(Aaron Broster warns you…)
As a hardened Glastonbury veteran (though after a long 22 year hiatus, I’m distinctly soft around the edges!) I really didn’t know what to expect from my very first V Festival. Would I be raving down the front with my top off, hurling plastic glasses of cider at Rhianna and vomiting into someone else’s rucksack back at the tent? Or searching for some comfortable seating to people watch, looking like someones dad come to pick them up early from a party, remarking on the quality of the falafel and the surprising availability of marinated olives? Well, turns out it was a little bit of both and, don’t put that sandwich down just yet, I didn’t puke!
Day 1: Friday. Spent an amusing hour or so in a traffic queue, racing a small crowd of flabby, unfit teenage smokers, trying to catch up with a bus which had allowed them off for a fag. Must have taken them two miles to eventually get back on. Smoking’ll kill you kids! My fears that I was going to be the oldest man on site (I’m a year older than Crud) were allayed in the car park where I spotted an old guy in a Grateful Dead tshirt and his wife in some of those baggy Nepalese multicoloured yoga pants, must have been mates of Bransons. I gave them a wide berth as I still follow the Pistols’ mantra of never trusting a hippy. Is it me though, or does everyone under twenty dress like Olly Murs or Colleen Rooney. It’s a bit like a TopShop/SciFi/Horror film where the town is taken over by dead eyed kids all dressed the same and all listening to Tiny Tempah.
Ok, here’s the plan: Put up tent, drink a bag of wine and eat own food to save money, go to arena to pick up wristbands, go for a boogie at Strongbow tent with bag of wine strapped to chest to save money, back to tent. Easy.
Ok, here’s the reality: Put up tent, drink and eat own wine and food, go for wristbands, spend stupid amount on a programme, spend £40 (£40!!) on 10 (10!!) drinks tokens, drink drinks tokens, drink bag of wine, piss against side of Strongbow tent, back to tent, buy £7.50 (!!!) burger and warm water, cry self to sleep on rapidly deflating airbed.
Day 2: Saturday. So, that’s how it’s going to be is it V? (Avoids quoting Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’ but mentions it for sentiment). You get me pissed, suck me dry and spit me out with only Berroca for assistance. Right, you better have some top notch entertainment on, to make up for the re-mortgage of our house to pay for cheesy chips. I’d look in the programme, but, with it being such an expensive item, I’ve paid a small fortune for a locker to keep it in.What I need first is some Falafel (I’m not vegi, but I mentioned them earlier so had to slot them in somewhere) and where better to find them than the V Healthy enclosure. A wooden paddock of (slightly) more upmarket foodstuffs and services, sushi, paella, cupcakes, covered seating and Indian head massage. It looks and feels like an upper middle class Glastonbury (so, pretty much like the real Glastonbury then). Surprisingly though, it also had some of the best entertainment of the day. As we were arriving a trio of chefs with a guitar, drum and double bass were serving up super fast rockabilly versions of rock classics with key words replaced with foodstuffs, far more funny than it sounds.
They left, to be followed by 2 Welsh valleys accented ‘breakdancers’, top to toe in neon lycra, headbands and ‘phat’ trainers, carrying a roll of lino, the more ‘portly’ of the two sporting a buttock splitting thong, the other with a ghetto blaster the size of a car. They spent an hour embarrassing themselves and anyone else who happened to cross their path, being equally hilarious and cringeworthy. Solid gold. Result of the day: On the way to watch the Manic Street Preachers, stopped at the bar where the young punk serving offered me free drinks all weekend in return for the ‘Brigade Rosse’ tshirt I was wearing. I said no, but still got the drinks every time he served me, all weekend. Nice one fella, I take back what I said about today’s youth!
Manics were awesome, but mostly underappreciated, us oldies at the back were bouncing but the massed throngs at the front were just hanging around between Scouting For Girls and The Script. Embarrassingly only saw one Welsh flag in the crowd during their set, poor show, great band.
Caught the end of Hurts‘ set before Big Audio Dynamite. Sounded and looked like the return of The Associates, god I used to hate them! The tent emptied and we were alone with the security at the front. And we waited. Alone. And nobody came. And we waited. We worried a bit, then Boom! two minutes before show time the tent filled (kinda) and I was as surprised as Mick Jones (‘Thanks for coming to see a bunch of old men from the 80s’) before launching into ‘Bottom Line’ (Don’t forget Mick, you played a major part in the 70s as well). Lots of smiling faces ensued at the end of a cracking, bassy, samply set.
Result of the day 2: Briefly popped back to our tent at about 6.00pm to find the campsite devoid of people and the toilets freshly emptied and cleaned. Poo of the weekend by far!
Day 3: Sunday. Arose bright and refreshed after absolutely no sleep whatsoever, thanks to 15 ever so discreet and quiet members of Burtonwood’s cocaine abusing fraternity, shagging, shouting and shitting next to our tent until 9am. Today’s line up says one thing to me, let’s get steaming and not watch anybody! The sun came out, ‘Brigade Rosse’ tshirt guy did his bit with a double gratis cider breakfast and away we go. Hey, the Virgin Media ‘Our House’ bar looks good, white leather beanbags, Family Guy on the screen, The Enemy DJ set later….pay to go on the balcony or sit in the beer garden! Fuck off!!
And then Fun Loving Criminals came on the main stage and for half an hour it all came together as a ‘Good’ festival should, sunny, sunday, semi drunk, louche and funky, singalong and bouncy. All over too quickly. Back to the grind. Although, like the rest of the festival, the Strongbow bar was just one big yellow product placement, it did turn out to be a bit of a goodtime haven. Older crowd, getting pissed and up for a dance, alternate dj/band sets and, most importantly a big fat leather sofa, next to the bar, overlooking the stage that was ours for two hours! Lonsdale Boys Club (Band) were good, as was Dead Audio Boy (DJ). I have very fuzzy recollection of anything else other than cider.
Met up with friends (waiting for Olly Murs!) at the 4Music stage and caught half of Cast‘s set which brought the ’90s flooding back, in a good way. My ‘hot weather/top off/tats out’ look attracted a lot of conversation with strangers, the most memorable being the stag party, dressed as a 1930’s toffs shooting party who regaled me with several samples of flavoured snuff. As the early evening sun began to set, we (the Mrs) decided that we (I) should stop drinking. We sold our remaining drinks tokens and decided to head for the funfair, though I managed to convince her to stop at the Jagermeister bar for a quick one (3). Me almost faceplanting into a bubbling three foot wide pan of chilli at the nachos stall convinced us that a reverse bungee jump was probably not a good idea. So, shamefully early, we slowly headed back to the tent. Great, I thought, more relaxed drinking on the comfort of my own airbed…..unconscious within seconds of arrival, only to wake up at 3am, teeth chattering, face down in the tent porch. THAT is what festivals should be about V goers, not the bloody Saturdays, organic salmon and ‘pay to sit down’ beer gardens.
Day 4: Going home. At last, a true Glastonbury moment! Upon arrival back at the car, with everything packed in the boot, I ran to the nearest toilets for a bowel evacuation to find every single one piled, well above the seat, with poo, paper, ladies stuff and detritus galore. But I HAD to go, so found the least full of a bad bunch, took a deep breath and perched a plop on top of the pile. Goodbye V Festival it’s been (almost) emotional. Sorry, should have warned you to put that sandwich down, shouldn’t I?