Isle of Wight Festival 2011

Venue: Seaclose Park, Brecon
Date: 10th - 12th June 2011

The Isle of Wight Festival is always the first of the major UK festivals. This is a festival, which by mere mention of its name conjures up images of the legendary 1970 festival where over 600,000 people made their way onto the island. Watching performances from; ‘The Who’, ‘Jimi Hendrix’ and ‘The Doors’, the spirit of freedom, peace, love and creativity was embraced by all who attended. The festival as it exists today is very different to how it was in 1970, yet there is still something magical and exciting about travelling there on a ferry, it helps to create the feeling that you are removed from everyday life.

Aside from Glastonbury, it could be argued that all major UK festivals have changed a great deal over the years and sadly much of this was evident in the Isle of Wight Festival 2011. Is there really a need for advertising everywhere you look? I am not going to list all the companies that were advertising at the festival as I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of more publicity. Why is there a need to have stewards everywhere stopping everyone as they walk in searching bags and pockets? Why do I need to argue the need to bring in my own drinks and a fold up foot stool? Stewards tell me it’s because they sell drinks and chairs inside the festival. Yes, I know that, but I don’t want to have to pay over inflated prices. Whatever happened to the sense of freedom in festivals? A lot of festivals theses days seem primarily concerned with how much money they can make out of people. I will get the other negative sides of the festival out of the way at this point; Fairgrounds. I do not feel that there is a place for fairgrounds at festivals as they just take up space. If I want to scream, if I want to go faster, then I will go and visit the travelling fairground when it is in town. Also present was a VIP stage from a certain mobile phone company where its customers could go for a better view, yet if this stage was removed there would have been more room for people to stand together and enjoy the music on the main stage.

That’s the negatives out of the way so now it’s time to focus on what was good about the festival.

‘Pulp’ made their return to British soil for the first time since 2001 and it was a very welcome return of an old friend. Jarvis was his charismatic self, always the true gent, toasting the crowd with his glass of red wine, giving out biscuits to the crowd and informing us of facts about the island. And yes, I was dancing around without a care in the world to classic indie anthems including ‘Common People’, ‘Disco 2000’, ‘Do You Remember the First Time’ and ‘Sorted for E’s and Whizz’.

‘Foo Fighters; worked their way through a very fast paced hit after hit set that kept the crowd very happy, with Dave Grohl being his usual energetic self and managing to make a headline slot feel intimate. Unfortunately the sound being broadcast front of stage was not able to do justice to the sound being created on stage. The sound out front was too quiet and whether this had something to do with the festivals close location to a residential area is another question for the organisers to answer.

‘Courteeners’ have proved that they are ready to move on to becoming an arena band and potential stadium band if they carry on making crowd pleasing anthems. ‘Beady Eye’ has shown there is life for them after Oasis. Liam is continuing to do what he loves doing and what he was born to do; to be a front man in a rock n roll band. ‘Brother’ has been the most hyped up band of the year and they proved on Sunday that they have the songs and confidence to back up the hype. ‘Brother’ believe they will be headlining festivals in the future and based on their performance on Sunday that could be a very strong possibility. ‘The Vaccines’ were on perfect form and worked the crowd up into a frenzy with new indie anthems that are going to stand the test of time. ‘Various Cruelties’ gave another perfect performance. ‘If it wasn’t for you’ is such a beautiful song; this is a band with an exciting future ahead of them.

Isle of Wight Festival 2011 is a very different experience to what I imagine it would have been in 1970, yet as I sit here writing with my post festival cold I ask myself, “Is it all really worth it and would I go again?” The answer is a resounding “Yes, of course I would”. Despite festival organisers trying to make as much money out of you as possible I am still able to enjoy festivals for what they should be; a place to escape from the real world, to spend time with loved ones and friends, sharing together the experience and power of music.

Steve Tay

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