T In The Park, Balado, Kinross, Glasgow
T party basks in a warm glow
Tuesday 12 July 2005
Despite being sold as Scotland's biggest and best summer music festival (of course it is; it's the only one), the sobering fact of the matter is that it pales - as, indeed, does every other British festival - in comparison with Glastonbury. Yet it held the Indian sign in one key respect this summer. For all the talk of Dunkirk spirit helping revellers through the rain-soaked mud marshes which affected this year's Glastonbury, the best way to experience a festival is in the baking heat which T, set near the banks of Loch Leven, enjoyed over the weekend.
In such conditions, the lineup could almost have been a formality. Yet the twelve-year-old festival prides itself on the sense of ecleticism which has developed since the turn of the millennium, and the addition of two new tents in the last three years - giving an impressive total of two large outdoor stages, three tents, a dance arena sponsored by the Glasgow clubbing giants Slam, and one tent devoted to new local talent - means that the usual roster of huge main stage headliners and touring bands is augmented by a more refined selection further down the bill.
So Saturday's highlights were a varied bunch. Most of the day's buzz seemed to be for The Killers, Brandon Flowers and his white-suited band calling to mind the successful-yet-anachronistic urban glamour of The Strokes or The Hives, themselves both huge successes here in years passed. Indeed, Flowers also guested with New Order later on during Crystal - the video to which song featured an imaginary band named The Killers. For New Order's part, a set which focused on hit singles and their Joy Division catalogue at the expense of superfluous new material ensured they marginally stole the show from Foo Fighters on the main stage.
Earlier, however, such young bands as Editors (themselves very similar to Joy Division), the New York punk-funk outfit LCD Soundsystem, and the gleefully twee Scots Aberfeldy provided just as many rewards for those willing to take a chance on the unknown. The Super Furry Animals also justified their decision to headline one of the smaller tents when it became clear their new stage show revolves around glow-in-the-dark robot suits.
Such an embarrassment of riches continued into Sunday, with Snoop Dogg, Queens of the Stone Age and the Kaiser Chiefs the names on most peoples' lips afterwards, yet one or two curious wanderers also talking up the Radiohead-like Engineers, comedy punks Art Brut, and even Echo and the Bunnymen's triumphant greatest hits set.
"You've proved today that this is the best British festival," exclaimed Fran Healy during Travis' fittingly warm and upbeat second-to-headline slot on the Sunday, which the more beer-addled, sun-affected casualties took as read. "It's going to be even bigger next year," continued the Scot, "and Glastonbury's having a year off, so I think we should take over." It's an interesting point... while no UK festival is ever going to steal Glastonbury's crown, T in the Park is well-placed to fill the vacuum caused by its temporary absence in 2006 as the weekender of choice for the whole country.
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