Loch Ness, Dores, Scotland, June 8-10
The summer festival has changed over the years. For some it’s not just about going to a muddy field to cheer or heckle their (least) favourite bands. For some it’s the venue of choice for a stag or hen party. Heck, there are even a few weddings at the inflatable church on site. All of which makes RockNess, set on the banks of the stunning Loch Ness, an ideal weekend for raucous naughtiness. Frustratingly, there’s little on offer on Friday to turn this fest into the big-rave orgy it’ll later become. Instead we’re left with a snot-nosed Ed Sheeran to entertain us. Luckily, over in a tent, a hip-hopping Hudson Mohawke is dropping messianic beats to the body-popping masses, closing day one of the Highland festival with a big bosh.
Then comes Saturday. Nothing screams “CULTURAL AND SPORTING OLYMPIAD” less than a bunch of pissed-up Scots chowing down on noodles, so there’s more than a little shock when the Olympic torch makes its way onsite to be held aloft by festival chief Jim King. NME is there beside him to take in the historic moment. We down a can of cider, like any true athlete would. But our moment in the spotlight isn’t the only highlight of the day. The View cancelling their gig four songs in due to the tent partially collapsing is certainly a talking point – especially when we get to hear Kyle Falconer sing Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ like a drunken busker when the band finally play a full set 24 hours later. Justice, meanwhile, bring the party to Nessie with a stonking set. Is there a more obvious song to wax off a stag’s eyebrows to than ‘We Are Your Friends’?
Come Sunday, and heavy-sunken eyes awaken to the coldest, wettest day of the weekend. So, it’s up to Friendly Fires to bring some, albeit metaphorical, ‘Hawaiian Air’ to the Scottish countryside, and Metronomy to loosen some limbs with their idyllic electro jams. But the most perfect end to a stag do weekend must surely be to bow at the altar of Biffy Clyro, who play their first gig in Scotland for 18 months. “Three days and you’re still up for it? That’s some stamina,” commends Simon Neil, dressed in a virginal white jumpsuit, as the trio blaze straight into epic opener ‘Mountains’. They play three new songs, including the heavy riffing of ‘Modern Magic Formula’ and ‘The Joke’s On Us’ – a bona fide fist-pumper – and ‘Victory Over The Sun’, a soon to be HUGE tear-jerking, sappy hit.
Biffy turn up the heat one last time with ‘The Captain’, bringing an end to this fest as fireworks rain down on the murky loch. A field of drunken Scots and Biffy Clyro really is a perfect marriage.