THE Virgin Media's V Festival kicks off here in the UK today and the organisers have very kindly invited RealSoundsOK to cover the event over the weekend.
This will be my 14th V Fest, but the first going it alone as RealSoundsOK. Still, I doubt much will change. Lots of music, beer and laughs and hopefully a sprinkling of sun in between the showers.
It's something of an odd festival V. In the beginning - it started in 1996 - it was very much an indie festival riding on the wave of Britpop success with the likes of Pulp, Blur, Paul Weller, The Prodigy, The Verve, Ash and the Manics topping the bill.
But the last few years it has undergone something of a change with more and more mainstream 'chart' acts and others less guitar-based coming in and - after the shock but successful introduction of a rap artist headlining Glastonbury in Jay Z in 2008 - more of those acts are performing higher up the bill.
David Guetta headlining the 4Music stage in 2010 ahead of Florence + The Machine is one example of 'the change', while in 2011 only one of the bands topping their stage's bill could be considered guitar-based - Arctic Monkeys - with Eminem, Dizzee Rascal, Pendulum, Calvin Harris, Chase and Status appearing in the big slots. Rihanna also appeared that year.
And that boy Guetta was back again last year, along with Nicki Minaj strutting her stuff.
This may be a the festival trying to find its place against other festivals completely comfortable with who they are such as Reading & Leeds, Download and Glastonbury.
The trend continues this year with Beyonce headlining the main stage ahead of The Script, Jessie J, Two Door Cinema Club. Calvin Harris, Rita Ora and Emeli Sande also appear high up on their respective stages. Back in 2003, the main stage featured PJ Harvey, The Hives, Queens of the Stone Age, Ash, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay. Yes and David Gray, but you can't have it all.
So now you're asking 'if you don't like it, why do you still go?' The answer to that is, the free bar in the Virgin Media Louder Lounge! But seriously, the reason I go is because in among the mainstream stuff that isn't really my bag, is enough gold to make it worthwhile.
Today I will start with Vox Empire - a local band to me - on the Futures Stage just after midday. Then James, maybe a bit of Eddie Izzard in the comedy tent, Paloma Faith, Goldie Lookin Chain, Of Monsters And Men, Two Door Cinema Club, Travis, Idris Elba or Fun and then The Courteneers. The big decision is do you go and see Beyonce - it won't happen too often round these parts - or old schoolers Ocean Colour Scene. I'll let you know.
And that's just on Saturday. Sunday sees James Skelly, Tom Odell, Everything Everything, Seasick Steve, The Vaccines, Maximo Park and/or Eels, Stereophonics and then Kings of Leon.
That's the plan, but beers, bumping into old faces and a change in mood can change all that. Either way, you can keep up with my Virgin Media's V Festival goings on via my Twitter @realsoundsok over the weekend.
See you on the flipside.