rain doesn't dampen spirits as The Strokes close Rock Ness

Rock Ness 2010 review

published: Thu 17th Jun 2010

The Strokes

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June 2010
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£149 for 3 days with camping
last updated: Wed 24th Nov 2010

By the final day of the festival, the rain had finally hit the site, but luckily not enough to dampen the spirits of 30,000 attendees excited by the prospect of a headline slot from one of the finest bands of the past 10 years, The Strokes.

The New York 5-piece, despite coming under criticism in recent years due to lack of productivity and a poorly received third album, but for me, having been several years seen I’d seen them live; I was more excited than ever to see the band.

The Strokes

From the offset of their performance, I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed, rising to the occasion of closing the festival admirably, with their own style of New York alternative indie rock going down massively well with the expectant audience.

From the clashing drums of opener 'New York City Cops', the disjointed guitars of 'Modern Age' and the massive sounding 'Hard to Explain', the tone for the night was set, and racing through all singles and hits from their three albums, it was definitely a case of saving the best 'til last.

Unfortunately not debuting any new material, it came to mind that this was a very sensible idea, with the band, who were on good form with each other, Julian Casablancas in particular interacting with the crowd a lot, taking this opportunity to remind everyone about them, before unleashing their fourth effort.

What surprised me most about the performance however was the songs from debut 'Is This It?', which, despite coming up on it’s 10th anniversary next year, still sounds as fresh as when it came out, a real reminder of what a fantastic album that is, and why this band still remain relevant and important in today’s music scene.

Proceeding the Strokes were two fellow New York bands, alternative indie popsters Vampire Weekend, and 70s new wave, punk band Blondie.

Vampire Weekend, having released their second effort, 'Contra' earlier this year have enjoyed great success since, and their penultimate slot here at Rock Ness was nothing short of excellent.

Treating the audience to a selection of songs from both albums, the summer style chords of 'Mansard Roof', the furious guitars of recent single 'Cousins' and the disjointed, off beat pattern of set highlight 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa', which sounded fantastic, especially as the sun broke out.

The band are really starting to set themselves up as future headliners, and with the potential in them, they should definitely achieve this, especially when you have an audience singing back nearly every word to on a single from your first album, 'Oxford Coma'.

However, my only disappointment of the day was Blondie, a band I'd been expecting so much from, given their talent and influence they’ve had on bands such as Vampire Weekend and even more so, The Strokes.

Although the punk guitars of 'Hanging on the Telephone', the new wave/art rock style guitars on 'Atomic' and the mass sing along sparked by 'Maria', I really felt the band have began to show their age, sounding old, tired, and ultimately dated.

What disappointed me most however, and even forced me to walk away from this set just before was the band's cover of 'Break My Heart' by Taio Cruz, which sounded abysmal, and for me, a band I respected so much had let me, and several others I believe, down.

However, following Blondie's performance came the great surprise of the day, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew77, who I’d gone into expecting really terrible things, but from the opening quarter of their set, my mind was quickly changed.

The formerly Italian duo, now a three-piece after their inclusion of a drummer into their set, creating a real live experience, combing live synthesizers, guitars, drums as well sampled loops and drum beats, resulting in a really fantastic sound, something that perhaps Justice had tried to create three years previous.

The despite the dated sound, Death Crew 77 really impressed, with their really heavy guitar, distorted sounds really working the crowd, and songs such as the slow rising and set opener 'Domino', along with the heavy clicks and beeps combined with the distorted guitars in previous single 'Warp', really impressed, and the energy that the band displayed was really quite, a real pick me up after a disappointing set.

In a similar vein, French electro house DJ Vitalic impressed, playing a more expansive, slow rising set, with long drawn out basslines building heavy distorted samples. It was the final two songs in his set that impressed the most, with heavy disco beat monster 'Your Disco Song' sliding into the heavy guitar riff of 'My Friend Dario', ending his set on a big high.

It was the stage set-up that completed his performance to, using two huge mirrors behind him to create a great visual as well as audio experience.

However, when it comes to dance music, there's only one band that shines over them all, and that's Belgian 4 piece, Soulwax.

Soulwax

Having played the previous day under their 2manydjs alter ego, there was a lot of expectation of the band, playing in one of the smaller tents in the arena, and the intimate atmosphere added a lot to their performance.

Opening up with a cover of 'We Love Animals', originally by Crookers, but which Stephen and David produced, the band then proceeded into one of their ever special 'Nite Versions' sets, and delivered one of the best performances of the weekend.

Playing the DFA remix version of 'Another Excuse', with it's heavy use of tribal sounding drums and cowbells over the top of a heavy bassline, as well an excellent slow building version of 'E Talking', ending in a blaze of distortion sounded fantastic, but it was something that we'd expected all along.
review by: Anthony Hetherington

photos by: Chris Mathews

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June 2010
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£149 for 3 days with camping
last updated: Wed 24th Nov 2010


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