Last weekend Scotland celebrated in largest music festival. One year and a few days ago, some of my dearest friends and I were at T in the Park, dancing, singing and trying to do handstands.
I did a really really crappy job of blogging about the trip I took to the UK last year. If you wanna catch up, this is how far I got:
1. Vague messages from London
2. Heading through to T
3. Friday - power rangers, Zinners, eyeballs and Os!
4. Saturday - Dead Cities, Nails and Fires!
So that leaves us "now", 11AM, Sunday morning, wondering like cattle into the T arena for the last time.
Surprisingly, we aren't interested in any of the bands that will be opening the last day of the festival. We make our way to the "BBC Introducing" Stage. It's reserved for smaller, emerging acts. Kinda shamefully I haven't even been to the stage all festival. Sometime this evening we'll be watching the much loved Dananananaykroyd on the this stage and now, with time to kill we head there hoping for a nice surprise in the form of whoever is opening.
We're the first souls to show up at the tent. There's no-one on stage, but we already get a pretty nice suprise. Synths! Fuckloads of synths! Vintage synths, modern midi controllers, a guitar, a bass and a drum kit. Someone else shows up, ask for a light. We oblige ask him if he knows the band that'll be up next. "Oh yeah". "Yeah? ". "Yeah, it's my band. Findo Gask".
Fast forward a few minutes of chatting, Gask-guy politely excusing himself to get ready and a small group of people showing up for the band. What goes down next is more than a "nice surprise".
Findo Gask are fantastic. 4 part vocal harmonies and maximum rock and roll. With melodies mostly built electronically the sparce use of the guitar and bass sounds like one of the most powerful instruments I've ever heard. The band members are constantly switching between this bass, the array of synths and the drums. Honestly it's one of the best performances I've seen at the festival.
As the bands change over on Introducing, we check out another stage I hadn't been to all festival. I don't remember the name, but it was sponsored by some cellphone company or bank or something. I don't recall the name of the band we tried to watch in there either , but they were horrible.
Fronted by some leather jacket wearing girl that couldn't possible have looked less interested in playing a rock concert, this band snores their way through some of the most derivative, uninspired music I've ever seen performed live. It makes me think how unfair things can be. How if The Tutus or Us Kids Know or Yesterday's pupil were on this stage how they'd be playing their hearts out. How they'd be surprising this audience with their unique sounds. How they'd be making people smile and move their bodies and feel like they're part of something special. And instead there's just this.
We head to the Redbull tent for Hockey. None of us were fans before their set and nothing much they do changes that. After the horror of the previous band they look like rock gods. They're moving! They look like they're having fun! They play their instruments just fine and the music's pleasant enough.
The problem is this time the leather jacket wearing lead singer's whole performance comes across as a kid of act. Like his "party vibez" and head band are gonna take them to the covers of 100 teen girl magazines. And sadly he seems like the most sincere of the band.
Again I think of home. How over the past few years I've seen such incredible music made by people that couldn't care less about what they're wearing on stage, never mind the possibility of even being mentioned in a magazine.
Of course there's a place for Hockey, I'm sure a bunch of people love this band and that's totally cool. But the thought that right now they're in the middle of European tour, putting on this forced, fake show, day after day, night after night. And then there were bands like Greenisforturbo and Unit R and 5 Men 3 Missing. Bands who poured their hearts and souls into every set they played. Who created music that broke molds and then broke up and no one on this half of the world even knew they existed. It's really sad.
I should point out I'm not having some kind of bad day, watching these bands, thinking about how they don't hold a candle to what's been happening at the bottom of Africa. I'm having a pretty damn awesome day. The sun's shining, I'm with some of my favourite humans and every 5 minutes we're talking about how much we're looking forward to the later part of the day's entertainment. We head to the main stage to catch Block Party.
Massive screens confirm that the tiny specs in the distance are in fact Bloc Party. Like most bands that get to play this stage, they're standing almost motionless, playing their songs exactly the same as how they sound on the thousands of albums they've sold.
We head back to the Redbull stage a good while before the next band starts. Having released an EP that made my top 20 recordings of 2008, I was massively excited when they were announced to be playing T. Since then they released what will be my 4th favourite album of 2009, filled with songs I've been DJing every chance I get and using as soundtracks for videos of dancing robots. To say I'm massively excited to see Passion Pit would be a little bit of an understatement.
What follows are some of my best moments of the festival. Compared to the endless sea of people still watching Bloc Party, the modest group of 2/300 people watching Passion Pit feels like a little house party. An awesome little house party where everyone is celebrating being in on this a fantastic little secret.
It's all over way too soon. We catch some of Doves outside at the NME stage.
I used to be pretty fond of the band's recordings, and the show's pretty good but I'd hardly say I'm feeling it compared to what I just shared with Passion Pit and the house party. Luckily it won't be too long till I catch another performance that makes my head want to explode in a shower of fiery blue sparks.
To be continued...