If there’s one thing Instagram feels as though it was designed for, it’s festivals. My somewhat cynical theory behind this is that festivals tend to be a pseudo-nostalgic experience for most people — especially the young. They’re a way of temporarily appropriating a hedonism that’s really the property of a different era and projecting it onto our lives. It means we can pretend to ourselves that if we’d been born earlier, we all totally would have been hippies, no question.
This explains the flower garlands perching on every other teenage festivalgoer’s head.
The morning before I went to the Isle of Wight, I nipped into Accesorize in Clapham Junction with the vague notion of buying a hat to protect my winter-worn face from the (fingers crossed) hot, hot sun. I tried a few on. They were all horrible. It was like someone had gone through Shania Twain’s wardrobe and stuck Lego Clickits to anything made from straw.
I was about to leave when I saw a rack of magazine-festival-style-guide-style flower headbands. I ran one through my hands, fingering the tiny plastic petals one by one like worry beads. And worry I did. Everything about its very existence seemed disingenuous and at odds with all the nature and spontaneity it was supposed to evoke.
I silently resolved then and there that I wouldn’t wear flowers in my hair at a festival unless woodland nymphs led me into a clearing in the light of a full moon on the back of a unicorn and wove them in while I sat on a giant toadstool watching fireflies and listening to a centaur playing the lute. So never then, because I don’t take the drugs you need to give you those kind of trippy delusions.
I’m not going to pretend I’m immune to all this nostalgia stuff though. On the island I find myself, hair unwashed for days, swaying along to Bonnie Raitt, and if I squint just right into the sun, it’s 1971. The kids 10 years my junior are doing the same thing; shuffling to the Stone Roses like they’ve taken a break from the Hacienda for the weekend just to be there, or something.
In hospitality there are some formely famous faces. They’re clearly glad to be away from the crowds, so they can enjoy the music without being hassled — even though in reality no-one out there could care less about them because they’re not Cara Delevigne. Railings have been constructed and bouncers hired to maintain the illusion and protect them from the cruel truth of their own faded celebrity. They’ve come to the festival for the same reason as everyone else: to escape to a glorious place in the past that no longer exists.
I don’t know about you, but thinking about that makes me feel pretty bummed out. Look, forget I said it. Here are 10 Instagrammed photos from the festival to cheer you up.
1. Taken from the ferry during the sunny, but seriously windy crossing.
2. Here’s my Podpad — my luxury camping experience that I’ll write more about another day.
3. Bastille might have been my favourite act of the fastival.
4. Festival flags fluttering before the gale-force winds set in.
5. This one I like to call “Helter skelter at night”. Because that’s what it is.
6. Look, I’m drinking from a red cup! It’s like I’m in an American college movie! Next up: cops and hazing.
7. Revlon was officially in charge of backstage beauty and the girls dragged me into their tent to give my face a lick of paint. I apologise as I usually keep my selfies to myself, but I don’t usually get my makeup done by professionals either. I too was slightly disappointed that they didn’t make me into a tiger, but they did a splendid job. It’s a little heavy for a regular day, but for a festival day it was ideal. I think the lip liner made a big difference and I’m definitely going to invest.
8. Revlon had a bunch of different nail designs that they’d come up with especially for the festival. I only got my ring fingers done with the special pattern, as I was short on time (had to hot-foot it over to the Big Top to see Imagine Dragons, yo!), but I loved the much-needed manicure and I’m glad to say it’s lasted really well.
9. Bon Jovi headlined on Sunday night, transporting us all back to the 80s with some seriously old-school rocker moves and super-tight denim and leather.
10. So there you have it, one fine festival, and five wristbands to go with it.
Follow me on Instagram here, and put a link to yours in the comments. I was a late adopter and I’m still looking for people to follow. Oh, and be sure to check out my pre-festival stop at the Pig in the Wall. It was lovely.
I attended the Isle of Wight festival as a guest of Vodafone.