T In The Park 2008: Pet Sounds Arena
The definitive guide to the weekend's classic acts
Graeme Johnston - 14 July 2008
Few fans decide to start their Saturday with The Whigs in the Pet Sounds Arena, but those who do are treated to an impressive early volley of grunge. Hit 'Like a Vibration' go down a treat, and the band seems chuffed to get their shot.
Tom Baxter appears in great spirits for a man who nearly wasn't here. Minutes before going on stage he tells me, with a smile, about the 9-hour ordeal he had with a bus that broke down, before cheerily adding: "It should be great fun. We always get good gigs up here." He and his band go on to tease out pleasant noises from Irish folk to flamenco for a delighted older crowd, the big highlight being 'Skybound'.
No act too unusual for T, it's straight-laced Will Young's turn to break in his festival wellies. The Pop Idol winner doesn't need to win over anyone here, as he entertains a huge mob of his own fans with a Scotland-themed set including The Proclaimers' '500 Miles' and 'Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond'.
Ex-Test Icicle man Dev Hynes treats his army of followers to 'Galaxy of the Lost', 'Midnight Surprise' and even a brilliant version of the Star Wars theme under his latest guise Lightspeed Champion. He can't resist a dig at Will Young, and cheekily laughs off the chorus of boos.
Whipping out an accordion and double-neck guitars, The Hold Steady's unusual brand of rock n roll lights up the Pet Sounds Arena. The crowd warm up their singing voices by helping the band on 'Sequestered in Memphis' and make a point of thanking the crowd for their great welcome.
MGMT singer Andrew Van Wyndgarden takes the easy route of winning over fans, draping himself in a saltire to roars from onlookers. When their keyboardist opines "Scotland are the best", the job is done, and it's left to powerful prog-pop 'Kids' to truly seal the deal.
American indie boys Band Of Horses pick out their tight Southern rock melodies to decent reception, songs like 'Is There A Ghost?' eliciting cheers. While not as good as MGMT, the band do well with a fun set of top tunes.
A surprisingly sparse crowd meets singer-songwriter Ben Folds who, un-phased, plays a blinding selection of his greatest tunes. Everything from sentimental 'Annie Wakes' and upbeat favourite 'Rockin' The Suburbs' delight the fans, who roar and cheer like it was God himself behind the piano.
To compete with any headliner is tough, but when that band are newly-reformed rock legends Rage Against The Machine, few would argue that Interpol don't have to seek their battle. The Pet Sounds Arena treats them well though, a full compliment of punters ready to fuel their set. The impressive light show demonstrates that Interpol are certainly big enough to compete with the best, while the screams for 'Slow Hands' and 'Obstacle 1' suggest fans are happy with their choice of headliner. An encore of 'Rest My Chemistry' rounds off a top performance.
With Led Zeppelin riffs as big as Robert Plant's hair, it's easy to see why My Morning Jacket are the band Dave Grohl described as the greatest live act on the planet. Their mesmerising set is enjoyed by all present, so frontman Jim James takes the chance to preach peace - he tells us that he's wearing the International Peace Belt, which has toured the world for over a year. Magic.
Experimental rock nutters Battles bring the sort of set up that makes the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon look basic. All manner of cables, buttons, computers and switches conspire with drums and guitar to make a sound that's truly stunning. 'Atlas' is received like rain in a drought, massive grins spreading through the crowd – an early contender for this stage's band of the day.
Seasick Steve has lived on the streets of America, travelled as a hobo, worked as a carnie and cowboy and lived in 56 houses over 25 years of marriage - to say that this old character has a story or two up his dungarees is an understatement. His whisky-soaked voice travels across the Pet Sounds Arena as he preaches his stuff - practically whistling through the gaps in his teeth. A brilliant set of classic sounding blues.
The National's 'Boxer' was acclaimed by many as one of the best albums of last year and the chance to hear it live proves popular with trendy fans packing in to Pet Sounds to sing along to picks from the brilliant record.
Darlings of the trendy media Hot Chip need no hype tonight. Fans fight for space as they wait to hear renditions of the Brit electro-pop band's critically applauded back catalogue. With tracks from 'Coming On Strong', 'The Warning' and 'Made In The Dark' their set is a delight, peaking with the big singles 'Boy from School' and 'Over and Over'.
Originally in an early afternoon slot, Brian Jonestown Massacre have been bumped up to headline and stride out with all the confidence of a band with nothing to prove. They ply their neo-psychedelic rock artfully, lead by the vision and presence of main man Anton Newcombe. Dark songs such as 'The Ballad of Jim Jones' show that the moody troop are as influenced Rolling Stone Brian Jones as they are by the Jonestown Massacre and the macabre. For the casual onlooker there's nothing here to keep from making the short walk to see arguably Britain's finest band in The Prodigy, but for hardcore fans its a treat
and a fine end to a great weekend of Pet Sounds Action.