A few weeks ago, in the midst of tutorials and hand in's, Nicole and I had the opportunity to attend BBC's Radio 1 Big Weekend and thus headed off to Norwich for the weekend. BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend is Europe's biggest free festival and is a chance to celebrate live music in good weather. I was especially excited as this year's line up included Snoop Dogg, The Vaccines, Florence + The Machine and Muse. It was a short 2 hour journey but it felt great to get away from the hustle bustle of the city. We arrived in Norwich the night before and ventured out to Big Weekend the next day.
|The Vaccines opening our day.|
|The aura of Snoop Dogg.|
|Festival side attractions we never got to go on.|
|Charli XCX providing some lunch time entertainment.|
|Entering the battlefield.|
|We fell victim to pick and mix.|
|The sun setting down.|
|The blur of watching Muse.|
|Our hotel room.|
|Norwich in the rain, on a Sunday.|
All photos taken on an olympus mju-i with fujifilm 400 35mm film
I never thought that in my entire life, I would see Snoop Dogg. This was partly due to geographical reasons, London and Hong Kong not being anywhere near sunny California. And that Snoop Dogg concerts are rarer than the overground arriving on time. Needless to say, it was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. Snoop Dogg's set was inside the 'in new music we trust' stage (I assume due to scheduling issues, not 'lack of awareness of who he is' issues) so after watching a few songs from The Vaccines, we ran to the tent where Snoop was playing. Initially the tent was full and security were all around the perimeter trying to keep people out. However, determination yields success as for once, my asian stature became of use when I managed to crawl my way through to the crowd. Going into the crowd was another experience in itself. I don't know whether it was the haze of the atmosphere or the adrenalin rush from the push but I was feeling it. Snoop opened with 'Peaches and Cream' off his latest album Bush (yes, thats the name) and it was fun getting down to old hits like 'Drop it like its hot' and my personal favourite,'What's my name?'. He also performed songs that I didn't expect at all like 'Wiggle' by Jason Derulo and 'California Girls' by Katy Perry. Snoop ended with the infamous 'Young, Wild and Free' leaving the crowd to sing back to him. It was a surreal experience seeing him live in the flesh but he delivered even better than my expectations, which is what made it one of the highlights for me.
When I was in high school, compiling a list of bands to see, Muse were always on the top of my list. Their electronic haze and scientific lyrics always took me into another world and ever since I heard 'Feeling Good' on Origin of Symmetry. 'Time is running out' was the theme song of my late night procrastinations. Muse was there for the music, and even though there was little interaction with the crowd, everyone was there to hear them play. They had an aggressive opening with 'Reapers' from their latest album Drones, which set the tone for a fierce night. Highlights for me included 'Supermassive Black Hole', which really got the crowd going wild and 'Uprising', which felt more like a movement than song. Throughout the performance, they had multicoloured strobe lights, black and white screen projections and even pyrotechnics, literally turning on the heat, taking the audience into a different world. They performed for 1 hour, which was standard for any band but because of the magnitude of Muse's songs, it was difficult to fit every one in, also considering that they wanted to play their new songs, so unfortunately fan favourites like 'Feeling Good' and 'Madness' got left out of the set list. However, Matt Bellamy definitely delivered in the vocals department and the sound was incredible live. Overall, it was an incredible experience just to hear Muse live instead of through my earphones and its, without a doubt, one of my top 10 performances I've seen.
Florence and the Machine
Despite her recent Coachella injury (a broken foot which she addressed in the first 5 minutes of her appearance), Florence gave one of the most impressive and uplifting concerts of the festival. Having been scheduled right after David Guetta and right before Muse, Florence had perhaps the most interesting mix of people watching her set. From iphone selfie-ing flower headband clad tweens to Carlsberg holding Dads to lads in dark hoods, like the audience, no one really knew what to expect. Having broken her foot, Florence instead gave a stripped down performance of her entire set. In what could've been a stoic, snooze filled performance, it turned out to be one of the most energetic with Florence constantly engaging with the audience, even to point out her little brother, who was watching with the crowds below. Although she stayed in one position, movement filled the room as the stripped back nature of her performance allowed for her vocals to really shine through, which was ironically more dramatic than actual dance movement. She sang a mix of old and new songs such as 'How big, how blue, how beautiful' from the aftermentioned album to 'Dog Days', which got the crowd jumping up and down. My personal favourite was 'What Kind of Man' , which was delivered beautifully with Florence's vocals echoed by subtle strobe lights and darker percussion beats. I was definitely surprised at how enjoyable her performance was. If her injury has brought her anything, its the reminder that despite her sensational style and Stevie Nicks-esque dance moves, she is first and foremost, a exceptional and talented singer.
Big Weekend was short but sweet and it was so nice to have some time to go and enjoy music in the sun. We didn't get to explore much of Norwich since most of our time was spent at the festival, so I do hope that the next time I go to Norwich, I'll be able to spend more time exploring the city. Since Big Weekend wasn't a camping festival, we stayed in a hotel for the duration of our visit. The hotel we stayed in was called the Maids Head hotel and whilst it was pricy (Sorry ba! I swear travel lodge was booked up!) we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a nice, relaxing trip. Though we had fun at Big Weekend, it wasn't without a few shortfalls and through the festivals I've been to, I've started to understand more and pick up some habits to better equip me for festivals to come. Perhaps a a possible post on that? Regardless of the pitfalls, festivals are definitely the highlights of my years and Big Weekend was no exception to that.