Mumford & Sons are a hit and miss headliner on Friday at Rock Ness

Rock Ness 2012 review

published: Thu 14th Jun 2012

around the festival site (1)

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£159 for a weekend camping, or £149 weekend non-camping
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Fri 25th May 2012

Nobody could deny that the journey up to Loch Ness for the Rock Ness festival is one which gets more beautiful every mile closer you get. Travelling from a city, the grey motorways made way for sprawling fields and forestry before the impending queuing traffic heralded that the festival site was near. As with any Scottish festival, nerves were frayed about what the weather would hold upon arrival, but revellers seemed cheered when they realised the forecast rain, although torrentially present on Thursday night, had not turned the site into a mud swamp and the grass held firm.

around the festival site (2)
Immediately noticeable in the arena was how everything looked to have been compacted together more than in previous years; upon entrance through the festival we were channelled through a corridor of-sorts containing food stalls, the blow-up Kopparberg cube, the imposing and impressive looking Arcadia totem, and of course not forgetting the inflatable chapel – put to good use this year at RockNess with at least two weddings over the weekend.

At the top of the hill, as we pass the Clash tent descending to the main stage – and of course the pinnacle of the spectacular view over the loch – stood a Hollywood-esque statue, the letters R-O-C-K-N-E-S-S standing proud. From here it was only a short walk – or stumble, dependent on your inebriation - down to the main stage, or the GoldenVoice tent to its left. Festivals traditionally mean a lot of trudging around, walking in between different locations but Rock Ness has managed to make the site feel compact and bijou, but whilst maintaining enough room for the crowd to sit on the grass without fear of being trampled by teeming masses.

Noah And The Whale
Once the obligatory, and highly necessary, lanyards were purchased and the tents pitched up safely for the weekend, a wander to the main stage was in order, just in time to see Noah and the Whale start up. The Twickenham based group played with folksy charm, ambling along as the crowd warm up to their newer tracks such as 'Give It All Back' but their set – although well played and well received, was forgettable and no match for Ed Sheeran playing in the GoldenVoice tent.

Joining the mass departure of people in Ed Sheeran's direction, the tent rapidly filled up for the 21 year old who has recently exploded onto the music scene. The audience were well-versed in all of his songs as he played favourites 'Drunk' – to expected rapturous cheers – all the way through to 'A-Team', accompanied by thousands as the GoldenVoice tent sang their hearts out. This youngster undoubtedly knows already how to command an audience, and the talent behind his quick rise to fame became evident as he melded acoustic-pop with beat boxing.

Mumford And Sons
Headliner's Mumford & Sons may have seemed an unusual choice to close any festival, particularly one known for its enviable dance line-up. The beginning of the London based folk band's set played energetically, opening with their better known hits such as 'Little Lion Man', much to the delight of the crooning crowd but they chose to fill much of their headline slot with newer songs – a choice which seemed to leave parts of the set feeling lost and the audience less interested. There's no denying Mumford & Son's ability, and they sounded great live – particularly offset against the background of Rock Ness, yet their music felt like it would have been better suited earlier in the bill. Many of their songs from album 'Sigh No More' sound the same to anyone who is not a hardened fan, meaning any of their lesser known songs melded into one.

It is little surprise then that the GoldenVoice arena was the haven for anyone needing a dancier way to end the first evening of the festival. Etienne de Crecy – spectacularly situated within a cube upon the stage, with a dazzling lightshow upon the cubes around him – kept the tent bouncing with an energetic house set and remixes, including a 'Fast Track vs We Are Your Friends' remix which kept the crowd shouting along with the track. De Crecy is one of the masters of dance music, having been around since the 1990's and this DJ set, packed to the rafters just showed he still has the ability to lift the crowd and keep them dancing into the night.

One of the things which set Rock Ness apart as a dance festival is that once the main stage closes the other areas of the festival then take pride of place. The crowds were shepherded up the hill where the Clash presents Sub Club Sound System tent and the Arcadia Afterburner truly kick off for the night. While many of the festival-goers either head back to the buses to head home, or back to their tents a hardened bunch continue the party. Eats Everything – Bristolian Daniel Pearce – leads the tent in funky underground house, keeping the revellers grooving and dancing right up until he is cut off by the organisers at the end of his set, bang on 2am.

In the world of festivals, one thing has become a thing of folklore to those who have never been lucky enough to witness one: the Silent Disco. And luckily, Rock Ness didn't disappoint. For those who had stuck out the Clash tent until the very end, they were rewarded with the Headphone Disco – and treated to an eclectic mix of pop-dance remixes. There really wasn't much funnier than an almost fully lit tent, with various bedraggled people dancing to different beats, and singing along as they forgot the world outside could hear. Yet even that had to end eventually and an hour later the hardcore few who made it through the full first day of Rock Ness staggered along to their tents to sleep off the excellent day.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Clare Sinclair

photos by: Clare Sinclair

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£159 for a weekend camping, or £149 weekend non-camping
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Fri 25th May 2012


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