Much to grimace about
The Stone Roses - T In The Park 2012

A permanent feature of the Scottish summer, T in the Park attracts upwards of 85,000 people. Expectations run high - particularly amongst young Scots who treat it as a rite of passage - but this year was lacklustre to say the least. For one, the site design begged belief. The tents were on the periphery of a depressing for-hire carnival of rides which pumped out endless happy hardcore. Walking through this repeatedly each day was a grim undertaking. Despite the classic Scottish battle cry of “Here we! Here we! Here we fucking go!” being ever present, it got steadily more pained as the days went on. Teeth were collectively gritted.

Although staff worked to combat the knock-on effects of horrific weather the average festival goer bore the brunt. It seems almost redundant to discuss mud at a festival but the swamp conditions were depressing, and the site was unrecognisable within hours. After a brilliant first night of techno and house from Numbers, Deadly Rhythm and Vitamins, the Slam Tent was forced to shut on the Saturday due to flooding. Acts were decamped to a smaller tent which caused lengthy set disruptions and a disappointing live set from Teengirl Fantasy, who were visibly unamused with the fuzzy sound system and disgruntled crowd. You and me both, Teengirl Fantasy, you and me both.

Once the Slam Tent re-opened it was Major Lazer that stole the show with a lively MC and dancers, but they were sandwiched by passable performances from Benga and Fake Blood which visibly broke up the atmosphere. Considering the scale and enthusiasm of the crowd they had to work with, the host tent of the UKs longest running independent dance label was a letdown for large chunks of the weekend.

Weather aside though, there was unfortunately much to grimace about. The T Break stage shut early after a rogue flying drink wrecked the sound system and bar excellent performances from Florence and The Machine, J Cole and New Order - whose flawless 'Blue Monday'/'Temptation' medley gave us goosebumps - the lineup was uninspiring. The tiresome slew of Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs and Snow Patrol was coma-inducing and the mindset behind NME, King Tuts and Radio 1 in booking David Guetta, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia for headline slots was lamentable in its blatant, apathetic populism. Why these institutions work to build reputations as taste-makers only to pander to the lowest order of live dance music is beyond me.

The Stone Roses comeback show promised much but bar a few sing-alongs, their threadbare performance shuffled along with spiritlessness that confirmed the opinion that bands who reform for a pay-check do so at an altogether different cost. The real horror story though was Nicki Minaj, who unapologetically began an hour late only to play a terrible twenty minute set. Needless to say the crowd did not take kindly to such a shambles, and she was booed throughout. Walking into swamp again on the last night, we noticed dozens of lights had blown on the ferris wheel, and I couldn't help but crack a wry, tired smile. Sums it all up, really.

Words by Lauren Martin
Photo by Colin McQuillen / Steven Brown

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