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RockNess, a retrospective

I will walk 400 miles - just to cover one of the most chaotic and diverse festivals I have been to in a long time.

Isn't it funny, how your body knows what you don't need? A greasy McCoronary heart disease with extra high blood pressure, a night in front of the telly drinking wine instead of a quick run and doing your tax returns, a good nights sleep instead of staying up late with a bottle of port and some mates, instead of an early night before travelling 400 miles to cover one of the most chaotic and diverse festivals I have been to in a long time.
For a change, on arrival it was pleasant weather (always the first topic of conversation, the second being how uncool it is to talk about the weather), and right up until Dave Guetta played, this was the case.
Friday was a more relaxed day as many fans had opted for the actual weekend experience, and missing out on Friday's exciting and energetic extravaganza put on by The Flaming Lips, with Wayne Coyne arriving in a 14 foot hamster ball, rolling around on the crowd, with a stage-full of weird and wonderful creatures, and a light show which would put North Korea to shame.
It all began again on the Saturday, working its way up from the campsites to main stage. Sneaky Sound System put on a great performance, winning the hearts of a majority of SSS virgins, such as myself. Some early afternoon DJ Yoda got the ball rolling for acts such as Frightened Rabbit, again one of the most interesting Scottish bands, drawing a huge crowd. Alabama 3 and Dizzee Rascal, despite seeming to have very different characters, drove the beat home, with fans finding it impossible not to move to the rhythm.
Later on, after rating some amazing cart wheeling, talking to a welli-o-phile and grabbing some fine festival food, I caught the Super Furry Animals. They were having technical difficulties, faith seemed to have been lost, but they pushed on and overcame, a good set was had by all.

Basement Jaxx filled the main stage arena for the first time of the weekend, with more changes of clothes than the RockNess audience. The music was almost schizophrenic and vibrant, more of a carnival of beats. Running from this to Orbital, with the Clash Arena busting at the seams, RockNess was finally in full swing. Having door stepped Phil Hartnell earlier that day in the press tent, I was intrigued to see what would be going on. As per usual, all that could be seen was two sets of headlights, were feverishly working away on stage. A more subdued show, with two men toiling, but the atmosphere was immense... “no need for a light-show” these men must have understood.

Sunday was another day. Starting off with Magistrates, catching The Whip, a mohawk madman with a keytar dominated the stage, playing their stuff, lying on his back at some points, then dashing Tommy Reilly, who was bewildered with the size of his audience at the main stage, before receiving a good doing by the Scratch Perverts then heading back to the press tent for light refreshment.

I managed to catch up with The Prodigy, getting escorted into the most Roman porta-cabin I have ever been in, with trays of fresh fruit, bottles of iced champagne, glass flutes, some coats and a computer. I listened to the tale of The Prodigy's gigs in Scotland, Playing with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine and Jimi Hendrix. They described the Scottish audience as liking their music hard, and that's just what they delivered.

With a complement of bands such as the home grown, energetic and as yet unsigned Pooch, to the mammoth monsters of the underside of your soul, The Prodigy and Placebo playing the same festival, RockNess turned out to be the most interesting fest for me... so far...

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Colin MacDonald
22nd June 2009
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RockNess, a retrospective
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