Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Of Biff 2014 - Episode 2 - T IN THE PARK

I am a liar. Obviously.

When 2014 was around the corner I said to too many people and in too public places that after a CRAZY (crazy wonderful, too) 2013 I would take it easy in 2014 (hahaha!).  Also after getting a lot of new ink in 2013 it would be a year without new tattoos and oh yes ... what ever would happen like even Biffy headlining T In The Park - I would not attend big festivals. I did not do in almost two decades and I would not change that any time soon. Open Airs - yes, small festivals - sure (I love small festivals), but not the type of event that makes a 80 k people city of wasted people grow out of an innocent field somewhere in the countryside. Not with me.

Well ... may I introduce you .... my latest ink from spring 2014:

Mac and I combined here the cover designs of the Sucioperro's Pain Agency and Fused in one lovely and productive drawing and one about three hours long tattoo session to create this wicked new addition. The elbow was by the way a weird feeling but not as bad as I thought it would be. The cute little bastard on the wrist on the other hand was ... challenging.

The other "No no no" fell apart quickly when the tickets for T In The Park went on sale with Biffy headlining the Friday. I watched all my friends posting their "I got my tix" and my resistance fell apart in Warp 10. I took a deep breath and ... booked a ticket and flights and all what was needed and once I was done I realized how badly I wanted to go because I almost cried of relief.

A few months later the day was there and I was on my way to Glasgow. This is also before we talk about the festival the right moment to thank again many many times Emma & Grant for hosting, feeding and driving me. It was such a great time spent with lovely, lovely friends. I hope I can return the hospitality one day!

I arrived a day early and it felt really like going on a much needed vacation. I left a foggy, rainy
Munich and arrived in a sunny, warm Glasgow. We even had our dinner outside in the garden.
The next morning again bright sunshine was welcoming us and we reduced the number of sweaters and jackets packed for the day significantly but put on and packed lots of sunscreen before we started the drive through the very pretty Scottish countryside towards Balado Airfield

The first impression was ... great! It was pretty out there. Sure the good weather helped a lot, but after hearing a many not so nice things about the festival I found it really well organized. Even the portaloos were doable - not just on Friday but still on Sunday. Food and drinks were okay, you could get free water and at the really nice and relaxed "Healthy T" food court even the free WiFi worked fine. 
Yes, I saw some really gross things involving people who were not able to manage their alcohol and drug intake and something REALLY gross happened to our group (no further details, but we did not cause the incident) right before the Biffy gig which made the use of almost all the disinfection wipes I had in my bag necessary, but other than that .... all good. Very good. 

Little Matador
We took things easy that first day and focused really on meeting up with the many friends who were attending as well, but of course we checked out some bands, too. We had decided early that this was NOT the day to spend all day at the barrier to be there for Biffy. Some friends did and succeeded to defend their space all day, but we did not even try. Our first band was Little Matador at the BBC Introducing Tent. After seeing them with Biffy in Dublin I really wanted to see them again. There were not many people in the tent but I loved the set. The feedback from our group was half and half. One part loved it, the other really not. For me it was a good start with some groovin' rock sounds. 

Royal Blood
Next stop was the PACKED King Tut's Tent for Royal Blood. Sure I like the type of music they do ... it's right down my alley, but I am always a bit over critical when a band just takes off with getting so much hype. So I really wanted to check out what this was all about and was more curious than excited.
But holy shit ... those TWO boys - just drums and bass - rock so much! I LOVED it. So yep ... here I am well on the Royal Blood train. At the moment they are in the US touring tiny clubs and my US friends are on the road seeing them, met them off stage and they obviously are lovely people as well. Always an extra plus. Can't wait for the full album now!

Sadly there was one big bummer attached  to the Royal Blood set and that was terrible timing and bad stage splits. While we could have done easily with some more good stuff over the afternoon this one hour was overloaded. It had Royal Blood, Haim and Maximo Park at the same time. I really would have loved to see Maximo Park but no chance. 

The rest of the afternoon we got some bits and pieces of CHVRCHES before it got just too hot and humid in the tent (I had seem them before and was not dying from not seeing the whole set), saw a bit of the dreadful Imagine Dragons playing the safe card with covering the Proclaimers (I mean ... really????), the even more dreadful You Me And Six (I bet they "LOVED" seeing the same people giving them eyerolls from the front row like in Dublin *chuckle*) as well as some notes from Ellie Goulding by walking by (of no further interest) and had nice break for food in the sunset at Healthy T

Then it was time to get in position during Ed Sheeran's show on the main stage. The kid is probably a good entertainer and a nice guy. He likely is, but I cannot stand his voice and being there for parts of his set was purely functional to get ready for the run. Our goal was the end of the golden circle, middle of stage, right before the 2nd barrier and most of us made it for Biffy! I mean not too bad right? 

Gosh .... I was so excited and I was so happy with where we ended up - full view on the stage. Yes - much more far away than usual but not Lego sized people too far to guess the faces. We had room to dance, jump and sing. It was perfect!

Before we go into the details, I need to get one thing out of the way: YES, I had hoped for Justboy, I had hoped for Joy. Discovery. Invention. I had hoped for more older songs, some little more exotic songs from the past, BUT in the end a festival is a mass event. It is not really about us - the core group of Biffy fans. 
Not even there in Scotland. You can see that at the beginning of the BBC broadcast of the show when they talk to some front row girls (not our friends standing a few meters away from those) and they could barely name a single song but had a "Simon Neil I want your sausage" sign (seriously). You could also hear it when they played Questions & Answers and the sing along immediately died because it was too fancy already. So while it was not our dream set list it was still a really good mix of old and new and of course the anthemic crowd pleasers a show like this needs. 
And if you take a step back and try to see it with a stranger's eyes, who did not see this band so often already, you see a GIANT MONSTER OF A SHOW ...a band that put all their heart into it and delivered absolutely brilliant entertainment, you hear a sound that was for a big open air stage fantastic and you feel a crowd that really, really loved every minute of it. Many Of Horror is definitely not my favorite tune, but you need to see and listen to this to get an idea of how it all felt:

I know I have done nothing to make this happen besides attending a handful of shows, but I was incredibly proud the whole night. Well done, my favorite people, very well done! 

The best part of the show came for the encore. Si had just ended a wonderful version of Machines, when the light switched and made the shape of a young man visible who is not a permanent member of Biffy Clyro but nevertheless made 60,000 people scream in delight and here he is: 

It was so so so so so cool. A warm summer night in Scotland, Biffy Clyro playing Stingin' Belle and real bagpipes. Oh ... and don't you love Ben counting in (check the video)? I love those little things! There was nothing more to wish for that moment. Nothing. 


The next day was nothing but exhaustion. I am obviously too old for this shit. I almost fell asleep on the couch of Lucky Cat Tattoo while my friend got some ink. We walked a bit around Glasgow and had a drink, but my brain was mostly blank because I was so tired. Funny enough though we ran into some more Biffy friends - always so nice and fun. It's such a great bunch of people.
Back home Grant cooked up some great pasta and that got me kicked out for good. In town a free show of We Are Scientists and Paws was happening -something that would have had me going at any other day, but no chance at all.
Oh ... it was also raining and we watched some T In The Park on the telly with people getting really wet. It made the couch an even better place. 

The next morning I felt thankfully much better and the sun was out again as well. Some last minute work schedule changes had resulted in me not going home that day but on early Monday morning by train to London for two days of meetings and work in our UK office and that allowed another day at T In The Park. Since most of my friends had just day tickets for Friday Balado and I had some 1:1 time that day but I really enjoyed that before I met up with some friends who were doing the festival "hardcore" version including camping for the whole weekend. 

I started the day with the Inspiral Carpets. To be honest I did not even know that they were still around but I spotted them on the opener slot at the Radio One Stage and it was a lot of fun to dance to She Comes In The Fall in the sun. I felt very 18 again but only as long as I did not go too close to the stage because the obvious age of the musicians made very clear that for all of is the teenage days were not exactly yesterday. Ahem. 

The Twilight Sad
Up Next was the first serious barrier slot of the festival because I went early to see The Twilight Sad at the King Tut's Tent. I had made several attempts to see this band before but it had all failed for some reasons and I was so happy that I finally made it.
The atmosphere was a bit weird because it is that type of music you hear very late at night (at least I do) when you have your mind and soul just drifting and not exactly on a bright morning when the smell in the air is mostly ... coffee. At least it was pretty dark in the tent that filled up after a slow start quite nicely (the band had an earlier stage time than initially planned that allowed a bit longer set but had people arriving late). The show was as intense and beautiful as I thought it would be. I hope they manage to come to Germany one day soon. 

Kodaline I partially enjoyed from the big ferris wheel and I loved both - he ride with the sights and the set of the band. I am not exactly a fan, but there were some seriously good vibes coming from the main stage and it was great fun.
In the picture you also see very well the second barrier - the end of the golden circle - where we were standing for Biffy

After that I went to see Sam Smith. I really like Stay With Me although pop ballads are usually not my cup of tea but festivals are always a good chance to find out if you like more stuff from an artist by just walking over and having a look and listen. But well ... no. Although the atmosphere was great - people standing and further in the back sitting in the sunshine singing along - I just could not get around it. Turns out I like Sam Smith best when it is actually not Sam Smith but Sam McTrusty together with the rest of Twin Atlantic and with Sucioperro's Stewart Chown on the bass covering Stay With Me. That was kind of predictable but still worth trying. 


Then it was time for the 2nd highlight of the T In The Park weekend: The set of Medals in the BBC Introducing Tent

I took a break before the show in the sun (and got sunburned although I had plenty of sunblocker on ... oh well) contemplating that although it was really cool that Medals had been added last minute to the line up, it was still a pity that it was not on Friday but on Sunday. I literally know dozens of people who would have loved to see the set but were already on the way back down to England, on the flight back to France or other countries. My phone kept buzzing the whole time with "Are they on already?" "How is it?" "Take pictures!" or "Can you film a song?" The last question was a clear no (sorry). I hate filming during a show and for a short set like that I can't really waste a song for standing still. Thankfully the BBC was there and did a much better job than I would have anyway.
But not just the BBC was around - quite some crowd was as well. It just needed the first notes of a seriously rocking, heavy version of Tastes Like Glass (Thanks much for moving it away from the end of the set!!!) and the tent was filling up fast. The atmosphere was just awesome with people dancing, singing along and partying.
The T In The Park show was after the two acoustic sets the very first full electric one and it was a lot of fun! Everybody who has tickets for the show on September 12 at King Tut's can be happy - you are in for a treat!  If you don't have tickets yet - they can be purchased here

The fantastic video of I Used To Be Dancer from T In The Park.  Watch & share:

And a few more pictures: 

It is always best to leave when it cannot get much better anyway and so that was the end point of my T In The Park 2014. I had no interest in the Arctic Monkeys who were headlining that day and I also had to get back to Glasgow to watch at least the final minutes of the the FIFA World Cup final Germany vs Argentina (REALLY weird to watch the German win in a foreign country, really weird) and get ready for a 6 am start the next day.

For somebody who by all means did NOT want to attend a big festival I had a damn good weekend. Good Bye Balado - it was amazing ...
The complete T In The Park photo set can be seen here. 

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