I’m shocked yet refreshed by how unfashionable this whole festival feels
On first impressions - as punters clad as stormtroopers and mario rush through the gates towards the T in The Park arena, I’m shocked yet refreshed by how unfashionable this whole festival feels. As the girl group Parade kicks things off in the King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent - seemingly attempting to prove that cameltoe really is the new cleavage - people dance shamelessly to old S Club 7 hits and trashy garage. It’s kind of like a copy of the X Factor Magazine that someone let get trampled in the mud and pissed on a little bit. Just with better heels. The View - playing to an ecstatic home crowd - ‘Face For The Radio’ garnering a particularly, uh, boozed up reaction. Heading over to see the much lauded Mona on the Red Bull Transmission stage I got distracted by a fantastic deal on a Jack Jones shirt at an Oxfam stall, which actually turned out to be more exciting than their performance. Frankly, I can’t see what all the fuss is about.
Now, I don’t know if it’s my age or not, but the people at the front of festivals seem to be getting younger and younger - the crowd that greeted me at the front of White Lies set on the Radio 1/NME stage being a particularly strong example. Blasted in to teenage consciousness by a solid rendition of ‘Farewell To The Fairground’, they crushed, surfed, and downed plastic cups of water like there was no tomorrow. Arctic Monkeys on the other hand never quite managed to get the T crowd pumped up, despite coming on stage to ‘Sexy Thing’ and opening with a strong salvo of songs from their most recent trio of albums. Predictably but not justifiably their most well received material was that from their first two albums - songs like ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘Scummy Man’ getting the best reaction. By the time Miles Kane is predictably introduced for the final encore after a rapturously received rendition of ‘Mardy Bum’, most of the crowd have lost interest - filtering off to comment on each others Primark knickers and second hand Reebok tops. This crowd, like much of the public, just can’t seem to handle the direction that Alex has taken Sheffield’s crown jewel in.
Okay, so the weather doesn’t look quite as good for T In The Park today, with The Strokes, Coldplay, and Beyonce amongst the headliners. It does however hold of just long enough for Fun Loving Criminals to blast a tonne of hangovers away with their kind of Beastie Boys meets Reel Big Fish vibes. On the completely opposite end of the extrovert spectrum, Patrick Wolf plays to a significantly under attended Radio /NME Stage – perhaps evidence of slightly frosty reception to his most recent material compared to his older albums. Wolf Gang, having emerged from the blogsphere a couple of years ago now but only just getting round to releasing their debut LP on Atlantic this summer, played to a surprisingly busy Red Bull Transmission stage. Banging through tracks from their debut LP insert name, Max McElligott seemed particularly at home on more upbeat tracks, like forthcoming single ‘King And All Of His Men’.
And then it rained – but not enough to dampen the spirits of a entire tent full of The Saturdays fans. As far as a teenage boys wet dream goes, The Saturdays are pretty much pick of the bunch, all slim legs and incredible waistlines – Patrick Bateman would have been in his "element". In complete contrast Tyler The Creator, fresh from homophobic spats with Tegan & Sara, came on stage with his group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. With NME’s Laura Snapes watching from the wings alongside Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates from Radio 1, Tyler hobbled on stage on crutches surrounded by his masochistic band of merry men. Sure, Goblin is a great LP, and I trust XL to rarely put a foot wrong, but Odd Future came off as unnecessarily abrasive live. It’s not quite style over substance, but you can see where Laura Snapes came from when she said that "it wasn’t really that funny in the first place, and it certainly isn’t now."
Now, I’ve never understood the appeal of Crystal Castles - the appeal of Alice Glass, sure, what’s not to like - but the music has never really grabbed me too heavily. Past their early remixes and emergence back in 2007 they’ve never really progressed their sound, and my god does it show as they play to an admittedly packed King Tut’s Wah Wah tent. Frankly though, tonight belongs to the final two acts, The Strokes and Coldplay. Both four albums deep in their respective careers, and both proving why they’re still king of their respective piles. The Strokes bash through a set of content from all four of their albums to date - it’s like they’ve never been away. From the aggressive tone of ‘Juicebox’ or ‘Reptillia’ through to ‘You Only Live Once’ or ‘Machu Pichu’, they’re a band out to prove that despite being away for oh so very long - they’re back, and they’re back with vengance.
Coldplay on the other hand, have nothing to prove. As they launch in to ‘Yellow’ three songs in, it’s clear that they’re a band well a truely cemented in the British - and Scottish - consciousness. Escaping all comparisons, from a poor mans Radiohead or U2 to a force responsible for every slightly wet indie act of the last 10 years, they come out fighting and never give up. Palatable stage presence, incredible visuals, and the aura of genuinely rather nice people. I tip my hat Chris Martin, you’re king of your kingdom. Thanks for the fireworks, son.
Okay, so I’ve spent the whole weekend waiting for the rain to start - not start a little bit like a dribble from a pillhead’s mouth - but proper chuck it down, apocalypse style. To be honest, T In The Park already feels a bit like an apocalypse - like a mud-smeared episode of Shameless crossed with 28 Days Later. It’s brutal, shocking, and surprisingly high on meaty men drinking rose wine. But I digress - on Sunday, it fucking pissed it down. Wetter than Belladonna on a good day, slippier than Dave Benson Phillips getting gunged.
Naked & Famous played songs from their debut LP Passive Me, Aggressive You, coaxing great singalongs for tracks like ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching In A Dream’. Sure, they’re a bit like an Australian version of MGMT - like Empire Of The Sun before them - but my god are they incredible at writing anthemic electro pop tracks. In a similar - but altogether more British vein - Frankie & The Heartstrings blew the tiny T Break stage away with a set that curiously omitted their breakthrough single ‘Fragile’. They’ve got incredible charisma, which has been said time and time again, but they can also write an incredible pop hook and are run through with undeniably English charm.
Talking of which, Pulp pretty much stole the weekend when they played on the mainstage just before Foo Fighters. Kicking things off with ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’, Cocker and co played a set mainly comprised of material from arguably their two best albums - His And Hers and Different Class. Highlight? Probably Jarvis wiping his arse with the final copy of the News Of The World. Foo Fighters, who I’m not the biggest fan of, did manage to impress with tracks like ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘The Pretender’, and ‘Learn To Fly’. Dave Grohl was on fine form, the crowd were understandably ready to sent the weekend off in style, and the rain managed to hold off for the duration of the 2 hour long set. That didn’t stop me being ankle deep in mud though. A quick stop by the VIP Bar and bang, weekend done. My first experience of T In The Park was part horrific, part incredible, very muddy, and to be honest, pretty bloody good fun. I won’t be drinking a Tennants in a while though.