Leaving perhaps too early, in an eager attempt not to miss some of the sparkling bands that are opening stages, we find ourselves at the site a good two hours before anyone is set to take any stage.
The drive up is fairly comfortable, taking no longer than a straight 75-minutes, after the daily Greggs breakfast stop off.
However, actually finding the entrance to the site once parked up wasn’t so easy; a lack of signs pointing to day entrance and camping entrance have a host of people confused, and while there are three people telling you how to park your car, the closer you get to the festival site the rarer the people to acquire directions; regardless, after a few misdirections, we find the media accreditation tent, get our passes and are escorted by a few familiar faces across the festival site to the media area.
Walking through the site, it’s noticeably smaller than before; obviously a pleasure for our legs, but would this cause potential sound overflows or a lot of congestion? We wouldn’t know til later.
After a glance at the full bill I had myself penciled in for never visiting the Main Stage during the entire festival, however after chatting at the media bit, I bump into a few folk am taken there first thing for the first band to grace T in the Park at Strathallan – Prides.
Admittedly I’ve never been a fan; their mainstream teasing brand of electronic indie always felt a touch of beige side, regardless the band pour a lot of energy into their set and please a lot of early comers.
Leaving a couple of songs in I wander over to the King Tut’s Tent to catch a bit of darling indie folk singer-songwriter Lucy Rose and am charmed to drift in to cover of Taylor Swift belter ‘Bad Blood’.
Rose’s sweet sound is a nice way to start proceedings, the set is filled with hovering synths, clap-along intros and sultry vocals and acts as a delightful start to a festival, which would see some soaring highs and some major lulls.
Opening up Transmission (which would become BBC Introducing for the other two days) are The Beaches, and after and after a quick glance at their stuff prior to the festival they were definitely one’s I had pegged to see.
The Toronto girls draw a reasonable crowd for their early slot, admittedly there are a few sneery looking guys seemingly only here to ogle the girls, but that aside the four-piece blast through a fun filled set of fem rock dressed like they’re just heading on court at Wimbledon.
Dirty synths and pop hooks combine at great volume and are delivered with a real swagger, which surely means these girls have more balls than the barrage of soppy indie boy bands that feature on this stage for the most of the day.
Back at Tut’s and The Twilight Sad are about to come on; I’d gone through a phase where they ceased to excite me, but after a return to form with last year’s album and the memories of some truly engrossing and emphatic live shows I’m encouraged that they might be able to blast our ears off early doors at T.
However, despite James Graham’s lost in the moment, gesturing and their powerful atmospherics, there’s something missing from there set; volume.
Yes, this is potentially the quietest set The Twilight Sad have ever played, and you get the feeling it’s not by choice; still a show at the Barras later in the year should draw both a bigger crowd and more of a return to form.
Another act scheduled to play the Barras later in the year is over at the Radio 1 Stage, but Fuse ODG is a different prospect altogether and it seems fitting that the sun rises over T in the Park for the first time during his fun-filled, Afro enthused pop set.
Yeah it’s chart friendly stuff, but it’s filled with joy, addictiveness and good (terrible) banter, as the chirpy singer revels in leading the biggest crowd I’ve witnessed yet in massive sing-alongs of tracks like ‘Million Pound Girl’ and ‘Antenna’.
It’s all positive vibes in these early days, before the more rowdy acts come on and the alcohol starts to take full effect, so Fuse goes down a treat; a massive dance-along to ‘Dangerous Love’ is enough to plaster a smile on your face as the sun retreats behind the clouds again.
The centre piece of the day comes back in the Tut’s tent and starts with the enthralling Jessie Ware, the sound is blasting to much higher level than it was earlier in the day as the bass reverberates through the huge tent to the sonic daze of ‘Champagne Kisses’.
Ware’s soulful hooks come across clear as she struts the stage commanding the growing crowd with her engulfing presence.
Indeed after going a while without listening to Ware’s music I’m pleasantly surprised how familiar and fresh it all sounds; the lush vibes of ‘Tough Love’ wash over the crowd, while the powerful and pounding ballad ‘Wildest Moments’ brings to an end potentially the most sonically impressive show of the entire weekend.
A wee catch up with some friends finds me, to my dismay, back at the Main Stage where Hozier are being incredibly dull and seem to be stealing Proclaimers intros; whether Gorgon City or Duke Dumont would have been better choices is questionable, still the latter has managed to fill the 20 000 capacity Tut’s Tent as I wander back to the media arena to get a wee beverage in before Hot Chip.
They bring a power of a crowd too, and deservedly so, they’re one of the most consistently good bands of the last decade and delivery another fun filled set, which unfortunately for the second time in this year doesn’t feature standout ‘Boy From School’.
Still, the set is wall-to-wall classics and full of fun sing-alongs and plenty of cowbell, more than keeping the beat flowing, after Duke Dumont had the tent in an almost sauna like sweat box state.
Regardless of how great the set is the crowd, who have come in there masses, never seem to hit their stride, indeed I overhear a punter behind me state: “Am I missing something? This is bangin’, why’s it not mental?”
This comes immediately before the moment most of the crowd are waiting for, ‘Over and Over’, indeed their most popular track goes down a treat as the crowd give their first attempt at that hideous chant (you know the one) that has become synonymous with this festival.
One of the highlights of the festival comes at the end of their set as they cruise into their wondrously ceiling gazing, sing-along cover of Springsteen classic ‘Dancing In The Dark’, which has the group I’m with buzzing; however a glance round the tent shows a lot of blank faces, and as the band move into a bit of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ it becomes increasingly apparent how young and lacking a musical education most the crowd here actually are.
Back over at Radio 1 and The War On Drugs is about take the stage, somewhat bizarrely sandwiched between Afrojack and David Guetta and the crowd is pretty sparse for an act going on second last at the festival’s second stage.
Regardless Adam Granduciel and co. manage to captivate the small crowd for an extended period with, despite a battered looking jacket and seemingly having ages ten years since the last time I saw him; it’s hard to describe Granduciel’s voice without the obvious Dylan reference, but so intense and formidable are his songs that this isn’t their defining feature.
Still, this is in no way the best place to see this band; the masses at T don’t seem to know who Springsteen is, so why would they come see a former member of Kurt Vile’s band play when they have Fat Boy Slim, being old in a completely different way, or the world’s most depressing pop star… ever, Sam Smith, to chose from; even if their last album was one of the best of last year.
People just don’t seem to be interested, and Granduciel seems either oblivious to or completely ignoring the fact that his band stick out something awful on this bill, and as the set gets closer to the end the crowd starts to fill up with those awaiting Guetta, who seem frustrated by the lack of generic start/stop chart wielding dance tunes; Sia’s not even going to be there… Jeez!
I end my day back at the Transmission Stage and for what has the potential to be one of the best sets of the weekend and Hector Bizerk don’t let down.
Louie struts the stage like a man possessed, spilling out non giving rhymes before sneering “Scotland how’re you doin’?” to a crowd that is on every beat; it’s not totally rammed and the sound could be a whole lot better, but that’s what we’ve come to expect when good band’s play T.
Indeed, there’s a casual cheeky swagger in the bucket hat sporting MC as he cuts up the stage giving it a confident “ready T?” before bursting into old number ‘Bury The Hatchet’.
Hector have become a full blown experience since the duo seemingly blew Scottish hip-hop wide open with a huge amount of hard work and 2012’s excellent Drums. Rap. Yes..
Now they play with a full band, yet Audrey Tait’s ever present drumming still stands out as the driving force of the full on Hector assault, except when she takes acoustic guitar duties later on sporting one of the most amusing t-shirt’s you’ll see all weekend.
‘Festival Boy’ predictably goes down a treat, as does much of the set, which includes a rousing chant along to ‘Rust Cohle’, some powerful freesystling that references choosing them before Kasabian and Guetta and all out fun cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’.
Tonight Hector absolutely killed it; they’ve gone and booted in out the park; ladies and gentlemen the T is o’er the fence!
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray