Memories of smiles in the rain: Victorious Festival 2016

Saturday 27th August 2016

The day began with a hot start but the feeling of anticipation and excitement filled the air in the waves of the cooling wind. Access into the Festival was friendly, simple and easy. My companions and fellow photographers for the weekend were Dave Taylor and Andrew Hurdle. The first artist that we photographed was The Boom Town Rats, now I have never experienced the ‘pit’ before and I don’t think my expectations of it were not quite able to equal the reality. As he began to sing, earplugs were put in and this then followed with 3 songs from which I only can recall as a deafening buzz of sound. The vibrations from the enormous speakers located adjacent to the press caused vibrations that not only hit us but travelled far back into the depths of the crowd.

The Sun continued to shine upon the endless commotion and frantic movement of the people, the noise and the music. The day continued on, families settled down to eat and friends lost and eventually found their friends. This meant as the evening came closer the drinks came out – people enjoyed a few beers and a few more together and as you may guess the evening should slow down and mellow into the calmness of the night. This was not the case. The dancing never stopped and the laugher increased evermore. This laughter was all around, it created an infectious atmosphere of happiness and the intervals of numerous bands, artists and rising stars only assisted this escalating feeling.

Though of course this day would not be complete without a few incidents, mishaps and mistakes. Kids loosing their parents, people loosing their phones, coats, bags… The list was endless. I too was one of those people, loosing my phone under the portable toilets and there is no dignity in getting on your hands and knees and rummaging around the grass trying to acquire my phone back. I have to say this was one of the low points of the weekend and lets just leave that there.

One of the things that I noticed was that it was not only the press that wanted to take photos in memory of this day, everybody wanted to capture these moments. This day could hold so many different meanings for each and every person, it could have been the last big day out with a family before the son/daughter moved to university, it could have been an opportunity for redemption or bonding between a child and a parent. Maybe a day out with friends as summer draws to a close or even a chance for old flames to catch up and rekindle what was had once before. Whatever that reason may be, the unity that was made on this day of enjoyment was undeniable.

Another addition to the madness was the frantic emotion of sadness and panic that I witnessed. Whilst the night drew to a close, there was a scream and flustered sounds from the audience… A gentlemen had badly hit his head and was slurring in and out of consciousness as the paramedics attempted to stabilize his condition before the ambulance arrived. Around this man was his loved ones, comforting him and calling more loved ones to tell them what had occurred. In addition to this, I looked over and women was given a ventilating machine to help maintain her breathing, I believe she had a panic attack. These unexpected, alarming and abrupt moments in time not only remind us of the fragility of our lives but should encourage us to treasure and be thankful for the precious moments we all share together, good and bad.

Sunday 28th August 2016

On this day, I woke up feeling much more prepared for the events that were about to follow. Although with that said, the tiredness in my eyes were saying otherwise. We arrived once again at Southsea with another smooth transition through security into the festival, however though we knew our agenda for the day, the weather could not seem to make up its mind. There were a few hours of light rain, which fortunately did not seem to kill the people’s spirits and there was also rays of sunshine which only lifted these spirits further.

A memorable act that performed on Sunday was Will Young, minutes before his performance people began to form a large and very loud crowd, impatient, regardless impatiently waiting. I saw familiar and unfamiliar faces gleaming with excitement and anticipation for Will’s arrival as I stepped into the pit. Once Will had stepped onto the stage, the crowd roared and the music began. As he danced, the rhythm in music was mimicked by the swaying of the audience; the atmosphere continued to heighten as the concluding verses of the third song ending with a large bang and confetti rained upon the audience. I enjoyed capturing this moment. A rush of pure careless delight flooded the people and this was carried throughout the day.

Another act that I thoroughly enjoyed was the band Eliza And The Bear. This was for 2 reasons, the first being because of their great music of course and the second being because I loved taking shots of the silly faces they would pull at each other and the audience. The pictures displayed their laughter but it also showed their passion and pleasure in what they do.

The unpredictable weather continued with its surprises as rain and sunshine both came through the clouds. The momentum was still alive, maintained by the Public Service Broadcasting band while a windy chill remained in the air. We explored all areas of the festival, there was lots of food, endless queues and several unsung artists in need of more recognition.

We then took a breather and sat down amongst the crowd, other photographers continued to take pictures – one of these photographers caught a photo of a dad holding his baby on his shoulders as they danced, chuckled and sang together. Also, I looked around I noticed that many people had glitter on their faces that twinkled as the Sun shone, I heard a mother ask her daughter ‘can you make me look like that’ and so she did, gently dabbing glue and glitter on her face and when she finished she said ‘you look better than all of them mum’, overhearing this conversation warmed my heart.

The weekend was ended by the Sunday Headliner: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, as the night was pitch black and the blinding lights from the stage eliminated the darkness. The crowd sung whole-hearted along in unison to the final song ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger‘ which marked the bitter sweet finale to what was a long, exhilarating and momentous weekend.

We all walked out of the festival with tired eyes and yawning faces but high spirits. I was in awe of all the sights that I saw and all the different walks of life that I encountered. This experience did not only give me a greater appreciation of my own sight, but of those loosing it and without it.

Written by, Clarisse Vidal

Special thanks to Dave Taylor for this opportunity.

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