The last time we caught Mumford and Sons, was at king tuts back in 2010, and tonight we had every intention of checking them out. Fresh from a Glastonbury headline slot and quietly conquering America they have came from nowhere over the last few years to be one of the biggest bands in the UK. That may be true but it is Friday night after all, so instead we find ourselves curious to see Dumfries’s finest, Calvin Harris standing in what can only be described as a pulsating neon alter. His set kicks off with Fireworks and ‘Awooga‘, Calvin instantly makes the place ‘Bounce‘ like a giant nightclub, the large crowd going mental to every beat. As more fireworks launch into the sky the large field starts to feel more like an Ibiza club than a festival. The stunning light show adding even more intensity to the atmosphere. The big hits just keep on coming, ‘We Found Love’ and ‘Drinking from the Bottle’ getting a particularly raucous reaction. It slowly starts to dawn that T in the Park crowds really could be some of the best on the world, and if a party is what you are after then Calvin Harris provided it. ‘Sweet Love’ (his Florence and the Machine mix) is stunning and the energy of the field is wildly electric - this is the party every Friday night should be. We can watch Mumford hot chocolate in hand on BBC 3!
Saturday arrives and the combination of campsite banter and intense sunshine blasting into the tent forces an early start. Our campsite is within the Citizen T area and anyone can stay here as long as they sign up to the Citizen T charter and promise to be tidy and put all the rubbish in the bin. After some gorgeous porridge courtesy of the Argyle Food company its time to head down to the T Break tent. Seams are an interesting prospect. Fake Major sporting a guest Jetpack, formed from the ashes of Endor also really impress. Throughout the weekend the T Break stage is the source of much excitement with upcoming bands Honeyblood and Machines in Heaven the pick of the rest.
The new music is plentiful and next stop is up to BBC Introducing to catch the highly rated Paws playing tunes mostly from their debut album Cokefloat. BBC Introducing is a hidden gem of a stage, curated by Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae there is plenty of action over the weekend with the at times epic Fat Goth and Roman Nose leading the charge.
Deacon Blue are a treat on the main stage and its easy to forget how many great tunes they have. Singer Ricky Ross certainly doesn’t look 55 belting out classic tunes like ‘Loaded’, ‘Real Gone Kid’, ‘Wages Day’ and ‘Dignity’.
Upstarts The Strypes make quite an impression over on the Transmission Stage and certainly have the confident swagger of a band on the up.
Next up it’s the hardest touring Scottish band of the year Frightened Rabbit over on the Radio 1 Stage. Highlights were the glorious ‘Modern Leper’ and a song Scott hadn’t played in a while but dropped just because it’s TITP, ‘Keep yourself Warm’. He said that “today is something I’ve worked 10 years for, since I started this band I wanted to play here’”
The Saturday brings more Scottish action with Travis and Nina Nesbitt - originally booked in for T Break. Nina has been moved up to a late afternoon slot on the King Tuts stage and the upcoming Scottish/Swedish singer proves a popular draw. Our personal highlight though were Twin Atlantic who draw a massive crowd up against some stiff competition in the way of the awesome Dizzy Rascal who’s fans almost charge the stage after Frightened Rabbit to make sure they get close to the big man!
There’s certainly never a lack of options at T in the Park, whether its a argyle haggis or a smoothie for lunch in the Health T area or whether to wait an hour in line for a wood fired pizza, such food dilemmas are nothing to having to choose between who to go see. Alt J or My Bloody Valentine, Calvin Harris or Mumford and on the Sunday Local Natives or Foals. Iain from Chvrches was off to see My Bloody Valentine but we decided to check out Alt J, a band who having played here in the early afternoon a year ago.
Alt J are the perfect end to Saturday and after driving 36 hours from Bilbao in Spain to be here before launching into ‘Fitzpleasure’, ‘Dissolve Me’ and ‘Taro’ from their luscious debut An Awesome Wave. They’ve come a long way since their early afternoon slot here a year ago and are the perfect way to end the day. There’s still time though to catch the last 10 minutes of Rihanna who appears sincere when thanking the huge crowd for the love they’ve shown, “all a performer wants is this reaction, nothing else”.
Sunday started unexpectedly early and taking a breather on the grass by the main stage we catch the opening beats of Earth Wind and Fire. The infectious veterans announce that
‘”our all to young to have heard of us, but if you feel the groove then its probably because you were conceived to us!”
Their charismatic blend of funk and classics like ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and ‘Lets Groove’ are the perfect tonic to back ache and sleep deprivation, and a definite unexpected highlight.
Sunday features arguably the best line up of the three days with acoustic-troubadour Frank Turner drawing an impressive mid afternoon crowd over at the Radio 1 stage before we headed over to Disclosure at the King Tuts tent. Recently accused of playing to a crowd without the decks plugged in, their is no suspicions of such today as the incredible bass blasts the tent into submission with highlights, ‘When the Fire Starts to Burn’, ‘White Noise’ and ‘Latch’ and featuring guests Aluna George and Sam Smith.
From Disclosure its time for a highly anticipated set by Glasgow band Chvrches. They last played Scotland at The Arches in February they have been half way round the world and back winning fans across the USA Lauren Mayberry has grown in confidence hugely and this afternoon looks every bit the star, powered by the luscious synths and guitar of Doc and Iain their relatively low key set is a real stand out, with tracks like the glorious ‘Gun’, ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Lies’. The band are a powerful presence. Their set is so good that it becomes impossible to leave before the end and forces us to miss the start of Foals. Foals incidentally clash with Local Natives but with tracks like ‘Spanish Sahara’, ‘My Number’ and powerful version of ‘Late Night’- illuminated by a gorgeous sunset plans to go back to see Local Natives in the Transmission tent are scrapped! Foals close with singer Yannis Philippakis jumping into the crowd on ‘Providence’, guitar in hand and crowd surfing along to Two Steps Twice.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are up against the Killers. The New Yorkers play a rousing set kicking off with ‘Sacrilege’ and packing in all the favourites ‘Maps‘, ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Zero’, ‘Gold Lion’. They close with the outrageously sexy ‘Date With The Night’.
There’s just enough time to catch the last 15 minutes of The Killers, another band that I seen in King Tuts back in 2004 and the perfect ending to a big weekend. The hits keep on coming, ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘Read My Mind’, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ and closing with ‘When You Were Young, Mr. Brightside’, they even manage to acknowledge their debt to Travis and drop a sneaky cover of Side. As fireworks blast into the night sky. T in The Park is over for another year but the memories of a glorious sun kissed weekend will live long in the memory.