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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

V 2009

So, another V Festival has come and gone. V2009 was not a vintage year in terms of the line up. In comparison to the other Festivals - Glastonbury, Big Chill, Reading etc - V has always has a slightly safe and mainstream booking policy. This year was no exception, even before Oasis pulled out. With many of the acts making 3rd and 4th appearances at the Festival, it all had a very familiar and slightly dull look about it. And with 1 stage less this year, there was even less chance of seeing something surprising or new. That said, for those wanting to sit in front of the main stage all day, Lily Allen, The Killers, Elbow, Snow Patrol offered great entertainment - I just look for something more than that.
Fortunately the weather over the weekend was fantastic and gave a feel good back drop to the whole event, everyone was in a good mood. Laying in the sun with a cold(ish) beer listening to music, and eating overpriced noodles - thats what a Festival is all about!

My biggest gripe however was the dreadful organization at the start of the weekend. I queued up at 11.30 on Saturday as I wanted to see EXIT CALM play at 12.15 in the Virgin Mobile tent. At 12.05 the gates were opened ( 5 mins late). 30 mins later we had hardly moved. 45 mins in, and we had shuffled forward enough to see the entry lanes. Of course by now, I had missed EXIT CALM's set, and the 2nd act I wanted to see, MR HUDSON, was on stage. The frustration in the crowd was growing, booing and slow hand clapping had begun. Someone on the gates finally understood that there was a potential problem growing. As if by magic, restrictions were suddenly lifted and finally we started to move. At 1.10 ( 80 mins after the gates were officially open) I was finally in! I saw MR HUDSON perform the last track of his set, SUPER NOVA. This was not a good start to the Festival - a throwback to the bad old days of V when getting into the Festival was nothing more than organized chaos.
It has to be asked - what the hell was going on at those gates at the start? Clearly someone got it very wrong. The following day the gates were opened by 11.30 and everyone was able to walk in normally and without any fuss. As it should be. Trouble is at Festivals like V, you are treated less like a customer and more like cattle to be processed.
If you going to have the first acts on stage at 12.15, where is the logic in opening the gates at 12.00? When you have paid £140 for a ticket, you should be able to get in to see the whole Festival. Not everyone goes to see the Headline act play at 10.00pm! It can't be very good either for the acts playing at the start of the day, to perform in front of a small or non existent audience. Can the organizers of V start thinking about this issue now, so that in 2010 we don't have to go through the whole experience again?
In my opinion they also need to think about the position of THE ARENA at the Festival. This venue is an accident waiting to happen. With only 1 entrance/exit position both to the site and the Arena itself - the whole area was sheer chaos. Coming out of the Arena after the Human League, we were met by an equally large crowd trying to get IN to see THE STREETS. For a good 10 minutes the 2 crowds were locked in a battle to try and force their way in or out. With kids sitting on parents shoulders, and others sitting in the narrow thoroughfares - it doesn't take much imagination to see that frustration could easily set in with potentially dire consequences. Thankfully the ground was bone dry. God knows what would have happened if the ground underfoot was sodden and muddy.
The worst thing of all was the lack of any security people controlling the situation. When confronted by angry people, they just shrugged their shoulders. I would worry about how they would cope if they had to deal with a real emergency, where people were being trampled on. We were not far from that situation on Sunday. Again this was a case of a lack of organization and planning, ruining the pleasure of the crowds. HUMAN LEAGUE played a great set which left everyone happy, but that was all forgotten in the battle to get out of the venue.