The Big One - Isle of Wight Festival 2009

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ben Rust | 08 June 2009

What is it?
The Isle of Wight Festival is an event steeped in history.  Jimi Hendrix played his last major gig here and it attracted the biggest ever festival audience in the UK back in the halcyon days of the late 1960’s. Now in it’s 8th year since its rebirth, the festival continues to deal with massive heritage names - this year Neil Young does the honours - alongside a cross section of some of the finest bands around at the moment. It’s an eclectic event that can sometimes err dangerously close to being an outdoor aisle of Tesco’s music section due to its populist line-up.

When and Where?
It all kicks off on Thursday 11 June for campers and finishes on Sunday 14 June. The bash is held in Seaclose Park, Newport on the delightful Isle of Wight.

Who to watch
Neil Young – Main Stage, Sunday
The legendary rocker will be bringing the festival to a raucous close, never knowing what to expect from Neil is par for the course but he’s always worth it. Imagine hearing the first bars of ‘Heart of Gold’ rolling out across the massed crowd and then that harmonica kicks in.  Just imagine it.  Good isn’t it?  Now go and see it.

The Prodigy - Friday
If you’ve seen these firestarters before then you know the score and I guarantee you’ll be looking forward to their set.  If you haven’t seen them then this is your chance to get beaten all over by bass, whistles, sirens and Keith Flint screaming like a banshee until your body hurts and you can’t stop grinning. Arguably one of the best festival bands of all time, they always bring a punishing/uplifting set with them and are always worth seeing. 

Anyone in the Big Top on Sunday – Big Top, Sunday
Tim Burgess from The Charlatans has long been an Isle of Wight Festival hero. This year he steps up his quest for the key to the Island by curating a first-rate line up in The Big Top. A great corner of indie heaven in a sometimes staid line-up - this will be the place to be on Sunday. That is unless you like The Pigeon Detectives who are on the Main Stage. And if you do then frankly you don’t deserve to be allowed in The Big Top for the likes of Black Lips, S.C.U.M and The Horrors. You may merely look at all the cool kids from afar before crying over your H&M “My First Festival” outfit and thinking about where you’ve gone wrong. 

Who to miss
Where do you start?  Razorlight on the Saturday and the frankly terrifying prospect of Goldie Looking Chain, The Script and The Pigeon Detectives one after another on the Main Stage on Sunday all deserve a miss in my book. 

Playing a rare festival appearance

Pixies – Main Stage, Sunday
Playing their only UK festival date of the year.  The Pixies are a slice of alt-rock history and perhaps the only fitting support for Neil Young.

Inside Tip
Ray-Ban Rooms – All weekend.  DJ sets from White Lies, Maximo Park, The Horrors and, erm, Nick Grimshaw make this a good place to chill in-between sets on the other stages. 

Be at the Isle of Wight if you like…
Guaranteed polished acts and a laid-back sunshiny vibe make the IOW a perfect start to your festival season. You’re in safe hands here. The Isle of Wight is just nice all round, in the best possible way.

Avoid if…
You’re after a weekend of moshing and slumming, this is festival-going at its most polished. Also, if your idea of heaven is the Lock-Up stage at Reading or having it large with the Hard Crew at Bangface then you’d be best off avoiding this one.  

Festival Tactics
Just go with the flow, the arena is tiny compared to other festivals so just potter about and explore. Don’t forget to check the Hipshaker Tent, The Ray-Ban Rooms and The Bowtime Bar for hot DJ sets across the weekend.  Our team last year also highly recommend the Taste of Wight food stall, lovely cheese and crackers apparently. 

Fashionista or folky?
Neither. You’re looking at Topshop/Man outfits with the odd quirky hat or two. Sunburnt men and girls in flowery wellies channelling Heat’s ‘Hot Festival Fashion Tips’ are a given. 

Alcohol of choice
Beer, lager or cider in a warm cardboard cup. Unless you hit the Strawberry Fields and stock up on Pimm’s and pretend you’re at a regatta.

Take you mum score - 8/10
The Script, Sterophonics, bloody Razorlight on the Main Stage, Will Young, McFly and Bananarama in The Big Top plus local produce and one of the most laid back crowds of the summer - she’ll LOVE it.

Can I still get tickets?
They’ve all sold out in advance, but there are some being held back on the gate if it gets to Thursday and you can’t take not being there anymore. Look on Red Funnel Ferries website if you’re planning on driving down as they do deals on crossing the Solent and getting into the festival.

Isle Of Wight Festival 2009 takes place at Seaclose Park, Newport, IOW from 12-14 June.

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