It’s festival season and I have a lightbulb moment in Sainsbury’s – triggered by glitter and arsecheeks.
After the initial promise of Radiohead in year one, I’d been mildly cross and majorly dismissive about the 2019 TRNSMT line-up. Gerry Cinnamon and his bam-skiffle and George Ezra and his musical Brexit are not my idea of a good time. But then boom – it hit me right in the cheese aisle (or more accurately it walked by me with 4 cans of Monster). It’s not that TRNSMT is a shite festival… it’s just not for you… it’s for the weans…
The next morning at damp swingpark with my own monsters and a mild hangover, a strange wee specific wave of nostalgia drizzles over me. Early morning? Feeling a bit shabby? Wet? In the country(ish)?. This could be day 2 at T in the Park… 20 years ago… #sadface
Nostalgia and play equipment are back on the agenda a few weeks later as the new Playground festival gets going at Rouken Glen Park in the southside of Glasgow. Some last-minute hustle finds me unexpectedly at the opening night with Friendly Fires and Groove Armada. The main talking point was the genuinely shocking length of time it took to get served at the bar – which is very harsh on Friendly Fires who sounded as good as I’ve ever heard them – adding a welcome deep disco dimension to their reliable indie-dance-shuffle. New tracks ‘Heaven Let Me In’ and ‘Silhouettes’ get let off the leash and sound ace in the evening sunshine.
I take myself off to bar towards the end of the set. This takes an hour. Although it’s a an hour that might have been a lot more inconvenient if I hadn’t inadvertently consumed some unusual baked goods from two random women on the way into the site. During these hour-long queue-musings I spot a large number of leafy locals who have come dressed like they are chaperoning a school disco; I calculate that the crowd is made up of approximately 4% ex-wives, and make a mental note to invent an app where you can organise drugs and babysitting with one swipe. I get a double round in.
Groove Armada come on stage and do reasonably enjoyable Groove Armada things. I get a train home. I’m in my local having one for the road at 11.30pm and am in my bed for midhight.
I never had any intention of doing Playground day 2 and this seems like the sensible choice what with torrential rain, persisting pint pouring problems, and some fairly random programming culminating with notorious tardy-pants Lauren Hill – being predictably tardy and pants…
Little Dragon are my first act on day three and nail their slightly odd, majorly fun, poppy, housey, bop-along scandy-elecro to a small, interested and slightly bemused crowd. Maribou State next, and they’re pleasant enough but don’t really offer much beyond some tepid beats and some slightly warmer vocals. If you’re being charitable, you might suggest they would be more suited to an after dark setting. If you’re being less charitable, you’d probably say they were a bit guff.
Thankfully Django Django lift the mood with a magical set full of their trademark psyc-jangle. It’s a great festival performance from one of the most interesting bands around – you wonder what they need to do to step up to headline days like this.
Hot Chip and their bathfull of bangers pull the plug on the weekend. Opener ‘Huarache Lights’ brings the first lazers and ‘One Life Stand’ gets the crowd moving. Breakout single ‘Over and Over’ is an obvious peak but new single ‘Hungry Child’ isn’t far behind – it’s a sign of what a consistently high calibre bunch they are. And it’s this kind of booking that sets Playground apart from many other small festivals at the moment – especially now that Electric Fields seems to have bitten the dust. Although you wonder how many thirsty punters have been alienated over the past 48 hours.
A jaw dropping cover of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ ramps things up before ‘Look At Where We Are’ winds things down and off I saunter towards the train.
The next morning, there is no nostalgia for searching my tent for anything to drink other than a warm can of Tennent’s, failing, and then drinking a warm can of Tennent’s.