The relaxed Sunday vibe of festivals should be worshipped, but the sound problems of the afternoon needed sorting faster – and picnic chairs near the stage is a new pet peeve...
Even on the tranquil Isle of Wight, there’s no escape from politics. Both the crowds and the acts alike addressed the mania that’s swept the nation in recent weeks, a depressing reminder than a world exists beyond the festival; a world we’ll all be returning to imminently. I’ve rounded up a few of the more notable – and entertaining – nods:
- Rag’n’Bone Man dedicating of one of his songs to his mate “Jeremy in Islington”, and a clear sense of absolute cluelessness from the majority of the crowd
- A group of sixteen-ish-year-olds chanting “Corbyn!” on repeat during Kaiser Chiefs‘ ‘I Predict A Riot’
- One of Saturday’s bands (damn my notes, I can’t remember which one) telling the crowd: “I wanna thank all the youth that voted – Fuck this fucking shit, and thank you!”
- The huge screens around Bastille constantly flashing up with “Strong and Stable Leadership” during a song about fake politicians and the media
Although the ghosts of the real world are clearly inescapable even at remote festivals, the IoW organisers did their very best to push it to the back of everyone’s minds. Sunday’s relaxed but equally stellar line-up kept us distracted for a bit longer before we had to board that ferry back to civilisation. In particular, the older demographic seemed to flock to the Main Stage to see legendary headliner Rod Stewart, while the younger fans were still out in mass to see Bastille and George Ezra.
My day began with a throwback; Scouting for Girls, who took to the Main Stage in the early afternoon with a treat for fans of Noughties cheese. Entering their tenth year (I know, I feel old too), they lavished in renditions of ‘Heartbeat’, ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’, and of course ‘She’s So Lovely’, amongst their plethora of hits. Though the insistence that we should see them on their upcoming anniversary tour got a bit annoying, Scouting for Girls weren’t a band to be missed. When they wrapped up, the stage found itself invaded by Jack Maynard – who I’m reliably informed is singer Conor Maynard’s brother and a radio DJ – for a bizarre twenty-minute DJ set, blasting out pop hits like Beiber’s ‘Despacito’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ with bass so deep it made the ground shake. While it was good to be kept entertained while the stage was prepared for the next act, it seemed a little misjudged, considering the audience around me spent the whole time moaning about how unnecessarily loud it was.
The bass didn’t seem to sort itself out for the next set either; The Vamps, an act I’m sure I wasn’t alone in looking forward to, performed a set riddled with sound problems so bad you could barely hear the dulcet tones of Brad Simpson and co. Saying that, I’m sure their fans knew every word to their songs anyway – the 6-year-old sat in front of me certainly did. At the close of their set I took a detour to the Big Top to see Reading indie band The Amazons, an up and coming band whose debut album The Edge awarded four stars. Their set rocked the tent atmosphere, a far less claustrophobic experience than yesterday’s Zara Larsson, but still creating an electric atmosphere.
Next up on the Main Stage was George Ezra. The question on everyone’s lips: where’s he been since his first album, Wanted on Voyage, exploded in 2014? Budapest? Barcelona? (Get it?) Apparently, he’s been everywhere. His stories of his time away enchanted the massive crowds, talking about how his anxiety had driven him to make an Ed Sheeran-esque escape from the spotlight. It’s an understandable pressure for the 24-year-old, but his latest single ‘Don’t Matter Now’ – released after his set at IoW – hints that Ezra’s coming to terms with any demons he may have. Alongside the old hits, the young singer-songwriter performed a plethora of future hits, all of which excited me for a summer of new music and seemed well received by an audience of varying ages. His presence was a good call by organisers, his gentler tones appealing to Rod Stewart fans but his modern twist on music loved by the younger members of the audience.
Something which, sadly, I can’t really say for Bastille. As a self-acknowledged mega fan (Wild World is a masterpiece, no one can tell me differently), I pushed towards the front, but found a frustratingly battle between those there to enjoy the music and Rod Stewart fans with picnic chairs and blankets, ridiculously close to the stage. Conflict between the two groups raged throughout, which served as an annoying distracting from an impressive set from the indie pop group. An hour was certainly not long enough for all their hits, though particular highlights were ‘The Currents’ and ‘Icarus’, especially when one bares in mind the state of the world right now.
At 72, Rod Stewart is an risky headliner for the festival. Despite his mass appeal to the older generation – I remember my grandmother playing his CDs when I was young – he’s practically unheard of to anyone under twenty-five, which is the core festival demographic. Sure enough, I saw a lot of young people leaving early on the Sunday, hoping to escape the manic Monday morning traffic – but I also was surprised to see quite a wide range of ages waiting for the headliner. Stewart also impressed with his surprisingly energetic set, which equally spectacular to both Arcade Fire and David Guetta. Classics like ‘Maggie May’ and ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ had the whole crowd up and dancing, and a stunning fireworks display marked an end to what was another brilliant Isle of Wight Festival.