Organisers and attendees of this year’s V Festival are likely to be waking up with sore heads today, as V readies to shut the gates for its 21st birthday.

Across the weekend, some of the biggest stars in the music scene graced Weston and Chelmsford, however whilst it was Rihanna and Justin Bieber who were earmarked as V’s headliners, it was undoubtedly Sia who throw on a show that will be engrained in our minds for years to come.

Photo credit: Marc de Groot for V Festival
Photo credit: Marc de Groot for V Festival

Taking the packed crowd through a repertoire of her most-recent hits (Alive, Cheap Thrills, Big Girls Cry), plus the penned-for-Rihanna Diamonds, Sia’s performance was definitely one you needed to see live to absorb its beauty. Supported by her dancers who delivered some of the most gorgeous choreography we’ve seen at any festival, ever, the set was visually-stunning, with the Main Stage’s big screens home to what seemed like a 50-minute music video. Move over Frank [Ocean], you’re not the only one who delivered a pretty-decent visual album this weekend!

If we could find one downside perhaps, it was that Sia performed too many songs from recent years. Whilst Breathe Me was as beautiful as you could imagine, the rest of the set seemed to only appease those who have most-recently known about the Aussie. There were no Clap Your Hands, You’ve Changed, Taken For Granted etc – all big songs in their own rights, but perhaps more left for Sia’s own concerts rather than a festival. Inevitably, a closer on Chandelier was always going to cap a set with smiles andd cheers, and boy did this one get it. An incredible atmosphere delivered by a raucous crowd. Sia totally rocked this one!

Meanwhile, Stormzy and Katy B (playing on the Saturday and Sunday respectively) both delivered headline-worthy sets (in both crowd-size and precision). Hearing thousands recite your songs back to you really must be an incredible feeling, and it was clear Katy was emotional for the deserved raving throughout her performance. Both sets were also ‘mosh-city’ (particularly during Stormzy’s Know Me From and Katy’s On A Mission) – usually a solid sign that you’ve got the audience completely nailed.

Elsewhere across the V Fest site, DJ EZ provided a contrasting headline offering against Justin Bieber, closing the Dance Stage on the Saturday night. EZ may be legendary in the UKG arena, but his set showcased his appreciation for the rest of dance scene, fusing some of the biggest house and bass tracks over the past year, whilst ensuring indeed garage remained at its core.

There were more hidden gems throughout the weekend, however we can’t end this topic without talking about headliners Bieber and Rihanna, and this is when things started to turn pretty sour.

Justin started off on the right foot, blasting Chelmsford with opener Where Are Ü Now, the Jack Ü anthem that helped spiral us all into a world of Beliebers. Whilst it was indeed a strong point, things unfortunately went downhill from there-on. Though there were notable points where he did sing live (and when he did, the quality of his vocals did indeed shine through), fans complained en-masse that for the majority, Bieber was miming a huge proportion of his set. Sorry, which should have been one of the biggest moments of the night, fell short with Justin more interested in interacting with his team and entourage versus engaging the crowd, and whilst his dancers were completely on-point, there were more than enough times that Bieber struggled to keep up.

Photo credit: Lauren Maccabee for V Festival
Photo credit: Lauren Maccabee for V Festival

Meanwhile, Sunday night headliner Rihanna failed to show up on time, leaving fans waiting close on 45 minutes before she hit the stage. Agitation within the crowd was increasing massively (just take a look on Twitter!), with patience started wearing thin as the heavens started to open. However, there were high-points, mind. Rihanna did an EXCELLENT Billboard-worthy performance of Love On The Brain, whilst many more of her criminally-underrated ANTI tracks were also given starring roles.

Overall though, V certainly put on a 21st birthday to remember, and the high points absolutely outweighed the lows. Well-organised, solidly-staffed, with the security and medical completely outdoing themselves. Logistically everything went well, and from a punter point-of-view, there was more than enough entertainment throughout both days, with a solid mix of music to cater for the early-teens all the way through to the late-forties.

However, probably our most-major gripe (and one that certainly seemed to echo throughout) was the ‘connectivity’ element. It bemused us that Virgin Media, aka, provider of the apparent fastest consumer fibreoptic in the UK, have not filtered down their communication offering to the festival. Phone reception was patchy, at best, and more-importantly, data was close to standstill. We were fortunate to have access to press-restricted wifi, however for the majority out there who wanted to Tweet, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram and even Periscope, lack of solid data prohibited a majority of sharing until well out of the Chelmsford venue.

Not a devastating element in the grander scheme of things, however definitely one that V Festival needs to work on for next year. On that note, earlybird tickets for 2017’s V Fest are now available direct from Ticketmaster, available for a limited time matching last year’s presale price with £42 discount off the full price weekend ticket. Hit the link below for more info:

Click here for V Fest 2017 presale tickets

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