Isle of Wight Festival 2015 (Review)
The following words have been written by a middle-aged alcoholic after far too many psychedelics, they may not make sense and definitely do not express the feeling of the website in general. Ed
Walking onsite on Thursday lunchtime I’m almost skipping with delight at the thought of the treats in-store for me. Yes, of course, there’s the usual large-scale festival fun of camping next to intoxicated teenagers and waking to the sound of urine gently sprinkling the plastic-based screen of my own personnel oven. But wait! This is the legendary Isle of Wight Festival, with its almost mythical naked hippy love vibes, organised by one of festivalland’s most generous and heart-warming individuals.
I make my way into the main music areas and I’m struck by the originality of the set up. No sign of any wasteful creativity, nope there’s a plethora of hastily printed plastic banners displaying a vague idea of the concepts behind each unbelievable unique boutique stage. I gasp the 80s stage with its genuine charity shop game of Twister, such ingenuity to spend £2 to distract four drunken punters for five minutes, why waste time thinking up something original? Next up is the legendary 60s tent that’s actually got real copies of photos of people from the 60s. I can’t find the 90s or the 70s tent but I’m assured by a friendly passer by that there’s no need as there’s loads of washed up 90s and 70s stars on the bill or, even better, tribute acts to them.
IW festival prides itself on being the ‘music’ festival as opposed to Bestival who provide some kind of 4 day sustained silence so I’m told. But you can see this from the line up. Main stages highlights include American coke heads who were once quite successful, British mid-range rock bands with good hair and someone whose just came out of rehab along with some talentless pricks who get played on commercial radio so most of the crowd have been force-fed the their recognition of this shit whilst justifying their existance (and paying for this shit) in some job that a shaved monkey could clearly do. Elsewhere away from the main stage you can see acts you thought were dead or acts that are dead (I love shit tribute bands) and even local bands who happen to form once a year (they don’t want to pay to get into this place so we will let them off). Luckily, unlike most festivals, there’s no major distraction from standing in 3 foot of everyone’s weekend detritus and faeces in the main arena as there’s only one other stage that seems to have any budget. All the other places seem as if they’ve been put together by a chimp with a yellow pages. Hands up who wants to see a pub rock covers band this weekend? Great, there’s at least twenty of them playing.
My Thursday highlight is watching Billy Idol, who sets the tone for the weekend with set crammed with a least one song we can remember which he plays last so we can enjoy the rest of the hour long set of intimitent sound. Thursday is also only around 5 hours of music so we can some be back at our tents by 11:30pm to shout abuse, argue and vomit without any distraction.
Friday dawns with welcome cloud and plenty of time before the music starts to get in the mood. Breakfast is a bag of mushrooms and four cans of Strongbow (I over did the taste-sensation that is £5 a pint watery Carling – you can really taste the fetid rats puke with every mouthful!) and I’m once again delighted that I’ve got more time to get to know the lobotomised stunners I’m camped next to as there’s no music until 5pm. The 12 hours fly past as I take in ever bit of the three (count em!) wackily-named areas. Just to improve my vibes the rain starts just as the music kicks off. By this point though I’m just staring at the archways that dot the campsite with their vacant statements.
I come to after about thirty minutes of sustained torrential rain and thank my lucky stars that I manage to find a spot in the Big Top. I’m really tripping on the mushrooms now because it looks like Sharon Corr on stage, surely she isn’t still getting work beyond the Warners circuit? My night is topped off by an incredible set of badly-played pub rock by the headline band at the Bohemian Woods stage. Oh Giddings you old cad, how sensational to show the unfathomable nature of Bohemians by booking such brilliantly unoriginal and mainstream garbage. I finish the night trying to work out if the mushrooms are still working or if I really am seeing some Primark-clad vision of the apocalypse where the only people left alive have survived by drinking piss, eating rats and praising the Lord Murdock bringer of joy.
Now it’s Saturday morning and I find myself awake in a hedge with some kind of substance attached to most of my body. Apparently they may once have been clothes. Fortunately this is a festival a mere spit from a town so I wander off site and into Newport, keen to sample the eclectic delights of the metropolis. The most logical extension of my weekend would seem to be clothes and food from the most blandest of mainstream outlets and luckily Newport fully delivers on these desires. Two hours later I’m clad in overly tight jeans and a t-shirt bearing the name of a defunct 70s band as I eat my Yates breakfast after feeling fully in the spirit as the staff have erected a balloon arch for us to walk through.
I haven’t consulted the line up so I decide to play playlist bingo for the day and write down the tracks on Radio 1′s list to see how many I see or hear throughout the day. Not wanting to miss out on any more of the excitement or pay too little for the excrement that makes for my nutritional content over the weekend I head back in. I’m getting a little cranky now but luckily I manage to steal most of the contents of that morning’s seized drugs from one of the gates and set about an entirely scientific experiment to discover which legal highs are worth being arrested for when they become properly illegal. The rest of the day is a bit wonky after this but I do get to see the man who writes all the music in the charts bring an actual child on stage. Yes, an actual child!! Amazing moment, I’m crying because the child is an actual alive child not a dead one. My night ends with me licking the remains of some craft doner ( they’d sliced the meat off with a knife if you were wandering what was craft) to the soundtrack of several middle-aged men shouting about cheese or something.
I wake up especially early on Sunday because (1) I need to start spreading as many rumours about Fleetwood Crack as possible (favourite one is that there’s no problem with them turning up as it was always a tribute act that had been booked) and (2) sleeping whilst a security guard repeatedly kicks you in the face doesn’t really work. I want to make the most of the final day of undiluted pleasure so I take specially-made 20-foot banner (it says WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS TERRIBLE HELL?) and decide to stand right in the middle of the ‘moshpit’ area (I’m sure the circle will start during Lies surely?) and dedicate myself to not moving EVER AGAIN. By the time the chain-smoking scottish lad has finished wowing the middle-aged women with his chest hair I’ve experianced something close to a CIA-planned rendition session and I’m begging the startled Radio 2 listeners next to me to kill me with their bare hands.
It’s at this point that I leave my body and float above the crowd. This allows me to truly view the sight of the thousands of dribbling sheep come to view the spectacle of overpaid has-beens playing some pleasant pop tunes. This is when the revelation of what this festival actually is for comes to me. It re-started prior to any other festival happening on the IOW so there are literally thousands of people who have never been to an actual festival so their expectation are so low it is a perfect storm. Fill up the main stage with recognisable mainstream drivel that won’t swear or scare Mummy and get the desperate local scene to prop up the rest of the site for free so it looks like something is going on. And charge them all a FUCKLOAD. Genius.
BLAH BLAH BLAH Fleetwood Mac happen. When the stampede at the start occured I crawled out from under several pairs of rubber boots and went to get a bus back to Seaview with the hope nobody would talk or make eye contact with me for several days. I’m back in the shed now, I’ve not slept but I did spend several hours rocking in the corner repeating to myself “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies”. I hate you all.