V Festival, Hylands Park [Review]

We headed down to Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex last weekend to catch all of the festivities at this year’s V Festival

Despite a couple of big name acts dropping out at short notice, the organisers managed to perform some last minute magic and save the day with acts such as Wiley and The Charlatans.

First up on our list of must-see acts was Wretch 32; performing on The Arena Stage, Wretch had the tent packed and chanting along to hits such as Don’t Go and Traktor from his highly successful sophomore effort, Black & White. His performance drew a large crowd and was a real example of how far he’s come from spitting on DVDs and street mixtapes just a few years previous to his success.

Next up was Dot Rotten. Performing on the moderately sized Undercover stage, Dot performed a set full of energy. Packed in to a rather short set, the south London MC rifled through well-known hits such as Are You Not Entertained? and Overload, before surprising the crowd with an exclusive performance of the previously unheard, Armageddon, a track which follows suit from his recent run of singles and certainly went down a treat with the V crowd.

Following Dot’s set on the Undercover stage was Devlin. Growing up a stone’s throw away from Essex, the Dagenham-born artist was treated to a warm reception from the crowd. He performed hits such as Brainwash and Runaway from debut album, Bud, Sweat & Beers, before spinning part 1 & 2 of his ode to the capital, London City, and subsequently bringing out close-friend and collaborator Ed Sheeran to top off his set with new single, Watchtower. Another short but sweet performance from one of our favourite UK acts.

Besides jumping on stage to accompany his friends, Ed also managed to lay down a blinding set of his own whilst headlining The Arena Stage on Saturday night. An hour-long performance crammed with hits from his multi-platinum selling album, ‘+’, and the perfect way to wind down from a blisteringly hot day in the sunshine.

Although V Festival has notoriously short sets, seemingly to make way for a wide variety of acts, no one expected what was to come from Wiley’s set. Taking place on Sunday afternoon, there had been some chatter of some extra special guests joining him on stage, however, we weren’t completely sure if the rumours would materialise on the day, but materialise they certainly did. What with all of his chart success of late, many of his core grime supporters were apprehensive of what was to come of his performance, but they really needn’t have worried.  In fact, Wiley’s set could well have been performed at an Eskimo Dance it was that grimey.

To a roaring crowd of supporters, Wiley appeared on stage alongside JME and Skepta (yep, the both of them!) and dropped Too Many Man to get things started. The duo remained on stage for the majority of his set, reciting their most well-known reload bars and even dropping their own respective hits, Rescue Me and 96 F**kries, causing multiple mosh-pits to erupt. However, it wasn’t until the intro of Preditah‘s Circles instrumental was belted out through the speakers that the three emcees truly had the crowd in a frenzy.

Wiley spoke to the crowd, “It feels so special to have my two brothers on stage with me today,” before reeling off some of his favourite Twitter leaks to the crowd – one of which, Hottie, signalled Roll Deep’s Manga to the stage to perform his verse. As if this wasn’t enough, Wiley also managed to cram in Wearing My Rolex and Heatwave to finish things off and ensure all parties evacuated the tent in an exhausted, but albeit high spirited mood. A truly historic performance for grime and UK music.

Other notable moments include yet another impromptu Ed Sheeran appearance on Rizzle Kicks‘ set, ditching the singing for rapping, he performed his verse on the duo’s Epic Dreamers Remix, a bold move as the track was only released a couple of weeks ago. Emeli Sande, Labrinth and Tinie Tempah’s performances all deserve a positive mention too – all of which ensured a varied, but most certainly stellar line-up throughout the weekend.

Reviewed by Ash Houghton

Edited by Natalia