From Friday 6th to Sunday 8th July, I think it's fair to say that I had the highlight of not only this year but probably that of the past few years in my life. Along with seven wonderful friends from school, we had a trip that marked what I hope to god is a long term of us hanging out outwith the confines of the High School of Dundee. And we started it off in style by heading down to Balado Airfield for the legendary T in the Park.
Now, if I'm being honest, I really didn't go down with a Ramblings of a Rock Fan mentality and while looking to see some rock bands, I wanted to party with friends and chill out. Basically, if I had been working for a rock magazine to review the bands playing and I had the same experience, my ass would be fired. So, along with the help of some YouTube and BBC iPlayer clips and personal memory, I will give you a review of the rock and roll element of this year's T in the Park.
So, after arriving on Friday morning and requiring much help in pitching up my tent, we started off our time in great happiness due to the fact that the promised lashings of rain hadn't shown up and the levels of mud on the ground were relatively low by drinking a lot of alcohol. Anyway, we got to the Main Stage at some point after 4:30 PM, were the first act onstage were Lowestoft's legends The Darkness who stormed through a selection of greatest hits with sheer enthusiasm and velocity. Naturally the crowd's reaction to modern rock anthem I Believe in a Thing Called Love was immense. Not that I have much memory of this because I had already lost myself due to the drinking and was attempting to save dear Russell from being permanently lost after randomly passing out. Basically, I was kneeling near the main stage while trying to enjoy The Darkness. I guess it worked. I didn't really get any photos though. Here's a better photo of Justin Hawkins from a better website.
Afterwards, come the mighty Kaiser Chiefs, a band that I subtly view in a heroic manner which is why I'm pretty gutted about the fact that I have frankly no idea what I was doing at the time they played. But having just released their greatest hits album Souvenir they're here for the hits tonight and have the audience gripped constantly throughout the likes of I Predict a Riot and Ruby that proves that in spite of all the major critics beliefs that the band have seen their day, they can sure leave an impact on any crowd.
I never really knew if it had been Florence Welch's plan to become the icon of modern music that she has but the main stage set from Florence + the Machine means that her delicate anthems need to unleash the hidden power in a powerful form. However, Welch's onstage excitement that sees her rush amongst the crowds during Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) and raising the hook filled delight of Shake it Out higher than ever, her serene musical craft works become the kind of arena filling anthems that make her icon position justified.
The next thing I really remember of Friday is certain moments of the grand headlining set of Snow Patrol. Now, at the time I was a little bit frustrated about the fact that I was missing the set from a certain Welsh sextet by being at the gig, but it revealed itself to be one of those gigs where the power of the music removes any real problem. I think at least. With the amount of lovable songs the band have created (Without counting anything from Fallen Empires mind.) there was no way I couldn't just sing along to the likes of Take Back the City and Run without total ecstasy. And though I keep my dislike for Fallen Empires, seeing the band joined onstage by acoustic songwriting titan Ed Sheeran for New York was pretty impressive and a great surprise for fans of both bands. And I am not a Sheeran fan by any means. It was most definitely a great way for me to end a night that I possess almost no memory of.
Due to alt rock heroes Feeder pulling out at pretty much the last minute, the only rock action that really appears on the Radio 1/NME stage on Friday is the sweetly indie rock of The Temper Trap. Certainly the present themselves to be the kind of showmen that T in the Park demands but with the sickeningly cutesy and annoying Sweet Disposition being the moment that everyone is waiting for, it's really not a performance worth sticking around for.
Most of the rock action of the day is taking place at the Transmission Stage. After much searching I haven't been able to find any footage of The Parlotones performing and for all I know they may have pulled out, so let's just assume that their performance was as bland as most of their songs. A more interesting proposition would have been seeing The Jezabels, who put a lot of ambition and raw talent into their debut album Prisoner. The delicacy of songs like Try Colour and Endless Summer make cause you to wonder just how they translate into live performances, however the charming performance of Hayley Mary is truly convincing that such a move can be done.
Annoyingly, there's no footage of Tribes performing, but with the mighty We Were Children on their side and plenty other songs with influences from Nirvana and The Pixies, things can only have gone well for them. Meh, same for Pulled Apart by Horses who I really really should have seen. They must have brought something a bit different to the festival with the scream vocal led indie rock tunes. However, the truly alternative rock of The Brian Jonestown Massacre is captured. As the eclectic lineup led by the menacing Anton Newcombe lays into tracks like Hide & Seek and Yeah, Yeah the ability for people to sing along to frankly intimidating material has never been higher. There are absolutely no photos of the performance
I was genuinely distraught about missing out on this show, but headlining the Transmission Stage on Friday were the wonder sextet of Merthyr Tydfil The Blackout. Their performance was an absolute frenzy with Sean Smith and Gavin Butler acting as total commanders of the tent, making the crowd performance on Higher and Higher and Children of the Night immense. Damn. I missed that. That seriously takes away my Kerrang! points. Again, why no photos? It's The Blackout. They're famous!
In the King Tut's Wah Wah Tent, The Cribs are the first band to bring riffs to the proceedings following the release of In the Belly of the Brazen Bull, an album that displays them at their finest. So with the indestructible new anthem Come On, Be a No One ready to be unleashed and already existing hits Men's Needs and I'm a Realist on board, the crowd goes crazy for the dazzling performance of the Jarman brothers. Simple as that really.
However, the act that many fans of classic alternative music have been excited for is one of the first performances from dance punk heroes New Order since their 2011 reunion. And with the immortal Blue Monday and Crystal as well as airing classic Joy Division songs, the excitement is fully justified. Even without the iconic Peter Hook in their ranks, the showmanship of Bernard Sumner really lights up their performance. It's a fine way for the King Tuts to head out on Friday.
My knowledge of Hares, the first band to play The T Break Stage is extremely limited and of course I didn't see them, but hey they have some lovely alt rock songs and I can only imagine that those who love them and own their new Coastlines EP had a great time and made them very welcome. Also made welcome is the mass whooping that accompanies the jolly sing-alongs of Davey Horne, who prove themselves to have the perfect soundtrack to go along with the few moments of sun the festival has. None of the following acts have photos.
Likewise, the bouncy indie tunes of The Mirror Trap are filled with exciting hooks and big choruses that light up the entire stage. Broken Crown proves itself to be prime indie material that stands out from various contemporaries of the day, even more popular ones.
Without wanting to be too harsh, the other bands on this stage were either electronic artists which I'm not really purpose built to talk about or, well, headed straight for the indie landfill. The only other band worth mentioning is the furious charge of Crusades, one of the most passionate bands the T Break Stage had on offer.
Okay, that was pretty poorly done but I really want to get something posted before I leave again. I'll return tomorrow and probably the day after that to give you a look at how Saturday and Sunday went for all the rock bands in a fairly haphazard manner. Also, my photography was so awful, I have pretty much just used the photography from the BBC website, so please don't sue me. Okay, in between that there was lots of alcohol and lots of blackouts, not as in the band. Stay tuned for Saturday, where I remember more things that actually happened!