RockNess - Dores, Loch Ness, Fri 10-Sun 12 Jun 2011
Something-for-everyone and friendly, if intense, atmosphere
At first glance, the RockNess 2011 line-up looked a little schizophrenic. Acts were mainly pulled from the distant camps of Scots indie rock (Glasvegas, Paolo Nutini, Frightened Rabbit), and pioneering electronica (Jamie xx, Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada). But the ‘something for everyone’ programming proved a smart move. The crowds lapped up the singalongs of an ecstatic Frightened Rabbit as eagerly as they bounced to the bass wobbles of Magnetic Man. People were very, very happy, even if they were being pandered to (Annie Mac playing Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ on the main stage was hardly breaking new ground). This helps to explain the euphoria of the Aberdeen man who shouted himself hoarse in the campsite between 8 and 9 every morning, and also why The List’s positive review comes with the caveat that RockNess is not for everyone.
Attracting more punters to what seemed like a much busier site in 2011, there was little respite from ‘having it’. But who needs respite – or sleep – when you’ve got the harkening call of a four-to-the-floor beat at all hours. In a field of enjoyable, but familar, acts, many of the line-up highlights appeared in the new-for-2011 Sub Club Soundsystem tent. Charming German technoheads Modeselektor (who paused the music to ‘check their emails’ at one point) and Michigan’s electropop maestro Matthew Dear played spectacular late-night sets on the Friday and Sunday respectively.
Also inventive, but less successful, the Rock’n’Roll Circus was a washout at times, testing the patience of fledgling indie bands playing to an empty space, though it did deliver the pleasingly mournful, post-Daniel Bedingfield R&B of Jamie Woon. The headliners did what they came to do. Kasabian stomped and postured, and Paolo held his own with just an acoustic guitar. The Chemical Brothers took things to a deep place on the Saturday night, wowing the main stage crowd with visuals and battering them with cut-up versions of classics reaching as far back as 1995’s ‘Leave Home’. It felt like old-school RockNess – heavy beats carrying some benevolent primal force out into the Scottish countryside.
The organisation was, on the whole, slick; the atmosphere friendly if intense; and the rain just about held off (Scotland’s most climatologically blessed festival?), leaving this well-executed three-dayer with a regular place in 30,000 Scottish hearts. In amongst the neon facepaint, crude slogan hoodies for sale, whooping and rolling chants of ‘here we fucking go’, it was impossible not to crack a grin.