It’s absolutely raining cats and dogs - or since we’re in France, les chats et les chiens - on the first day of Garorock; but that won’t slow things down tonight. Having first fashioned makeshift waders out of bin bags, throngs of mud-coated revellers are thrashing around in a huge puddle of slurry to a soundtrack of ‘Standing in the Way of Control,’ courtesy of a newly solo Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto. There’s even a sighting of a festival-goer kitted out in a wetsuit and snorkel later on when Foals take to the stage; playing for a modest crowd of hardcore attendees hardy enough to stick out the treacherous conditions. Their stamina is rewarded by Yannis Philippakis and co, who squeeze lesser-spottted songs like ‘Red Socks Pugie’ and ‘Heavy Water’ in between the sprawling anthems. Closing out the night on a site that by now resembles a village fete sinking into the canals of Venice - clearly full of confidence on home turf - Phoenix are equally as triumphant.
The following night, London Grammar start things off with a snore; the musical equivilant of reheating an inoffensively palatable soup, and then letting it go cold again. Waking people up again is a job best left to M.I.A, who, armed with a full entourage of dancers in orange jumpsuits, and tall, ominous prison bars cutting the stage in half, doesn’t mess about. Politically-charged, and packed full of bangers that also make a statement, the set ends in the way that all the best nights end; with a headline show stage invasion.
On the final day of Garorock the relentless rain finally subsides; replaced instead by a sea of weepy faces at Michael Kiwanuka’s understated, and incredibly low-key masterclass over on the festival’s smallest stage. Less understated and more bombast, Royal Blood (who have approximately five trucks crammed full of lighting backstage) are loud and in your face, arrogant in the best way, and holding the weekend’s biggest crowd yet in the palms of their hands. Ben Thatcher ventures out into the front row and returns with a fetching straw hat and an inflatable doll who joins the pair for their final bow, and Mike Kerr is lapping it up with the help of about 17 different bass guitars, and a shedload of attitude. It’s yet another victory lap for ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’
Photos: Teddy Morellec, Arnaud Andre-LaClef