Festival fever kicks off on the Isle of Wight

The summer months wouldn’t be the same without the array of music festivals that take over the UK. One to always take the lead kicking off in early June is the Isle of Wight festival. For the past 13 years, being held at Seaclose Park, Newport, thousands board the ferry to the idyllic island for the four day event. The images and promo for Isle of Wight suggest a typical 80’s hippie vibe and it’s safe to say the atmosphere throughout the weekend matched perfectly. Like most festivals, everyone is in a happy-go-lucky mood and embracing the festival fashions.

This year proved that miracles can happen and by that I mean that the sun can shine at festivals. A complete contrast to the unforgettable, well publicised 2012 Isle of Wight festival which was one giant mud bath. But us Brits did what we do best, moaned that it was too hot. So it was better than pouring down rain, but carrying everything we needed for the weekend in the sweltering heat wasn’t fun. As soon as the tents were up and the ciders were open we could appreciate the unusual weather!

The first nights of festivals are always the settling in and exploring nights. Isle of Wight hosts a massive choice of areas to enjoy music and alcohol besides from the main stage and big top stage where most well known artists played throughout the weekend. The Hipshaker tent always looked busy and upbeat, featuring punk, soul and rock sounds from the 60’s. Hard Rock’s rising stage introduced new acts who we are likely to hear more from in the future and maybe one day will make it to the main stage. The Strongbow garden provided suiting music to listen too whilst drinking cider in the sun, including the talented Carnabys and The Novatones. For festival goers with more expensive taste, the Zebra bar & champagne garden offered cocktails and champagne bottles. The intoxicated tea rooms was a unique bar, not surprisingly made to look like relaxing tea rooms, but these tea pots served cocktails and wine, whilst jazz music played.

The main choice of music for the Thursday night was Boy George. Admittedly not someone who was on my too-see list, but it was worth waiting until the end to be part of the crowd singing along to Karma Chameleon! Friday is when the main events kicked off. Waking up to the permanent stuffy heat, having the traditional baby wipe wash, shorts and sun-cream on it was time to start the festival life that I love. I only have V festival to compare too, where music starts at midday, so waiting until 4pm at Isle of Wight seemed a bit of a drag. The first act to see on the main stage was Lawson, a guilty pleasure thanks to their pop sound and good looks. The main acts that night were Biffy Clyro and Calvin Harris. A bit of contrast, but a massive way to open the headliners. Biffy Clyro, full of energetic rock sounds, sing-a-longs from Bubbles to Biblical, confetti and fireworks and the most impressive stage backdrop of the weekend beat Calvin Harris for stage presence and performance. The fellow Scottish DJ was almost like the after party to a breathtaking rock gig. His set included all the popular hits from I Need Your Love, We Found Love, Sweet Nothing and the recently released Summer. Disappointingly for a live performance it felt like anybody could have been stood behind the decks, the award winning DJ was never shown on the big screens and hardly spoke to the crowd. But for any lover of house and dance music the atmosphere was winning enough. The upbeat, non-stop set kept the energy levels up through to midnight.

Saturday’s line up proved that the Isle of Wight festival is fit for any age with acts ranging from The Vamps to The Specials. The first act of the day I watched was Nina Nesbitt, the talented singer songwriter gained a spot on the main stage at just 19 years old. Her toe tapping, guitar sounds were perfect for the summer afternoon. Saturday also played host to the band I was most looking forward to seeing – The 1975. As a fan I’m probably biased in saying I loved the whole performance, finally being able to sing a long live to their controversial sex, alcohol and drug filled lyrics and see one of the best looking men in music; lead singer Matt Healy. However, going by other people’s views he was too drunk to clearly sing the lyrics – perhaps the drag of a fag and sip on a wine bottle on stage gave it away. Red Hot Chili Peppers were the big name to end the night and probably the biggest name of the weekend. The rock legends proved that they still have what it takes after forming over 30 years ago. The familiar and much loved guitar riffs to songs such as Can’t Stop and Califonication were heard all throughout the festival site. Not even the first England match of the world cup affected the massive turn out to watch the Chili’s.

Whilst Sunday’s headliners were Kings of Leon I think a lot of people would agree that the slot should have been given to the best performers of the day – Fall out Boy. I’d always liked Fall out Boy’s music but wouldn’t have classed myself as a fan. Their performance at Isle of Wight festival changed that! The best thing about live music is the energy bouncing off the act to the audience and vise-versa, Fall out Boy had this from the moment they came on stage until their final note. When the band’s eye candy Pete Wentz bought out a giant black flag reading ‘FOB’ onto the stage the crowd went wild. Lead singer Patrick Stump really got involved with the audience, who sang back every word to the pop punk songs including Young Volcanoes and Alone Together. The anticipated Kings of Leon had a lot to live up to and with lack of drive and communication with the audience they didn’t suppress. Clearly wanting to promote their new material, a lot of their older and rockier sounding songs were replaced with unknown and calm tracks. Safe to say half of the performance was met by a puzzled and silent audience. Even being stood one row from the front barrier there was just no atmosphere. There’s no denying that Kings of Leon are a talented band with well written songs and lead singer Caleb’s unique, powerful vocals, but the performance just didn’t justify them being the closing headlining act of the festival. Obviously the highlight was waiting until the encore of Sex on Fire so the audience could actually sing a long and wake themselves up.

An impressive fireworks display, creating a picture perfect moment behind the lit up Ferris wheel, drew a close to the night and the festival itself. Thousands of people dancing around a field and watching fireworks was a high spirited and almost emotional way to end it. But whilst that was the end for Isle of Wight festival goers, the festival season is just beginning for another year. With Glastonbury continuing the reign this week, all the way up until September where the mayhem returns to the Isle of Wight for Bestival.

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