T in the Park 2015: Sunday, 12 July
By Sunday, the ground at Strathallan is 'spongy' at best. An overnight deluge has added to the weekend's sogginess and a few early revellers cowp into the mud to varying degrees of hilarity. Final day T in the Parkers are notoriously slow risers, but Belfast's And So I Watch You From Afar could probably have expected a bit more of a crowd than the smattering of bodies inside the cavernous King Tut's tent when they kick off with a thunderous 1-2 of Run Home and These Secret Kings I Know from stunning recent album Heirs. "We thought the King Tut's tent was going to be like King Tut's," declares guitarist Niall Kennedy. "But thank you for coming down, you smelly people." Thankfully by the time they power through a half hour of intricate, instense math-metal, the crowd could fill five Wah Wah Huts, undoubtedly drawn in by sheer volume. Smelly, yes, but rewarded for not sleeping in. [SL]
Following a string of ragged singles, talk of Wolf Alice's long-gestated debut album has all been about its polish and subtlety, but there's not a lot of either on display on the Radio 1 stage. An opening Fluffy followed by the grungy snarl of You're A Germ floors a sizeable (and youthful) lunchtime crowd, seeking their fill of barbed guitars. Ellie Rowsell, clad in black cut-off dungarees, looks every bit the burgeoning pop star, but there's enough chaos on stage to suggest that Wolf Alice will give the mainstream the slip and after tearing through a handful of My Love Is Cool highlights they bow out to a stage crackling with their feedback. [SL]
Sunday morning may feel far from easy but BDY_PRTS have an antidote in the form of handclaps and sweet harmonies. Jenny Reeve and Jill O'Sullivan's pitch perfect vocal interplay is balanced out by some industrial sounding bass effects, however some of the backing rhythms at times veer towards being slightly claustrophobic. The Glasgow duo intersperse some interpretive dance stylings into the performance though the overall effect is at times more curious than integral to the performance. But then it's the strength of their music that takes centre stage. [CF]
Nuance often gets lost in King Tut's tent but Admiral Fallow are this T's exception, sending their gorgeously layered sounds up to Tut's eight peaks, bringing us songs from their new release, Tiny Rewards, as well as pace-changing cuts from earlier records. The immersive and, at best, enchanting sounds on Tiny Rewards become massive onstage, sonic waves washing away this correspondent's reservations about the record: Evangeline is an avalanche in slow-motion; the exquisite Happened in the Fall sends wet leaves in gusts around us; and Easy As Breathing, their closer, was exactly the kind of magic one hopes for descending into Tartarus-like Tut's. Of course, their earlier tunes are welcome additions, heavier and moving in different emotional registers – they make the Tiny Rewards experiment all the more interesting by such close juxtaposition, blending into an unmissable live act you'd love to see stretched over a full, non-festival set. [AR]
It would have been easy for Gordon Skene to stay on the road oft-travelled after his stint in Frightened Rabbit but his new act Monogram are an entirely different beast, and all the better for it. Largely synthesised, bar frontman Liam Rutherford's guitar, Skene is on keys and even the drumkit's fully electronic. The dial is set squarely to 80s pop sounds with M83 a usual reference point on Night; singles Romance and ANNO push the BBC Introducing tent's buttons, and while Rutherford's yelped vocals keep Monogram in the 'identifiably Scottish' bracket, they're offering something beyond the norm. [SL]
Playing the Radio One stage 17 years after their first T appearance, Idlewild have evolved a complex sound able to move between a more robust hard rock than the punk-inflected stuff they once peddled, to the noughties melodic alternative of American English and Little Discourage (both of which they break out today), while tasty violin and organs remind that they're more than an alt group with a good set of ears. Roddy Woomble's vocals have also aged well – the nasal snarl of his youth shifting into another class of baritone. The crowd enjoy the set but it's clear we're in a Sunday afternoon lull. The trouble with festival sets, Woomble says, is that you have to leave just as you're warming up: by the sound of things he might've been right, though this morning's Marmozets and Wolf Alice didn't need any time to stretch. Part of the trouble is the crowd, though, mellow and dominical – they might have enjoyed Idlewild's set better under a tent. [AR]
Unlike the similarly-built blunt instrument Royal Blood, Edinburgh's frighteningly young duo Man of Moon demand patience before they get to the crunchy riffs. There's no instant gratification here – the leisurely nature of some of their build-ups would have Godspeed fans nodding in approval – but when the riffs do hit they're worth the wait. It's become a cliché to suggest that a two piece can really stretch the possibilities of such a limited set up, but in Man of Moon's case it's a theory that rings true. They're never better than on upcoming single The Road, rolling a rough edge into something more dreamlike, with a far broader sound than – oh yes – a two piece has any right to have. A busy BBC tent seems to agree. [SL]
One of the biggest Slam Tent heroes of the weekend is Claude VonStroke, whose exuberant set of irresistably danceable house beats provide a welcome variant on the usual pounding techno that tends to dictate this stage. Vonstroke's set goes from strength to strength, playing on funky wind ups rather than drops, and combining horn elements with vibrant synth pops. Keys and vocal bites kick things up a notch, and the only person who looks like he's having more fun than the crowd is Master VonStroke himself. [CF]
On the last show of a summer tour Alabama Shakes bring a big sound, blues solos, and an American-style festival attitude to make the crowd sway and smile. Plenty of fans attend but they're spaced out enough to admit chips and chicken munching an ease of movment under the early evening's clear skies. The mode may be southern blues rock but the backbones of many Shakes' songs is pure adamantine pop, sometimes sounding like a gravelly, organ-driven Lake Street Dive (and you can pitcure Brittany Howard and Rachael Price driving American backroads in a '67 String Ray with a wrecked muffler, blasting Marvin and Dr. John). Howard's a masterful frontwoman, belting and riffing - imagine Etta James deciding to pick up an axe and face off with Jimmy Page. The Shakes' sound is so big and beautiful that we'd love to hear it futher fattened with a horn section, electrified with, say, Robert Randolph on pedal steel. But after such a satisfying set, who'd change a thing? Cause 'We're alright, we're always alright, we'll be alright.' [AR]
Big name US alternative acts were once a common sight at T in the days of more stages and still occasionally pop up (see also The War on Drugs and St Vincent this year) amongst the chart pop and home favourites. The pleasantly busy King Tut's tent and huge singalong gifted to Float On suggests that an appetite for the likes of Modest Mouse still remains. Latest album Strangers to Ourselves was probably four or five tracks too long, but strip out the filler and you're left with gems like Lampshades on Fire and hissing mini-epic The Tortoise and the Tourist, which both sounds like they've been set mainstays for years and are greeted accordingly. Isaac Brock doesn't exactly overwhelm us with cheery banter, sticking to his gruff, malevolent lyrics as the eight-piece band pile through a meaty, energetic set. [SL]
Back over on the BBC Introducing stage, Glasgow-based producer Julian Corrie, aka Miaoux Miaoux, is getting funky with some serious synth action and warped vocal effects. The previously SAY award nominated-Corrie and co move fluidly between warm groove (“this is a sexy song, so you need to find someone to sex you up”, goes one intro) and cool spacey keys, creating a Caribou-esque set of inspired electro that ends on a jam of rapid-fire drumming and a nice ol’ slow synth fade out. [CF]
No messing about with Sunday's much anticipated Radio 1 Stage headliners – The Prodigy blast headfirst into iconic track Breathe, instantly transporting an ebullient crowd to the glory days of big beat. It seems remiss to call The Prodigy a vintage act - you could hardly accuse Keith Flint, still bedecked in his trademark spiked, peroxided hair, of looking antiquated – yet it's still slightly startling to recall that The Fat of The Land was released way back in 1997. No matter though, as the group still sound as fearless and potent as ever, with new track Nasty sounding equally at home amongst classics including the incendiary Firestarter, the latter during which prompts one pyromaniac in the crowd to strike a couple of flares. Illuminated by strobing coloured lights, The Prodigy's trademark frenetic beats are timelessly danceable, and a welcome point of difference from the proliferation of guitar-based headline acts. [CF]
"These songs are just alright," says Noel Gallagher, closing out the weekend, "but you people make them into extraordinary pieces of music." With this, Gallagher begins the Oasis anthem Champagne Supernova and the night dons a religious aspect, ancient, like the rites the Picts and Caledonians practiced on these very fields before St. Fillan's arrival. Though he's conjured clear skies and a dramatic setting sun, the crowd seems unable to comprehend T without rain, and thus keep up a steady drizzle of Tennent's and post-Tennent's waste products.
In plenty of pubs and perchance perschnockered your correspondent has been known to declare Oasis the indelible brown smear on the white porcelain of this Kingdom's pop consciousness. And though there perhaps isn't anything sonically or lyrically adventurous in his music, old or new – and though his otiose orchestra adds little to the arrangements or their performance – and though Gallagher's own stage presence is muted, even statuesque ... still, the crowd keeps up a constant roar of approval, giddy with recognition as each new tune begins. He's relatable, they say; he has a keen ear and a felicity for phrasing; but the sum of his plusses can't measure his appeal. All that matters is that he knows us and (says he) loves us, that we love him and know his songs. He closes with Don't Look Back In Anger – which is, OK, a good one – and we leave blissed-out enough to bear with an incredibly ill-contrived exit plan. Noel Gallagher and the Something Somethings. Not the best act we've seen, but the perfect end to one helluva festival. [AR]
See our full picture gallery from Sunday at this year's T in the Park here.