This year's festival was quite interesting, because most of the headline acts were not to my taste. The line-up was quite disappointing when it first came out, but then every year, different people are delighted or disappointed depending on their tastes, but with so many bands over three days across six stages, there is always something to enjoy.
On Friday, the highlights for me were on the smallers stages, especially the "BBC Introducing..." stage. For example, Our Fold are a new band from Bolton, and their guitarist was really good, having joined them from Stone Roses. Skints, on the Lockup Stage were an excellent London reggae band with flute/saxophone. Mr Fogg, Blood Red Shoes, LCD Soundsystem were also excellent bands.
On the Saturday, I had been looking forward to Modest Mouse, Maccabees, Villagers, Black Angels and Pendulum and lots of sunshine after a rainy start to the festival. The weather was fine, but Modest Mouse and Maccabees were not interesting. Black Angels were really good, like 1970s psychelic rock mixed with Spiritualized. Enter Shikari were funny, but not much music. I loved Hadouken's lyric in Get Smashed, Gatecrash - "welcome to our world, we are the wasted youth, we are the future too". Imagine 10,000 kids chanting that. But there were lots of really poor bands on Saturday. In fact, we went to the pub for a couple of pints of real beer while we waited for the kids to finish watching what they wanted to see.
Sunday was more promising. and didn't disappoint. In fact, it was an excellent day out. The weather was mostly dry, with a couple of showers. I really enjoyed Peers, Holy F**k, Fool's Gold (with a conga!), Four Tet, Kele (better without the rest of Bloc Party), Foals and Caribou. It was a good end to what turned out to be a great festival, even though the headline acts were such a disappointment.
What probably made most of the difference was checking out all the unknown acts on YouTube first, so that I had some idea about which stages to go to at what time. It was much better having an idea about what would be worth seeing and what would be worth missing. The only thing I would change about the festival is the beer. They get sponsorship from a certain brewery, I guess, and the result is that there is only one kind of beer available on site, Tuborg, which almost undrinkable. Everything for sale on the site is ridiculously expensive, of course, and rarely justifies the price. But even so, the event is such a strong sensory experience of all kinds, it makes a complete break from the daily grind and is an excellent way to spend a few days. It helps that it is only two miles from home, too.