Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Live review: T in the Park 2012, Balado Airfield, Kinross, Saturday 7th July

 The next morning I awoke in my tent to the thoroughly unpleasant sound of fierce raindrops battering on the tent in which I resided, a factor that was no help to the pounding headache I had gained from the previous days alcohol-fueled fun. I decided to check out what was going on outwith the tent, only to discover that the campsite had become much more surrounded by mud than the previous day. We had found ourselves in classic T in the Park conditions.

 Our first idea was to take a walk around the place and see if anything amazing was going on and failing discovering anything amazing, went to buy some more beer. Obviously we celebrated our ability to still walk by drinking lots of alcohol and headed down to the festival ground to catch the main action of the day. Here are some reviews mostly of bands I didn't see.

 Performing under the guise of The Dryburgh Soul Band, proceedings on the main stage are kicked off by Dundee's own charmers (sarcasm) The View, a band that I get baffled over when I hear that they are still together and still relevant. Airing new smash single How Long and various other tracks from their latest release Cheeky for a Reason alongside classics like Same Jeans and Wasted Little DJ's, they serve as an awe-inspiring reminder of why everyone got fed up with constant appearances by new indie bands by 2008.

 Shed Seven were always the kind of band that never really reached the mainstream success of Oasis and Blur in the britpop explosion of the 1990s but have still become big enough to play the main stage at T. I suppose they are to britpop what Screaming Trees were to grunge in the 90's. Except Screaming Trees were worth listening to. It's hard to think that the band could possibly play to anyone that didn't have a music taste during the reign of britpop but the dreary sing-alongs to the likes of Chasing Rainbows and Going for Gold sort of prove they belong in 1996. There's no way a modern audience could be attracted to this.

 Which is more than can be said for a band as classic and with as timeless music as The Wailers. The band have always wanted to put on the kind of performance that can effectively conjure up the spirit of original frontman Bob Marley, and with the sheer simplicity and swagger of reggae anthems Jammin', I Shot the Sheriff and One Love (Who various other acts try and work into their set as though they had no idea that The Wailers were here. What were you thinking Jessie J?) there certainly is the kind of genuineness to what they do to show a reminiscence to their finest performances of the '70's. I can only wonder what the show was like for all the stoners.

 Another band that has no problem in luring in audiences from younger generations, this time from beyond the 1980's New Wave based stadium rock era are Simple Minds, a much better Scottish main stage act than The View. You may think I'm speaking highly of the band purely because one of our comrades Mark is the nephew of frontman Jim Kerr and it's only the fact that they weren't the main organisers of the festival that kept us from going backstage, but the performance is one that is seriously solid that encourages massive sing alongs to even lesser known songs. And of course the reactions to Alive and Kicking and Don't You (Forget About Me) are something else. It's an undeniably sweet set from a band that still have a lot to give.

 When The Vaccines exploded into mainstream popularity last year, they seemed to take a massive cult following of totally devoted fans while people like me laid back, avoided the hype and found their music really boring. However, this devotion towards their hopeless attempts to become a modern Ramones has given them enough popularity to play the main stage. However, the band seem to display a greater enthusiasm onstage than they do on record and the chant along to If You Wanna makes it something of a more tolerable prospect than thought.

 I went into the set from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds as someone that wasn't so keen on the former Oasis frontman's self titled album from his solo act, making me something of a rarity, but with the prospect of some Oasis songs being played, i figured I should head along. Following contained a set that saw Gallagher display an unusually and thankfully high display of total enthusiasm and passion for playing his solo crafted tunes, taking great joy from the equally enthusiastic audience reactions to The Death of You and Me and of course the woeful AKA... What a Life as well as joyous reactions to lesser known songs like Everybody's On the Run, the one good track off the album. For the most part the set is okay, as long as strong knowledge of the solo album is in gear. That is until the end of the set, where my and I can only imagine, many other people's dreams come true as Gallagher launches into stirring and powerful performances of WhateverLittle By Little and Don't Look Back in Anger. The audience simply light up for these performances and I've never felt a sense of love for Oasis to be so high in my life.

 Of  course, with all the massive hype and buildup about tonight's headlining event, Callum and I decided it would be stupid to miss the headlining set from The Stone Roses, so we head closer to the front of the main stage, despite limited knowledge of the band, it must be admitted, so we decided what better way to find out about them was to hear them live. And as they walked onto the stage with messiah-like cheers from a massive drunken crowd and launch into I Wanna Be Adored, there's a lot of potential packed in this gig. We leave a quarter of the way into the gig deciding that The Stone Roses are one of the most overrated bands ever. Seriously, the band appeared like they didn't give a shit and the only performance that dominated was that of the loutish crowd. Leaving the crowd was quite a challenge but it was worth it to get away from the pure dullness of The Stone Roses. Eventually, I ended up at camp failing to convince some girls that I wasn't stoned which I actually wasn't, unless I came across some stuff on the way back without knowing. You never know. It was a better way to end the night than the uncharacteristic groans of Ian Brown.

 Well, in a stark contrast to the dull Stone Roses, the first rock act of the Radio 1/NME Stage proves themselves to be the absolute highlight of the entire weekend! I am of course talking about the wonderful, energetic and outstandingly brutal Enter Shikari. As the crowd searching for something a bit heavier this weekend jolt into excitement as the band board the stage and slowly begin System... before exploding into the subsequent ...Meltdown, the moshpits immediately open to the electronic filled breakdowns created by Rory Clewlow and the roars of Rou Reynolds that are built up of pure anticipation and wonder. The band run through all their heaviest and mosh inducing tunes from the thrash licked Sorry, You're Not a Winner to the purely dub-metal assault of Destabalise before ending the show on the buzzing hardcore insanity of Zzzonked. So intense is the show that during a moshpit created during Sorry, You're Not a Winner, good old Callum is knocked over, only to fall in front of my flinging arms. Causing me to punch him square in the face. But, goddamn, the show was electric! Not only was it my highlight of the weekend but several friends that had never heard them before are now fans! All hail Shikari!

 Needless to say, a show of such force was going to be difficult for The Courteeners to follow up. But with two albums of delightful indie rock tunes filled with plenty of heart, they have no problem charming audiences with the likes of Not Nineteen Forever and Take Over the World as the soothing tones of Liam Fray are as immersive as they beautiful even in the context of such a large stage. My love for the band may not be as high as they were when Falcon came out but performances like these can't help but make you fall in love with this band again.

 While my love for The Courteeners always existed, I never really managed to catch on to the massive hype that surrounded Two Door Cinema Club following the release of 2010's Tourist History, but with the levels of ecstasy packed into the performances of Something Good Can Work and Undercover Martyn makes it a show of high energy and charm that effortlessly ends the riff orientated section of the Radio 1/NME Stage in style before (sighs) David Guetta takes to his headlining spot.

 Actually, my personal music watching experience of the day starts off in the King Tut's Wah Wah stage to watch the effortlessly cool Blood Red Shoes. The Brighton duo prove that using only one guitar, one drumkit and powerful vocals, a hell of a good sound can be made as Laura Mary Carter shreds through Cold with such style oozing with rock and roll passion and Steven Ansell batters the hell out of drums on the likes of Light it Up and This is Not For You. Making rock n' roll has never looked so easy and simultaneously impressive. And I introduced my friends to another cool new band, which is always good.

 Since we're no longer talking about The Stone Roses, another totally overrated band playing today are Alabama Shakes who have already been covering magazines and been on the lips of music critics simply through their fairly bland selection of southern blues tunes. And they display it at the King Tuts to ultimately little effect with the likes of Hang Loose and You Ain't Alone. And frankly, with their standard of music, that's the best they should get.

 A memory that came before coming to T in the Park was through talking to some of my friends that had just come back from Download telling me about how awesome a time they had and jokingly I said "Well, I don't need your Metallica or Black Sabbath! I've got The Maccabees to look forward to!" Using the South London quintet in such a joking derogatory jokey way was pretty unfair, especially since they're on top form today. As they tear through the likes of Pelican and Love You Better Orlando Week's onstage energy and sense of suspense is entirely gripping and makes them a truly memorable act. Okay, not of Metallica or Sabbath quality but they're one of the better names in the world of indie rock. Shut up Download friends!

 Briefly looking toward the Slam Tent seems bizarre when wanting to look for rock music acts but, the kind of reactions created at a good old dubstep show has the ability to be as raucous and heavy as any rock show, so with one of the more recognizable names in the trade Benga unleashing his set, there's a big sense of anticipation. And as the set of massive beats and ground-shaking bass causes the tent to erupt from solo material and Magnetic Man material, Benga proves that years as an underground DJ may be about to come to fruition as dubstep does find it's way into the world of rock and roll. The same can be said for Skream, who also gains points for ending his set by playing Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit for the audience to go mental to.

 Warming things up on the Transmission Stage is the folk rock of Dawes. The soothing performance of Taylor Goldsmith on When My Time Comes has the gentle soulful grace with a kind of coffee flavoured warmth. Really, it's only a performance like theirs that could help stir hungover punters into a gentle sobriety. It's a sweet performance but one that could only really work so early on in the day.

 The theme of soothing music to calm people down seems to be the theme of the Transmission Stage judging by the follow up performance of Here We Go Magic, whose light indie pop tunes like How Do I Know and Tunnelvision are of a rich organic quality of smooth acoustic led songs that stir the audience into total delight and immersion.

 While there is a pickup in style by the time We Are Augustines appear onstage, there isn't really a pickup in quality. Playing a selection of songs from there latest offering Arise Ye Sunken Ships, the band try their hardest to unleash their bare soul onstage but a lack of proper charisma and an element of blandness in their songs always halts them from reaching their full potential to do so.

 A much more exciting prospects is surely a set from the king of the Edinburgh indie kings We Were Promised Jetpacks who following the collection of hook filled rock songs as well as sprawling progressive pieces that has spread across their two albums These Four Walls and In the Pit of the Stomach have an easy time converting a giddier and more enthusiastic audience into their ranks with much singing along taking place to Quiet Little Voices and Medicine. I was always really surprised when I first found out how far they had come so early into their career. Let's hope they can only go further.

 Okay, at the T Break Stage, audiences were treated to the simple indie stylings from the likes of Randolph's Leap, Brown Bear & The Bandits, the uncompromisingly Scottish Bacchanal Party, the indie thrash (It could be a thing) of Vukovi and the swinging blues rock of Broken Hands and The Minutes to make the tent a haven of unsigned and lesser known talent of marvelous proportions, rounding up the day's rock and roll offering in an epic manner.

 Okay, tomorrow I'm going to have to blast out a report of Sunday, since I have to go away again and I really need some sleep so expect more poor quality blogging with non-original pictures!!!

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