T in the Park 2009 - Saturday

Feature by Ally Brown | 15 Jul 2009

The contrast between too-cool-for-school M83’s Anthony Gonzalez (leather jacket, nonchalant je ne sais quoi) plus touring members Mikala Taylor (glittery flower in hair, synth-queen chic) and Loic Maurin (Perspex shield, frantic drumming) and the unwashed crowd before them is gargantuan. But their lush melodies engulf like a big soft shoegaze hug, before the beats take over and the crowd starts to give the Slam tent a run for its money in the communal spirit department. [cb]

Admittedly, gynaecologically angling your crotch whilst tinkling the ivories (literally, though very nearly euphemistically as well) requires talent. But despite approaching Lady Gaga’s set with a mind as open as her legs, boredom is instant, and prefacing Poker Face with ten minutes of porn-posing and pointless piano prompts others to make their displeasure equally clear. And if anyone finds this review’s emphasis on image over music unreasonable, it only echoes the unpleasant performance in question. [cb]

So maybe I'm just too old - I have a beard [you can't seriously be calling that a beard? - ed] and have been drinking legally purchased beer after all - but Unicorn Kid's so-called chiptune niche is just Nokia Tuned happy hardcore, right? This being T In The Park, the wee crowd at BBC's Introducing stage is going, going, going fucking mental for 17 year old Oliver Sabin's fairground beats, but that's because they've clearly forgotten an important lesson from history - Bonkers. It's a responsibility of every sanctimoniously minded elder to remind the youth of today of the horrors wrought by Bonkers, lest they occur again. Ten minutes of Unicorn Kid's Jamster Dance is enough to concern any right-minded citizen about this country's future. [ab]

“King Tut’s – let’s do this!” orders Friendly Fires frontman Ed Macfarlane, launching into Lovesick, leaving little doubt he means business. It’s an all-out spectacle from the St. Albans lads, expanded to a six-piece with brass accompaniment. The mixing is pin-sharp and whilst they may have a limited palette they make the most of their surroundings, literally dragging an onlooking member of Foals onstage for an impromptu cowbell breakdown. [dc]

It'd be easy to snark on Edinburgh hip-hop trio Young Fathers, if they weren't such endearing live performers. It's the natty synchronised dance moves that do it -- well, the beats are pretty sweet too -- and final track Straight Back On It really gets the crowd going, if only after a bit of on-stage cajoling. There's one definite lull -- a ballad with the line "do you connect to my ringtone?" -- but Young Fathers' party jams do exactly what they want them to do - they ignite a party atmosphere, for a few dozen folk at least. Watch the set here. [ab]

“We couldn’t be fucked waiting” grins Dinosaur Pile-up’s Matt Bigland as they bound on-stage a whole minute early. Luckily their quietLOUDquiet rock stylings are more effective than their attempts at rebellion, though there’s barely enough variety to get through twenty-five minutes without sounding dragged-out. They would have been the perfect mid-table festival band circa 1999, when the likes of Seafood and King Adora peddled similarly US-indebted rock fare. Today, however, they sound unfortunately short on inspiration. [cb]

“I won’t dance in a field like this/all the girls are slags and the beer tastes just like piss” sings The Specials frontman Terry Hall in a sly lyrical alteration to Nite Klub. Luckily the presumably playful insult (it's difficult to tell with the deadpan Hall) isn’t taken to heart by a vast crowd filled with older first-time-round rude-boys and miniature pop-lets alike, united by the kind of simple pleasure that only drunken sun-kissed skanking can provide. [cb]

Perhaps playing up to romantic notions that their debut album Nights Out is a glorious ramshackle of vocoder pop made by androids with faulty programming code, Metronomy begin their set all hunched over one keyboard, poking at different functions until My Heart Rate Rapid takes shape. From there, such thoughts are banished forevermore as the band performs a set that plays to their album’s highs. With a mesmerising show of body lights and a full-on punk mosh-pit finale, they are a surprising highlight. [dc]

With the location of the BBC Introducing stage forcing bands to compete against the euro-dance beats blaring from big-wheels and whirlitzers, a degree of trepidation would be natural from a band specialising in multi-layered opuses like Broken Records. But if they’re bothered they don’t show it; they’ve always had ambition and somewhere along the way they’ve acquired focus and confidence to boot. [cb]

You’d think after packing the Futures tent last year Glasvegas would’ve been upgraded to something less cramped. It would certainly have eased one poor member of security’s suffering, helpless against the influx and last spotted shouting “FINE, GET CRUSHED, SEE IF I CARE” at non-plussed fans. Safety aside, Glasvegas are quintessential T-fare, with vocals conveniently pre-calibrated for drunken Scots to bellow along to. But with an hour to fill and little material, barrel-scraping is unavoidable. [cb]

Questions need to be asked about why an over-run set by The Ting Tings means that Jane’s Addiction are forced to cut their own set by twenty-minutes. However, singer Perry Farrell remains a consummate showman, even if his frustration does lead him to goad the audience on occasion. Despite the truncated set, Jane’s still pull Three Days out of the bag, with every single facet of its epic structure nailed brilliantly. The finale of Ted, Just Admit It is equally as bombastic, with Farrell dry-humping his speaker, screaming “sex is violent” before walking off without a word. It then dawns on the crowd that it’s all over, and with no fault on the band themselves, it taints their performance. [dc]

Of Montreal’s playful theatrics seem well-suited to festivals - nothing like tiger-headed men, extravagantly-winged guitarists and a fey Elven King (aka Kevin Barnes) chucking out licks from ‘Ticket to Ride’ and ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ between tracks to ensure you boldly stand out from the crowd. Yet something doesn’t translate; Id Engager brings the funk, but generally they fail to capitalise on their eccentricities, and for all their garlands and glitter, end up sounding drab. [cb]

A decade since their Billy Bragg-baiting, set-destroying Main Stage performance, the Manic Street Preachers tonight prove they haven’t lost any of that passion, though it has perhaps mellowed - less aggressive, but more triumphant. Their zero-filler, festival-friendly set is heavy on fan favourites (Faster) and hits (Your Love Alone), and appropriately light on tracks from the new album (though Jackie Collins… is already proving an unlikely sing-along), and neatly abbreviates twenty years into ninety visceral minutes. [cb]

Darkness descends for what is being billed as Nine Inch Nails last ever Scottish show. If so, then it proves an outstanding send-off, despite audience turnout. A muscular Trent Reznor orchestrates an equally lean set that could almost stand as a veritable best-of. March of the Pigs is served up with an extra portion of thrash metal, The Hand That Feeds’ robotic chug seemingly leaves no one standing still whilst ostensible finale Head Like a Hole seethes with the righteous indignation that brought us to NIN in the first place. The encore of Hurt is played out as Reznor’s own but its added gravitas a la Mr Cash ensures the emotional pay-off is heightened even further, leaving the battered crowd wiping away stray tears with a clenched fist. [dc]

Concluded here.