Rock Ness 2009
Rock da bank
Henry Northmore looks north as Rock Ness prepares for its biggest festival yet in the company of Basement Jaxx, Orbital, The Flaming Lips, The Prodigy and Placebo
Starting life as a Fatboy Slim gig in 2006, Rock Ness has staked its claim as a major Scottish festival. This year’s event boasts big names such as Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal, Orbital, Soulwax and The Prodigy.
And, while it’s still mainly dance-orientated, the programme is ushering in more rock. Across the three days, Placebo, Biffy Clyro and The Flaming Lips are adding guitars to the mix.
As we’ve all come to expect, there’s also a strong DJ line-up with several stages devoted to the art of mixology. David Guetta, Pete Tong, DJ Yoda and Pendulum put in sets across the main stages, while Rob da Bank presents Sunday Best with Erol Alkan and Kissy Sell Out.
The Rizla Arena features Jazzie B (Soul2Soul), Andrew Weatherall, Riton and Jon Carter among others, while SoCo Social showcases Yousef, Mylo, Dub Pistols and more.
Soma Records, Ed Banger and the Sub Club are taking charge of the Bollywood stage on each successive day. ‘Everyone at the Sub Club is really excited to be part of Rock Ness,’ says Sub Club director Mike Grieve. ‘The spectacular backdrop and the brilliant atmosphere make this unique festival something Scotland can be really proud of.’
The festival takes place on the banks of Loch Ness, an idylic location no other festival can match. ‘Last year was just amazing fun,’ says festival director Jim King. ‘The bands loved the site and had a great time playing to an amazing audience. Word must have got around as we’ve been blown away by the amount of bands who want to play at Rock Ness this year.’
After only just missing the festival last year, Japanese Popstars are one of the younger acts looking forward to rocking Rock Ness. Specialising in ‘stadium rave-tech’ this Northern Irish three-piece play dazzling electronic pop and partially owe their existence to the world of festivals.
‘We were at Oxegen in Ireland,’ says Gary Curran who is joined in the trio by Decky Hedrock and Gareth Donoghue.‘We saw a few live dance acts and we thought, “We could be doing that rather than sitting about watching.” So that’s where it kicked off.’
Since their inception in 2006, they’ve forged their own identity in dance music, defying neat categorisation with an indie edge.
‘I say we sit more in the world of dance,’ says Curran. ‘But people don’t seem to be sure where to fit us. We can be booked to play with Erol Alkan one night and with Eric Prydz the next.’
Being nominated and winning several awards over the last few years (including best breakthrough producers at the DJ Mag Best of British Awards), they have landed several high profile remixes. ‘It’s a privilege to be asked to do remixes on that scale, but it’s weird sitting with Beyoncé’s vocals in the studio.’
With their love of outdoor partying they’re suitably excited to be playing this year’s event. ‘We’d heard about Rock Ness since it began, so it’s great to be there this year and the location, right beside Loch Ness, what a beautiful place to play.’
Rock Ness, Loch Ness, Fri 12–Sun 14 Jun.