Review of V Festival 2015 (Sunday, Hylands Park, Essex)
On Sunday 23rd August, the day began in the usual British fashion, cloudy with the very real chance of getting absolutely piss wet through. The forecast, though, did nothing to deter those heading to Hylands Park, Chelmsford for the second and final day of V Festival. A sea of anoraks and wellies trudged through the fields and in to the main festival area, the brave dispersing to the various stages and the not so brave huddling under any sheltered area they could find.
I arrived with my wife a little pissed opening gates. Already soaked to the bone we pulled ourselves through the rain just in time to see Echo and the Bunnymen pleasing those brave wet souls in the crowd with a surprisingly lively festival set before making way for the ever glamorous and vocally stunning Ella Eyre.
Gradually the rain cleared, and the very second the sun peaked from behind the clouds the anoraks came off and the flowery headbands went on. Although you couldn’t throw a wet wellie without hitting a stereotypical festival goer (Men: shorts, vest top/t-shirt showing some scantily clad female celebrity or slogan about how much of a boss you are at the weekend, straw trilby hat and sunglasses – Women: bejewelled sandals/wellies, short shorts revealing more arse cheek than anyone who isn’t conducting a full cavity search ever needs to see, bohemian top/t-shirt of classic rock band you’ve never listened to in your life, flower headband and sunglasses and let’s not forget the rave paint…) I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of the crowd. I also noticed quite a few parents with their pre-pubescent children having a fun filled family outing, which always gives me some hope for the future of music.
Once the sun was shining in all of its glory, me and the Mrs grabbed a quick bite from the plethora of weird and wonderful (and extortionate) food trucks, finally settling on pulled pork rolls from one van and sweet potato fries topped with parsley from another (both ridiculously delicious), before shedding our not-so-waterproof waterproofs and heading for the main stage. We arrived just as The Kooks were finishing up, all sunglasses and smiling faces whilst sending the crowd in to a sing along frenzy as they finished on their anthem of a track ’Naïve’.
Next to follow was the surprisingly talkative George Ezra, trusty guitar in hand and hoping to continue with the happy buzz left by The Kooks. With his deep voice and upbeat acoustic vibe he managed to do just that, pulling the crowd eagerly along with him as his album tracks gave way to his well-known and much loved singles ‘Blame It on Me’ and ‘Budapest’, even slotting in an unbelievably beautiful cover of Macy Gray’s ‘I Try’ – which the crowd were all too happy to dance and sing along to.
After George left the wife and I went to explore more of the festival grounds. We didn’t fancy any of the fairground rides as even watching other people on them made me almost dizzy enough to throw up my posh hotdog, but there was still plenty to do for those not feeling quite so adventurous. LG constructed an elaborate photo booth, Coca-Cola had us giving them a toothy grin in exchange for a free can and Pringles wanted us to hula hoop in exchange for a full size tube of Pringles, dashing Pringles straw hat and Pringles sunglasses!
There’s nothing like a freebie. One of the most impressive things was the little SOS tent Sure had in which you could apply deodorant, various haircare products and even blow dry, straighten or curl your hair. This came in particularly useful to my wife who was unimpressed with her dishevelled do and wet dress after the weather mishap, and so booted the Essex boys out from in front of the vanity mirror to make herself once again presentable in two minutes flat (much like she does every morning when she wakes up five minutes before we have to leave the house).
Back at the main stage we settled once again in to the crowd as we all eagerly awaited the arrival of one Miss Ellie Goulding. Having been a forced fan (thanks to the Mrs) of hers for a few years, I was eager to see how her powerful summer jams would fare on a live festival stage. No stranger to festival crowds or stages, Ellie bounded out full of energy and enthusiasm, launching straight in to her massive hit ‘Outside’. The crowd lapped up her energy along with the roaring sunshine, dancing along with her as she continued to unleash her most loved hits including ‘Burn’, ‘Starry Eyed’ and ‘Anything Could Happen’.
She ran, danced, twirled, spun, played guitar and pounded out a feat beats on a drum – clearly soaking up every second and not wasting a single moment of her set. It was thrilling to watch and even if you’re not an Ellie Goulding fan you simply can’t deny that she knows how to own a stage whilst ensuring the crowd has just as much fun as her. The only disappointment, though I was not at all surprised, was her choosing to end her set with ‘Love Me Like You Do’ (from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack) and turning half of the field (the female ‘dressed as mentioned above’ half) in to screaming, wailing banshees, clutching their BFF’s and screeching about Christian Grey – much to the annoyance of the other half of the field. But, hey ho! It was still a cracking performance.
After all that dancing it was time to re-energise, so we headed back to the food vans for refreshment. On the menu this time was some dicey looking Chinese food (which actually turned out to be quite nice), and then my wife decided she wanted a slushie in a palm tree cup for just £7 – bargain! So we ate, drank overpriced flavoured ice and battled through the queue for the loos and made it back just in time for the last half of The Script’s set.
The Script were definitely running on the infamous Irish Charm, keeping the crowd content as the sun sank slowly behind the main stage. They were possibly the most talkative act of the night, waving their arms and Irish pride tattoos and encouraging us all to follow our dreams and be good to one another. They created a brilliant atmosphere, especially as they finished on the immense track ‘Hall of Fame’, which had every person in the crowd singing along as the day began to wind down in to crisp evening.
By the time we’d scrambled for the loos again and enjoyed another tray of ridiculously delicious sweet potato fries the last of the sunlight had faded. The festival was now lit with lanterns and flashing fairground lights, sending a little zing of electricity through the atmosphere as the stage was set for the headline act.
Calvin Harris burst on to the stage with electrifying energy sending the crowd in to an over excited frenzy. From the moment he stepped up to the platform it was obvious we were in for a magical evening, and what he promised he delivered. From his arsenal of jams he unleashed track after track on us, including some of his mega hits with top artists such as Florence and The Machine – Sweet Nothing, Ellie Goulding – Outside and Rihanna – We Found Love.
By this point in the night the earlier wet weather had been forgotten and everyone had their eyes on the stage and their hands in the air. Fireworks and other pyrotechnics blasted from the top of the stage, wowing the crowd as they continued to dace to more mega tracks like ‘Bounce’ and ‘Under Control’, each track being expertly and seamlessly blended in to the next to ensure that no one stopped moving for even a second.
At the end of the night, Calvin Harris had the crowd on puppet strings in one of the most explosive sets V Fest has ever witnessed. Every single body in the field was moving, dancing, jumping and raving – thousands of people having the time of their lives thanks to this absolute master on the stage.
Tired, danced out and musically buzzed me and the Mrs made our way through the maze of cars with a smile that lasted the whole 220 mile journey home.
V Fest promised us great things this year and they can rest assure that they kept true to their word. Bring on V Festival 2016!
Review by Hev Bailey