Victorious Festival started in 2012, a fairly small festival attracting 35,000 people which is not bad at all for a first time event. Over the last five years it has grown into a monster but not in the scary run-for-the-hills type way but the “ohh, let’s touch it!” way.
It now has twelve stages. The two main ones (Common and Castle) through to smaller ones specialising in metal, dance, acoustic music, and local acts, a kids stage, and drum and base type tent. Although I love the fact that there is such an eclectic group of acts, I personally feel that perhaps 12 stages is a little too much, particularly if you are trying to get between these stages in a hurry!
This year the festival had something in the region of 120,000 people attending. This would seem to put it in the region of being a major fixture on the festival calendar like V Fest and Download. The headline acts Madness, Stereophonics, and Elbow show just how much it has grown from its original beginnings.
We went on Saturday. Although we did not arrive at the beginning of the day having been at another event in London, we still arrived around 12noon. Both the Common stage and Castle stage were already busy and strumming with life (see what I did there?). Today’s line up was particularly impressive, the festival offering music lovers the chance to see many different acts of all styles. The Seaside Stage offered an amazing coastal view and the Rhino Acoustic Stage offered people a welcome break from standing up, offering hay bales to sit on. Unfortunately we had to keep away from those due to Amy’s allergies.
The festival space was huge. It had plenty of room for you to move around without constantly bumping into people, but although this meant the stages could all be at good distances from each other, I felt like maybe they were a little too far apart. The on-site facilities are excellent, with a wide range of food and drink options, especially the Churros stand, at which our sister-in-law was working and never seemed not to have a queue. Wheelchair-friendly access ramps, and security that was not overly in-your-face made this a very welcoming event.
There were a number of little stores lining the walkway to and from the Castle and Common stage. There was an eclectic selection of vintage clothing (my formative years’ clothing), jewellery, arts and crafts stores.
On the Common stage, The Hunna had a surprisingly large, no – scrub that, huge audience than neither I or indeed anyone could have anticipated, and during which the first mosh pit of the weekend was produced. They said during the set that they’d come out to meet their fans afterwards and this produced high pitched squeals from what at first I thought was cats but turned out to be teenagers and adults, but mostly teenagers who made up most of the crowd. They scrambled to grab a sweaty something and drum sticks chucked into the audience. I have to admit that seeing this reaction and crowd did bring to light that this band’s rise to fame within the last year is no joke and should be praised.
Towards the end of the evening The Hunna, Eccentric Northerners and Maximo Park, took on the crowd and did not disappoint getting the crowd on their feet. They played some huge crowd pleasers such as “Books from Boxes”, “Girls Who Play Guitar” and “Apply Some Pressure”.
Once the sun had gone down you could feel the anticipation for the final act. People rushing to find their spots, the moon even getting into the right position to also enjoy the upcoming performer.
Jake Bugg warmed up the festival for Stereophonics which the crowd loved. I even at one point joined in while he got us all to raise our lighters in the air – or phones as it now normally is.
So here it was, the headline act. Now the announcement that Stereophonics were to headline made Amy happier than a million chocolate covered brazil nuts. Although for me, bar a few tunes which to be honest I mainly heard playing on computer games, they have never really excited me but they certainly make up for that with their stage presence, solid rock songs and great anthems.
Stereophonics certainly delivered with a set list that went from well-known hits such as “Have a Nice Day” and “Dakota” to lesser known album tracks for the true diehard fans in the audience (yes I did have to look these up). The set was split up with guitar solos and big built up song finishes. Kelly Jones, even performed a solo rock medley including AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”. I’m not totally sure if this was supposed to happen as there was also a point where apparently they could not start a tune in the right chord and kept re-starting, although they seemed to cover this well. The set lasted over an hour which was perhaps a little too long but was very good.
The whole set and festival ended with fireworks and what an amazing sun-, music- and churros-filled day it was.
Overall, Saturday of Victorious Festival 2017 did not disappoint. I cannot wait for next year although pit photo passes would be awesome next time – wink, wink!