T in the Park 2014 got off to a scorching start yesterday with the temperatures both on- and offstage soaring sky-high.
Setting an early pace on the Radio 1 Stage was Foxes, the Southampton-born pop diva known to her mum as Louisa Rose Allen. Ahead of a busy autumn – a European tour with Pharrell, a hush-hush role on the upcoming series of Doctor Who – she was the perfect example of the T star of tomorrow: a buzzed-about artist getting a big-stage leg-up, and leaving Scotland with the enthusiastic applause ringing in her ears.
As the happy crowds toasted in the sunshine, there was another toast on the Main Stage. Imagine Dragons, returning to T after a triumphant debut last year, were a T-time tea-time hit. And forewarned is forearmed: having been here a year ago, the Las Vegas band knew exactly the kind of thing that sets the heather on fire at Balado. They played a barnstorming cover of The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Job done.
Into a glorious early evening, and the thrills kept coming. Ed Sheeran has been to T before, but only as a guest of Snow Patrol. His long-awaited full debut at the festival was one reason for the rapturous reception afforded the red-hot troubadour; the brilliant, singalong songs from his + and x albums was the other.
This was a masterclass in crowd-pleasing entertainment from the one-man-and-his guitar phenomenon, with Sheeran artfully co-opting the T-patented “here we… here we… here we f–ing go” chant into a chorus in his set. Upcoming single Don’t was a punchy anthem-in-waiting. Album track I’m A Mess, receiving its big-gig debut, was his emotional, confessional songwriting at its best.
There was more emotion in the King Tut’s tent. Manic Street Preachers were pumping out the hits from their storied back catalogue, sounding as punchy as they ever did on their multiple previous appearances at T in the Park. PCP, You Stole The Sun From My Heart, Everything Must Go – the Welshmen were on unstoppable, hit-playing form.
All that said and no disrespect, there was only one band to whom the opening day of T 2014 belonged. With a full moon hanging poetically in the sky, Biffy Clyro stormed the Main Stage, and stormed the hearts of the festival masses. It was a record-breaking tenth T appearance for the Ayrshire trio, and there could have been no better band to close Friday. Different People, That Golden Rule, The Captain – rousingly sung belters all, and that was only the first three songs. Little wonder that there were tears aplenty down the front row. T’s favourite sons had come home.
By the time they finished close to midnight – a bagpiper for Stingin’ Belle, fireworks for Mountains – Biffy Clyro had done the unthinkable: knocked their previous nine performances out of the Park. Simply astonishing, simply Scotland’s greatest rock band. ’Mon the Biff.
BACKSTAGE CHATS FROM DAY 1 OF T IN THE PARK
FEATURING FOXES, CHVRCHES, ROYAL BLOOD, WOLF ALICE, JOSH RECORD AND RALEIGH RITCHIE
“I’m going to Sweden as soon as I leave here. Getting a flight tonight from Edinburgh the staying at a hotel at Heathrow, getting up at 3am…
“I knew that T in the Park crowds that were well up for it. I did play here last year, with Rudimental, so it’s really nice to be here doing my own set. It feels like a nice progression. Last year was, like, aggressive fun, and amazing – we did the song Right Here, which I wrote with them. But we didn’t get a chance to party; we were rushing off somewhere here. But I would love to. I feel like if you’re gonna party at any festival, this would be the one. And as this is the last one at Balado, people are gonna go in. It’s gonna be massive.
“But there’s a bit of a sadness, isn’t there? I really do think T is the best organised festival around. It’s really clean, everyone’s on top of everything. It just feels so nice. Good vibes. But next year’s site sounds really nice too.
“I just came off the Bastille arena tour in Australia, and that was really brilliant. So this is a big change, and the Pharrell tour I’m supporting on this autumn will be another big change. I just feel like a big yoyo, but it’s all good practice. I find when I’m gigging a lot I’m the best I can be at my game. It’s nice to ride through the summer doing loads of festivals, then into the Pharrell tour.
“Pharrell’s got a really clear vision of what he wants to do. I reckon he’s all about putting good messages out there. It is incredible. When I watched him last weekend, I loved his message about giving women power back – he doesn’t have to do that, and it’s great. Not many people are putting great messages out there. But he’s someone who’s trying to use where he is in his career for a good thing. I really like that.
“I’m going to be in Japan when my episode of Doctor Who broadcasts, which will be weird. It was one day filming, and yes, I’m singing. It’s not a song off the album – but you’re making me nervous, I think the producers are here at T, watching me. I’m a big fan of it, so it’s a mental thing.
“Everyone thinks I made up the story of how I got on the show, but I didn’t. I was in Liverpool doing a show, and behind me was a Doctor Who conference, and I basically blagged my way around. My grandma really loves it too, so I thought I had to do it for her. So I got round there and I got talking to some people who it turned out were the producers. And then they saw my show, and two or three weeks later they called and said: we’d love to have you on the show, and to do a song for the show. How mad is that? And I just think that stuff is all good fun, and it’s nothing that’s gonna interfere with what I’m doing. And it involves music – it’s not like I just went on the show and tried to act. I probably wouldn’t have done that. ’Cause I can’t!
“Before we play tonight, my band and I are doing a Nineties rave – we always do that before we go onstage. It’s brilliant; gets you right in the mood. And they always have chocolate profiteroles here, which they don’t have at any other festival. So I’m gonna raid catering. And I’d love to see Paolo Nutini but I don’t think I’ll have time. Then I’m gonna go on a ride. And I’m gonna try do some crowd… surfing!
“And next year I’d love to come back to the new site. Main Stage, tea time – just a little bit further up the bill. Edging it. That would be nice. Give it to me, T!”
Martin Doherty (keyboards): “I played here one time with The Twilight Sad, maybe 2010. The conditions were much like this – we played in an outdoor stage, and it was the one of the first years of the BBC Introducing Stage. And it was a much bigger crowd than we were expecting. It was really, really good. And before that I came as a punter, to see the Manics. And it was the year that them and Blur headlined – and Blur played 13 from start to finish. It was outstanding. I was just a pup, and I camped, of course. No festival anywhere in the world has a campsite that goes off like that. But the whole festival is the same. We were talking about this on the way up here – I used to think all festivals were like T. Then I thought all UK festivals were like T. And then I realised – there’s no festival anywhere like T.”
Iain Cook (keyboards) “Aerogramme never played here. Oh, no, wait – they did. They played here just before I joined, on the second stage. But I was just along as a cheerleader. I didn’t get to play here until we did it last year.”
Lauren Mayberry (singer): “We played on the Transmissions Stage, so slightly smaller than this year. But it went down alright and the turn out was pretty good, which is all you can hope for when you’re up against so much competition. And before that I worked here for a couple of years, and I came once when I was younger. I worked for the BBC as production runner, and then once I was interviewing the bands that were doing BBC Introducing.”
Iain: “Playing T in the Park is a massive honour and I guess a rite of passage for Scottish bands. Especially because it’s the festival that most of them have grown up with, and that everybody talks about. It’s a fantastic festival.”
Martin: “This is one of the nicest spots that you’ll get at any festival. Coachella is cool but it’s all spread out. But this is tight. And of course you make friends with bands along the way if you do a summer of festivals, like we did last year. So it’s a chance to bump into all the folk that you bump into once a weekend from July to September.”
Iain: “I can’t wait to see Biffy’s headline set. That’ll be something quite spectacular. There’s a lot of anticipation for that; it’ll be like a homecoming.”
Lauren: “There’s a lot of decent stuff on T Break and BBC Introducing. And Haim are always good for a kick-ass rock show. And we’ll be back on Sunday to see The Twilight Sad in the King Tut’s Tent. We’ve managed to wangled our way back – it’s a cushy weekend for us. Last year we had to run away straight after.”
Martin: “We’re getting this enjoyable weekend to make up for last year at this time. It was absolutely mental. We played then went straight to Nimes, then drove all over to do four shows with Depeche Mode, then came back for other festivals. We literally didn’t stop for a month.”
Mike Kerr (singer, guitarist): “We’ve never been here before. All we knew was that it was on TV. And that I always wanted to go on that Ferris wheel, ’cause that looked like a good one.”
Ben Thatcher (drums): “It actually looks like a really nice festival.”
Mike: “Yeah, it actually isn’t what I thought it was. The setting of it feels so beautiful.”
Ben: “It’s more peaceful.”
Mike: “But maybe we’re under false impressions as we’re in the backstage areas and it’s all freshly cut grass.
Ben: “Festivals have been my favourite to do as a band. You get meet other bands, you get to meet old friends. It’s just so much fun.”
Mike: “I kinda feel like we’re naturally suited to the festival setting. We pride ourselves on being a live band, even with our recordings. For us it’s like a home game. But we can’t hang about much as we’re playing with Arctic Monkeys in Dublin tomorrow. So we’re gonna have to drive off in that direction for a bit, then stop and sleep.”
Ben: “We’d love to say ’cause we want to see Biffy. We’ll be in a layby eating a Ginster’s pasty by the time they come on. But Drenge are playing a little bit before us – we’ll see a bit of them. But we’ve heard that next year’s T in the Park site is a beautiful grounds. Although this is pretty nice I have to say.”
Theo Ellis (bass player): “All we knew of T in the Park was that it was an all-out rock’n’roll festival in an airstrip and/or big field in the hills of Scotland. And it was full of partying vibes. And it all seems so harmonious.
Ellie Rowsell (singer): “We’ve seen Haim so far and I really enjoyed them. They were really cool.”
Joel Amey (drummer): “The atmosphere is brilliant. Great vibe, sunny – it’s all you ever want from a big festival.”
Theo: “You can see bands like us who are a little bit more leftfield. You’ve got a big wide choice. A smorgasbord!”
Ellie: “And the backstage is lovely. We’ve been treated so well. And we’ve just had some really nice cheese. But the new site sounds lovely – be great to see more hills in the background. We’ll definitely come back, if we’re invited.”
“Last year we played here and I’d only ever done two gigs before this. So this was my very first festival. And Rita Ora was playing at the same time as us, and as we were standing on our stage, my band and I were going, ‘are they gonna turn this music off? why is this music coming out?’ We didn’t realise that that was the Main Stage music! We’re thinking: ‘it’s strange that they’re playing Rita Ora before us…’
“But the great thing about T in the Park for the artist is that, more than any other festival I’ve been to, it’s got a really good atmosphere backstage. People are talking to each other and chilling out and it’s very relaxing and everyone’s very friendly. But we loved it onstage as well.
“Last year I shared a dressing room with Tyler, The Creator from Odd Future. He actually broke the table tennis... But it was awesome for me. So it’s just nice here – people bring their families to this one. It feels good.
“My favourite non-musical memory from last year was me feeling like I was a 14-year-old boy. My mates were poking me cause I fancy Rita Ora so much and I was trying to speak to her all day. So I was sitting down as close to her dressing room as I possibly could…!
“Last year before T I played on one of the buses to mark the 20th T, at the first site. But it was definitely a moment for me! I remember thinking, this is awesome. And they made me little T in the Park cakes. So it was all good. It’s great to be back here.”
“It was awesome today. Very enthusiastic crowd. It was kinda what I expected from a Scottish crowd, and more. I can’t wait to come back. I hope they ask me back. I used to watch the coverage on TV, but I didn’t know much about it – I didn’t even know it was a camping festival. But this is a really good line-up, a great atmosphere. Some festivals can be a bit… hoity. But this just feels really nice and friendly. So yeah, loved it.
“And this backstage is swanky. Never get this kind of treatment. And the catering! I shouldn’t say this ’cause I don’t want to cause any offence to other festivals, but this has definitely been the best catering I’ve ever had anywhere.
“I’m quite devastated that I don’t have any time to hang about. Next year I’m gonna change that.”
“But the fans were great. There was a guy at the front who was awesome – he knew all the words. And he was trying to learn the words to the new songs. He was fully committing to learning those songs. That’s proper enthusiasm. Scottish enthusiasm! Maybe he was delirious with the heat…
“For anyone new artist who plays next year’s T at the new site, I would tell them: just give in to it. Lose your inhibitions, ‘cause the crowds already seem to have lost theirs. So the least you can do is have a good time with them. This awesome crowd made me want to come back to Scotland as soon as I can. The whole country has won over me!”
T in the Park 2014 tickets are available from www.tinthepark.com or www.ticketmaster.co.uk or 08444 999 990.
T IN THE PARK TICKETS
Ticket type Price (all subject to booking fee)
Saturday day ticket SOLD OUT
Sunday day ticket £82.50
Weekend (no camping) SOLD OUT
Weekend and Camping SOLD OUT
Thursday Weekend and Camping SOLD OUT
VIP Saturday day ticket SOLD OUT
VIP Sunday day ticket Sun SOLD OUT
VIP Weekend (no camping) SOLD OUT
VIP Thursday & Weekend Camping SOLD OUT
VIP Weekend Camping SOLD OUT (access to general campsite)
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