Bryan Duncan offers his take on the final day of T in the Park 2014, which included sets from Disclosure, Tame Impala, Metronomy and Slaves.
• Read on for Bryan’s 5 up and coming acts to watch out for, based on his weekend.
Photos by David P Scott
This is the final curtain for Balado. For some, it will be an emotional one. So far, personally speaking, the line-up has been relatively uninspiring. Apart from some unexpected highlights, there’s been no single stand-out act. Saturday headliner Calvin Harris appealed to the masses, and the Main Stage line-up this year, with acts like Ed Sheeran, Bastille, Rudimental and Imagine Dragons, feels like it was chosen solely on current sales and YouTube views.
Fortunately, stages like T Break and BBC Introducing still make T in the Park essential to both musicians and music lovers across Scotland and beyond. Take the first act of the day, Baby Queens, an all-girl R&B group from Cardiff who sound like they come from the hills of LA rather than the Valleys. “You lovely Celtic people!” addresses guitarist/vocalist Cara Elise to the crowd. A polite reply comes from an inebriated punter: “Thank you very much!” ‘Red Light’ is perfect fodder for a lazy Sunday.
The sun decides to show itself again, after a disastrous Saturday, and on the T Break stage, Dundee act Scary People play dark punk-pop that riles up the crowd. ‘I Don’t See The Light’ is a heavy but catchy slice of punk, while ‘Chicago’ is full frontal emo rock.
Fellow Dundonians Model Aeroplanes looks like they’ve just triumphed in a battle of the band competition, and they seem to have taken a bunch of devoted fans with them. It’s perky indie pop that channels The Strokes and Vampire Weekend, and is catchy and inoffensive if not groundbreaking. Nevertheless, fans sing along and jump around, and if your band can create an impact like that, then fair play to them.
In the King Tut’s Tent, Metronomy dazzles with a stage display that looks like a comedy panel show set in God’s pearly gates. The breezy electro beats of ‘I’m Aquarius’ literally rumbles through the venue, while ‘Love Letters’, ‘The Look’ and the disco fest of ‘The Bay’ makes the crowd shuffle in tandem.
Tame Impala, meanwhile, swing a slab of Aussie psychedelia straight on to the crowd’s feet. ‘Be Above It’ segues into a hypnotic rave that could slip its way into the Slam Tent, and the soaring pop of ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ could easily be sung by thousands at the Main Stage.
Hailing from Kent, Slaves play an initially baffling but intriguing set at the BBC Introducing stage. The two-piece emit an energy and sound that can either provoke hatred or excitement. ‘Beauty Quest’ is quintessential British punk stained with a shouty English accent, while ‘Girl Fight’ sounds like The Streets if they got into a brawl with Sex Pistols.
Glasgow band Secret Motorbikes take to the T Break stage armed with beach balls, T-shirts to flog and Cribs-esque garage punk to play. Tracks like ‘Can You Swim?’ and ‘Is Dis 4 Real’ are raw but solid pieces of pop that go down well with punters. Blood Relatives meanwhile play a heartfelt set of folk-pop that prompts manic dancing from their posse of fans. You can’t help but fall for the charms of ‘Bone Idol’ and ‘Deerheart.’
Then a massive musical U-turn ensues. Disclosure headline the Radio 1 stage to a crowd quite clearly approaching their optimum tolerance level. ‘Grab Her!’ thumps away while punters are dotted randomly around the packed crowd, having a mini rave to themselves. Litter is strewn all over the place, the temperature has taken a dive, and it feels like Disclosure is soundtracking the apocalyptic end to Balado, as if the oil pipeline that’s underneath the ground that’s forced the festival to up sticks is finally about to blow. ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ feels blissfully special under a full moon, while ‘Latch’ sends the crowd into a frenzy as Sam Smith takes the mic. All of a sudden, fireworks blast all over the site, effectively signalling the end of Balado.
Who knows what Strathallan will offer? It’s exciting to think this could be a way of shaking up T in the Park, possibly bringing back former festival goers who feel disillusioned by its latter years. It could also be simply more of the same. Regardless of the outcome, TITP’s impact isn’t waning any time soon.
5 acts to watch (based on their T in the Park sets)
As we’ve found, T in the Park isn’t just a festival with the big commercial acts. There are lesser known bands out there begging for attention on the smaller stages. Who knows, maybe they’ll follow in Biffy Clyro’s footsteps and grace the Main Stage in years to come? The following acts caught our attention during a frenzied dash around Balado.
This four-piece from Dundee play fuzz-drenched grunge rock that weaves into dark terrain and struggles to see the light again. Having said that, their set at T Break is a joyful listen. Their cover of Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ strips away the ecstasy in the original track but retains that eerie vibe of debauchery that was probably the reason it was chosen for the Trainspotting soundtrack. Pulling that feat requires talent, and this band have it in abundance.
Hailing from Perthshire, this electro-pop artist is sonically similar to Ellie Goulding, but tinged with a lot more darkness. As she plays the BBC Introducing stage, songs like ‘Heart In Me’ and ‘Closer To Home’ are inventive, solid songs with thundering drums and synths, something which whets the appetite for a LP which hopefully will be released very soon.
Think of the best rock bands of the late 2000s, like Queens of the Stone Age for example, and you won’t be far from this Dundee band. Basslines trickle along meaty guitar riffs and strong vocals, all packed up neatly into dark pop song structures. ‘(It’s Never Calm On The) Western Front’ rumbles through the T Break stage with a criminally infectious riff that evokes Arctic Monkeys.
There’s nothing better than stumbling upon a band with zero expectations. This two-piece from Kent take me back at first – were they just a noise band that will fade away in a few months time, or is there something substantial here? ‘Girl Fight’ and ‘Beauty Quest’ feel like they are resurrecting the gnarly Sex Pistols sound and dragging it into the 21st century.
Glasgow trio Atom Tree released an impressive EP last year (‘Tide of Thorns’) which showcased a heady mix of catchy but atmospheric electro-pop. Their appearance at the intimate T Break stage definitely transposes that sound well – the crowd becomes transfixed by the sounds emanating from the stage, a fitting atmosphere as midnight approaches.
More T in the Park coverage:
• T in the Park 2014 – in pictures
• Friday review: Biffy Clyro, Manic Street Preachers, Chvrches
• Saturday review: Calvin Harris, Pharrell, Bombay Bicycle Club
• Saturday report: Elbow, Paolo Nutini, The Human League
• Sunday review: Franz Ferdinand, Paul Weller, Kaiser Chiefs