To label Rockness 2011 anything less than a triumph would be blasphemy. Not just for the 35,000 Scots who down their wee neeps and tatties for the weekend and hitch their sporrans sideward for the party, but also for the organisers who provide a savvy mixture of dance and rock (in that order) for the wild-eyed masses. The line-up may not be to everyone’s taste, but this highland haggis ain’t about to let a headline slot by Paolo Nutini spoil our disco spokes.
We’ll ditch the racist shtick now, but for those south of the border yet to experience what has to be the most beautiful festival site in the UK, if not the planet, had better take note: this place is amazing. The main stage, not only dressed with the Loch of legend but also flanked by mountains and trees is the purest antidote to a night of accelerated adrenaline.
The site couldn’t be more perfect and not surprisingly the line-up doesn’t quite match its attire. However, in our town, points are awarded for bravery, so kudos to Rockness for Zane Lowe‘s (8/10) incendiary pre-Kasabian performance. Never one for showing restraint, the infinitely idiotic Kiwi fortifies an already twisted audience with some pretty natty fingerwork. Surprising, as the shock of Zane’s high-octane shout-outs, playing second fiddle to Kasabian looked to be a line-up catastrophe.
Equally Nero‘s (7/10) 5pm performance injects motion, which is no mean feat considering his set arrives before our daily visit to Ramsey Street.
Whilst we’re awarding gold stars for atypical scheduling and beautiful scenery, a one-arm salute should be awarded to DJ Shadow (8/10) for performing in a beach ball for over an hour and amazingly not descending into raga-tipped wank.
But the biggest dance balls go to Magnetic Man (9.5/10), who defy a downpour to deliver an awesome, boneshaking performance reminiscent of ‘Rhythm and Stealth’-era Leftfield, blowing all other artists out the Loch, including the visual onslaught of The Chemical Brothers (7/10) that followed.
That’s not to say Tom and Ed weren’t on top form but the omission of ‘The Private Psychodelic Reel’ is a gash unlikely to heal.
And so to the other headline act Kasabian (7/10), (Paulo Nutuni on Sunday isn’t technically a headline in our books), confident and triumphant; yes, but the so called ‘Year Of The Ness’ is a gurners paradise where DJs, dubstep and dance reign, and poodle framed Dickensians don’t quite fulfil that brief.
Case in point being the bantamweight fight between the worlds 17th best DJ, Laidback Luke (6/10), and the light-weight Chapel Club (6/10). A foregone conclusion in most books, but the limp defence by Chapel Club was never a challenge for such a lofty DJ.
Others are more successful, the curt rhythms of Bombay Bicycle Club (8/10) and local boys Frightened Rabbit (8/10) both gallant in their triumph over the throbbing main stage beats.
But the odd battle won doth not win the war, and that war was never in dispute. The Year Of The Ness was the year of dance, dubstep and Magnetic Man; nothing else came close.