Friday morning. I hear voices outside the tent. I repeatedly roll over in my sleeping bag on the hard ground; half-asleep, half-awake; for what seems like the best part of an hour, trying in vain to find a comfortable position to lie. On the bright side, my hangover doesn’t seem too bad, considering. My mate Zak is the first to rise. Reaching for his phone and wallet, he turns to me. “Matt,” he says, “I think someone’s been inside the tent while we were asleep.”
We quickly discover someone has been inside the tent. And that that someone has nicked £120 from Zak’s wallet. And that that someone has not just stolen my wallet (with £160 my bankcard, bodcard and driving licence inside), but my passport as well. Leaving me with no form of photo ID. Not ideal when you’re planning on flying home on Monday evening. Fuck. Add some more fucks to that fuck and you might get a clearer picture of my immediate reaction.
After calming down, I cancel my bank card and inform my campmates of what happened. Then, eventually, nothing left to do but shrug my shoulders and reach for a beer. The show must go on- I’ll borrow money off my mates and make the best of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘shit happens’ school of philosophy- but in some situations, it really is the best approach.
After this rude awakening, you may be pleased to hear, things did get dramatically better. There was music on Thursday night, including a performance at the Big Top from M.I.A, but things began in earnest on Friday, with a three o clock performance from rap collective Wu Tang Clan, who packed out the main stage. Indeed, these middle-of-the-day performances from big acts- I sang along to Bastille watching from much the same position at two on the Saturday- proved to be a real hit with the punters and provided a useful filler between campsite craic (or banter, if you prefer) sessions. Other festivals, take note.
The peak of the festival for me was Saturday night. Headliner Snoop Dogg (as he was tellingly listed on the programme) did indeed prove to be more Dogg than Lion. Whilst he came out to ‘Here Comes the King’, this was preceded by instrumentals of ‘California Love’ and ‘S.T.I.L.L. D.R.E’ and his set as a whole was definitely (and thankfully) more hip-hop than reggae flavoured. Immediately after Snoop, I paid a visit to the Replay tent to hear poetry and stand-up from the Bard of Salford himself- John Cooper Clarke. As the Replay was a much smaller venue, I was able to stand just three people back from the great man, and the intimate setting suited his stellar performance down to the ground.
My favourite performance this year came last thing on the Saturday night; a grimy, bassy set from Redlight. The darkened Bollywood tent, shimmering in oh-so-appropriate red light, seemed made for the Bristol producer, whose set explored the realms of drum and bass, 2-step and dancehall. It was a real showcase for the best of UK dance music- and only soared higher for the last half-hour, where Redlight was joined by men-of-moment on the UK scene- Disclosure. Disclosure themselves had played a triumphant set on Friday at the Big Top, crowds stretching to the back and outside evidencing how far the brothers have come since their performance in the same tent last year.
The addition of a new stage this year- The Port, was a real success, as crowds flocked there, raving underneath a massive ship to some of the best DJs in the world. I was in attendance for a resounding and intelligent house set from Duke Dumont and (at least while the rain was off) I managed to catch some of Carl Cox.
Elton John’s headline performance on the Sunday night provided the opportunity for a good old-fashioned festival sing-along- we ended up knowing a lot more of his songs than we thought, or at least, the choruses of them. Classic stuff. This was followed by a fireworks display and a shower of confetti to mark the end of what once again, had been (the theft aside) a great few days on the Isle of Wight.
If you’re wondering how I got home, turns out Flybe accept Police reports in place of photo ID if you can produce a reference number. Getting robbed is never the best way to begin a festival (and not something I’d recommend to any friends, it’s really not that fun), but hey, it could have happened at any festival. And, you know, shit happens.