You pays your money, you takes your chance, or so they say. So I paid up, bought my ticket, a weekend no camping ticket that is, so unfortunately I cannot comment on the camp site this year, but suffice to say, you can’t beat your own bed at night, but I did spare a thought for the tortured and hungover souls on Monday morning as the rain was teeming down, and I was tucked up in a solid structure.
So where do I start, probably best with Friday when I possibly picked the worst of the queuing traffic to arrive on site at between 4 and 5, well that’s what you get at a popular festival accessed along a minor road. On arrival at the site it was well marshalled with parking and drop off clearly marked and directed. Next stop was the box office to pick up my ticket and head through to the single entrance to the site. A change this year, but in some ways understandable as it must surely cut down in some of the overheads associated with multiple entrances. However, the downside was the rather cross country, up hill and down dale walk to the main entrance (rather geekily measured on an iphone app as 0.7 miles), which to be fair for a large festival is not unduly long a walk. We’ve just been spoilt in the past when you could just roll out of a car on onto the festival site, or is that the other way round on the way home?
The entrance to the site itself was without fanfare, and a rather muted entrance next to the Rock n Roll Circus stage. This stage was a rather novel affair with circus style seating on three sides, if you can have such a thing in a circle. Unfortunately, when I was there it never quite drew the crowds that you would expect for such a stage. An insipid performance from to Kill a King, and a full set of one the music press tell us to watch, Jamie Woon. A set that at times, left me a little mystified as to the level of hype he has garnered, and it was only towards the end as the tempo livened, and he produced a set saving cover of Would I Lie To You, all appeared to be back on track, if not really knowing where that track leads to. This over the whole weekend was all I could muster, which was unfortunate as a number of acts did appeal, but the trek from main stage, against the general tide coming from the camp site, was a not enough to make me see the likes of Yaaks, Peter Roe and Story Books.
Adjacent was Howard’s End, another little venue which I didn’t afford much time at this year either. I had decided early to concentrate on music rather than comedy, but did spot it packed out on more than one occasion.
Once swept along by the flow from the campsite I was deposited at the opening of the Sub Club tent. At this point I put my cards on the table and show my hand. I’m there primarily for the bands, the dance element of the festival only attracts me towards the more mainstream, so the lure of sub club was not for me, and I don’t think “banging tunes”, which is about my appreciation of the genre is enough to get me by on reviewing such a tent. However, there was always a healthy crowd in there getting on down to those aforementioned “banging tunes”.
Having left the Sub Club I headed for the blue of Golden Voice. That monster of a tent now moved up the hill from its position at main stage level from last year. As usual there was an absolute feast of great acts in there, both homegrown with the likes of Sons and Daughters, Broken Records and Frightened Rabbit, through to that beatbox extraordinaire Beardyman, the visually exquisite DJ Shadow and the somewhat red Groove Armada. However, for those that witnessed it, the sheer raucousness of the Jim Jones Review was something to behold. Pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll shenanigans.
And so a roll down the hill took you to main stage, and each night’s headliner told a different story. Friday night was set up for Kasabian. Up until that point the evening the event had been a bit of a slow burner but the heat was cranked up as Two Door Cinema Club produced as catchy a set as Vampire Weekend did last year, and Zane Lowe upped it a notch as he passed the baton onto Kasabian who crowned a well measured headline spot with aplomb.
Saturday found me mainly up the hill amongst the covered stages not knowing whether it was me or the festival that felt jaded. I did, however, venture down as the Chemical Brothers began their set. No Deadmau5 or Daft Punk, but the Chems a least gave the crowd an arena sized display of visuals and beats.
Main stage Sunday was always going to be the place for me. First, seeing James MacKenzie and the Aquascene put in a sterling performance which further enhanced their burgeoning credentials, and then, with both biennial favourites the Wombats making another well received performance, and the act I was most looking forward to, Glasvegas. A band who have the ability to delight and disappoint in equal measures, tonight from the first strains of The World Is Yours it was not to be a set of disappointment. Not all the crowd got James Allan, especially those that were filtering in for Mr Nutini. Gloomy and euphoric don’t always go hand in hand but tonight it was on the ascent /// for those that came to listen.
However, the variation between Paolo and Glasvegas could not be more marked. Paolo’s summery sounds breezed across the crowd with many wondering if it was really him as he cut an upright figure, facing towards the crowd with his well coiffured hair and a natty shirt to match. If he was there to change the Sunday demographic, then it worked and the main stage had a bumper crowd to finish the night and the festival.
So onto next year, but wait, I’m sure I’ve missed a stage, ah found it, I knew it must be somewhere tucked away. Yes, the Sound City Stage, the orange shelter next to the Jägermeister stall. For those that didn’t find it (I didn’t find it on Friday), you missed out on on some short but very sweet sets from some local, and not so local, emerging acts. Special mentions in dispatches must go to The Leonard Jones Potential for making the tent overflow with joyous funk, to The Boosts for their uncomplicated but boisterous take on all matters local, to Iain MacLaughlin and the Outsiders who were Someone for Everyone, and to Gogobot for sheer sweat, energy and drive. A little gem of a stage to those that found it.
And so onto next year…..