Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Isle of Wight Festival

114Image by joedawson via Flickr
Last week I won a pair of tickets to the Isle of Wight Festival, held at Seaclose Park in Newport on the Isle of Wight. I travelled to the festival with my partner and this blog post contains details on everything that occurred over the weekend! I booked to travel with Red Funnel Ferries, Southampton, and this will be where I begin the review. We arrived at the ferry terminal in Southampton (Terminal 1) found at Dock Gate 7 on Town Quay Road, approximately an hour and a half before departure. We had booked to travel as foot passengers, allowing flexibility to travel home, on the return date, whenever we felt appropriate. With time before the next departure we went to find suitable parking, I wasn't prepared to pay excessive prices so found a residential area to leave the vehicle. I would advise this to anyone travelling to the festival! After purchasing essentials, we travelled to the terminal on a free bus and boarded the ferry just in time because it departed almost immediately. The journey was about an hour, our entertainment was a group on a stag party who were dressed as Spartans. Not sure of the rules but they weren't either because they had a manual so they didn't get confused. We arrived at East Cowes and were quickly ushered towards the 'taxi' area, I concluded that the representative meant the standard taxi's but we were mistaken. We were soon on board a water taxi (small boat), heading towards the festival, carrying approximately eight people, this increased when a second boat docked beside our craft and three more people boarded. Impressed but then what happened next exceeded anything we could have envisioned, another boat docked beside us but instead of people they offered burgers and beverages! Locals who knew how to capitalise on the increased presence on the Island due to the festival!!

Ready For The Weekend

We arrived at the Isle of Wight Festival camping entrance, our wrist bands were checked and we were advised on pitch availability. Aptly titled Binfield 2, this would become our home for the duration of the festival. After pitching our tent we weaved though the crowds, food stalls and themed areas towards the Main Stage! We were soon greeted by Calvin Harris, who advised to put on shoes to be ready for the weekend. Most people were wearing wellington boots but there were a few, like yours truly, who had other ideas. To be fair I had arranged to collect the wellingtons I had won the Saturday so I didn't have a choice! We navigated through the crowds, advising everyone to throw their diamonds in the sky if they feel the vibe - Jay Z hand gesture. Florence + The Machine were next on stage and the position we secured was directly in front of the large screen and camera crew, maximising television exposure and a decent position to view the action. Florence was exceptional, many people were anticipating Dizzee Rascal making an appearance and although he wasn't there they weren't disappointed as the performance was excellent. Friday night belonged to Jay Z, I admit that I wasn't convinced before Glastonbury but he silenced the critics then and tonight proved that he is one of the best performers on the planet. The reaction to his tracks was amazing, Mr. Hudson joined Jay Z on stage for Forever Young but no one could have predicted Kanye West making an appearance for Run This Town. There were incredible scenes and it was an amazing experience!!

Last Nite

The guide I used to prepare for the festival was accurate, it prepared us for everything, everything accept food temptation. I didn't stay behind in the Bubble Room and sample Fizzy Lifting Drinks like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Instead I had a burger which didn't agree with my stomach! Thankfully I wasn't being sucked into a ceiling-mounted exhaust fan, but I needed to burp repeatedly until I returned to the ground. This occurred at 5AM, I decided then that I would avoid burgers until after the weekend!

The following morning we decided to travel into town for supplies, outside the festival grounds no one appeared to know travel arrangements or distance. This made for an interesting journey which meant that we visited a Church and were told that God loved us. He also provided hot dogs and coffee which went down a treat! While I used the church toilet my partner even managed to reach level 3 on Sonic the Hedgehog which was an impressive achievement! We later found Morrisons and purchased supplies and then travelled back to meet the Millets representative before heading back to the tent. I always worry about first impressions with my tattoos but the Millets representative and his partner seemed unfazed. I suppose the interview and impromptu dance I had to perform meant they held all the cards regardless! After unloading everything, we headed towards the Main Stage and caught the end of the Palamo Faith set. For the majority of the Crowded House performance we made friends with those in close proximity. The firm message 'don't do drugs' echoed around the front area, through all ages which would probably cause concern to some parents!! Vampire Weekend lifted the crowd and their uplifting sound provided plenty of bonding opportunities. Tracks from their first two albums which include Cousins, Holiday, Oxford Comma and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa sounded amazing! Then came the decision - England's opener against the United States or Biffy Clyro - no contest because Biffy Clyro provide much more to cheer about! Wrapped in an England flag and screaming the lyrics to Mountains at my partner was immense and much better than another lacklustre performance from the national team! Justboy and Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies emerged as classic festival sing-a-long tracks that will provide a long lasting memory of Biffy Clyro's performance!

Vampire Weekend and Biffy Clyro had set the tempo for the headline act but I felt that Blondie should have been earlier in the lineup. They had several classics that I knew but the crowd weren't jumping and instead anticipation for The Strokes simmered. That was until Queen's We Will Rock You sounded over the PA and the Strokes walked onto the stage and launched into New York City Cops and a set dominated by their 2001 debut, Is This It. I attempted to capture footage with the flip camera but it was difficult to stand due to the crowd surge at the front. It was a great experience, many have tried to emulate them but they're back and I can't wait for new material. They finished the night with Take It Or Leave It and we finished with failure to acquire the set list and being behind the entire field. This also meant that everywhere had queues or reached capacity, including Bowtime (Strongbow) where we had wanted to experience. At least we managed to feed a vegetarian a hot dog which provided incredible entertainment value. My partner even informed the unfortunate person that she had actually eaten a dog!

Live and Let Die

Disappointed that we weren't more on the pulse today because we were definitely too casual with our organisation. Probably due to waking early, cleaning and then I promptly fell asleep outside in the sunshine. Our neighbours weren't the most approachable or enthusiastic, they even dismissed The Strokes and felt that the crowd participation was minimal. Thankful that we weren't stood with them in the VIP section! The preparations for the day involved; creating a cocktail from the remaining alcohol in our tent, without any bar experience the end product was always going to be questionable. Restrictions are imposed by the Festival that don't permit entry with any beverages, the chant "No cans, no bottles, no glass" echoed loudly around the entrance. This was briefly replaced by screams following the introduction of a field mouse, the scenes of panic that followed provided amusement. We were drinking when the mouse appeared underneath my partner, I don't know who was more startled but watching grown men consumed with fear was hilarious! With plenty available for thrill-seekers we decided that '2xtreme' presented the most daunting experience, the ride was good but we emerged expecting more because we're hardened adrenaline junkies! Afterwards we interacted with the vinspired.com team, I attempted to charge the iPhone with a bicycle but it barely registered after fifteen minutes.

We briefly caught performances from Reef and Friendly Fires before eating became priority, our festival diet consisted of primarily hot dogs, nachos made for an enjoyable alternative. After The Editors performed on the Main Stage we headed back to the tent for an interlude and change of outfits. The Spiderman costume received widespread approval, super heroes are a big look at festivals! Pink provided the entrance of the festival, unfortunately we missed her performance but the music apparently didn't match the theatrics.

The final headline act was Paul McCartney, who closed the festival with a set that provided many highlights from his career. The Beatles have influenced generations of music fans, they were the inspiration behind my Confirmation name, that of my son and the Abbey Road tattoo I have taken from the album artwork! This was truly an emphatic finale, classic anthems, tributes, guitars and fireworks. Let It Be, Helter Skelter and many, many more classics were played to the adoring crowd. Hey Jude and the fireworks during Live and Let Die concluded an amazing weekend!

The Long and Winding Road

We planned to wake at 05:00 in the morning, although we managed to achieve the objective, we didn't stay awake. This meant that we eventually emerged at 07:30 and were well behind schedule. The bus departure queue was longer than my road, unsure whether the water taxi would be available we decided to take our chances. We were in luck, the queue was reasonable and we were soon onboard and hoped to make the 09:30 ferry to Southampton. Unfortunately everyone appeared to have the same idea and this meant that the queue was longer than a theme park ride. Several hours passed and we were soon waving farewell to East Cowes, Isle of Wight at 13:30 in the afternoon. I actually felt myself age in the queue but I won't announce that to friends. After navigating the Southampton transport system and practising for a marathon we were soon in the car heading towards London. We eventually arrived home at 18:30 but weren't bothered because we were buzzing from the weekend and already planning for our next festival! Thank you Millets for an incredible experience!!

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