RockNess 2011 - Kasabian, DJ Shadow

Opening day highlights
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Kasabian

A roar from the crowd which shakes the ground and the stage lights up with Tom's charismatic grin and Sergio's creative mystery. The very mountains seem to be jumping between darkening clouds and a light -bleeding Ferris wheel. A flattened peak above the loch looks like a smoking volcano as a plume rises into the air.

Kasabian and Rockness: where rock and dance, chaos and musicality meet - there couldn't be a more perfect opening headline act. After the first song, Tom greets the crowd under throbbing skies and 'Shoot The Runner' brings a response from the masses which leads to an excited: 'Rockness, you look beautiful from here! You look fucking beautiful!'

New song 'Velociraptor' is like playing a symphony in a false-ceilinged techno ballroom: every section seems to scrape off another layer til you're in this massive space and your head's exploding with rapture. This is a taste of the irresistible chaos of the new material, a twisted nursery rhyme for adults with people jumping around and singing the chorus like they know it already. A sweaty guy approaches me. 'Write that Germany loves Kasabian!' he declares in a thick accent. The new material sweeps away the former material (still an obvious crowd pleaser). 'Switchblade Smile' is a canny creation which menaces into your consciousness through an entrance you didn't even know existed. 'Thick as Thieves' is introduced by Tom: 'This one's for the beautiful guy in the front, the one with the blonde hair. Yeah you. You know who you are!'

The funk of the new arrangements is deeper, heavier with some dirty dark Russian rave thing going off along with a trumpet player who has several solos and pieces in the set. After the stomping 'Empire', Tom states: 'Rockness, you ARE fucking Empire!'

And indeed it would seem to be as 'Fire' thumps to the loch's floor to wake Nessie. The new album's tested the deeper waters of Scotland and come out with a double thumbs up.

DJ Shadow

A massive spinning golfball with a screen behind is the way the enigmatic Californian dj presents himself to the Rockness crowd. The tent is full of dancers, many of them under eighteen it would appear. The only physical sign that there is an actual person behind the maestro of hip hop and dance is one hand lifted in the air from a wee hole at the top of the massive golfball at the end of each mix. The audience are cheering to said mixes – a crazy upbeat mishmash of hip hop, best of pirate style rave, an irreverent mockery and reconstruction of pop culture. Nothing’s sacred with the fun-loving, 60,000 record-spinning sample maestro DJ who hoovers up Motown, northern soul, drum and bass, jungle and hip hop to produce mixes like the first artfully built-up vibes of raves from the late 80s and 90s – times when you could literally tune in and switch off . No wonder it’s the kids now mesmerised and disappearing into an eternal crescendo-crashing journey of music.

At last the dj ball finally opens, Kinder-egg style, to reveal the grinning dj.

‘Yay. One two, one two. Thank you.’ He also thanks ‘Mike’ for the visuals. ‘We’re trying to push our djing forwards. If it’s cool with you, I’d like to play you a new one. This one’s called, appropriately enough, ‘I gotta rock’. This is a slower, heavier track but the dancers are still grooving. Shadow – the dj who’ll never be one – his mixes are too sharp.

Words by Jaime Scrivener
Photos by Steven Brown (@sbrownphoto) and Colin 'TwoThumbsFresh' McQuillen (@TwoThumbsFresh)

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