With a month to reflect on what happened at Balado and get the muck out of his turnups, Richard Baillie goes over T in the Park 2012 in his head. Again and again.
1) New Order are pish
New Order seems like the grown up Friday headliner choice but after the excitement of not being stuck watching Snow Patrol fades, I’m struck by how very few New Order songs I actually know and I’m in danger of spunking all my cheap lines about shite vocals and desecrating the memory of a seminal Manchester pop group 24 hours early. Oh there’s ‘True Faith’ – oh dear that sounds truly awful. Oh they say they haven’t played ‘The Perfect Kiss’ for years; great, but on this evidence when was the last time they listened to it? ‘Blue Monday’ followed by ‘Temptation’ is undoubtedly excellent but it’s just odd to note that the set highlight is ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, a finale that they probably shouldn’t be playing at all.
2) Stooshie are not the future
Now this may not technically count as news to you but on Saturday morning, fuelled by a breakfast of Belgian raspberry beer and New Orleans muffaletta*, I announce “they’ve got a song on the radio that sounds like Etta James – that’ll do me”, and flounce off to towards Stooshie on the NME stage. I will stand by my Etta James comment and will even lob in some TLC comparisons but everything else spilling out of their mouths sounds like a BBC3 documentary on knife crime and teen pregnancy. The brain-gouging lowlight comes when I watch these grown women split the crowd in half and then fail to understand when they don’t have three separate sections to sing bits of a song back at them. Are you happy Cameron? That’s YOUR Britain right there… Lesson learned: no to ‘bubblegum soul’, yes to just listening to Etta James.
3) Wham-bang thank you Slam
You’re cold, hungover, it’s raining, it’s muddy and it’s starting to feel like you’ve come on holiday by mistake. Only one answer – Get to the Slam Tent! I’m supposed to be meeting friends there in time for Dj Yoda – the bad news is the Slam Tent is temporarily closed due to excess mud; the good news is I get to go and see Django Django on the Transmissions Stage. The further bad news is that my mates think I’m talking in code when I text that I’m going to “suss out Django Django” and head to the Slam Tent anyway…
Appropriately, we eventually meet up main stage at Simple Minds but the invitation to “come in come out of the rain” is just too tempting and we seek refuge under cover, firstly at Ben Howard (King Tuts, closest available tent, sounds every bit as wet as it is outside) and then at the reopened Slam tent where Fake Blood manages to take my body temperature back up to safe levels with some solid and very tasty duck-faced techno. Afterwards Major Lazer change the beat but raise the bar with a dance-dissertation from Diplo: electro, dubstep, house, hip hop, rave, as well as the dancehall and reggae that the act may be better known for. Adding in the hype man and occasional dancing girl, it’s right up there with some of the most joyful and energetic sets I’ve seen in years.
4) Kasabian are better than Stone Roses
If you go by crowd reaction, that is. The Main Stage is noticeably busier for Sunday night’s headliners but there’s only really one reason we’re all here as far as I’m concerned. Being too young to see them first time round but spending subsequent years nailed to indie-disco dancefloors, hands in the air shouting I AM THE RESURRECTION at girls, when ‘Stoned Love’ makes way for the opening bars of ‘Adored’ there’s nowhere else you would want to be. Admittedly, there is so much goodwill towards the Roses here that they could all take turns to shit in a flaming tambourine and you couldn’t wipe the smile off the crowd’s face, for one reason or another, but with the expectation levels set to an all time high it’s great to report that they do deliver.
The focus is on the music, which is slick and restrained (yes I’m looking at you, Squire) and banter is kept to a minimum, although ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ is a notable exception and is introduced with a few choice words about what a modern independent Scotland should do with the Monarchy. It’s a couple of years before Scotland will have a say in those matters, it remains to be seen how long the union on stage will last.
5) There is only one shade of brown
By close of play on Sunday all hope of crafting the perfect 50 shades joke have disappeared. I have discovered that there are certainly multiple textures but there is definitely only one shade of brown. Obviously the organisers can’t stop the rain but, rather than rely on the spirit of the TITP crowd, maybe it’s time to look at what they could do to ease the situation if the mud is so bad again. Fair play, they were on a farm and grow the stuff, but within hours of the 2005 Glasto mudbath, tractors had laid hundreds of bales of hay over the site to soak up some aqua and at least have some network of paths, linking stages and stalls, bars and campsites.
I can just about look after myself in these conditions (the taxi driver home from Buchanan Street christened me the cleanest man at TITP) but you can be certain that up and down the country, dirty and disheveled punters were peeling off their wristbands saying “never again”. For a festival that didn’t (or else came very close to) not selling out, this is a dangerous state of affairs.
6) Maybe we should have named this piece Six Things…
Recognising that this review is fairly light on music, here’s a bit to show some love to a few actual bands:
Bombay Bicycle Club – seriously close to the coveted ‘fave act of the weekend’ award. Attracting good Sunday afternoon Main Stage numbers, the crowd are evenly split among fans going nuts for their latest and their previous albums. Being in the former camp, ‘Shuffle’ and ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ are two of the best songs to be found in any set this weekend.
Django Django – like a country hybrid of The Beta Band and Hot Chip and not afraid to skelp a song for ten minutes if they know it’s a belter. 30 minutes didn’t do them justice, a must see on their next tour.
Bwani Junction – a genre I’m calling post-Vampire Weekend (Vampire Monday Morning, if you will) familiar afro-beat rhythms but vibrant delivery. Maybe needing another string to their bow but very promising all the same.
Pulled Apart by Horses – noisy as hell, bit of banter, all wearing white t-shirts and they do that jumping in the air-strumming the guitar when they land thing. Tidy little band.
Little Roy – perfect example of why you should follow the sound of a trombone any time you hear one. ‘Let’s see who’s in here – oh, it’s a reggae band doing Nirvana covers’. Quality.
*Muffaletta – take a round loaf, slice it horizontally and then add following ingredients in order: olive oil, chopped olives, sliced tomatoes, sliced spring onion, capers, chopped artichokes, sliced Swiss cheese, ham (optional), shredded pickled beetroot. Put the top of the loaf back on, wrap it in grease-proof paper and weight it down with something heavy. Boom.