Sunday overview

Rock Ness 2008

published: Thu 19th Jun 2008

Razorlight

Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th June 2008
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£115 2-days with camping; £100 2-days; £50 day tickets
last updated: Thu 5th Jun 2008

Having successfully not been eaten by the monster or devoured by one of the demons Aleister Crowley let loose trying to open The Lesser Key Of Solomon, in this very spot, I awaken on Sunday to the sound of 'What's that coming over the hill...' Cushioned by the nattering conscious members of two of the pill crunching hamlets surrounding our tent, discussing their sleeping friends.

It is the first time I have ever woke in a tent not to be drenched in sweat with a sleeping bag sticking to my bum. Pleased and relieved, I go for a coffee and a bacon roll so as to comfortably prepare myself for another day of possible rain. Mist leans heavy against the loch and the slopes that curtain it. The rain clouds, which grew with ominous colour toward the evening and dispersed just as quickly yesterday are more numerous and vicious looking than before. That being said, it is surprisingly temperate for this far north, so after putting on three pairs of socks and my trusty green wellies and make my way to the arena.

It's nowhere near twelve yet, but even with all the early birds fenced into the area housing the Bollywood Bar, the Rizla Invisible Players Van, the farmers market food stall, and many other miscellaneous eateries, the place looks fairly empty. Simply put, I don't believe that after Fatboy Slim and a Mylo DJ set at the Soco Social last night that there will be enough serotonin left in Rock Ness to power the majority of the campsite down here this 'early'. Which is a damn shame, for Sunday's line up is far superior to Saturday in many ways.

Rock Ness 2008


Jerking the curtain on the main stage are Jyrojets, who to my ears, sound exactly like Wildhearts spin-off Honeycrack with the gain turned down. It's pleasant enough for a Sunday morning, but not inspiring enough to get us to move from the Gaymers Cider Garden where we have the unthought of luxury of a table and a ceramic ashtray. I can't believe it's not civilization!

After planning the day, and ensuring there is as little time to sit still as possible I decide to make the most of now and stick around for Das Pop on the main stage. The lads from Ghent, Belgium are only known to me for the Fabric remix of 'Underground', and are barely known to anyone outside of Bebo T.V. watchers, whoever they are. Which is a bit of a pity, and frontman Brent Van Looy, makes note of the meager crowd and lukewarm reaction (despite what their Wikipedia entry says by saying, "Come on Scotland! I expected more than this!" obviously feeling disappointed. All things considered they play a cracking set, even against the odds of unfamiliarity and the empty feeling main stage arena. I believe the would have been wasted in one of the smaller venues for they have enough hooks to attract passers by, but probably the festival at the wrong time for the sunny pop rockers.

Page 6


Heading back to the Go North tent to make up for missing some bands at actual Go North micro festival, which took place Thursday-Friday in Dundee (a town that once upon a time I dubbed 'Dull-dee', when it is clearly alive and rocking- these days, anyway). I arrive in time to see Page 6, a feisty collective of punky-funky-indie. They seem to have a fairly active following, but my ears remain unsatisfied. Frontman Ryan Russell puts on an energetic and fairly captivating set, however listening to the band is like eating vanilla flavoured ice cream, maybe they just need to mature.

Giving up on rock for the moment, I make my first trip to the Skins Live tent to see Londons' The Black Ghosts. If you've heard any of the Fabric compilations, you've heard The Black Ghosts. Be that as it may, the sizeable crowd lap up the electro madness like hungry kittens chompin' on some Felix, and so do I. Ghost 1 and Ghost 2 as they wish to be known (it's a little Slipknot for me, but each to their own), do rattle the tent supports, but don't deliver anything you'll shout at randoms in the campsite, which is part of the reason why we're here.

Not entirely put off sticking around but a little apprehensive about it, I decide to grab some lunch and come back for the Pendulum DJs set later. Thank god I did, this is where dance should be right now. Exciting, different, innovative, and down right dance-demanding. The Pendulum DJs (Pendulum didn't play, but our reviewer clearly thinks that was who he was watching! - editor) embody the new breed of cross-over electronic music, and this is the sound the nought-ies should be remembered for. The tracks played are so well produced that over the layer of dry ice you would swear that Mr Sheen is spraying from the speakers. In a word- awesome.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Quite content, I feel like coming back to catch NME touted genius Does It Offend You, Yeah? so, instead of leaving at all, I take up residence by the left of the stage. Planting myself on the grass just below the level of smoke billowing from the over used machine. I hate agreeing with NME, and I hate enjoying something they even more. So it is with some ambiguity that I remain to watch. I am not disappointed. New single, 'Epic Last Song', is the only point in the set that my hackles rise. It feels like they are trying to emulate any number of flavour of the month indie bands in order to gain recognition.

Straying from everything that makes their prog-techno-metal so unique and fun. However that is made up for ten fold by the absolute genius that is, 'Attack Of The Sixty Foot Lesbian Octopus'. It's the kind of song that you can't believe hasn't either been done before or never realised in this way until now. Morgan Quaintance is the man to watch in this band. Pulling out some of the most intuitive and interesting guitar work to have been seen in years, all the while swinging the instrument and treating his guitar like it stole his girl. Just flippin' terrific. Having skipped lunch and being punished for it, I power walk to an eatery.

Fulfilled and remembering that the Go North tent is staging a fun Falkirk ska band called Root System, and having seen them on Friday night in the previously mentioned Go North festival in Dundee, I negotiate my way past the hundreds of punters standing outside the Clash tent. Root System abide by the Ska commandments, keep it bouncy, keep it speedy and just as their signature song says, 'Keep On Dancin''. Ok, it's not new, it's not 'cool', it's not trendy, but it's fun, and that's more than most acts can offer these days. That is a point I think their faithful followers (who are a surprising many) would certainly agree with me on. All bounced out, it's time to move on. So, it's back to the Skins Live tent.

I attempt to make my way to Clash tent in order to see Simian Mobile Disco, where the crowd is, just as it was yesterday, spilling out from the tent and encircling the venue- making it almost impossible to get in, and about as safe as frayed kettle lead sitting in a sink. Unless, you're small enough to slip past all those drunken tall people unnoticed, which I thankfully am. What I hear is an extremely well received, and constructive set. Also, it is the only time during the weekend that we get to enjoy watching the operation of a huge, old school, patch bay synthesizer. Now that is nothing short of damn impressive. Choking with claustraphobia, though, I feel I must leave.

Rock Ness 2008


Severely interested in what's happening in the Skins Live tent, I go back to catch Late Of The Pier, who are named emo but sound like anything but emo. Hard, swing beats, synths like woolen steel, and vocals like Robert Smith experiencing the worst Christmas ever, culminate in one of the most dynamic performances of the entire festival. Earl Samuel Dust bounces around like Emily Rose on a bad day, jumping into the pit to be embraced by the crowd in a scene that wouldn't be out place in Night Of The Living Dead, arms clawing for him as if they were after his sweaty flesh for lunch. It's true that they bear more than a passing resemblance to Hadouken! But the subtle difference is that Late Of Their Pier don't sound like Scooter with bigger beats and chav-cent laden vocals.

Afterwards the main stage is populated by the worst dressed musicians in the history of rock. Devo included. Yes, it's The Dykeenies. A band that just leave me with malaise. The only difference between The Dykeenies and everyone else is the odd tinge of a Scottish accent. That said, they do have the hometown crowd on their side who are able to endure the amature-ish stage banter and indistinguishable sound. To paraphrase they do well but leave me as cold as the last turkey in Tesco. Bored, I go back to the Skins Tent.

After thirty minutes of waiting for Hadouken! a bespectacled man with a clipboard addresses the crowd, and soon wishes he had made someone else do it. Organisation has not been Rock Ness' strong point. When the man begins to read the amended stage times for the Skins tent, he receives more boos and insults than Annabel Chong in a convent.

Hadouken!


The odd thing being that he is reading the times at 18:15, declaring that Hadouken! will hit the stage at that exact time. Who the hell let the monkey at the controls? Anyway, when my eyes clasp their first sight of Hadouken! Ryu's disciples appear fixated on the task at hand. Focused, tight and exciting- if a little Germanic and cheesy at times- the boys (and girl) exude fun from every pore. The audience react with all fervor and enthusiasm of a club crowd. Granted, most of them are about twelve, sporting white Ray Bans and sillily positioned and equally silly looking baseball caps. While the majority are fans, there are some staying in the tent who are simply waiting for Boys Noize, and stand with deepening furrows at the young bands' display.

A little pooped, with screaming feet and a parched throat, it's back to the tent to change once again into trainers and to remove the rain coats from our bags. The psychopathic weather breaking into the most beautiful day one could wish for.

Editors


By the time I'm back in the arena, it's time to find a patch of grass, sit down and await Editors. Never having been overly fond of their records, I find myself quite willing to enjoy their set. It is quite mesmerizing. Tom Smith is often a joy to watch, as he throws his easily parodied shapes and postures in awkward stick man fashion. Second song, 'The Racing Rats' is a definite favourite of the entire weekend for myself, even though the rest of the set never eclipses that moment. Smith, however, is having one of the gigs of his life, the emotion is quite clear when he exclaims that, "Isn't this the most beautiful night you've ever seen?", I agree Mr Smith. Bloomin' gorgeous. The sun at this point hangs to the right of the stage, and is beginning to duck behind the hill leaving half the arena in cold shadow and the other half (where my bum is parked) in glorious twilight.

Razorlight


With the end of the weekend approaching faster than anyone could expect, it is time for the biggest name of the festival, Razorlight. Drummer Andy Burrows (who also played a surprise acoustic set earlier) takes the stage first, pounding out a small solo before his compadres join him to belt out 'In The Morning', you could almost hear the ears of everyone in the arena prick up as they stampede to the stage. Johnny Borrell appears looking like a John Lennon tribute singer, complete with circular sunglasses and flower necklace, arrogance oozing from him like puss from an ulcer.

It's at this point I realise that I don't mind listening to Razorlight, but having to look at them makes me burn with rage, and I deeply regret not having made the decision to go to where the real party is and watch Underworld and CSS in the Clash tent, believing that getting into the place would be a physical impossibility. With my rant out the way, the intercontinental band do pull off a show that fans will remember as one the greatest the band could ever perform, treating them to new material from their eagerly awaited third album and all the overly radio friendly hits in one fell swoop, situated in the most amazing location a band could dream of playing.

All in all, what we have witnessed is a new breed of festival. One that is prepared to showcase new music and not tuck it away in some desolate corner. One that is unafraid of an eclectic line-up. One that is well conceived if still teething and ironing out the kinks, but, most importantly, one that has the elements of Glastonbury without the alienation of volume.

Rock Ness 2008

review by: Ross Gilchrist

photos by: Louise Henderson / Tommy Jackson

Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th June 2008
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£115 2-days with camping; £100 2-days; £50 day tickets
last updated: Thu 5th Jun 2008


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