T in the Park 2002

Ahh, the weather, the glorious weather. T in the Park 2002 will doubtless be remembered for the unusual but extremely welcome addition of near-constant sunshine, and perhaps even the sheer quality and variety of acts on offer over the two days. . Eithe

Day One: Saturday July 13th, 2002

[r-zone1]Ahh, the weather, the glorious weather.  T in the Park 2002 will doubtless be remembered for the unusual but extremely welcome addition of near-constant sunshine, and perhaps even the sheer quality and variety of acts on offer over the two days.  Either that, or it will go down as the one before the tenth anniversary of the legendary T.  And of course, Virtual Festivals was down the front from the word go, hand-picking those worthy of mention, and finding ourselves rather spoilt for choice in the process.
[l-zone2]The late opening and subsequent hour-long queue at the main box office means we miss Dot Allison’s live spectacle and spend the following few days nursing a sunburnt neck, but all is forgiven in time for NY emo-kings Rival Schools’ early slot on the NME stage.  February’s debut UK live shows supporting ‘A’ saw a nervous Walter and fellow Schoolers not really sure what to make of such overnight success and all-round adulation, which made for a rather hesitant live show not living up to the expectations promised by the quality of their album.  But today is a different story altogether. 

[r-zone5] It’s as if Walter has come to terms with being a ‘pop-star’ after years of reigning supreme in underground acts, and fuck me if he’s not enjoying every minute of it.  They’re tighter as a group too, which is especially evident on triumphant instrumental “Hooligans for Life”; their penultimate track of today’s set, which closes with “Used For Glue” and the dispensing of many dozens of Rival Schools-emblazoned frisbees.  Fun for all the family!

[l-zone3]Next up are No Doubt, whose combination of colourful fashion, meaty basslines, pop hits(!!) and having Gwen Stefani as their frontwoman means that winning over a festival crowd is never really going to cause many problems.  So they play an entertaining, if slightly predictable greatest hits set, and everyone’s happy.  Except for those over at the NME stage, who are less ‘happy’ and more rocking like bastards. 

[r-zone4] ‘A‘ are the culprits, who despite neglecting rich and vast pastures of back catalogue manage to pull off a great show.  Between songs their energetic frontman Jason Perry announces, in a curiously proud manner, that he’s just accomplished the lauded feat of ripping his boxer shorts.  Which, during the instrumental refrain of “I Love Lake Tahoe”, he proceeds to craftily slice with a recently procured pen-knife, allowing said grown man to remove said undergarments from trousers, swing round one’s head, stuff tastefully into one’s mouth before, naturally, dispensing into crowd. 
Compared to which, Rival Schools’ efforts seemed rather lame.  Perry, now boxer-short-less, still finds the energy and mental capacity to finish with their biggest hit, the colossal “Nothing”.  And he even does the stupid wee dance moves and foot-stomps like in the video.  Comedy genius.


[r-zone1]Directly following A are Idlewild, about to embark on what should really be a triumphant home-coming of sorts, and first impressions appear promising with Roddy displaying what we can only assume is his ‘party grin’.  No, really.  But unlike A, the ‘Wild delve interestingly into their catalogue, pulling out an “I’m A Message” here, a still great “Idea Track” there, and possibly the crown in their jewel, the overlooked “I’m happy to be here tonight” (from “Hope Is Important”), which seems to have become a live staple as a duet between Roddy and Rod. 

[l-zone2] It is with this kind of move – taking a previously inconsequential acoustic album track and using it to punctuate their set, whilst displaying their canny knack for alternative melodies and bizarrely poetic lyrics – rather than airing new material, that Idlewild show their true potential.  Which unfortunately, probably through no fault of their own, isn’t quite realised today, as following an admittedly great “American English” they seem to leave very promptly, denying us a final few tracks which would have rounded proceedings off nicely.  Future headliners, but make sure to whisper it.

[r-zone3]Primal Scream, unfortunately, disappoint.  Bobby Gillespie looks like he’d rather be cleaning the site’s toilets than performing to thousands of adoring, drunken fans, and although most of the new material sounds promising, the way by which they ignore the Screamadelica stuff comes close to blasphemy.  Next we wander over to the NME stage, where the logistics of performance times are working favourably for Basement Jaxx, meaning that the presence of any track-suited scallywags giving Buckfast a bad name is made obsolete due to a bunch of past-it Mancunians about to ‘rock’ the main stage. 

[l-zone4]Also, with the day’s punishing sun making a dramatic departure somewhere behind the Brixton dance duo, atmospherics are, to say the least, primed.  But no amount of coincidence or luck can take away from them what was without doubt the performance of the weekend.  Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe overcome the possible problem facing DJ-based dance acts on a festival stage, i.e. filling it, by employing roughly half a dozen Brazilian flamenco dancers, all decked out in peacock-like feathers, who along with a solitary dreadlocked male and a couple of guest vocalists, help whip the crowd into a frenzy not unlike a Caribbean street-party.  Except we’re in Balado – near Kinross. 

[r-zone5]The early delivery of “Romeo” allows everyone the chance to enjoy familiar territory, and a short DJ set comprising a double-barrelled house-mix of “Get Ur Freak On” and “Ugly” later, and we stumble across what was probably the single most enjoyable moment of T in the Park: “Where’s Your Head?” – translated to “Far’s Yer Heed At?” by us Scots; for communication purposes, ken.  Most impressively, the bespectacled Felix, previously allowing himself the bare minimum of jiggy dance moves, leaps from behind his decks, microphone in hand, and delivers a sneering vocal performance to rival Johnny Rotten.  True story – for the duration of this track Buxton is every bit the popstar. 

Who ever said DJs were boring?  A cheeky “Jus 1 Kiss”, a downright rude “Get Me Off”, and an exultant “Rendezvous” all help the Jaxx win over any naysayers, while any doubts regarding the potential of dance-based acts successfully headlining a festival are well and truly dashed.


Day 2: Sunday, July 14th 2002

[r-zone2]Hangovers are shaken off relatively early on day two, where in the Slam Tent an immaculate set of funky house is being delivered by Soma’s own Master H.  Finishing on his own track, the electro-tinged “Magic K”, the French DJ looks all but set to follow in Gene Farris’ footsteps. 

[l-zone1]Mull Historical Society
then appear on the main stage, and despite playing a strong set containing several new tracks, ‘the Mull’ never seem to really find their stride.  Perhaps it’s because they aren’t currently promoting a new single or album, but the crowd appear generally sluggish without granting MHS the credence they deserve. 

[r-zone3]More worthy of note are Glasgow’s young grungy three-piece, Biffy Clyro.  After kicking up a storm a couple of years back on the T Break stage, they’re welcomed to their NME slot by an impressive army of devote Clyro-ites.  Presumably this notable presence of support settles any potential nerves, allowing a free-flowing set which ranges from delicate emo, through almost Tool-like prog stylings, to monstrous hardcore punk.  Definitely a surprise highlight on a day whose line-up already promises so much.

[l-zone4]Next to the King Tut’s stage, where we look forward to some quirky, guitar-led Japanese electronica with Cornelius.  An over-long delay during sound-check actually works in his favour – allowing more curious punters time to find a spot, and when Cornelius’ diminutive silhouette appears shining through the white sheet hiding the stage, everyone guesses this might just be something a bit special. 

[r-zone5]While executing a playful ditty on his guitar, Cornelius is seen to point at an imaginary spot on the sheet, out of which (as if by magic!) single words appear.  “Be…Here….Now…..Cornelius” is spelt out, which earns a few giggles and manages, quite brilliantly, to dispel any feelings of alienation or unfamiliarity and sets the scene for a real treat of a show. 

Decked out in The Hives’ black shirts and white ties, Cornelius and his band begin their set, surprisingly, as a kind of Spacehog/Soulwax hybrid, before settling into more accustomed territory with alt.dance classics such as “Drop”.  Less tender on the ears is Green Velvet, whose relentless techno show-off routine pleases those in the Slam tent no end. 

It’s not long before “Answering Machine” revs up the revellers, and is especially remarkable as Mr Velvet delivers all of the comedy sample phone messages himself.  And of course, the crowd go wild for “La La Land”, which after countless re-releases and remix packages still sounds as fresh and menacing as ever.


[r-zone1]Never ones to disappoint at a festival, Green Day turn up on the main stage in a flurry of warning sirens and dive straight into a new track, possibly something from their forthcoming “Shenanigans” compilation of b-sides and rarities, and simply don’t look back till their equipment is in a smouldering mess scattered across the stage.  You know the score by now; Billie-Joe hollers and we copy him, a brass couplet in bumble-bee suits arrive for “King For A Day”, and audience members are randomly selected for an impromptu jam.  It’s nothing new and they’ve been doing this for years, but in all honestly, who could demand a change in a routine which is so obviously enjoyable for crowd and band alike?

[l-zone2]Things aren’t quite so peachy, however, for The Beta Band, who seem to be having a bit of an off-day over on the NME stage.  Their usually mesmerising blend of space-indie seems to be getting lost somewhere between the imminently setting sun and the beer tent, and you really have to feel sorry for the Fifers whose stunning visuals would have been infinitely more effective in a festival side-stage. 

[r-zone3]Currently though, ‘seminal’ New York guitar-fiends Sonic Youth are engaging that particular spot, and ripping the King Tut’s tent several new entrances while they’re at it.  An almost classics-free set still blows away most of today’s competition, and leaves Mercury Rev with the unenviable task of following them.  And surprise surprise, the ‘Rev accomplish this with aplomb, living up to (and then some) their recently acquired reputation of brilliant bastards in the live setting.  Their newer material seems to have come of age too, with drama-queen “The Dark Is Rising” squaring up to all-time classic “Goddess on a Highway” and coming away relatively unscathed.

[l-zone4]Today’s late burst of sunshine seems to have brought out the best in our performers, as even the occasionally dull Doves are on top form.  After spotting Jimi Goodwin maniacally grinning his way around the festival arena,  it comes as no surprise when his band begin a stunning set with forthcoming single-fantastic “Pounding” and Top 3 biggie “There Goes The Fear”.  Possibly overcome with emotion, possibly drunk (probably both), Goodwin then issues a heartfelt token of thanks to the crowd, dismissing those at their previous night’s home-town show with New Order as “fucking pedestrian”, and approving of the “waves of happiness” we be sending his way.  “We’re hearin’ ya, Manc dude'”, responds the T crowd, and they all rocked on late into the night, before, naturally, living happily ever after.

[r-zone5]And so it’s down to the Chemical Brothers to finish us off for another year, and what a sterling job they make of it too.  “It Began In Afrika” has to be the best single ever without an actual tune (seriously, what would the ringtone sound like?), and predictably it rocks T in the Park till the empty bottles of Buckfast at everyone’s feet start shimmying along too.  Standing behind what looks like a Virgin Megastore counter, Tom and Ed rattle their way through “Block Rockin’ Beats” before the last half hour takes on a more ambient feel, where their striking video stills create for them a decidedly kingly scene. 

Then “Star Guitar” sneaks up on us for a few final moments of mayhem before they’re off into the sunset, and, sadly, so are we.  If next year’s tenth anniversary comes anything close to the sunburnt madness of 2002, then, frankly, you’d be mad to miss it.  And with many of the UK’s festivals taking on a bland, corporate feel, T in the Park remains unique – in its audience, its consistent usage of frequently great wildcard acts, and the festival experience as a whole.  So all hail the big red T – you know it makes sense.