Sunday, July 09, 2006


Last year, we were so spectacularly curmudgeonly about the TV coverage of T in the Park that we were offered the editorship of the Daily Telegraph. This year, we're not exactly bubbling over with joy, but in a season shorn of the giant, overpowering presence of Glastonbury, the ability to dip a toe into the waters of the Scottish festival feels fresher and more inviting.

Perhaps no Glastonbury is a good thing. Maybe 2007 should be the last one. Michael Eavis could turn up on stage after Kylie, announce that the thing has got so big and so dominating that he's decided next year it'll just be an acoustic tent doing folk music or something different, and forever freeze Glastonbury as a legend in the history of rock music instead of making it slightly nastier, more plastic and more bloated each year until it eventually meets the Reading Festival coming across the southern English landscape in the opposite direction and explodes in a mess of beer adverts, mobile phone tents and big wheels.

Anyway, back to the case in hand: T. What with cybermen battling daleks all over the place, it was quite late before we slipped behind the press red options and sampled Goldfrapp's performance. It wouldn't be fair to call it lacklustre - indeed, with dancing models in a range of costumes (space robots, horse-mane-fronted sofa outfits and so on) there was an astonishing ammount of lustre. It just felt a bit flat as performances go.

I'm sure I must have sat through a full Maximo Park performance at some point before, but I really don't remember one. And that's probably because it turns out that away from the front end gems (Apply Some Pressure, The Coast is Always Changing - you could draft this list for yourself) there's a great gooey mess of songs that just make-weight; there didn't appear to be anything on display at T suggesting they've planned some sort of surprise change for the near future. Worse, the band have relaxed to the point where they've abandoned their smart look and took to the stage looking like dress-down Friday in a homeless shelter. For them, it looks worryingly like three catchy singles and a tie was all they had on offer to separate themselves from the lower reaches of the Top 40 indie pack.

The Kaiser Chiefs were on, too: Ricky Wilson looking not quite as ill as he did, but still not seeming totally right. Like Maximo, they seem to have decided the time for eye-catching stunts is over - no Kaisersaurus style hijinks this time, although Ricky did do his trademark (well, used under licence from Bono) traipse over to the front of the crowd to allow them to look into the bloodshots of his eyes.

Taking a quick dash around the web, the main focus of the reports is tonight's Who headline set (almost as if the people doing editing are of a certain age); ITV News is delighted to be able to do a Three Stooges style "Who is the headline act?" spot of headline gaggery.

Scotland on Sunday measured out the rain and wandered about talking to burger-sellers and showing that T is trying to shift from its traditional role as "advert for beer" to ride the Live8/Glasto social concern hydropod. And sell beer, of course:

The St Andrews Hospice had pitched up for the first year, massive saltire flags draped around their shoulders. One merry worker, selling teddy bears and wristbands, said: "We're having a great time. We're here to raise our profile and so far the people have been great."

At the Amnesty stall, Susan Stein, the group secretary for Amnesty in West Fife, was giving out fuchsia pink earplugs brandishing the words: "Think about what you need to think about."

Stein hoped to borrow some of Glastonbury's more socio-political thunder. "The hope is that with Glastonbury not on this year, there might be a few more socially conscious music goers at T in the Park. Musicians and political issues have become more and more entwined in the last year so we're hoping to get a really good turnout today. So far the response has been great. The atmosphere is brilliant and we just hope that people will come in throughout the day."

We're not sure the logic works here: that there are hordes of socially conscious music fans who have been left roaming the country in the absence of Glasto; and, besides, if there were people going to Worthy Farm for the chance to sign petitions and chat to Greenpeace volunteers, surely they're the sort of people who'd already have their direct debits set up for Amnesty anyway? Isn't the point of being at the festivals to reach the music fans who aren't socially conscious and convert them? If the place is full of people who are already in touch with their inner Cameron, isn't Stein's presence there like being an evangelist trying to save at a gospel concert?

More worryingly, it turns out the new "more secure" festival has had some serious flaws: The Sunday Mail discovers that prople have turned up, handed in their tickets and got wristbands - only to discover they need their ticket as well as their wristband to get any further than the campsite:

Deborah O'Neill, 24, of Cranhill, Glasgow, handed over her brief at the entrance to the campsite on Friday.

She said: "The steward insisted I give him my ticket to scan it before he gave me my wristband, then didn't return it. I can't believe I missed the whole festival."

Mechanic Chris Roberts, 22, of Glasgow, also missed out. He said: "I handed over my ticket in good faith to someone who worked for T in the Park."

Shamefully, T in the Park don't seem very bothered about this:

Last night, a T in the Park spokeswoman said: "We are advising everyone to keep their tickets with them at all times."

Surely they should have drilled into their staff that bit before they opened, rather than issuing a can't-be-arsed press statement halfway through the event.

More puzzlingly: why do they need to see tickets as well as wristbands? The whole reason for the wristbands is because it's insane to expect people to be pissing about with paper tickets in the middle of the rain, mud, tent-sleeping, flying bottles of rockfan wee and wind.

Adding to the misery outside the fence was Jim Kerr's brother, Paul. The Sunday Mail says he'd claimed to be selling tickets for the festival and "boasted of his Simple Minds connections" (as if that's a thing to brag about); five grand and Kerr have vanished into thin air.

Sylvia Patterson, luckily, wasn't relying on Kerr to get her in for the Sunday Herald, and files from "the drunkest festival in the history of the music festival itself" and notices that, well, the older generation is refusing to give way gracefully:

“Fifty,” he said, bewildered, as another Guinness disappeared, “I cannae believe it. I always thought I’d be different by now.” Me too, I thought, and boogied all the way up and down the Dublin Castle with him. (Apparently.)

“Hope I die before I get old,” bugles The Who’s most famous line and look at us now, old, still alive, the inner 17-year-old still refusing to “f-fade away…”, especially in The Who themselves (apart from the two that are dead).

This year, therefore, against screaming better judgments, against a declaration last year that there will no more of this young folks’ frippery, no more close encounters with paramedics, broken limbs, toxic psychosis and a latrine where your bed once was, I will be back at T In The Park to see The Who, “forced” by the best mate to relive our sepia-toned youth, two teenage Who fans who believed we were Lesley Ash in Quadrophenia and Sting would one day marry us.

For a play-by-play coverage, there's This Is Fake DIY and their mini-blog:

The lure of Kula Shaker quickly wears off, so we head over to catch Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy. Hannon crafts his unique turn of phrase and orchestral melody in to one of the highlights so far, with a semi-'best of' set, complete with a cover of 'Maneater'!

Franz Ferdinand's special surprise, according to the NME, was bringing on a dozen drummers. Did we fight the dragon of Drum Theatre for this?

The NME T blog uncovered one of the flaws of holding a festival so far north - the likely rain sends people rushing for the tents and flip-flops the festival heirarchy: suddenly, the main stage seems unattractive and damp and you're not able to get in to the King Tuts stage for the down-card bands:

The lastest casualty of the rain here at T In The Park is your lowly news hound who was unable to get into King Tut's tent to see The Oridinary Boys. With lots of people avoiding the weather, NME couldn't get into the totally full tent. 'Over The Counter Culture' sounded great from the outside, but with our feet getting soggy and our cap starting to drip we were unable to enjoy the rest of Preston and co, so came here and blogged instead as an excuse to keep dry.

Blog coverage of the event is a bit patchy at the moment - we imagine the few laptops which did make it to the event are drying out - which leaves us with people getting called by friends (Corinne_x sharing then ayden called me today from t in the park, she was like " omg, theres just women squatting everywhere and pissing, theres arses and fannys out everywhree " in utter disgust haha then half an hour later i got a text saying " i just squatted "); watching on TV (Summer In Oxford spotting Goldfrapp’s playing at T in the Park now. Or at least they’re showing the clip from her performance. She looked like a man at the beginning. It’s rather odd. I’m so used to seeing her hair frizzed up.) or making it back to a nice dry home to blog (Thea's Radio Days tapping So much for the promoters saying we have a hundred (or whatever it was) bands on - - but I"d rather there were a lot less acts on and that they were spaced out better. Half the time I wanted to see around four acts on at the same time. The stages - particularly the NME stage - were absolutely MILES apart. It sucked quite frankly.).

Flickr does much better for instant responses from the scene and, as well as fan shots, is playing host to a whole slew of Radio One's photos as well.


Aaron said...

I quite enjoyed last night's coverage. The selection of bands was hit and miss (if I didn't hate the Zutons before, I certainly do now) - and I couldn't believe they left Franz Ferdinand to interview someone from the Chili Peppers. Didn't they have a tape handy? Couldn't they have recorded the interview and played it after..

Some real highlights though.. Hope of the States were great, and I loved the Franz Ferdinand drum special. They did it on Jools Holland about four weeks ago as well though..

BBC Three's festival coverage has been going steadily downhill every year though, since the days of Kevin Thingy and Mary-Anne Hobbs at Glasto on BBC Choice..

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