Live at Loch Lomond - festival roundup (3 stars)

Sat 2 & Sun 3 Aug 2008

The bands initially attracting me to Live @ Loch Lomond were the hoards of unsigned Scottish and smaller bands that have created a real buzz. The Saturday billing had The Shakes and Figure 5 on offer, two of Glasgow’s biggest unsigned bands, playing the main stage. It was due to be a day of catching some of Scotland’s freshest talent - if only it had actually worked out that way.

The story goes that the health and safety officers deemed the exits unsafe (apparently due to the mud!), therefore something had to be done about it. Whatever got fixed or altered kept the ever growing swarm of festival goers outside the arena and in a ridiculous queue down the centre of Balloch. When we were finally allowed in two and a half hours late I was told that the bands I wanted to see had already played and to a ‘crowd’ consisting of the few people they were allowed to invite the festival. Farcical was the word that sprung to mind.

I was open to allowing the festival to redeem itself, and thankfully it did. The stages were all really well positioned, meaning you could easily float between acts, catching who you wanted and when you wanted. Actually, being able to float would have been an invaluable talent, getting you over the mud pools that surrounded the tents and stages.

The fact that it’s a relatively small festival is also a selling point. There was something really down to earth about it, with many of the acts joining in with the crowd and the banter, making it seem accessible and sincere.

All in all Live @ Loch Lomond is a good festival and it has real potential to become an even better festival. Booking Groove Armada was a wise move. They are the kind of act that people wouldn’t normally go and see, but put them on the main stage as the closing act at a festival and they will bring the house down - which is sadly something The Sex Pistols failed at. Unfortunately, the line up consisted of far too many bands that fall into the has-been category. One or two of these is fine - they have the back catalogue and the songs that people know. Ocean Colour Scene are great afternoon act that pull in the crowd but have too many similar bands and you can be in danger of being compared to Retrofest. If they mange to retain their passion for Scottish talent at root level combined with top acts like Pete Doherty then Live @ Loch Lomond will gain a reputation similar to T in the Park for being a real patron of Scottish music.

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