they are placed on hills, so everybody can get a clear view of the stage. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for the two tent arenas, which are set on flat ground making it virtually impossible to see the stage from anywhere but the front.

Atmosphere - 6/10

Placing a festival between Essex and London is never going to attract the friendliest of crowds. One chav in 3/4 length trousers and an England shirt took great joy in retelling how, “A guy fell over in front of me so I kicked him in the face, his nose just exploded,” and a night didn’t go by where some couple of group of people could be heard exchanging expletives at three o’clock in the morning.

However, in the arena it was a completely different story. Most punters were enjoying the sun and the abundance of bars, fairground rides and stools selling all manner of festival crap. The atmosphere was friendly to say the least and the amount of festival-goers in fancy dress was enough to bring a smile to even the most disgruntled face

Music - 7/10

V Festival
is often perceived as having a top heavy line-up, but this year the wealth was distributed more evenly across the bill. With big acts such as The Specials, Katy Perry and Elbow having relatively early slots, festival-goers were treated to big name acts all day. For those looking for a pure indie-fest, it would be advisable to stay away. This year organisers clearly wanted to cater for just as many pop-music fans, which was reflected by the plethora of pop acts on offer.


Pendulum - 8/10

The Australian drum and bass outfit brought something, which no other band did all weekend: a live performance which turned even the sanest of crowd members into a rabid moshing animal. During their pulsating set, which featured  ‘Propane Nightmares’ and their remix of the prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’, large parts of the crowd  started crashing into each other and became enthralled in the mosh pits.

Fatboy Slim - 9/10
Proving you don’t have to be a guitar four piece with some right catchy songs to headline a festival, Fatboy Slim played a brilliant career spanning set, which was updated to include remixes of previous hit ‘Right Here Right Now’ and a break-beat version of La Roux’s ‘Going In For The Kill’.

MGMT - 8/10
When the news that Oasis had cancelled hit the crowd, many had to change their plans, and rather than watch Snow Patrol play an elongated set a surprising amount decided to watch MGMT and they were not disappointed. They showcased new material in between the holy trinity of ‘Kids’, ‘Electric Feel’ and ‘Time To Pretend’ as well as comforting all those disappointed Oasis fans with a cover of ‘Live Forever’ complete with a cardboard cut out of Liam Gallagher on the stage.  

James - 8/10

One of the more surprising acts for those under the age of 25, each of their past hits, including ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Laid’, were met by widespread remarks of “Oh, I’ve heard this one,” while for the rest of the crowd it provided the first sing along moment of the day. It was during their set that most heard the news about Oasis, and feeling a little annoyed by his band’s performance being overshadowed by the cancellation, singer Tim Booth poked fun at the Gallaghers by sucking on a helium balloon and giving a high pitched rendition of  ‘Wonderwall’.


Oasis - 0/10

Given that most punters will book a festival based on the headliners it was a crushing blow to many to hear that Oasis had pulled out due to illness. Without a thorough explanation as to why and with news spreading fast that they managed to play the night before, conspiracy theories were quickly hatched. Most sighted a recent fallout in the media as the reason and not an illness, leading to many disappointed fans calling for their money to be refunded.

Ocean Colour Scene - 3/10
Like seeing you dad and his mates go through a midlife crisis Ocean Colour Scene were just as cringe worthy as they were bland. ‘The River Boat Song’ and ‘100 Mile High City’ did provide brief glimpses of promise during their dull set, but ultimately their performance showed just why the one time Brit Pop kings have been relegated to midday obscurity.

Random Events

There were may random sights at this year’s festival especially in the dressing up department, most notably Morph, the man in the orange body stocking and the ten Smurfettes.

However, seeing a very drunk festival goer, who goes by the name Cuddles, offering people the chance to whip his bum for a pound has to be the most random. His excuse was not for some sadistic thrill, but because he had ran out of cash and couldn't think of any other way of raising some beer money – clearly he didn't notice V Festival will pay you 10p for every cup you find and return.

By Chris Cummins.

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