Monday, 15 July 2013

T in the Park - Day 3

As much as I was glad to have a warm cosy bed to sleep in each night, the two hours drive each way was causing some major sleep deprivation!  Mind you, judging by the weary state of some of the T20 punters, sleep was the last thing happening back at the camp site after Saturday night.

Sticking to the same script as Friday and Saturday, I headed on down to the T-Break stage for some tasty new Scottish music.

Poor Things were the first flavour on offer today, smearing some sun-kissed alternative rock all over the eager crowd gathered in the T-Break stage.  'Summer Clutch' has the kind of kick ass drum beat that spurs the crowd into action, drummer Gavin channelling all the anticipation of a gig like this into turbulently smashing cymbal and snare crashes.  The band showcase some new tracks in amongst their recent 'Hurricane Poor Things' EP, eagerly teasing people to lose those early afternoon inhibitions and throw some shapes.  Penultimate track 'Festival' could be more aptly named, raising the ghosts of influences Teenage Fanclub, Pavement and Grandaddy and giving them fresh shake.  As often with these T-Break slots, it's over too soon, recent free single 'Morgan' closing the set, a melodic pop-rock tune played by three guys with the biggest smiles on their faces ever.

After a quick catch up with Poor Things backstage, I managed to catch the tail end of the set from Arches, who had a pretty big pre-festival buzz about them.  Providing that buzzes do convert to people in tents, the band played a strong pop-rock set to an bulging T-Break tent.  Powerful tunes, which you could see one day filling a larger stage than this.

"We're the only band on the T-Break stage with a brass section.  That'll draw 'em in!" quipped the Pronto Mama lads when I caught up with them before going on.  It's true enough, and for those who've seen the six piece before you'll know it's far from some gimmick to make themselves 'different', the trumpet and trombone parts weaved into their upbeat and exuberant tracks effortlessly.  After a rip-roaring start of tightly knitted melodies, things were cooled down a notch with the laid back 'Safety Net' off their most recent EP 'Lickety Split'.  It's a momentary lull as the band frantically launch into the bombastic 'Fruit Loop' where Ciaran and Michael fight for the most powerful vocals.  A new (untitled) song towards the end of the set sounded promising, however it's 'Still Swimming' which proves the real highlight, as the crowd unanimously were feeding off the infectious energy of the band, whooping and cheering as the delicate keyboard intro unravels into a sickeningly catchy chorus and swirling declarations of love.

"It was about a year ago today that we played our first gig as CHVRCHES" admits lead singer Lauren Mayberry.  That's worth remembering given just how much promotion and hype surround the three piece.  Yet there's no airs of graces about them, as Lauren jokes it's nice to be back playing a crowd that understands their Glaswegian patter.  Starting things at full blast, 'Lies' dominates the tent instantly drawing the crowd into their clutches as well as mopping in passers by.  Gripped by bassy hooks and polished electronic melodies there's no letting up as we've drenched in trippy feel good electronica such as current single 'Gun'.  'Recover', where Lauren's vocals echo in the shimmery mists of smoke and final track 'The Mother We Share' showcase the pop-polished side of CHVRCHES.  Keeping alive the hype, which on this showing is well deserved, the band play tracks from their forthcoming début album including one where Martin Doherty grabs lead vocals, exploding with a powerful performance culminating in the crowd pleasing yelp of "T in the f*cking Park!", which earned him £100 as Lauren and Ian bet he wouldn't do it!  For many of the crowd, this may have been the first live experience of the hottest tipped Scottish band at the moment, and with a date now announced at Glasgow's O2 ABC on 10th October, I'm betting it won't be the last.

If you like loud and experimental music and you weren't at the T-Break stage for Vasa, then you simply weren't doing it right.  With influences taken from prog-rock and post-rock the band, who play entirely instrumental tracks were a brave choice for T-Break organisers, especially latter in the day paired against the heavy hitters on the bigger stages.  Thankfully though there's an eager enough crowd assembled to enjoy the full on assault that ensues.  The second track in revels in a tidy little loop, as drummer Alex crashes on top with intent.  Each track takes time to showcase each members musicianship, with bassist John, beasting bass lines front and centre.  Each track ran pretty smoothly into the next, as the sound ebbed and flowed, some slightly more shoe-gaze moments and mellowed out math-rock allowing the band to layer and build up towards crushing crescendos.  As I stood watching, while the over enthusiastic smoke machine shielded the view of the band, it was painstakingly clear that Vasa are a band whose music can stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers and idols.

Thanks to T-Break's 30 minute slots, I was able to dash over to the King Tut's Tent and catch the opening part of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's set.  With a backdrop of massive Y's and a flame licking light show, Karen O, wearing what looks like a Burger King crown, dominated proceedings.  The band kicked things off with 'Sacrilege' and powered straight on into the brilliant 'Gold Lion'.  Time however dictated it was time to return to the T-Break stage...

For it was here that Dennistoun (as guitarist Graham occasionally reminded people) band Machines In Heaven were gearing up for the headline slot on the T-Break stage.  Despite the prestige that may come with having 'T-Break headliners' on the CV, it is a difficult slot to fill especially against the popular crowd pleasers of The Killers (boke) and David Guetta (double boke), the sound of the former of which bled into the tent a bit.  However once in their stride, the band nailed a set full of whizzes, bleeps, whirrs and insatiable synth rhythms all feed through a techno filter.  Speaking to them earlier in the day, we chatted about how good previous night headliners Kraftwerk and My Bloody Valentine had been, and it's poetic justice perhaps that these two bands were playing, as the influence of both is evident.  As the smoky haze removed the human instrument players from view, multi-layered synth-pop caressed and delighted the tent.  As much as I loved their heavenly mechanistic grooves, the real highlight of their set (and perhaps the T-Break stage in generally) was when a random punter turned and asked who the band on stage were.  Replying 'Machines in Heaven', he replied, "they are the best band I've seen all weekend".  THAT is what T-Break is there for.

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