Review: Saturday at T in the Park 2015 (3 stars)

Review: Saturday at T in the Park 2015

The Libertines on the Main Stage

Excellent performances from St Vincent, Jungle and Alt-J alongside a muted Libertines and awful Avicii at day two at Strathallan

For T in the Park’s first year at its new venue, we sent three of our music critics to see how the move panned out. Once you’re done with Saturday’s review, check out what we had to say about Friday and Sunday.

Getting off the bus monstrous queues snaking round temporary fencing is a disheartening sight. Teething issues with crowd control are perhaps inevitable when taking over a brand new venue for an event of this magnitude but need to be addressed for next year's T. Once finally into the main arena it's nice to see a bit greenery on the new T in the Park site. At the Radio 1 Stage, the trees seem to serve a dual purpose, also acting as a sound barrier blocking the incessant noise pollution from the funfair, bars and stalls. Circa Waves provide an early spike of amped up good time indie ending with a timely 'T Shirt Weather' as the sun breaks over Strathallan. Palma Violets offer a rawer proposition with their stripped down hip shaking racket even if all their best moves are cribbed off The Libertines. There's a grinding baggy groove to 'We Found Love' while the crowd roar along to closer 'Best of Friends.'

A change of tempo as Charli XCX adds a dash of deliberately trashy glamour. She packs more punch and personality than the majority of her media polished contemporaries even if the lyrics to 'Doing It' and 'Boom Clap' are irritatingly repetitive. Over in the King Tut's Tent, Marina & the Diamonds offers a more sophisticated brand of electro pop. A casually seductive stage presence delivering a thumping 'Primadonna' and a sassy 'How to be a Heartbreaker' that match the cosmic stage set.

The synths just build and build on 'Foundation' as Years & Years take to the stage. Olly Alexander's vocals add a vulnerable edge to the reggae grooves and Balearic house of 'Desire'. Then the heavens open and rain halts play, they grind to a halt, the banks of electronic equipment pulled undercover and towelled down, it looks like it might all be over, but they launch into a majestic 'King' before leaving the soggy stage.

Enter Shikari spark the only genuine mosh pit of the day. Good natured aggro is the only logical response to their ferocious hardcore rave meets metal blast beats. 'Juggernauts' sends the crowd apoplectic but underpinning the blistering fury there's a surprisingly coherent political message in Rou Reynolds' lyrics.

Electronic soul collective Jungle add depth, bass and beauty especially when they end with a one, two, closing volley of 'Busy Earnin' and 'Time and Time Again'. Tut's is criminally empty for St Vincent's barrage of grungy guitar squall and throbbing darkwave synths. The entire performance is so well thought out and utterly individual, from the music through to the synchronised broken doll dance moves. By the time she and her band step forward, taking a theatrical bow for applause, the tent is near capacity.

Following a long line of bands that attempt to chronicle the British condition, The Libertines combine romanticised tales of Albion with killer guitar licks. Mirroring the heavy rain and dark clouds, it's a strangely muted performance that lacks the attack of their original 2012 Reading and Leeds reunion shows. There are a few weird pauses, the band even leave the stage at one point, for a 'pep-talk' according to Pete Doherty. Still, the chemistry between Carl Barat and Doherty is undeniable as is the quality of hits 'Can't Stand Me Now', 'Up the Bracket', 'Time For Heroes' and 'Don't Look Back Into the Sun'.

Alt-J play thoughtful unashamedly intelligent indie, the rain finally letting up as they play 'Tessellate'. Not that they don't have a sense of humour, hammering out the riff of 'Sweet Home Alabama' before launching into 'Nara.' A precise incredibly well thought out set that proves how well-crafted their music is.

Headliner Avicii draws a huge crowd on the Main Stage. Visually dazzling, the Swedish DJ throws everything at his audience: streamers, pyro, smoke, 3D projections but there's no disguising the fact the music is awful. Cheap trance and chart EDM, lacking in style, substance or finesse. As a cheeky riposte to Noel Gallagher's recent comments, he dedicates the horror of country / trance mash up 'Hey Brother' to Gallagher Snr before a final flurry of personality free repetitive beats.

Seen at Strathallan Castle, Auchterarder, Sat 11 Jul


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