Indian Summer @ Victoria Park

Not one droplet of cloud juice has ruffled The Skinny's tragically un-hip, stuck-in-the-seventies barnet Ð well, that is until now.

Article by Billy Hamilton | 09 Aug 2007
If it's raining, it's raining…

Ah, it's funny how the reggaefied tones of Bitty McLean (yeah, we know it's a Fats Domino track but we grew up in the Nineties, y'getme?) can act like a resurgent call-to-arms during the notorious annual quagmire that is the festival season. But thus far at Indian Summer, not one droplet of cloud juice has ruffled The Skinny's tragically un-hip, stuck-in-the-seventies barnet – well, that is until now.

"..tears from my eyes."

Yup, from the precise moment we walk through the gates of this second day in Victoria Park, Glasgow's typically foreboding skyline begins to scatter its aqueous content onto the festival's beatific site. It's not much, but it's enough for us to pull on our macs as earnest local twee-merchants Make Model take to the Main Stage with their pacifying brand of timid tunery. Awash with gentle handclaps and uplifting folk shanties, the quintet's gentile disposition fails to hold our attention for more than fifteen lackadaisical minutes and we speedily make our way over to the BBC6 Music Hub Stage where Figure 5's high-octane garage stomps are oozing from its tightly packed confines. Full of bustling, romper-stomper riffs and floor filling beat-patterns, the Glasgow neo-mods firmly wring out our Sabbatical blues with victorious ska-infused throbs like the scintillating Part Of The Problem.

In desperate need of a heart-pumping caffeine buzz, we find ourselves drawn to the Beanscene Tent where the delicious SubRosa are playing next to an even more appetising tray of chocolate-chip muffins. Their deft acoustic laments and sultry feline purrs fill us with the enriching ambience of a lazy Sunday afternoon and as we sip on our lip-burning Americanas everything seems strangely tranquil – as if life can't get any better. Only it does. Because Maps have stepped up to the Main Stage armed with the sound of their magnificent starry-eyed opuses. The escalating drum marches and lucid synths project the gawping crowd into an inter-planetary stasis, accompanied only by the cosmic airlessness of James Chapman's breathy whisper. Similar to The Early Years in their pursuit of perfect electronic pop-orchestration, the Northampton five-piece create dreamy, ethereal soundscapes more bewitching than even Victoria Park's luscious surroundings.

But, all of a sudden, the sky erupts and the buoyancy emanating from Maps' spine-quivering performance vanishes in a sodden haze that soaks those of us who aren't either too inebriated to notice or cowering under the world's smallest brolly. Feeling rather sorry for ourselves, and slightly loathe to have left the Heineken Tent's beer-filled retreat, we brave the elements to catch Annuals bellowing out a deluge of grandiose symphonies from the Main Stage. Sounding every inch the pretenders to Arcade Fire's ostentatiously decorated throne, the North Carolinian outfit create a cockle-warming carousel of dramatic slinking percussion and chiming keys. As dramatic and enriching as it is, there's a serrated ring-rustiness to tracks like the suffocating Dry Clothes. Perhaps its frontman Adam Baker's penchant for a bottle of Bell's that bedraggles the set, but it takes until set-closer Brother's echoic balladry before they hit the gorgeous heights of their debut LP Be He Me; with Baker's coy vocal erupting into a vehement wail as the euphoric, gushing melody glides over the drenched crowd.

Spurred on by Annuals' opulent finale we eagerly await the arrival of I'm From Barcelona. But as the gargantuan Swedish ensemble take to the stage with a carnival-like explosion of balloons and confetti one Skinny reporter looks forlornly at his feet whilst his fellow scribes shake their head in disbelief at last year's four star album review. Oh yes, I'm From Barcelona suck. As a rabble-rousing spectacle, the ebullient troupe are Indian Summer's atmospheric zenith; but when the hilarity ends and the music begins it's clear this rag-tag collective are nothing short of terrible. Resembling a Chas 'n' Dave Scandinavian knees up in an under-10's disco, this band's sugar sweet melodies make The Tweenies sound like debauched rock 'n' rollers. As if suggesting a bout of depression can be easily cured by screeching "it's going to be alright" isn't bad enough, we're subjected to pitifully twee pop-vignettes about stamps, tree-houses and fucking chicken-pox. Nonetheless, like the sporadic bouts of drizzle that threaten the day, we weather this catastrophic shit storm, hoping - nay praying – that Elvis Perkins can deliver us a dose of something much realer.

Appearing dishevelled yet strangely studious at the same time, in a little over three minutes Perkins puts down something far more profound than the cheesy Sandra Bullock film which shares a name with his wandering ditty While You Were Sleeping. Delivering tales that sometimes appear uplifting on their surface, only to reveal a darker, soul-jerking poignancy, it should really take something utterly bombastic to drag us away from this particular troubadour, but when Jason Pierce is setting up stall just a few yards away it's with regret that we wave adieu.

A perennial harbinger of morbidity, Pierce is typically morose when he takes to a piano surrounded by heavenly-picked gospel singers and a tantalising string quartet. Blowing open Acoustic Mainlines, his fertile, tear-stained vocal soars into the sky's upper echelons as he tentatively reels off brittle, harpsichord classics like Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space and the conscience-tugging Broken Heart. This glorious sonic splendour is slightly hampered by the sparseness of an outdoor setting and fails to enlighten as wholly as it should on the ragged Electricity. But Pierce conducts emotion with an intuition many could only dream of and, despite sounding a little dysfunctional in places, he picks up spectacularly with the sweet, hollering redemption of Oh Happy Days - perhaps the most alluring and sincerely performed track of the weekend

Feeling a little dejected and unloved after Spiritualized's heart-rendering set, we head over to the BBC6 Music Hub Stage one final time to catch Loney, Dear putting in a workman-like shift of deft guitar swathes and haunting folk strains. But, in all honesty, we're much, much too excited by the prospect of The Flaming Lips and end up plying ourselves with ale to appease the giddy euphoria that's building in the pits of our stomachs.

When The 'Lips finally troop on stage to a medieval town crier's discerning bellows and a never ending torrent of helium balloons, Indian Summer explodes into the festival it's always promised to be. Victoria Park resembles a parallel, psychedelically enhanced galaxy, where gaggles of jiving Santas embrace cranially rotund aliens whilst shimmering bubbles of tenderly concocted melody burst above our heads. To put it bluntly; Wayne Coyne and co. are divine. Breezing through gorgeous cosmic carols like Flight Test and Do You Realise, the band seem immune to the feverous devotion that has filled Victoria Park. But when Yeah Yeah Yeah Song's chorus is recited back at glass-shattering decibels, Coyne appears visibly stunned; as if he's suddenly realised he's not alone whilst churning out these wondrous paens. Whooping and cheering to Coyne's token anti-Bushisms and protestations of peace, the crowd lap up every invigorating drop of a startling, melody infused set surely worth the entrance fee alone.

As The Flaming Lips finally bring the curtain down on this second Indian Summer, The Skinny traipses home to ponder the magnitude of their display; fittingly singing along to the words of good ol' Bitty:

"..since you've gone, all I do is cry."