It might have been “Bye Bye Balado” at T in the Park this year, but for me it was more of a “Hello, Goodbye!” My first T was a fantastic weekend, with some great music and good times spent with friends and although I’ve only been the once, I’ll remember my weekend at Balado fondly.
On the whole, T in the Park was probably the best festival I’ve been to. I may be looking at the weekend through rose-tinted sunglasses, with the weather having been so nice during the festival, but it was a good experience all around. Getting from our spot in the campsite, even having arrived to the festival comparatively late, to the arena was quick and easy. There was a good selection of places to eat, but not too much in that it was hard to find things. I also liked how the main stage was closest to the campsite, so that getting to the big acts was a breeze. Considering the size of the festival compared to the others I’ve been too, I was surprised at how easy it was to get around. Things might change next year as T ups sticks to Strathallan Castle but hopefully the organisers keep the feel of the festival’s stages in the new venue.
T in the Park’s line-up was impressive, and I’m glad to say that instead of my usual festival habit of spending most of it in the campsite enjoying the ‘atmosphere’ we actually went to see some of my favourite bands. Here’s what I made of the acts I saw at T in the Park.
Perhaps the band that performed over and above my expectations the most, Imagine Dragons captivated what was a big crowd on the sunny Friday afternoon. Their hits were sung with gusto by the main man as well as the audience and things kicked up a gear when they played an upbeat cover of The Proclaimers’ classic “500 Miles”. Their energy was infectious and they set the ball rolling nicely for the whole weekend.
CHVRCHES were the band I was most excited to see at T in the Park, and they didn’t disappoint. Their set was full of the 80s inspired synth-pop that I’ve been enamoured with this year and seeing the songs live gave them a little more resonance. They didn’t really put a foot wrong in their delivery, with Lauren Mayberry breaking things up with a little anecdote here and there. The only real drawback was that they and the crowd weren’t quite loud enough to give them the entrancing atmosphere that they deserved, but it was a great set nonetheless.
I’m not a big Ed Sheeran fan, and his set at T didn’t really do much to convert me. He played all of his biggest hits and kept them upbeat, which was welcomed by the audience and that was something I was glad to have been a part of. As a solo guitar-playing singer, though, it was hard for him to manufacture a stage presence other than involving the crowd almost a little too much. It was a good set, but didn’t win me over.
This set could really have gone one of two ways, and I think Clean Bandit did a great job of their time at T in the Park. Their fusion style of R&B, classical and dance music would definitely have worked much better in the confines of the King Tut’s tent rather than the Radio 1 stage, with a lot of the sound lost to the open air, but they still managed to get the audience going despite their early time slot. They sounded sharp as their ensemble of singers took the stage, culminating in their biggest hit “Rather Be” which got everyone belting it out.
Paolo’s set was the biggest disappointment for me at T in the Park. I was expecting goosebumps as everyone sang “Last Request” in the driving rain at the end, but like the rest of his set he slowed his tracks down so much that no-one could find any rhythm to it. Even the more upbeat tracks that could have sparked some life into the crowd were subdued and didn’t quite strike a chord with the audience. The saving grace for me was a nice cover of CHVRCHES’ “Recover” that piqued my interest a little. In his defence, he might have suffered from the hordes arriving for the following act but Paolo Nutini wasn’t quite the highlight of the weekend that he could have been.
I enjoyed a lot of other sets at T in the Park, but Calvin Harris’ late night stint on the main stage on Saturday was easily the most fun. With a parade of top-drawer hits of his own, generally mixed with a new Dutch house drop to give the crowd something new to chew on, everyone in the massive crowd was jumping along for the whole night. Will Smith, yes that one, introduced Calvin at the start and returned at the end for “Summer”, but sadly didn’t regale the expecting crowd with one of his own classics. It was the set that I think everyone in the crowd can come away from thinking “I was there”, and for that it was probably the best of the festival.
For a band whose success was largely based on one song, Bastille did very well at holding their own on the main stage and keeping crowds entertained. I must admit I knew little of their catalogue going into it, but they still managed to keep things bouncing along nicely so that even newcomers like me could have a good time. It wasn’t a remarkable set, but one that I still enjoyed.
It may have taken me 10 years to do it, but yesterday I finally got to see Franz Ferdinand. I was a little worried that I might not recognise most of their set having skipped their last few albums, but the old classics were out in force and still had their punk edge I remember from the studio recordings. Their new songs were also great at getting people moving, even if I couldn’t sing along. It was a fantastic set that reminded me of how good the band, which was once my favourite, are and I’ll definitely have to look up their newer tracks to catch up on what I’ve missed.
With three of the best acts and a certain football match all on at the same time on Sunday night, I did have a dilemma about which to watch when it came down to it. My friends and I chose the Arctic Monkeys, and I was a little disappointed with how it turned out. They played a lot of their newer tracks, and they tended to be a little too similar to each other for my tastes, and lacked a certain energy that I wanted from the headliners. Classics like “Brianstorm” and “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor” were better, but in the end it was a bit of a damp squib before the fireworks that marked the end of the festival.
So there’s my wrap of T in the Park 2014. After having such a great time this year, I’ll definitely be making the trek down again next year if the line-up is anywhere near as good as it was this year. It may take a day or two for the sunburn to fade, but the memories will last for a long time.