Worn down, but not worn through by the previous days events we headed to the festival site at 6pm after a lazy day of picnics on hotel steps and the ever-present sea glowing blue and fresh. Entering the venue under blazing suns, shade was the first option in mind. Moments later we scurried forth through the crowds of the hungover or repairing, to find a spot for Disappears. Two weeks prior they had played at Revolver, a sold out show that still gets mentions these days when out on town amongst attendees.
The band played in full direct sunlight. Something I wouldn’t wish on my worst NME. I later found out that Brian almost fainted during the set. No wonder. Still, the band managed to ward off the exhaustion from a long tour, and the imminent oven-bake moment and produce a good show. Only slightly strange was the fact that they played on the main stage. It’s a lot of space to fill for a four-piece with two twin reverbs, an ampeg stack and a drum-kit.
Next up was the dapper-brit that the two girls from some London publication were swooning over. Apparently he was in a band with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys previously, honestly I didn’t give a shit, we sat and watched a bit of it on the TV in the press area, the only remotely interesting thing about his set being the slight delay from the send so his voice was about 3 seconds earlier than it was on the screen.
It was time for the pensioner to take to the stage next. Mr Bob Dylan. Godfather of popular music with more classics under his belt than all the bands at Benicassim put together. A legend. A man capable of still putting on a great show, but also of completely underwhelming if the mood is not right. I ventured out into the pit which was full to bursting with sunburnt girls and men scoffing hotdogs in one mouthful, marinating them with a bit of beer for good luck. Bob entered the stage with his impeccable suit and hat and took his place near the front at a keyboard to start “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat”.
As is his tendency, the song was a lot faster than on the album and it probably took most people until the chorus to realize which song it was. I was stuck in a group of young people who were talking louder than Bob was singing through a huge PA, a drunk 7 foot tall giant stood behind me blowing cigarette smoke on my neck (when I turned around he gave me that look of “Do we have a problem here?”). There were girls slinkily dancing along to slow blues versions of acoustic songs. Sadly enough Bob deserved to be experienced in different surroundings, so I didn’t want to spoil the show by watching him getting increasingly irritated at being bumped and pushed and anointed with beer, so I left to get some food and leave the crowd to sing him to bed.
Little Dragon were up over at the Trident Sense stage (complete with girl giving away gum like a madwoman throwing them all over in ninja-star arcs). I saw the band last month at the newly started Kollen Festival in Oslo and was unmoved. Remarkably enough, they managed to draw the same reaction. Mid-show an Englishman in a hat and Sunderland shirt came bouncing my way looking like he was about to hit me, he reached his arm out with cigarette lit and pointed at my Germs T-shirt and shouted “Mate, they fookin made my teens. Luv em”. Relieved I said cheers, shook his hand and he stumbled back to his mate who looked perplexed as he no doubt tried to explain his connection to the band. Little Dragon, like most Swedish bands, manage to compress a huge amount of energy and stage persona into a musical experience that is completely limp and lifeless. I think its endemic in Sweden to create middle-of-the-road music. No real edge. Just happy, upbeat, poppy music to get the punters dancing. Fair does. Not my cup of PG.
On the way back to recover in the quiet of the VIP area we stopped in to watch the first two songs of Django Django. A band who after playing their first song I sincerely hoped hadn’t lifted their name as a sort of homage to Django Reinhardt, one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He would turn in his grave if that was the case. Yet another band, bred, polished, fashioned by the British musical elite and churned out to endlessly tour while their name is on everyones lips only to fall back into complete obscurity when the next crop of youngsters pop up to refresh the dying curtails of the previous band. Its a continual circus, trying to keep up with all the names and songs of bands that dress alike, sound alike, sing alike and yet cause such rabid attention from fans and media as though they are a revelation waiting to explode.
Invariably the bands influences are far too recognizable, they bring nothing new to the plate and only further insult the bands they ripped off by playing their songs to a crowd too young to have heard of the forefathers. I guess that is the state of music these days in the overground, a constant changing of the guards to keep the front pages popping with new Pete Doherty look-a-likes. I’ll just sit in a dark corner with a nice glass of Brunelo and listen to some Jacques Brel if thats okay with you, maybe that makes me the ultimate snob, but i’ll take it any day over yet another hipster band.