Apart from the mighty colossus that is T-in-the Park, Scotland’s festival season can seem a little sparse.
While there may be plenty of action for the corduroys and arran jumper brigade, real chances to hear contemporary music while enjoying the splendour of Scotland’s unique weather are still a little thin on the ground.
Rock Ness makes a decent stab at addressing this issue. Started in 2006 as a one-day event organised by Norman Cook, it managed to attract around 20,000 people who
came to enjoy Carl Cox, Mylo and a storming set from the Fatboy himself. After the bad press that his Brighton 2002 event attracted, Cook’s recent outdoor events have all been five figure functions, a crowd size and vibe that he seems happier with.
There’s no Norman this year, though. Instead the festival has expanded to become a two-day event, with a decent mix of big names from both dance and rock music. With over 70 acts spread across four stages, the festival is making a strong play to establish itself as more than just a dance music ‘happening.’ The emphasis of this year’s lineup seems to be on providing guaranteed crowd-pleasers, without stirring things up too much.
In practice, this means that you get big rock names near the top of the bill on both Saturday and Sunday. The Charlatans , fresh from propping up The Who as they toil around the country’s outdoor stadia are a solid proposition live, and another outing for The Only One I Know will keep the fringed-but-receding oldies in the audience happy. The Manic Street Preachers will drive extremely quickly from Reading. The Manics are the very model of the modern intelligent stadium rock band, and they’re likely to end the second day on a real high.
The big guns of dance are out in force as well though with The Chemical Brothers headlining the main stage on Saturday and Daft Punk going head-to-head with the Manics on Sunday as they headline The Clash Arena. We are not alone in our deep desire to see Daft Punk rock the Ness with their robot helmets bobbin’along, and with The Chemicals going after The Charlatans, could we see Tim Burgess joining the Brothers on their 1995 collaboration, Life Is Sweet? Here’s hoping.
But what of more esoteric fripperies? The festival has a dance tent which will be themed differently over the two days. On Saturday, Belgian mash-up kings Soulwax don their 2 Many DJs personas and headline the Radio Soulwax arena. Helping them along are Justice, DJ Yoda and Erol Alkan, all of whom have enjoyed some fast and furious dance-rock cross-pollination of late.
On the Sunday, the incomparable finery that is Rob Da Bank will give festive-goers a little slice of his Isle of Wight shindig, as Bestival becomes Nesstival for a day. A man who understands how to run a Sunday gathering, Rob will be headlining, and chilled tent-goers will be entertained by strong cocktails, bizarre dress codes and the likes of Twitch from Optimo, Kissy Sell Out and the storming Filthy Dukes.
Let’s not forget Kelis, The Automatic or Groove Armada. We’re already salivating. Add to this an attempt by bookmaker William Hill to produce definitive evidence of Nessie’s existence by handing out 50,000 cameras to eager ticket holders, and the weekend sounds like a real goer. Just imagine it – Rock and Science, in perfect harmony. We’re probably more likely to get 50,000 pictures of portaloos, takeaway noodles, and badly-applied henna tattoos, though. And maybe some bands too.