Connect Festival: Music, massages and mud, glorious mud
Kirstin Innes was among the 16,000 revellers who headed to Inveraray Castle for the first ever Connect music festival. She gives us the lowdown
Connect Festival, Inverarary Castle, Sunday. Festival gossip has it that Mike D from the Beastie Boys took a shine to the castle and challenged the Duke of Argyll to a duel. Jarvis Cocker is acclaimed as the best thing about Friday by fans still attempting to recreate his wild-limbed dancing, but people seem to have been less impressed with Primal Scream -- their set was described to me as ‘self-indulgent’ and ‘incoherent’. Everyone I speak to agrees that the line-up is fantastic, but there’s an odd desperation in the air, as if we all know we’ll never see all these bands in the same place again.
The Speakeasy tent is a terribly civilised place where attractive twenty and thirty-somethings read Sunday papers. Alan Bissett and Rodge Glass are reading from their novels; Jo Mango plays an acoustic set. A closer look, however, reveals that each and every one of them is caked in mud from the waist down. Because there is mud. There is epic, Glastonbury-style mud. It points to the tension at Connect’s core -- they’ve attempted to clean up the festival experience for older, middle class consumers, by offering spas, massages and food tents selling oysters and barbequed salmon rather than gristly burgers, but the muddy hedonism keeps threatening to seep through even this very well-behaved crowd.
Wedged in the quagmire at the Your Sound new bands pagoda are El Padre, nu raved-up teenagers playing clever indie from two guitars and a laptop. Their fanbase are all about 16 and gorgeous, and dance up a storm in wellies, painting flowers on each others’ faces in mud. Predatory photographers appear from nowhere and begin circling them. ‘T in the Park!’ someone shouts. ‘Actually, this is a bowtick festival,’ says the lead singer, witheringly. At 4pm the age divide becomes apparent - Craig Armstrong for those born before 1975, Tilly and the Wall with their neon-legginged tap dancer for everyone else. It’s a pretty even split.
Regina Spektor arrives on the Oyster Stage with her grand piano. The grand scenery suits her full-throated singing. It might have taken the best part of the day, but the civilised façade has thoroughly shattered by the time MIA explodes all over the Oyster Stage with roars and squeaks and dubby beats, dragging as many people up as possible for a stage invasion which is swiftly quashed by security. Not many festivals have three female solo artists in a row headlining their main stage
Audience screams and a neon-clad all-girl brass band with flags poking out of their heads herald on the act that people have travelled from all over the UK for. Bjork is dressed somewhere between Kate Bush and a dip-dyed Snow White. Her never obvious set ranges from haunting wisps from her debut album to riotous techno. The crowd are whooping and beaming and dancing as she aims her laser cannon at the castle, gleeful and thoroughly Connect-ed