Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Sunday, July 9, 2006

Sunday morning was not much better than Saturday night, weatherwise. We hid in the tent for quite a while waiting for a break in the rain and then rushed around to cook breakfast, brush our teeth and pack everything into the car. The result was us missing The Spinto Band and My Latest Novel, both of whom I had wanted to see – the former because of all the blog buzz from last year and my being unconvinced by it, and the latter because they were an absolute delight when they opened for Low. On the upside it did give me the opportunity for a chuckle at all the festival virgins who didn’t have dry clothes for day 2. Always bring a change of clothes, even if you don’t need it. There is not much that feels worse than wet denim, especially on a chilly morning.

Animal Collective at T in the Park 2006After the trek into the festival site provided a downpour and loads of mud, I made my way first to the beer tent and then over to the Pet Sounds Arena to watch Animal Collective whose recent album I had heard once and found intriguing. They proved to be the oddest thing I saw all weekend and all the better for it, sounding like the mutant lovechild of Mogwai, The Beta Band and Primal Scream. The singer/guitarist played with an animal mask on his head, which he wore briefly while dancing about, while centre stage was the nob-twiddler, producing weird electronic sounds and beats while the drummer stood upright pounding on his kit and occasionally fiddling with a keyboard while the nob-twiddler banged the drums. It was completely captivating. Sadly, as we were already engaged that night, I didn’t manage to see a proper set the following week when they played Manchester. I missed the tail end of the set as well as I wanted to see Brakes and needed a stop along the way.

The Futures Stage was filled in comparison to the previous day when we’d watched the On/Offs. I somehow managed to go right up to the front though and get a great view of the perky and frenetic set delivered by Brakes. They were fresh from recording their new record in Nashville and treated us to a few new songs, which sound very promising, as well as running through old favourites such as “Comma Comma Comma Full Stop,” “NY Pie,” “Heard About Your Band,” “Cheney,” and “All Night Disco Party.” They sounded vibrant as ever with their weird country punk vibe and guitarist Tom White got so carried away at one point that he did a full-on rock and roll leap over the monitors and into the photo pit to shake hands with members of the audience while holding his guitar. It was a great performace and was well-received by everyone in the crowd except my rock-chick friend, who was less than impressed with all but two songs. Can’t win ’em all I suppose.

After Brakes finished I headed back to the Pet Sounds Arena and caught the last song and a half of Jose Gonzales’ rather heart-warming set. He was playing to a massively packed tent, yet I managed to squeeze down front and some very nice tall people let me in front of them, gushing about how T was the best festival in the world and how cool it was I’d come all the way from England to be there. Some other nice people on the other side of them held their spot even closer to the middle of the front row until I could slip in, since it was clear I was there for the next band, the utterly marvelous eels.

Eels at T in the Park 2006An hour later I was still waiting, with E and his merry band of weirdness being very very late for their start time. I was starting to doubt their turning up and starting to curse not having gone to watch Dirty Pretty Things with my friend as I could have seen it all and made it back in time. Hindsight eh? It was worth the wait though when they came out. First on the stage was an intimidating giant of a man dressed in a “Security” t-shirt. Then came the rest of the band, dressed in khaki, with E wearing a flight suit and goggles and looking, well, less odd than when he was dressing as the Unabomber c. Souljacker. He flew through a rock set, the polar opposite of his “With Strings” style offerings of the last year or so, and it sounded immense and maniacal. I particularly liked “Saturday Morning” and “I Like Birds” the latter being one of the highlights of the festival. The weird security man went through a weird series of routines involving push ups, karate kicks, playing the maracas and the keyboard, singing backing vocals and eating from a can of aerosol whipped cream before sharing with the crowd. It was odd and not unentertaining. Yay the eels. Few bands could get away with this level of oddity but when E does it, I find it charming.

When I emerged from inside the tent the sun had come out and The Strokes were on stage. As I have not heard their most recent album, mainly due to my appalling disappointment with their V performance in 2004, I thought I’d go watch a couple of songs, just to see if they’d upped their game a bit from the drunken, meandering nonsense of two years ago. They were playing “New York City Cops” and “Last Nite” both of which sounded okay. Meeting up with rock chick, however, we wandered back down to the Pet Sounds Arena to see Death Cab for Cutie. Now, as that stage had been running so late earlier I figured we had easily 15-20 minutes to get there for the start. When we walked in, however, 2 minutes before they were actually due on stage they were already performing “A Movie Script Ending.” A guy stood nearby informed me they’d been on when he arrived, 15 minutes earlier. Ben Gibbard explained that Zero 7 had not been able to play, according to him because they’d been arrested for embezzlement. I never found out the real reason. But it meant that Death Cab played a full 90 minutes, of which I missed the first 30. I did get to see lovely versions of “Sound of Settling” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” at the very least. They were lovely, as usual, even though I couldn’t see anything. And rock chick said she enjoyed them.

People climbing the rafters during Primal Scream at T in the Park 2006After DCFC finished, we headed for King Tut’s to see Primal Scream. I have mixed feelings about the Scream. I like some of their songs very much, mainly the rockier ones. I find some of their songs very annoying. I’m not sure about the new material, it’s a little too Rolling Stones for my liking but it’s preferable to a lot of what’s on the radio right now. In any case, we planned to watch half of the Primals and then go see a bit of The Who, mainly because they’re so legendary, even though neither of us like them much, we thought we should see them anyway. But first, Bobby Gillespie, Mani, et. al. They came on stage to a packed tent with a brilliant rendition of “Movin’ On Up.” I’m afraid the rest of what we heard is a blur as I was far too focused on the people climbing up the tent supports into the rafters so they could see the stage. At one point there were 2 or 3 people up each of about 6 or 8 giant poles. The band were finally forced by the police to stop playing until they all came down. It was at this point that we thought we’d seen the highlight of the performance and made for the main stage.

We did not actually get too far. We stopped way at the back, where we had a vague view of the screens but room for dancing and where talking would not bother anyone. The Who were playing “Teenage Wasteland” and that was about as good as they got. There is something very wrong about men in their sixties singing about how they hope they die before they get old. That really should come out of the setlist now. The crowd, as they were the night before, were the real entertainment. We made one chap’s night by providing him with the score from the World Cup Final as delivered by The Ledge to my phone. We surprised two young boys who thought they were older than us (they were 19) who then expressed their disbelief by picking me up and shaking me upside down. We danced a jig with a girl drunk on vodka and Irn Bru who was still singing “Monster” by The Automatic. She really must have been drunk. She seemed to think it was a good song. We had a laugh, we watched the closing fireworks and then we headed for the car for a long overnight drive home with the sunrise at our back.

One Response to “Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Sunday, July 9, 2006”

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