Friday, 30 July 2010

T In The Park (part 1!)

T In The Park 2010. My first ever music festival. I’d been planning this weekend since I was about 13 and first discovered music outside the charts. I’m a little bit late with this review (okay, nearing 3 weeks late) but, really, it’s been hard to put into words without detailing, every last joke shared, every new friend made, every mud-filled walk from the campsite to the arena: all the little things that pulled together to help make T In The Park 2010 one of the most memorable weekends of my life. However, I shall try my hardest to stick to the most important part of the weekend which is, of course, the music.

I headed to the festival with one of my best friends but, in some lucky coincidence, we ended up camped next to just about every single person we knew that was attending so I had a plethora of friends to share my first titp experience with. As we arrived on the Thursday, and the music didn’t start until 5pm on Friday, we had an entire day to explore the campsite. Or, at least, that was the plan. In reality it was spent with a few of us lying down, complaining about the weather and hoping the tent wouldn’t give up on us (this didn’t happen until early Sunday morning: running through the mud trying to catch an “outer tent” is certainly an interesting way to spend 6am on a Sunday morning). Miraculously, the rain and wind ceased mere minutes before we began our long walk to the arena and, thus, the festival began.

Technically Kids In Glass Houses were the first act of the weekend for us. We were more interested in sitting in the sun and eating overpriced chips than actually watching/listening to them though. I’ll be merciful and say this is the reason why I found them seriously horrific and not because the singer sounded like he was in severe pain 70% of the time. Needless to say, we quickly moved on. My two friends wanted to see 3oh!3 next at the King Tuts tent (I’m not really sure why either) so I tagged along as there wasn’t much else on. I don’t really “get” 3oh!3, they’re just not my thing at all. But, I have to give credit were it's due: they know how to get a crowd going. Opening with “Starstrukk” they had most of the packed tent in a frenzy, screaming the lyrics back at them. What 3oh!3 lack in lyrical talent ("I'm gonna have a house party...in my house" was my personal favourite) they make up for in enthusiasm and stage presence and both members of the electro-pop duo were forever active as they flew through their set, even splitting the crowd for the old clich├ęd "which side is louder" competition". Unfortunately their set also saw the beginning of the insistent "here we fucking go" chants which were ever-present throughout the weekend (I don’t care how condescending I come across: I really, really hate those chants). It was all a bit over the top and, as I said, not really my thing, but it was fun nonetheless and their fans enjoyed it which is the most important thing (and halfway through the set I worked out what the weird hand gestures everyone was doing meant: 3oh!3 apparently…)

Next up for us was Jamie T at the NME/Radio 1 stage. I'd have rather seen Editors personally but I was outvoted and felt it best not to argue. This was a low point of the festival for me. It had absolutely nothing to do with Jamie T's performance (which I ended up hearing basically none of anyway) and all to do with the ignorant crowd that had gathered to watch him. I’m not sure what was worse: the guys in front of us who insisted on pulling each other’s trousers down every 5 seconds or the group of “fans” that felt it was necessary to sing “Sheila”…during other songs. I felt extremely sorry for all the proper Jamie T fans (including my friend who completely adores him) that had the set ruined for them by a significant amount of inconsiderate arseholes.

I was feeling pretty down by this point. I hadn’t actually seen an artist that I liked yet and I was finding the magnitude of the stages and crowd hard to adjust to. I decided enough was enough and abandoned my friends and the prospect of seeing Florence & The Machine in favour of checking out one of the festival’s smaller tents: The Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage. What I found there was my surprise act of the weekend: Delphic. I’ve listened to their debut album, Acolyte, before and found it a bit mediocre but live they’re a completely different story. Their stage set alone was more impressive than anything else I’d seen that day: the strobe-lit silver parasols gave the dark tent a bit of a club vibe and set the scene for the music to come. Their genre-fusing set had the entire modestly sized crowd dancing wildly, fully appreciating Rick Boardman’s flawless falsetto vocals. Single, “Counterpoint” became an early contender for anthem of the weekend with it’s chorus of “nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong today” and I can’t help but think Delphic will surely graduate from the Futures stage should they return to T In the Park next year.
With my enthusiasm, and faith in T In The Park, fully restored, I eagerly awaited the next act this awesome tent had to offer: Kele Okereke, front man of highly esteemed band Bloc Party. The first thing which struck me about him was just how lovely and humble he came across, even stopping to humour the crowd by sporting a santa jacket thrown at him. Music-wise I was happy to see the electronic mood continued as Kele (and his talented band) thundered through a set exuding passion and energy. As well as playing tracks off his debut album, The Boxer, Kele treated us to a medley of Bloc Party songs before finally ending with “Flux” which saw maniacal dancing flood the tent for the final time that night. I’m not normally a fan of “dance music” but Delphic and Kele successfully combined to put me on a high as the night drew to a close.

There was just one act left to see: my chosen headliners for the night and, if I’m being honest, my most anticipated band of the weekend: Liverpool legends, Echo & The Bunnymen, who were also, nonsensically, playing the Futures tent. Having managed to secure my spot at the barrier I observed the rest of the crowd whilst things were being set up on stage. Unsurprisingly I was probably the youngest in the tent by quite a bit, I did spot a few members of Editors though which was pretty exciting in a stalkerish way! I can’t even describe how I felt when the Bunnymen took to the stage. Despite being old enough to be my grandfather, Ian McCulloch just oozes cool. You can say what you like about this band, “past it”, “irrelevant” etc. but the fact is, they can still bloody play. They completely overwhelmed me, at times I felt I was close to tears (wow, any credibility I ever had = lost), I’d been waiting to see them for a long time and they comprehensively blew me away. “Seven Seas” was wondrous, “Villiers Terrace” was thrilling: every song was played with the panache and pace normally reserved for the odd new tune. Despite reports of it’s deteriorating quality, McCulloch’s voice had the same emotional intensity that first got EATB recognised long before I was even thought about. My personal highlight was “All That Jazz”, it’s always been one of my favourites but live it just goes up another notch. It’s so strong and powerful that I just felt completely engulfed by it’s sound: one of those rare perfect gig moments. Unfortunately, due to Kele being late on stage, Echo and The Bunnymen didn’t have time to play Nothing Lasts Forever but, even though it’s probably my all time favourite song, I didn’t feel I had the right to be disappointed. I couldn’t really have asked for much more. Also, apparently Will Sergeant had noticed my overly impassioned, word perfect, singing along and tried (twice) to give me his plectrum at the end of the gig but my lack of coordination meant it was lost in a sea of darkness. Ah well, I appreciated the gesture all the same.

Upon arriving back to the campsite I listened in silence as my friends rambled on about the brilliance of Muse or the “epicness” of Black Eyed Peas and realised I was probably born 30 or so years too late!

(Congratulations to anyone who bothered to read that...part 2 coming up as soon as I write it, probably another 3 weeks then! Oh and click through for photo credits, I will put my own camera to use one day)