V Festival - Sydney 2007

Last Saturday saw the inaugural V Festival take place in Sydney. The line-up was interesting to say the least, featuring massive acts from across many genres. These acts were arranged by genre into various streams, which may have suited those with very particular tastes, but left those with wider interests feeling short changed. Something about the way it was organised made it feel very short compared to other festivals and from the very beginning, the end seemed to be approaching far too quickly. But other than that it was quite an impressive day and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

Things began early for me as I wanted to catch the first band, The Seabellies. After an annoying 45min wait for the gates to open, I headed across the vast open fields to where they were playing. It was quite amusing to see a band who is usually fighting for space, spread out on this gargantuan stage. The performance was powerful as always and I was quite surprised that they sounded so good in the outdoor setting. It was probably one of the most impressive midday festival sets I've seen in a while.

The rest of the morning proceeded rather casually as I waited for the big bands to begin. I caught bits of Mercy Arms and The Temper Trap, though not really enough to pass judgement on. I also saw my first international act for the day, The Softlightes. They sound a lot like Death Cab For Cutie and while it was nice to see their songs translated to stage, it was nothing spectacular.

Things really got going when Phoenix hit the stage. I was a big fan of their music and expected the show to be good, but their performance exceeded all expectations. They all walked out looking so clean and reflected this in the precision with which they played. It was full of energy as the drummer belted his kit harder than I've ever seen and the singer put on plenty of theatrics. He even climbed into the audience at one point and it was funny to see the look of bewilderment on the other band member's faces, as if they had no idea what he was up to. But of course they kept it together and finished things off nicely. It was a performance in every sense of the word and overall very satisfying. Even the stereotypical French guy on the right added to the experience, just because it was funny imagining how thick his accent must be.

After Phoenix, I went to see a bit of Nouvelle Vague just for the novelty factor. Seeing French women sing samba style covers of 80s New Wave is just something you shouldn't miss out on in life. After that, I headed to New Young Pony Club, which was probably my biggest mistake of the day. I find their music rather drab so why I chose them over New York Dolls is beyond me. The worst part was the crowd, with all the ‘fashionable’ types out in force. Like everything Modular has their hands on, this band makes me wonder whether their popularity lies in their music or their image.

After the worst hot chips of life (apparently you CAN do chips wrong) I headed back into the crowd to see The Rapture. I wasn’t exactly blown away by them, but it was still a heap of fun. Like you would expect, they got the whole crowd moving and it was good to finally get some dancing done. Once the cowbelling had subsided, it was time to head to the main stage and begin the Pixies countdown.

I managed to catch the last few songs of Jarvis Cocker who seemed rather energetic, making me question my decision to miss him. It was quite hilarious to see him turn to his guitarist, midway through a song and tell him to stop playing because he was out of tune. Such British wit is sorely missed these days.

Beck followed after a painful 45 minute break and to be honest I found it quite boring. I’m not the biggest Beck fan, but I still expected him to put on a better show with a reputation such as his. There were some interesting bits such as a crazy dancing guy, live puppet show and dinner table orchestra, but overall it felt like it was lacking intensity. Even my friends who were big Beck fans said they found it disappointing.

As the night was drawing to a close, I was beginning to feel the effects of being on my feet all day. I’m just one of those weak people who struggle to make it through an entire festival. In fact if I had money, I would probably never go to a festival and instead just see the sideshows, which are nearly always superior. But of course, as those who know me are aware, I don’t have money and find myself pouncing on these value-packed festivals whenever I can (then again, this festival wasn't exactly what I'd call cheap). So with a 30 minute wait ahead of me and my legs already starting to hurt, I was beginning to wonder whether my Pixies experience would be ruined. How very wrong I was.

I managed to pass the time quite well by occupying myself with all sorts of useless conversion. It ranged from whether Frank Black would fit on the stage (even funnier if you saw it) to when Richard Branson was going to jetpack in and sing guest vocals. Finally the moment came when they walked out stage and the crowd (myself included) went nuts. Kim opened with the words “In heaven…” and couldn’t have more accurately described how I felt. The first two songs were rather slow and the crowd just stood, singing along, but on the third song, they launched into a heavier number and all hell broke loose.

Previously I had been blocked by an impenetrable wall of people, about 10 rows back, but as soon as this song hit, I managed break my way through and enter the eye of the storm: the area with all the angry men going crazy. These would be my brothers for the night. I was jumping about, throwing my head around like a lunatic and it felt so good! I would have covered an area of about 20 metres squared as I was tossed around by the crowd, but I couldn’t care less because I was so absorbed in the music. This was how the Pixies should be experienced.

I really can’t express how good it was. There was never a point when I was waiting for a particular song or disappointed with what they chose to play. Instead, each time they started something new, I would think “YES!!, THIS ONE!!” and proceed to dance and yell like an idiot. There’s not many bands out there with a back catalogue as flawless as theirs. And the best part about this was that the whole time, I didn’t feel the least bit sore. The euphoria had taken over my body like a drug and given me a massive burst of energy. At the end of it I was running round in circles and I hadn’t even had a drink all night!

The moral of this story is that if Phoenix or The Rapture come to town, do your best to get down there. But if Pixies are playing a show nearby, sell your house car and kids; whatever it takes to go see them. Happiest moment of my life.

Pixies - Gouge Away [live]

27 comments:

harumi said...

ah i had to agree with you on this one. phoniex put a great show. pixies were awesome and nypc sucked. you were right. the crowd made it worse. there were more guys on guys shoulders than girls on guys shoulders which was so gay!

Mel, again said...

I was a bit anxious about seeing the Pixies as I've seen a few older bands reformation gigs and they were shocking (namely New Order needing cue cards). But Pixies kicked so much arse. My highlight was 'Hey'. Frank Black's voice hasn't changed a bit and Kim is just so cool in the cool aunty kind of way (her sweater was so sweet looking). And, was I really wasted or did they play Wave of Mutilation twice?

Peter said...

yeah they played it twice. The first time was a slowed down, sing-a-long version which fitted the occasion perfectly. I know what you mean about being anxious. I've read quite a few accounts of people who have purposely avoided the Pixies because they didn't to ruin the image in their head. To those people, you made a massive mistake. They lived up to that image and so much more. As for kim, yes that sweater was pretty funny. She looked like she was out on an excursion from the retirement home, with the sweater she'd just finished knitting. Haha nah she was pretty cool, she was either grinning or smoking the entire time.

kone said...

Your sentiments are quite accurate, phoenix were the real starters for the day, playing a phenomenal set. I was very dissapointed by NYPC in the first half of the set the second half was much much better.
(the trick to seeing them without being filled with rage is to stand and dance about mid way back in the crowd away from the greatest concentration of 'popular people')

The Rapture was heaven for me, which made it worthwhile in missing what seemed a disappointing Gnarles Barkley opening song.

I know your tastes arent this way inclined but to those that are groove armada showed their experience and vast array of skill performing a flawless set in which after every song i was left crying NO NO NO THAT WAS JUST SO GOOD THEIR GOING TO FINISH! wait wait THEY'RE GOING AGAIN!!!!!!! sooooooooo gooooooooooooooooood

But definately the Pixies owned the show, no more elaboration is needed.

kone said...

sorry about the grammar in that last one.

me said...

"Mel, again said...

I was a bit anxious about seeing the Pixies as I've seen a few older bands reformation gigs and they were shocking (namely New Order needing cue cards)"

New Order >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> anything you've ever done or will ever do tbh

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