Visceral pop thrills can't quite compensate for the pissing rain and still snaking toilet queues. Victoria Park, London (August 9)
There’s a point at some festivals where fun morphs into endurance, when enough’s enough and you just want to be home. Glasto, 5am on Monday. Benicássim, after your 76th hour awake. Wireless, as you arrive. Field Day? About 4pm. The festival, designed as a debauched country fair, and with promises to avoid last year’s organisational joke, is literally and metaphorically a wash-out. The skittles lane lies soaked and abandoned. Entertainers in oversized bow-ties run for cover. Mystery Jets cancelled. The toilet queues snake round the site like a conga in a mortuary. One poor girl, undone by a combination of British weather and mentality, is manhandled away by five policemen (five! And one of them’s on a bicycle) for making an umbrella portapotty and letting go. Collared by PC Mountain Bike in the pissing rain mid-stream in front of a hundred cross-legged punters – not fun. So it’s no surprise that the tents do the best business. The Bloggers Delight tent’s schedule is designed to thrill even the most po-faced, square-eyed e-critics. Thecocknbullkid’s laid-back pop is a sweet mid-afternoon treat, her bouncy beats, the communal body heat and the likes of ‘On My Own’ helping us forget the monsoon outside. She makes way for a roll-call of zeitgeist-y London DJs – party pair Skull Juice, Fluokids’ blog-favourite Casper C, dubstep pioneer Benga – among sets from Telepathe (art-electro thrills) and Heartbreak (disco spills). Meanwhile, over in the other dry place, the Adventures In The Beetroot Field/NME Stage, The Mae-Shi unleash their brat-punk carnage and send a welcome parachute over the crowd’s heads.
Out in the typhoon, Lightspeed Champion’s mournful strings capture the mood mid-afternoon before Les Savy Fav ratchet it up for the stage-invading preacherman chaos we love and expect, a sea of umbrellas moshing like a huge punk-rock armadillo in front of the stage. Foals’ first ever UK festival headline set comes with a weight of expectation from the soggy survivors (plus a victory yesterday at Underage) and of course they kill it with a well-honed set; ‘Cassius’ and ‘Two Steps Twice’ thrusting hard and fast, while ‘Red Socks Pugie’ is the closest we get to an anthem. At the 10.30pm curfew it’s all over. The music is great, the intentions are good. Third time lucky next year? Here’s hoping.