2011, Band of Horses, Beady Eye, Cast, Dave Grohl, festival, Festivals, Foo Fighters, Hadouken!, Isle of Wight, Jarvis Cocker, Joan Jett, Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, Kings of Leon, music, Plan B, Pulp, Taylor Hawkins, The Courteeners, The Vaccines, Tom Jones, We Are Scientists
This festival season is set to be another one full of reunions and Isle of Wight Festival did not fail this standard. The festival also celebrated its (second) ten year anniversary, from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June.
This particular weekend festival began like any other. There was the long drudgery of strapping on your belongings and fighting through a crowd of people doing the same for a free camping space.
I was immediately struck by the variety in ages of the campers, unlike other weekend festivals I’ve attended like Oxegen, Benicassim, Reading and Offset. After Reading Festival’s pubescent swarm of malcontents this was the sweetest of reliefs.
As the festival opened its gates it was time to explore and I have to say now: it is the best festival I have ever attended. There were ACTUAL bars, in buildings, with shelters and seating. You weren’t just stuck with a buffet cart of froth filled plastic and overworked, underpaid drones sloshing them at your face. Some of these blessed drones were indoors!
The first night consisted of Silent Discos, pub quizzes, chilling with Tetris girls and me dancing on a table till I retreated as it collapsed in my wake. I was a rockstar.
Friday was the start of the music and surprisingly uncharacteristically good weather, the sun was shining on my poor Snow White freckled skin (don’t look at that picture too closely). But melanoma be damned, I had some music to see.
Our day was spent at the main stage beginning with We Are Scientists. An upbeat intro to the live music and one I’ve been waiting years for, as a fan of their older material.
Band of Horses were next up followed by The Courteeners two veritably mediocre offerings but in a festival environment, with the cider following, they were welcome.
At some point the rain began and I made the mad dash for the merch stand to buy shoddy plastic bags with holes and hoods which people claim are ponchos. And by-Jim they were worth it.
Then came the Kaiser Chiefs who I actively avoided due to my fortuitous indie bitchiness. Why bitchiness? How about the undeserved hype around their honest-to-atheism boring, bland brand of music which allegedly falls under the generous umbrella of indie (because it’s not happy or smutty enough to be pop).
Unfortunately the Kaiser Chief’s “hits” were inescapable and every word remains floating in the deepest recesses of my grey matter. So several drinks in: I’m singing along, swirling a pint in one hand and waving a rollie in the air with the other. Bliss.
Kings Of Leon were the headliners for the evening and unsurprisingly attracted a big crowd. I first saw them when they were good (in 2004, if anyone was wondering). Y’know, prior to the “This innuendo shit is getting us nowhere, let’s say sex, loudly, then maybe people will get it” conversation.
They rocked the hits as, lead singer, Caleb Followill got progressively sozzled and began making speeches about his career, love and god. Good times were had by all, particularly the hecklers.
But they did their thing and did it well. This was also the first festival to be shot in 3D so the VDJs were making the most of their backdrops and videos by using graphics. This was much to the dismay of those at the back who were watching swirls on the big screen rather than the band. Mmmm, technological progression. You can’t see shit but boy it looks pretty.
There was a grand finale of fireworks and on the walk back to the tent I had a sneaky glimpse of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in the Big Top (a tent), I paused for a small prayer that I could live her lifestyle and hold up as well as she has, well plus a little more in the boob department. I don’t ask for much.
The weather on Saturday was again beautiful so I trotted to the Strongbow Bar which had an amazing DJ and the entire place was dancing merrily. Unfortunately I’d missed The Vaccines but fortunately I saw them earlier this year so I got some extra Zs.
Last year saw The Libertines and Blink 182 at Reading Carling Weekender and this year was bound to be another stellar year for reunions. After a bar crawl around the lot, we headed for the big ole Pulp reunion on the Main Stage, marking thirty years since their first gig together. Jarvis Cocker was in great form, with hip thrusting gusto.
Britpop heroesPulp set was a seminal moment in the festival and a highlight for many people. They made a “surprise” appearance at Glastonbury this year and will be performing at Reading and Leeds Carling Weekender so it will be a brilliant festival memory, repeated for the pleasure of many more.
The Foo Fighters took the headline slot on the Main Stage while Tom Jones shook his thang in the Big Top. And by “thang” I’m probably referring to his jowls. I’m not hating. I’ve seen Tom Jones live, it was just 12 years ago and his hip thrusting wasn’t really appreciated even then.
Foo Fighters attracted the biggest crowd that the Main Stage saw over the entire festival. Dave Grohl passed a lot of wisdom onto that enamoured crowd with lines like “We play till they kick us off”, “Don’t learn to read music”, and the oh-so true “We’ve got a lot of hits”.
It has long been a thorn in my side that I hadn’t seen Foo Fighters live and it was worth the wait. As promised they ran over time, to the joy of the crowd who sang along to every track until drummer Taylor Hawkins took the mic. He sung in honour of all singing drummers everywhere. Despite the Grohl/Hawkins beloved love-in, Hawkins is no Grohl. Sorry dude, sad but true.
Luckily Dave Grohl took his rightful place and finished the gig with the long awaited ‘Everlong’ at which point I rang Joel Goodman (partner in crime extraordinaire) … but he didn’t pick up. His loss, for damn sure.
Sunday was the day the rain came to stay, it was muddy murder. I spent the day in hiding in the Silent Disco under the cover of a tent before running to the Main Stage for Plan B. I knew I was looking forward to Sunday’s line up for a reason. when he performed some classic karaoke like ‘My Girl’, accompanied by a beat boxer. Never mind the myriad of tunes from his very successful latest album.
It was then to the shelter of the Big Top in time for Hadouken!. Somehow it was my fourth time seeing them, unbelievable to even me. Even more unbelievable that Plan B once collaborated with them.
Then you realise that Hadouken! always get the party started. While Plan B had to incite his own mosh pits, even beginning his own on the Main Stage. The front of the Big Top was one swirling mass of colliding bodies. Fun was most certainly had, they have the scars to prove it. Truth.
That’s when the rain really paid us back for the sunshine so I stayed put for the Cast reunion and I’m glad I did. A great sing-along, foot stomping, knee slapping set which brought back a lot of memories, hopefully more material will be forthcoming.
I had to leg it back to the Main Stage to watch Beady Eye on my lonesome as no one else would brave the downpour. Worth a look-in but it’s not Oasis is it? Although I’m sure many said the same about Foo Fighters not being Nirvana to begin with, but then again this time they’d be right. Good luck lads.
It was time for the final headline act of the Main Stage and the one I was waiting for: Kasabian. Characteristically off their melons, they rocked out with their cocks out. Their set even had a cameo, Bez-esque dancer, Noel Fielding.
After some joyous dancing in the rain and an encore, the crowd left satisfied singing Kasabian classics, loudly and proudly. It was a fantastic end to a festival.
Isle of Wight is not too big that your body and eye balls cry out in pain from aching and not too small that your outfits are being judged by a mass of hipsters any time you make the walk of shame to the portaloos. Highly recommended (Isle of Wight not portaloos), you won’t look back.