Most Scottish people have a T in the Park story; either their own or a friend’s. When I went in 2004 (at the age of 17), a strange guy lumbered into my tent at 5am, off his head, and asked me if he could stay there a while. When I told him to fuck off back to his own tent, he responded: “Ah don’t have a tent. Ah don’t have a ticket. Ah got in by giein the security guy two eccies.” He eventually left, but it really put me off TITP – or the camping side of it anyway. That, and my friend’s vivid account of being at the festival in 2007 and seeing an off-her-tits woman rolling around on the grass, legs akimbo, curling out a meaty turd.
So when The Pop Cop asked me to review this year’s T, it was with some trepidation that I agreed. However, I reasoned that even if I had a negative experience, it would still (hopefully) make for an enjoyable read. Plus, I’d get to see Beyonce in real life. With that in mind, I bought my first pair of wellies since the age of seven (Primark, a tenner) and drove up to Balado on the early evening of Friday. It was a beautiful journey – peaceful, nice trees, sheep grazing in the sun-dappled fields of Perthshire – and I went a bit Braveheart thinking, “FUCKING YAS! SCOTLAND’S PURE NICE!”.
Then I arrived at T in the Park.
In recent years, I’d heard a lot of people complaining that the festival was a complete nedfest. I just assumed that they were exaggerating and being moany bastards because the two times I’d been previously (2003 and 2004) there had been a real mix of people: neds, moshbags, old folk, average Joes, sad men with Paul Weller haircuts who idolise Oasis. But this time was different; most people were neds. You know how in London you are surrounded by so much pollution that sometimes you get black bogeys? Well, my bogeys at TITP came out wearing trackies. About 60% of the men were taps aff and spent the majority of their time dancing to the rave music that was blaring from the dodgems rather than going to see any bands. And I saw the Kappa logo so many times that I had the image of two people sitting arse-to-arse burned into my retinas.
Once I’d acclimatised to the twatmosphere, I was ready to go and listen to some music. Unfortunately the time spent driving up, finding a parking space, trudging to the box office to collect my pass then stopping by the media tent meant that I missed Tom Jones by a bawhair. I was a bit disappointed as I’d been quite looking forward to gleefully staring at his face, like a happy child who had been plonked in front of the TV to watch The Grinch Goes To Miami And Gets An Awesome Tan.
I wandered over to the T Break tent to catch Sucioperro, mainly out of intrigue; these guys have been on the go since I wore baggy jeans and listened to Limp Bizkit. They sounded good, and the crowd were enjoying them, but I’m not a huge fan of that type of music any more – very Biffy-esque, which they’re probably sick of hearing despite their connections to the band (JP of Sucio plays with Simon Neil in Marmaduke Duke). After catching the very beginning of Aerials Up (who I’d heard of but had never heard before – they’re a seven-piece act with a cheery pop sound), it was time to decide which of the final acts of the evening I’d go to see.
Having seen some smaller Scottish acts, it made sense to now go for a big crowd-puller. My choices were Pendulum, Arctic Monkeys and 2manydjs. I asked Twitter which of the three to choose (after reckoning that this was like being asked to choose who my favourite Spice Girl was out of Sporty, Sporty and Sporty) and the majority voted for Pendulum.
They seem to be a very divisive band; popular with Radio 1 listeners and NME readers, and sneered at by everyone else. I went with an open mind – something which is important to do when you’re at a festival, especially one that doesn’t really cater for your music taste. I don’t know about everybody else but when it comes to live music I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by a band playing shit/average music well, than crushingly disappointed by a great band playing dismally. Pendulum played with great energy and really got the crowd going. They gauged the mood of their audience and played up to it accordingly, knowing exactly when to build things up slowly and when to go mental with their frenzied-sounding drum and bass. So from this it can be inferred that they’re probably good at sex too.
I have to admit though, I did get a little restless halfway through their set. They’re often criticised for all of their songs sounding the same and, well, they sort of do. I fastwalked to the King Tut’s Wah Wah tent to catch a bit of 2manydjs, who are actually a bit less Sporty and a bit more Ginger Spice. However, I was conscious of the fact that my being sober (due to driving home for work the next day) might negatively affect my enjoyment of their set. It did.
I went back to Pendulum, making a quick stop along the way at the Main Stage to see how Arctic Monkeys were faring. I stayed for about two songs – which admittedly isn’t really enough to judge a band’s live performance fairly – and found them to be lacklustre. Maybe it’s just Alex Turner’s lazy-sounding Sheffield accent, but they seemed to be going through the motions with no sense of vitality, and certainly no patter. A scout round the vast world of internet opinions informs me that I am the only person who found their performance to be a bore, so maybe I’m wrong (I’m not wrong).
On Saturday I was better prepared for what the festival might have in store for me (basically, I had my hands ready to cover my eyes any time someone got their willy out). I was working during the day so, again, only got to see the evening acts. My first stop was the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Transmissions Stage, where The Saw Doctors played a feelgood set of their hits, opening with N17. This was my first time seeing them live and they didn’t disappoint. Next, it was time to see how Crystal Castles were live. In a word: shite.
Beyonce was next, but before I went to see her I decided to sample some festival food. The selection at T was surprisingly impressive – there was a healthy section where you could get falafel, Mexican stew or even some smoked mussel pasta from the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar stall. But obviously the food stand attracting the majority of punters was the wonderfully-named Kebabylon.
After filling my belly and hoping that some of it would make my arse a bit fatter for some bum shaking, I ventured over to the Main Stage to see Beysus (that’s internetspeak for Beyonce, by the way. Beyonce + Jesus = Beysus). Clad in black sequins with her glorious mane blowing in the breeze, she looked every inch the glamorous goddess. And she sounded AMAZING. I’d never been to see a mainstream female singer live – which is mad, when I think about it – other than the Spice Girls, who I really ought to stop referencing, and it was a real treat to hear her sounding better live than on her records. She’s such a captivating performer, too. So captivating that I witnessed grown men with the Tennent’s logo shaved into their heads doing girly dances and singing along to all the words. The only criticism I’d make was that after such a powerful opening with songs like Crazy In Love, Single Ladies and Naughty Girl, her set kind of lagged in the middle. I didn’t like her cover of Kings Of Leon’s Sex On Fire (mainly because I wish that song would die in a fire), but it picked up again towards the end, and she finished by disappearing into the stage. I wouldn’t have expected any less.
I was a bit pissed off about The Strokes being on at the same time as Beyonce, especially when there was an abundance of terrible bands who I’d much rather she’d clashed with. I caught a couple of their songs, though, and they sounded brilliant. I then felt it was my duty to The Pop Cop, who is a Coldplay fan, to watch Chris Martin and Co when they took to the Main Stage. I remembered what my friends had said about their Glastonbury performance – about how they were great, and moved some of them to tears despite them not being fans. My mind was open wider than Belle de Jour’s vagina, ready to embrace them like the long-lost musical heroes they could well be. But, in the words of my friend Ciaran, they were “deeply, deeply beige”. They did play well, but not well enough for me to come over all misty-eyed and forget that I was freezing cold, standing in a field, watching fucking Coldplay.
Overall, Saturday was better than Friday, despite the fact that the only song I had stuck in my head when I left was the following, sung by a ned in the toilet queue: “JULIE’S DAIN A SHITE! JULIE’S DAIN A SHITE! ANN MARIE’S DOIN A PEE. ANN MARIE’S DOIN A PEE. JULIE’S DAIN A SHITE!” Poor wee Julie.
Sunday was when my welly-purchasing decision really came into its own. It bucketed down hard and fast; the kind of rain that makes you secretly think that you probably won’t need to shower for another week. I got to see for the very first time – because until now, all the festivals I’d been to had been sunny and dry – festival mud. Not only on the ground, but smeared across people’s faces and naked torsos. There were several mud fights, and it felt a bit like a modern day version of Lord of the Flies (or Lord of the Pies, judging by the bellies on show).
I hurried into the Red Bull tent to see an act who turned out to be not only the highlight of that day, but of the weekend – Metronomy. Like many others, I only got into them recently after hearing The English Riviera, which is one of my favourite albums of 2011 so far. They sounded excellent and played a tight set consisting of songs from that album interspersed with older favourites like Heartbreaker. They’re really worth seeing live. The bass. THE BASS!
I caught a bit of local singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni after that. She has a very nice voice, but it was difficult to go from the loud energy of Metronomy to low-key folksy music. So I ran away and watched Weezer, and didn’t regret it one bit, especially when they did a great cover of Paranoid Android.
Pulp were up next, and Jarvis was the perfect frontman. Scraggly and cool, he made an effort with his between-songs chat and raised some cheers when he wiped his (unfortunately clothed, but at least we’ve all seen it bare once) arse with the final edition of the News of the World. I only really knew their big hits because I think Pulp were a bit grown-up for me when I was 10 – I don’t think I went any further than Blur – but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the songs I didn’t know. I can also stick Jarvis beside Dylan Moran on my People To Stalk When In Edinburgh list, as apparently he’s living there just now.
Foo Fighters were the grand finale; the whole weekend had more or less felt like a bit of a nostalgia-fest, so it seemed like a fitting note to end it on. Like all ‘true fans’ of every band ever, ‘I only like the old stuff’, and they played plenty of it along with their recent rubbish. They’re a tough live act to fault due to their sweaty hair and commitment to… no, I can’t do it. I can’t spell rock as ‘rawk’. But aye. You know what you’re in for with the Foos. They’re never going to ponce onto a stage, eyes glazed with disinterest, wearing a trilby. They are eager wee moshers.
So there we go, that’s the end. TITP knows its audience, or its ideal audience, and creates a line-up for them. It’s never going to be ATP or Coachella, because it doesn’t want to be. It’s just a shame that it’s overrun by bams who can be overheard spouting sage advice like, “Ok, Ok, shut up, listen. Here’s the plan. If you’re gonnae whitey, ah think, the plan should be that you just say, ‘I’m gonnae whitey’. Right?”
By Natasha Radmehr
Metronomy – Heartbreaker
Weezer – Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover)