RockNess 2012 - Dores, Loch Ness, Fri 8-Sun 10 Jun (4 stars)

RockNess 2012 - Dores, Loch Ness, Fri 8-Sun 10 Jun

Variety of headliners makes for game of three halves

As you amble down the gentle hill where RockNess resides you can’t help but be struck by the landscape, nestled in a valley surrounded by greenery and looking out across the mighty Loch Ness. Despite the mist, it’s a sight that makes the trip up north worthwhile on its own. In terms of music, while there’s always a strong undercurrent of clubby sounds, in football speak, 2012’s line-up was a game of three halves.

Starting folky, it went hands in the air trancetastic before ending in a squall of rock bluster. On paper the headliners – Mumford & Sons, Deadmau5 and Biffy Clyro – look like a clash of styles, but in reality it gave each day a distinct flavour.

On Friday, Mystery Jets, The Drums and Noah & The Whale all set the scene nicely with a tasteful balance of indie and nu-folk. Headliners Mumford still managed to steal the show with their mix of folksy fiddles and big plaintive choruses, although a few too many new songs took some of the wind out of their set.

Saturday was dance day, but for most, started with a comic turn from Tim Minchin, ending stripped to the waist with his environmental anthem ‘Canvas Bag’. The Rapture’s punk funk got the crowd moving while DJ Fresh’s Fresh/Live set up (full live band, MCs and singers) was cheesy but ridiculously entertaining. It was hard to resist the drum & bass clarion call that is ‘Louder’ or ‘The Power’. Justice brought the Gallic flair as they powered though their glam rock meets electro schtick to glorious effect. The night ended with Deadmau5’s spectacular light show - shame about the music.

Nile Rodgers and Chic helped get the party started on Sunday. Hit after hit after hit, from the classic disco of ‘I’m Coming Out’ to the pop stylings of ‘Let’s Dance’. Friendly Fires kept things tropical despite the grey clouds, while Knife Party wheeled out their brand of lowest common denominator dubstep: a bass battering that was simply irresistible in a huge sweaty tent that bounced with every sonic assault.

Biffy were the perfect climax to the weekend. Big booming rock, complex time signatures, pyro, smoke and songs of the quality of opening double bill ‘Mountains’ and ‘That Golden Rule’. Lyrics and riffs being sung back en mass from the crowd. Even throwing in several new tracks before thundering to a close with a monumental ‘The Captain’.

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