Live Review

T In The Park 2011

An occasionally too-sunny mixture of unknown heavy rock bands and local heroes, both new and established.

‘Don’t do it!’. T in the Park was going to be very wet, very stormy and very cold. In reality, T in the Park was mostly sunny, warm and dry. Until Sunday afternoon, at least, when the whole weekend’s rain seems to fall in about two hours. The same two hours which feature post-punk-disco legends Blondie and hardly-ever-visit-the-UK Weezer on the main stage. Which is outside.

Until then, the weekend is largely an occasionally too-sunny mixture of unknown heavy rock bands (Aberdeen-based Autumn In Disguise, The Ocean Between Us who’d ‘just come up from Leeds’), local heroes both new and established (Sucioperro and The LaFontaines in the T Break tent, Twin Atlantic on the much larger NME/Radio 1 stage) and avoiding the likes of Eliza Doolittle, Ke$ha and N-Dubz as much as humanly possible.

Friday might be campers-only but you wouldn’t know there were less people in the arena, at least not until Arctic Monkeys decide to plonk ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ somewhere in the middle of their Main Stage headline set - it’s a far emptier field once that’s finished.

Saturday’s Main Stage times are a little off, so we’re catching Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ 90s superhit ‘Scooby Snacks’ while walking across to Neon Trees at the King Tut’s tent - their anthemic pop somewhat like The Killers if they’d been teenage punks. The T Break tent is overflowing for currently breaking The LaFontaines, and there’s a near-miss at The Ocean Between Us when frontman Judd mistakes a crowd member’s yelling as invitation for a fight.

Heavy rain (OK we lied - there was a short downpour on Saturday, too) drives many puzzled self-styled ‘lads’ in to Tame Impala; we’ve never before seen gangster hands in the air to this type of music. Patrick Wolf’s wearing a kilt, and we’re at the BBC Introducing stage for The Xcerts (one of the weekend’s two puzzling stage positions, along with Frankie & The Heartstrings on Sunday at a stage advertising its unsigned Scottish talent). Crowdsurfers look odd at a tiny outdoor stage.

Friendly Fires’ Ed Macfarlane ends the band’s set on the NME/Radio 1 stage with some dancing unrivalled since Thom Yorke’s at Glastonbury weeks earlier (although inevitably outdone by Jarvis Cocker the following day), before a sweaty Jimmy Eat World incite some light jumping - we’d not go far enough to describe it as ‘a mosh’. The Strokes, meanwhile, don’t seem sure if they even want to be on a stage, as while the band’s mammoth collection of dancefloor fillers don’t disappoint, it’s hard to get much of, well anything from the New Yorkers. It’s then left to Coldplay to literally bring fireworks. And lasers. Plus a fair few singalong choruses - while we sneak off to watch a wonderfully full-on, noisy Bright Eyes set over at the - wait for it, it’s a mouthful - Red Bull Bedroom Jam Transmissions Stage.

After much musing over the identity of the mysterious ‘TBA’ listed as main stage opener, it transpires there is no announcement to be made, and so in walking to catch Futures in the King Tut’s tent, we’re treated to far too many middle-aged men than is tolerable - where did they all come from?! - nodding their heads to Cast. Thankfully Futures, as their name suggests at least for now, aren’t middle-aged, and it’s a far younger audience jumping around for the Buckinghamshire boys’ power pop.

Rivers Cuomo’s cameo during All Time Low’s set on the Main Stage is unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of the Baltimore pop-punkers) missed, while Kitty, Daisy and Lewis provide some retro-fuelled calm and shade from the - yes, really! - blazing sunshine.

That’s as far as the sunshine goes, however - as soon as we’re stood in front of the Main Stage for Blondie, it rains. Then rains some more, getting increasingly heavier until we’re unsure if it’s rain or hail. It’s not hail. It’s still rain. And, whether it’s the weather or just our expectations, Blondie go on only to disappoint, enduring hits sounding flat, bona fide icon Debbie Harry’s on-stage behaviour nothing short of strange.

If there’s anyone’s festival set that’s going to brighten a tired, damp crowd, it’s Weezer. Immediately noting the number of T-branded yellow rain ponchos sported in front of him, Rivers Cuomo - after a failed attempt via wearing it as a cape - dons his while running down off the stage, across the front of the barrier, in to the crowd behind, and back again. Eventually, that is - the intro to ‘Undone - The Sweater Song’ is forced to last almost as long as the rest of it. If there aren’t any real surprises during the set - except, perhaps ‘Perfect Situation’ not being the singalong the band assume it is - the shocker’s definitely brought when surrounded by not a single other person recognising ‘Paranoid Android’. Not even an ‘is this Radiohead?’ - complete bemusement.

Too stunned to stay outside for My Chemical Romance (read: far too wet and shivering to remain in the rain any longer) it’s for Pulp we re-emerge - and even though we’d have been able to say so weeks beforehand, easily the festival’s highlight. It’s like a party-on-mud: branded beer cups being waved in the air, certain substances being passed through the crowd stranger-to-stranger, and a selection of hits ninety-nine percent of bands ever in existence would fail to rival. All that, and Jarvis manages to make the most iconic statement on recent newspaper scandals by himself: wiping his backside with a copy of the final News of the World, and baiting Tories.

As the light fades with more rain threatening, it’s to Eels in the Red Bull tent for a surprisingly loud set - ‘The Look You Give That Guy’ still the tear-jerker it ever was, ‘My Beloved Monster’ noisier than on record - and sounding good for it. Not as noisy, of course, as what’s on the Main Stage, and as the weekend’s ending, the Foo Fighters main man stays on stage to watch the fireworks that tell us it’s all over.

Tags: Eels, Features

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