As Rockness 2013 rolls towards an announcement, we look back over headliners, announcements and the Cuban Brothers.

Rockness Party People

When headline announcements are made there is normally a fair degree of speculation and hopeful guess work going. But in equal measure you anticipate a fair degree of negativity; it appears to come with the territory, and the internet. Whether it be the quality of the act, not as good as another festival, was better in the past, you hear it every year. Okay, so announcements don’t always get you salivating, but there are other reasons to be positive.

It is one of the early signs that summer lies ahead. When in the dark months of winter, festival announcements give you hope of better things to come. It’s a bit like looking back on summers when you were a kid; the sun shone and days were endless. We all remember days on festival sites like that. Rockness in 2007 was a field of lobsters…

There is always that air of anticipation in the city centre as festival goers (or Rocknessers if you saw last year’s signs at the Dores Road roundabout) arrive off buses and trains on their way to the festival. You also marvel at the inventiveness of the many methods of transporting weekend supplies onto the site. Sledges and barrows may be the norm but an ill-judged attempt using a builder’s merchants’ bulk bag proved one group’s undoing.

There may be the horrors of campsite portaloos but there are also the new found friendships which are struck up too, and meeting those acquaintances when they return each year. As much fun is had on the campsite than in the main arena for many. If it wasn’t for a chance meeting in the queue at Belladrum in 2010 then I probably wouldn’t be writing this.

Every year throws up its personal highlights. From Groove Armada in 2007 and being launched over a barrier and into the tent for their set to the virtual destruction of the Clash tent during the packed out set of The View last year. In between brought an early morning (it was lunchtime) stagger down to the main stage for the performance of local heroes the Jyrojets in 2008. The same year that the Editors upstaged the headline, Razorlight. More recently having The Guillemots play a set of their finest followed by The Pigeon Detectives just being at their finest. Acts from yesteryear have had their place too with both Blondie and Chic rolling back the clock and showing how to party big time! And this is just scratching the surface.

Rockness has supported local acts too, although 2011 was a tad disappointing when they were corralled into a small orange shelter. It didn’t stop The Boosts, The LJP, Iain MacLaughlin and the Outsiders, to name but a few giving it their all. Last year proved to be better with KOBI opening the Clash tent, and a further six playing Howard’s End, and all bands being named on the lanyard as opposed to the year before.

But Rockness would not be Rockness without one act: The Cuban Brothers. Love them or hate them the Rockness experience would not be the same without them. So as the countdown continues to the announcement, and more importantly, the festival itself, we have a lot to be thankful for with a thriving festival scene in the Highlands of which Rockness is the monster that creates the biggest waves.

For Rockness 2013 speculation.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via