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Surviving the weekend at T In The Park requires a strong heart and a sturdy liver but, judging by the multitude of urine waggling wangs that welcomes belated festival goers into Balado, such resolute functionality doesn’t extend to matters of the bladder. Quickly bypassing this full-mooned greeting of 100 shit-faced Scotsmen, I (hello!) venture forth into the Media Centre to devise some sort of structure to the next two days of ensuing chaos. Having already missed Friday's “amazing” line-up containing The Verve, The Wombats and KT Tunstall I’ve been praying Saturday's running order can muster up some sort of musical treat upon which my lugholes can feast. Alas, the initial outlook is bleaker than the overbearing skyline.
The mid-afternoon triumvirate of Kate Nash, Will Young and Sharleen Spiteri (lovingly dubbed the 'Holy Trinity o’ Shite' by certain cynics) ain't exactly tickling this rather parched scribe's fancy and a late night finale of Rage Against The Machine smacks of nowt but cash-hungry retrospection. So, what to do, what to do? Well, after a swift half at the bar and a couple of pig-wrapped sausages (seriously, it's like Christmas come early) I scarper over to The Main Stage to find Eddy Grant kicking off proceedings with a summertime splurge of dancehall friendly reggae. It's a solid opening set - consumed by ‘Electric Avenue’’s synth-bulging gusto - but after witnessing Eddy's all-too literal take on knob-twiddling musicianship I decide to refuel with some fellow-minded hacks (i.e. alcohol ravaged ex-university chums) and head across to catch Haight-Ashbury manning an almost empty T-Break Tent.
The local trio's courteous strums and beatific harmonies are pretty enough if Sunday-morning Belle & Sebasitanism's your thing but with Mr Sun nudging his sweaty coupon through the clouds it’s painfully clear the 20 or so folk nodding appreciatively in this dank cavern are obligated only through bloodline and friendship. So, with a spring in my sneakers, I mosey the fuck on out to find myself confronted by Kate Nash whining nasally from the Main Stage to anyone who'll listen (somehow that's A LOT of folk). Two songs down, and with roughly the same number of fingers plugging the sockets that allow her screeching yelps to penetrate my brain-box, I’ve had my fill and brave the trek beyond the Bacardi Tent’s pill-head mafia in the hope that Will Young can stop the rot in the Pet Sounds Arena.
Yeah I know, what the fuck was I thinking?
Whoever believed showcasing an ex-Pop Idol winner was a good idea should be forced to write a letter of resignation in the blood of their pencil-sharpened genitals. Young is no doubt a fine vocalist in the right setting (where? Answers on a postcard please) but here he’s a novelty act; an irksome, curiosity-feeding, barrel-scraping clown. And as he patronises the crowd with token Proclaimers ditties and feeble attempts at replicating traditional Scottish dance, it’s of no surprise when a flurry of piss-filled pints begin to fly stagewards. I’m sure there’re those who’ll have enjoyed his emotion-bereft nu-soul mewing but there’s absolutely nae chance his performance could be considered a triumph, begging the question: what was the point?
While pondering this conundrum and a passing security guard’s equally relevant poser “What kind of name is the fucking Pigeon Detectives anyway?”, I decide this Holy Trinity lark's definitely not for me and skip the Texas-frontwoman-cum-Tunstall-bandwagon-jumper's set to find an utterly yawnsome Lightspeed Champion going through the motions like he’ll no doubt do at every one of the ten-thousand festivals he’s playing this summer. Trying desperately not to succumb to this water-treading snoozefest, I make my retreat to the Meeja Centre where some genius/fool has left a booze-filled bar unlocked and, more to the point, unmanned. Deciding it would be rude and - at £3.40 an on-site pint - stupid not to, a few five-fingered swallies are downed before jostling through the gates of an absolutely rammed Futures Stage where Glasvegas are about to step up to the fore.
In normal surroundings the Weegie quartet are at best humdrum indie-stargazers, at worst the diabolical cousins of fellow shit-janglers The View, but none of this matters right now because what unfolds in the confines of this bulging, sweat-soaked tent is the accumulation of every arse licking tribute you’ve ever read about a Scottish crowd. The moment the Strummer-like figure of James Allen sets foot on stage this place erupts as pure, unadulterated pandemonium: a storm of plastic glasses besieges the sky, beer-titted chests are thumped with violent pride and every brogue-strained word of ‘Daddy’s Gone’ is recited like the purple tin drinker's national anthem of choice. I have never, ever experienced anything like it and as punters from all sides threaten unequivocal violence upon me for even considering penning something derogatory about their idols, I can confirm this: Glasvegas fans are fucking mental. Shame about the band.
Finally escaping the Future Stage’s baseball capped clutches after a remarkably short set from ‘The Vegas’ I find myself in the cusp of The Twilight Sad’s even brisker showing over at the T-Break Stage. Pleasantly spacious compared to what I’d endured only minutes before, the setting’s not quite tailored to the group’s chiselling sonics and tracks like ‘Cold Days From The Birdhouse’ and ‘That Summer, At Home…’ sound limper and less intense than what’s so often experienced in more intimate climes. But this is The Twilight Sad and the prerequisite of life-affirming lyricism bound by crashing instrumentation still rings true, especially as vocalist James Graham seems intent on adopting a disposition that oozes confrontation; staring rabid-eyed at the crowd while hollering feverously about “putin’ the boot in” to his petrified prey.
With the adrenaline now pumping like a speed-freaking Dwain Chambers eying up a place on the British Olympic team, I shuffle along to the Relentless Tent in the hope that Fucked Up (pictured) are as exhilarating as their expletive-strewn moniker suggests. I’m not disappointed. Led by elasticated podge-meister Damian Abraham, the Toronto-based quintet launch into a head-fucking, sensor-crunching, ear-bleeding brawl of a set that’d be entirely unlistenable on record but is absolutely hypnotic live. Central to this bewildering brilliance is Abraham. Catapulting across stage like an uninhibited flesh-hankering beast, the bearded man-mountain demands attention through sheer girth alone before shooting out onto the 30-odd revellers below, displaying a spectacular array of gravity defying acrobatics. It’s the finest, most choleric 30 minutes of the day and as the sun begins to set on a completely intoxicated Balado my thoughts begin to focus on just who to have my final dance with tonight at T.
Enduring the opening three numbers from Rage Against The Machine’s “incredible” (so say the faction of RATM loving journos who were moshing stageside) set is more than enough for me and I trek back to the Relentless Stage praying that Fucked Up have decided to re-emerge. Unfortunately, all that remains is shrieking Canadian’s Cancer Bats, whose brand of maniacal hardcore is alluring enough to hold the attention but, ultimately, as inspiring as the sound of a leaden pole being battered continuously against the temples. So, guessing it’s time to call it a day, I saunter off through the exit’s ever-expanding sea of piss and clamber on to the relative safety of a bus back to Edinburgh. After a day like this, Christ only knows what Sunday will bring...
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