RockNess saw a culmination of Britain’s finest bands, along with a few surprise acts from further afield, playing on the banks of Loch Ness for three nights of sensational music. As is to be expected of Scotland, the weather was changeable, and varied as much as the music gracing the crowds.
For me, the best music of the weekend came courtesy of Vintage Trouble, Lissie, We Are Scientists, Two Door Cinema Club and Paolo Nutini. However, this will also forever be known as the weekend in which I discovered what Dubstep was, and that I really liked it, courtesy of Magnetic Man. Where other DJ sets succeeded in sounding great, the entertainment factor was missing whereas Magnetic Man had this.
Two Door Cinema Club remarked “This was a great start to our festival season” and Frightened Rabbit claimed that their summer was being spent writing new material and being selective about the festivals they attend. These were my two bands of the weekend, with the former performing Do You Want It All and Come Back Home and the latter rocking a mix of songs from albums The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. Particular favourites were Heads Roll Off, The Modern Leper and Living In Colour.
It would be unfair not to mention other festival favourites Glasvegas. I didn’t appreciate the attitude lead singer James Allan gave off, but was intrigued by their female drummer who stands up when performing. The crowd responded to Euphoria and Daddy’s Gone and sang most of their songs back to them.
Rather unsurprisingly, Paolo Nutini’s headlining set was what I will always remember from this festival. A mixture of acoustic solo songs, brassy backing band tracks such as 10/10, then totally unique cover versions of Hot Chip’s Over and Over, and MGMT’s Time To Pretend left me fully in awe of his versatility. Headlining his first ever festival, Paolo had the whole crowd dancing from start to finish, foiling the notion that only young girls follow him obsessively!
No RockNess review could ever be complete without a mention of the dance origins with which this festival was founded. DJs including Zane Lowe and Mark Ronson appeared, along with Jamie XX, Example, Simian Mobile Disco and of course, The Chemical Brothers; Saturday headliners. They stole the show from The Cribs, who made lots of jokes about forgetting their laptops for RockNess!
Friday night saw Kasabian hit the stage. Their set ran without flaw, and included LSD and Underdog among others. The reaction to their performance was as expected; they never disappoint. Elsewhere across the weekend, Two Door Cinema Club delivered a killer set with previews from their new album Tourist History, whilst the sun also fought its way through the clouds making way for Motown-esque sounds from Vintage Trouble.
Unlike T In The Park, I felt less conflicted over the bands I wanted to see at RockNess, and you could easily wander between the Main Stage and Goldenvoice Tent and feel very close to the band/act at all times. Five years on, RockNess is very much the festival to watch out for and is easily the most beautiful backdrop to some of the best music I’ve ever heard. It really doesn’t get better than sitting in the countryside, listening to great music with the sun setting behind the hills and meeting such lovely people.