Bearded Theory 2011 kicks off in Derbyshire

First impressions count. They count a lot. And the first impression of Bearded Theory 2011 - a crusty-ish boutique affair just north of Derby - is that it's just big enough to be credible, but at the same time so small that by the end of the weekend you could be on first name terms with most of the crowd.

It’s a festival that seems to make it obligatory to talk to your neighbours, chew the fat with strangers and generally do all the things that define ‘community’ – a word much used but little understood by politicians the world over.

The coalition should maybe pitch their tents alongside an extended family from Shropshire, some juggling kids from Dorset and an aging surfer from Cornwall to get a real understanding of what makes this largely hidden but hugely influential demographic tick.

Musically speaking, the weekend promises to be a pleasantly mixed bag and certainly no one-trick pony where everyone has come on the back of a single big name.

However there are some big names, the X Factor’s Wagner for instance, so you can be sure VF will be there amongst the action.

Keep tabs on our @VF Twitter feed and the #beardedtheory hashtag for news and views as they break and look out for photos, reviews and video interviews as the weekend unfolds.