I arrived at Hylands Park in Chelmsford a little before midday. This is good because there is no traffic, but bad because the first band I want to see starts at 12.15pm and I have to get my entry wristband yet.
I've been very kindly given passes for Saturday and Sunday via the Virgin Media Louder Lounge, the place where the beer floweth freely (literally), the celebs hang out and gain freebies and the odd act pops in for an acoustic set.
Stroke of luck, my two day passes are upgraded to a weekend pass to save on time and I can now also camp rather than sleep in the back of the motor - my luck is in.
|Vox Empire's Matt Linnen on the Futures Stage|
After picking up some more free beer I head to the main Virgin Media Stage for veteran Brit rock group James, who feel a little out of place in front of an audience that looks half the age of the band themselves. Even frontman Tim Booth commented about playing to a bunch of 15-year-old girls. They did their bit though and played all the favourites, but came across - perhaps understandably - a little disengaged.
On the way back from James - yes, to get more free beer - I catch another local boy Ed Drewett in the Futures tent. He's written hit tracks for pop acts - including Glad You Came for The Wanted - and is trying to make a name for himself. He comes across as a cheeky chappy and a likeable guy, but his songs really aren't up my street. Glad You Came? Not really mate, sorry.
At some point during my forays back to the Virgin Media Louder Lounge I also catch acoustic sets from Paloma Faith and Labrinth. Neither are much to write home about for me - which may be why I'm not sure when I saw them - but you have to try these things once in a while just to see.
Back out in the main area and my next stop is Goldie Lookin' Chain. These guys have been V Fest regulars for years and they never fail to put a smile on your face. Ten guys, no is it 12, maybe more, maybe fewer, but there's lots of them wearing cheap tracksuits and cheaper jewellery rapping about very childish things in a very childish way. Fun? You knows it.
It's not long after that the day gets a little hazy. More free beer was consumed you see.
But still, Two Door Cinema Club deliver a decent if relatively unspectacular set, although I must say I was glad to have seen them live for the first time. They have some good songs and are an OK band.
After that I took in some dinner and some more beer before heading out to see Beyonce. Yeah, I know. But I figured, it's not often a pop act that big drops into your local festival so why not? Plus, it seemed she brought a much more chilled vibe to this year's festival with many of the bovver boys pissing in cups and lobbing them across the crowd and fighting with one another missing this year or at least behaving under the thumb of their other half, who wanted to come along to see one of the queens of pop. I owed her one.
Was I impressed? Did she win me over? Was it a whirlwind show? Er, no. She came on very late, played some songs - some of which I recognised - before toddling off again with her diva-ish antics. But it says a lot about an artist when people are talking about her haircut and costume changes rather than the show.
Me? I walked away early, headed back to the Louder Lounge for some more free beer and ended up dancing with some mates for an hour or so with UV paint on my face and legs before heading back to my tent and falling sound asleep oblivious to the party 10 yards away that went on for at least another couple of hours. Well, there's another day of music to come.