God Bless the Chemical Brothers. While it's a shame that Travis couldn't make this year's V2002 festival -- drummer Neil Primrose's recent diving accident forced the outfit to cancel their main stage headlining slot -- if Chemical Brothers Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons did not take their place, V's seventh installment would have been simply ordinary.
And so instead of charming young men with guitars, pink Mohawks and songs about their personal penchant for bad weather, 60,000 revelers in Chelmsford, England, as the Brits like to say, "had it large." Swept up in a wave of euphoria championed earlier in the day by heaping amounts of sunlight (a rarity in these parts), the Chemical Brothers said farewell to their Come With Us world tour with a hit friendly mixture. From "Star Guitar," to "Bloc Rockin' Beats" to "Hey Boy, Hey Girl," the duo left a defining bon voyage party, leaving us with only one hope: that they come back soon.
It wasn't just the Chems though, who injected life into the V vein. Alanis Morissette, Nickelback and even old fogey Elvis Costello did their part. Earlier on Saturday, Costello performed in his trademark specs and a suit of black, forcing audience members young enough to be his grandchildren into joining the party. No small feat for the Brits, whose summer music festivals are not as participatory as, say, an American radio station summer show. Felix Buxton of the Basement Jaxx best defined the traditional mentality of the U.K. festival goer, saying, "It's about going away for the weekend with some mates, getting a tent, getting some drinks, getting stoned, maybe doing a bit of hash cake, looking at the pretty trees, getting a bit of music."
But on Sunday it seemed times had changed. Kosheen, fronted by the lovely chanteuse Sian Evans, introduced their warm, pop friendly drum and bass, bringing out the dancer in us all and later Elbow were profound, making us swoon with their soaring morose rock. Liverpool teens the Coral, also proved a hearty draw, as they played their eclectic, and at times inspired mersey-beat sound.
The weekend belonged to boys and their samplers and decks, who disproved Buxton's characterization of his festival-going countrymen. Basement Jaxx kept the crowd at a high pitch, stealing hearty numbers of patrons from the always-popular Welsh trio the Stereophonics even without the benefit of their usual elaborate stage set of show girls, feathers and Caribbean style dancers.
Following the event the campsite parties carried on until morning, and thanks to decksmen, they were no doubt full of gushings about a record year for V.