T in the Park 2016: Saturday, 9 July

Live Review by George Sully and Claire Francis | 13 Jul 2016

The Saturday forecast is a little grim, but what’s T in the Park without a little drizzle? The likes of The Last Shadow Puppets and The 1975 attempt to shine a little light.

It’s the second day at the ever-swelling Scottish festival circuit's mainstay, feeling a little more comfortable in its new surroundings than it did last year, and despite reports of a slightly-more-anarchic-than-usual atmosphere on Friday, the vibe today is pretty subdued. With none of the apparent logistical kinks from 2015’s Strathallan teething problems, access in and out of the arena is marred only by the encroaching mire – and that’s nobody’s fault but the weather.

Either from the rain or from a heavy night before (odds are it’s both; it’s always both), crowds are sparse at this lunchtime kick-off. For anyone who missed last year’s inaugural event on these castle grounds, surveying this resituated T while it’s still a little empty really brings home just how much it’s changed. It’s certainly less daunting in size, lined by ample bars, food vans (the selection seems to improve every year) and, crucially, loos. It feels like the infrastucture of a seasoned festival; it’s just a shame the line-up raises more and more eyebrows with each passing edition – and not in a good way.

Today’s no exception, arguably possessing some of the more bizarre curatorial choices (hip-hop legend Royce 5’9” followed by indie soloist Jack Garratt? BRIT darling Tom Odell before, er, the Bay City Rollers? And then Travis?). But we’ve schlepped through the swamp to see if there’s anything worth shouting about. You’re welcome. [George Sully]

First act of the day is always a toughie – though at least the rain has paused, giving that July warmth we all know is there an opportunity to fight against the morning’s misty cool. Moshi Moshi quartet Teleman casually take to the Radio 1 stage, sauntering through a safe set of toe-tapping indie-pop well pitched for this groggy mob. Anyone feeling a little déja-vu hearing frontman Thomas Saunder’s Mystery Jets-y vocal need be reminded that this band features three members of beloved noughties outfit Pete and the Pirates. Unfortunately, Teleman don’t quite zip along at the same pace as their former guise, too restrained to muster up the energy we need to fight this overcast sky. [GS]

Mt. Doubt, photo: Amy Muir

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, or still licking your wounds from the night before? Either way, Leo Bargery’s velvety, leonine vocals are a welcome tonic for an early Saturday afternoon. The latest project of the Edinburgh-based musician and frontman, Mt. Doubt start off slow and deliberate on the T Break stage and build to a thunderous rocking climax. Showcasing their compelling sophomore release In Awe Of Nothing, the six-piece's addictive backing harmonies, whip-tight playing and emotively rendered compositions mark them as standout new talents on this year’s bill. [CF]

Detroit rapper Royce 5’9” brings the hype, and lots of it. “We gonna rock this shit – I know it’s early,” he hollers, flanked by emcee li’l bro Kid Vishis. With heavy kicks, slick samples and gunshot/airhorn FX aplenty, it’s a fired-up set, and Royce’s smart bars and solid crowd work keep errbody bouncing. For many, it’s over too soon (and this hip-hop luminary deserves a later, longer slot); the concussive Startercoat and Tabernacle from recent sixth LP Layers – and particularly Savages from EP Trust the Shooter (“For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Royce da 5’9”... and I’m a muthafuckin’ savage”) – start a party we’ll need to continue at another stage. [GS]

Daniel Avery, photo: Amy Muir

Ah, so this is where everyone’s been hiding. The hot and heavy Slam Tent is packed, feeling more like a Berlin nightclub at 4am than a Scottish field mid-afternoon. Daniel Avery’s transportive techno turns this dark tent into another time and place entirely, its acid-soaked pulse a constant, thirsty advance towards some unknown end. It’s a full-bodied beat, felt from the chest down to the toes, with every chug and thud landing squarely on the solar plexus. As the Phantasy acolyte etches a mechanical narrative from an austere inventory of hi-hats, hand-claps and squelchy bass, the dancing masses throb like prisoners, at once lost and found. [GS]

“If you want a story, get in the Slam Tent,” say the Green bothers Jacob and Ryan, modestly downplaying the scenic, fabulist ditties they strut out with charm on the T Break stage this afternoon. JR Green are a young duo from the village of Strontian (“the westernmost band of the UK”), so it’s no wonder there’s a bucolic sensibility to their accordian-driven folk, but they’ve also fed their sound through an early noughties indie filter, flavouring it with all the adolescent angst and melodrama that comes with it. “I’m only 17 and I don’t have all the answers – yet!” they sing on Nigerian Princess, off debut EP Bring the Witch Doctor, and it’s a sentiment everyone here – teenage or otherwise – understands. [GS] 

DMA's, photo: Amy Muir

The temperamental drizzle has graduated into solid, recalcitrant rain, but Sydney trio DMA’s are unfazed by Scotland's water-logged summer. The group (here today with additional touring members) may have been dubbed 'the Australian Oasis', but hearing them breeze through their unaffected, halcyon-tinged Britpop reconstructions on the BBC Radio One stage, there's a unmistakable nod to yesterday's headline act, too. DMA's may adopt an air of indifference, but there's nothing impassive about the crowd's blissed out response to the melodic Too Soon, mid-set highlight Lay Down, or the acoustic-driven indie anthem Delete. [CF]

This particular scribe's highlight of the weekend comes in the form of emerging Glaswegian producer HQFU, taking the BBC Introducing tent to space and back. Sarah J Stanley builds vibrant, sparkling future disco on clattery house beats, grabbing the mic in her tattooed hands to drop enchanted vocals. Dust and Dirt, a single aired late in 2015, is a storming triumph. There’s a criminally empty audience here, but Stanley’s pals hand out hand-painted placards to those at the front: “HQFU YES U” they read; alas, no sign of the more provocative messages spied at her previous gigs (the Beeb probably wouldn’t take well to “ANAL ANAL ANAL” and “DO DRUGS”). [GS]

As a performer, Guy Gerber is rated as one of the best touring acts in dance music, having ranked in the top ten of Resident Advisor’s annual poll three years in a row. One of the most arresting uses of the enormous Slam Tent screens so far sees the Israeli-born DJ merge retro gaming imagery with giant Tiki heads, sped up and repeatedly flashed across the screen in time to Gerber’s high-energy tech-hybrid workout. With venues like The Block putting Tel Aviv on the map as a clubbing hotspot, the set shows off Gerber's knack for confounding expectations, and further underscores the exciting developments in dance music currently emanating from the Middle East. [CF]

Whether it’s the tea-time lull or folk just fancied a sit-down, most of the BBC Introducing tent is sedentary for Dundonian up-and-comer Be Charlotte. But the eponymous frontwoman is very excited all the same, a smiling, cheery presence centre stage. Backed by keys and drums, she may be wee but she packs a huge vocal, the a cappella moments showing off both her singing and her barbed, poetic rap. And though she’s the production mastermind here, the live percussion driving these tracks merits a sincere fire emoji. [GS] 

The Last Shadow Puppets, photo: Amy Muir

Just as Richards provides a gritty anchor to Jagger's flamboyant posturing, or Iggy played the punk Stooge to David Bowie’s theatrical Thin White Duke, the Turner/Kane partnership seems an entirely inexorable pairing. The Last Shadow Puppets duo stride onto the Main Stage, momentarily sunny before another deluge sets in – Turner slick-haired, buttoned-up and bandana-ed, Kane sporting a white Adidas tracksuit. As they launch into the grandiose, string-quartet backed Calm Like You, we're pressed to spot where the eccentric alter-egos stop and reality begins.

Firing through Aviation and the classic TLSP track The Age Of Understatement, the ferocious Bad Habits then puts paid to suggestions that The Last Shadow Puppets lack Arctic Monkeys' bellicose rock hooks. Both in brilliantly bonkers form, Turner leads a crowd chant of “Miles, Miles, Miles fucking Kane!” while the latter lends the common touch to a cover of The Fall's Totally Wired. Closing with Bowie’s Moonage Daydream, The Last Shadow Puppets are masters of a mad dance between light and dark, chaos and order – if only they could tame the weather, too. [CF]

Rays of sunny surf punk are the best weather we’ll get right now – especially now the heavens have opened (and then some) outside the BBC Introducing tent. Fortunately, the glitter-faced Van Thompson twins – aka Glasgow’s own The Van T’s – have those vibes in beachy spades, along with a fuzzy line in grunge, giving this soggy audience plenty to nod heads to. New single Blood Orange gets an airing, as does the woozy nostalgia of Laguna Babe (off last winter’s EP of the same name), providing yet more evidence that these smart sisters’ debut album can’t come soon enough. [GS]

The Tennent's Arms terrace makes a perfect vantage spot for pausing to survey the festival melee. Around the 8.30pm mark a wise clutch of revellers have gathered to hear Marquis Hawkes spinning up a class selection of inspired house gems. Ahead of his album launch at Sub Club later the same evening, the little-known British DJ/producer plays a cool assortment of disco-tinged grooves, with Le Loup's Fusion EP and Galaxy 2's Hi-Tech Jazz both welcome additions to the mix. [CF]

“I’m gonna be an optimist about this.” Damn straight, Dan Smith. Say what you like about the band, chart royalty Bastille are an absolutely perfect choice for the one moment the sun actually breaks over this sodden festival. You can’t fault their all-grins indie-pop; there’s a whole can of ear-worms here: Bad Blood, Pompeii, Things We Lost in the Fire (“Fiyah-fiyah-fiah!”), the Corona–sampling Of The Night, the TLC/the xx mashup/cover Angel. Smith is peppy and grateful, leading the charge on a kinetic, upbeat show. Sun or no sun, this is infectious – the good weather just takes it to another level. [GS]

The Vegan Leather, photo: Amy Muir

"Anyone from Paisley?" ask The Vegan Leather to a cluster of onlookers huddled in the cosy confines of the T Break stage. Offbeat, camp and dance-driven, the art-pop four-piece work hard to build a Saturday night set to remember. Their complex arrangements hold an enticing air of nostalgia, and the outfit use the show as an opportunity to debut brand new song Shaken. But we're past 10pm and attention spans are compromised; the group's inexperience shows in the akward pauses between instrument issues, and like the band's oxymoronic moniker, we're left wondering exactly who The Vegan Leather want to be. [CF]

After a day of gems in smaller enclaves we catch the Radio 1 Stage’s headliners: Cheshire alt-rock gnomes The 1975. The atmosphere is all there: the rain’s abated, the sun has set, the lights are up (the set-up here is a pretty mesmerising incadescent array of blocks, like a neon skyline), and we’re in a hoaching sea of diehards. But it jars a little being able to hear rival headliner Calvin Harris blaring out his fist-pumping EDM from all the way over here, and The 1975’s hit singles aren’t exactly bombastic.

The 1975, photo: Amy Muir

“We’re just gonna play our favourites,” concedes frontman Matthew Healy – an admission that goes down very well with this crowd, who belt out the words to watery classics like Chocolate and Girls. But on the fringes there are those unconvinced by this largely insipid, placid rock, and there’s no amount of flashy LEDs or charming stage banter that can win them over – and off they go, to better things. [GS]

If there's one man who can be relied upon to seize a Saturday night headline spot and turn it into something special, it's Richie Hawtin. Along with fellow pioneer Carl Craig, Hawtin ushered in the second wave of Detroit techno, and tonight the Slam Tent positively heaves with energy as the illustrious English/Canadian techno whizz builds a steady, purposeful march towards midnight. Shrouded in darkness, Hawtin lets his music do the talking, going about business with a meticulous hand at the controls and forging a wall of heady, minimal beats. By the time that Hawtin's work is done, darkness has fallen, the sloping floor of the Slam Tent has been churned into an unholy muddy mess, and we head out into the gloom, ears still ringing with delight. [CF]

See our full picture gallery from Saturday here.