An ideal weekend
Biffy Clyro - RockNess 2012

RockNess 2012 proves an ideal festival. The price, the atmosphere, the size and the acts on offer, these all contribute to make it a great weekend of live music on the banks of Scotland’s Loch Ness.

Mumford and Sons are the biggest draw on the Friday line up, headlining the main stage. It was always going to be a difficult task at a festival built on electronic music, but their folk-anthem sound translates well, surprisingly, and the crowd respond in kind by singing along.

The other highlight of Friday night/Saturday morning is Dave Clarke’s appearance, closing the Arcadia stage. The Soma Records stands inside the fire-breathing tower for a set of savage beats while people get primal, dance round the tower and career onto the stage to get closer to the man himself.

Saturday on paper has the most exciting line up, with Deadmau5 and the return of French DJ duo Justice to the festival. The Rapture pick up proceedings on the Main Stage, their electro-pop ensures hangovers are cast aside. Disappointingly, they overlap with Gesaffelstein on the Golden Voice arena which leaves a tricky decision for the crowd.

The Rapture are followed by the Olympic Torch being brought onto the Main Stage, a surreal contrast of a symbol of sporting greatness and a crowd of people committed to. Clyde 1 DJ Romeo brings on festival director Jim King complete with the torch to be lit onstage which is a wonderful moment, even to the most cynical observer.

Justice in the Golden Voice arena are, as usual, incredible. This is not for the faint-hearted, ladies and gentlemen. They play a mix of tracks from their most recent album, 2011’s ‘Audio, Video, Disco’, and classics from their 2007 debut ‘Cross’, leaving a sweat-drenched gyrating tribe of people. We are saluted by the Frenchmen, their fingers shaped into a cross, their chosen symbol, and the crowd responds.

Deadmau5 has a hard act to follow on the Main Stage, presented with a large influx of the Justice crowd into his audience. His performance is a little flat, and is too slow to start to capitalise on the work Justice have already done. Although, his set picks up around halfway through and his stage show is incredible.

Last day blues are always a struggle for campers to get through but Friendly Fires rise to the challenge, as always, and lead singer Ed MacFarlane proves why he is one of the greatest front -men working today, looking like a speed-freak Mick Jagger, jolting his way back and forth the stage and into the crowd, while beach balls rain down around him.

The Golden Voice arena offers up Knife Party as their main headliner. The duo are made up of two of the members of Pendulum and similar to their parent band, they seemed to go for loud noises over substance with a fairly generic electro/dub-step sound that was pretty indistinguishable from any number of acts dipping their toes in that genre. Although they do well to have such a large crowd while Biffy Clyro were on the Main Stage at the same time.

And now it is the end, for one more year. It is time for everyone to retreat to their tents, and then from there: home, to their normal lives. Waiting another year to reduce themselves to barbarians for one weekend of music, partying and uncomfortable sleeps.

Words by Stephen Walsh
Photo by Euan Robertson

For photos of the weekend, follow these links for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday galleries.

For a photo gallery of the RockNess Express, a train chartered by RockNess, click here.

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