...the party had well and truly started

The hills are alive with the sound of music.

Scotland: land of mist, heather and mental festival goers giving it laldy to some of the best sounds around. Entering to the booming guitars of Our Lunar Activities, you are immediately struck by just how special this festival site is, as music and landscape seem to hang together in a rare harmony. With the sun breathing down our necks, Hercules And Love Affair were the first band to announce the party had well and truly started with a set that blended the best in disco and house. The Clash Arena was the next to be taken over by the army of music fans as Noah And The Whale proved to be big fish in the Northern sea – their shanties are undoubtedly ones to look out for. Team Water Polo floundered in the deep end of the Main Stage with their chiming guitars falling on deaf ears, but Rob Da Bank then raised a packed the spirits of a packed tent with a storming DJ set.

As the sun was setting the temperature of the event rose rapidly as Soulwax stormed a tent they themselves helped to curate. In one of the best sets of the weekend the Belgian beat boffins teased the crowd with snippets of last year’s Rockness heroes Daft Punk before finally giving in to temptation and playing a triumphant ‘Robot Rock’. The View then took to the stage of the Clash Arena, with huddled hordes gathered outside, desperate to catch a glimpse of the returnian Dundonian raggamuffins. The group were joined by producer Owen Morris, as they blended some of their new material with their now classic debut album. With seemingly half the city of Discovery camped near Inverness it was unsurprising that the atmosphere was very special, and the band took time to honour their fans. Fatboy Slim, the indestructable icon of the superstar DJ era, didn’t disappoint the crowd with a mixture of older material. However, it was impossible to ignore the signs of ennui, that this was an act that belonged to a different era of both music and clubbing. Then as the sun was setting, and white clouds of mist formed on the hills around us, the final lazer show began with man and nature doing battle across the skies.

Sunday arrived with the rubbing of eyes, the pounding of heads and the stomping of feet as the regiments of festival lovers set about making the most of their festival experience. The undoubted stars of the second day were Late Of The Pier who played with incredible energy, making kids with ADD seem a little on the patient side. With songs such as “Space And The Woods” in their arsenal, few armies of critics in the world would dare take them on. The Cribs were their redoubtable selves, blending the hits with some B-sides as the Jarman brothers raced each other from across the Main Stage. Editors proved to be a surprise package, swapping their Joy Division influences for some prime U2 – and for once that’s a compliment. The band seem to have picked up a few tricks from their recent North American tour as they now boast a massive sonic punch, capable of stunning stadiums. A triumphant “Munich” saw the Main Stage audience raise their arms in unison, caught up in the sunshine atmosphere that had swamped the event. After some crowd pleasing bluster from Razorlight, and an explosive entrance by the firework display, the crowd then took refuge in the late night entertainment with the twilight soundtracked by some of the finest beats known to clubland.

Huddled in a valley, by the clearest of Highland spring water, it’s easy to fall into cliche when describing Rockness. It’s difficult to convey the special atmosphere that grabs hold of the event without rendering it bland and insipid. But as the thousands of weary – but happy – festival goers can attest to, Rock Ness really is a monster.


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