Last year it was tent-bag man, the hoaxer who tweeted authorities that he was locked inside a bag on the campsite and running out of charge on his phone, sparking a site-wide manhunt. This year, the talk of T In The Park is the scallywag who somehow made off with an entire cash machine in the early hours of Friday morning. The culprit still hasn’t been caught (presumably they’ll have until the campsite clears on Monday to empty out its contents) but they’ve already become a festival folk hero – and Slaves, naturally, can’t resist paying tribute.
“Own up, Scotland – who did it?” demands frontman Isaac Holman after opening track ‘Ninety Nine’. “In whose tent is that cashpoint? Is it yours, mate? Have you been chiselling away, doing the odd line off it?” Holman certainly looks like he’s getting into the spirit of the festival – he arrives onstage wearing a mud-splattered event security rain mac – though bandmate Laurie Vincent strikes a more sombre note towards the end of the set, when he dedicates the duo’s performance “to the two people who’ve unfortunately lost their lives. We’re all here for the same reason – because we fucking love music. So don’t fight, love.”
For all the aggression of songs like ‘White Knuckle Ride’ or new song ‘Spit It Out’ – and the chaotic scenes they incite in the front rows of the crowd – “don’t fight, love” is ultimately the message of Slaves’ music, although there’s certainly nothing gentle about the way it’s delivered. There are cheers when Vincent lets rip on Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage as he introduces another new track, ‘Rich Man’ (“They keep us out of Europe and then quit – wankers,” he fumes. “They’re rats leaving the sinking ship”) and roars of approval when Holman cheekily declares that, “We’re the best band in the world, actually.” For any fragile souls attempting to ease themselves into the festival’s final day, the Tunbridge Wells duo are like a caffeine enema, or an intravenous Buckfast drip: fast, furious and utterly enlivening. “Has it been a heavy weekend?” enquires Holman at one point. “Are you feeling broken? Has T in the Park got the better of you?” Even if your answer is yes, yes and yes, Slaves are surely the band to precipitate your second (or third, or even fourth) wind.