by Gillian Wood
We weren’t going to tell you anything about this festival. The reasons for this being:
1. The location
2. The size
3. The line up
4. The food
5. The whiskey tent
6. The rugged men in kilts and woolen jumpers…..
Then we thought perhaps that was a little unfair, but you see England has its fair share of great festivals, Glastonbury, Reading, V, Bestival, Isle of Wight etc, and yes we know Scotland has T in the Park, but Connect was just really, really brilliant. It’s run by DF Concerts, the same promoters that put on T in the Park. Billed as ‘a boutique’ festival, and yes that instantly conjures up images of ‘yummy mummys’, ‘Kate Moss types’ and ‘skinny jean wearing men of a certain age who shouldn’t be wearing skinny jeans’, but it just wasn’t the case.
The festival felt like a private party. It seemed that most of Glasgow had de-camped to Inverary for the weekend. We met and saw so many people that we knew (and some that we really wished we didn’t…). On the Friday night we positioned ourselves in front of the sound desk and watched the Beastie Boys whilst making new friends….
“Yous are students’
“Aye yous are”
“No really we both work”
“London! Oh noooo yous English then???”
“NOOOO! We’re Scottish! But live in London”
“Rightttt fecking students”
“Ah, right, doin whit?”
“Uhm teach….and work at BBC Radio 3”
“Radio 3, ha ha ha ha etc that’s thon station that naebody listens to, a dinae get that classical stuff”
“Really? No you should listen its good you might like it”
“Aye? Naw a cannae smoke an listen to classical stuff”
“Why not? Mozart and a smoke sounds lovely…”
“Aye right! Classical music, smokin’, mental students yous are!”
We gave up. We conceded that yes we were students….
So now I must tell you about the most important thing at this festival: (other than the music) the food. Visualise a large marquee with wooden logs in the centre for sitting on and around the edges stalls with people selling oysters, fresh mussels in white wine and cream sauce with huge chunks of bread, massive lamb burgers made from local lamb, Aberdeen Angus beef, kippers and fresh porridge for breakfast, sticky toffee pudding, salads, Cullen Skink (soup made from smoked fish and potatoes) and fresh coffee and tea (for £1 hooray). As you may have realised, I like my food. I am not a nice person if I don’t get to eat and eat well…The idea of selling local produce at a music festival was brilliant; I hate crap over priced festival food. And, to make things even better the local produce continued next door: oh yes, over 100 whiskeys lined the walls. After perusing the menu and numerous recommendations from the knowledgeable barmen we felt it was our duty to try at least two whiskeys a day. Lovely.
Ah yes, the music. As well as the Beastie Boys on Friday, Primal Scream headlined on Saturday and finally Bjork on the Sunday. On top of that Mogwai, Sons and Daughters, MIA, Bat for Lashes, Regina Spector, Nouvelle Vague, Jesus and Mary Chain, LCD Sound System and Teenage Fanclub were just some of the people performing. The line up was refreshingly free of the current glut of so called “indie” guitar bands; who have become the staple diet of so many of the established festivals in recent years.
The highlight for me was Bjork. Perhaps this is an obvious choice, but amongst such a strong line-up you would be hard pushed to choose a favourite. Being quite a small festival (16 000), created a feeling of intimacy (if you have been to any larger festivals, Glastonbury for example, you should know what I mean). We watched Bjork from the front of the sound desk (where we’d watched the Beastie Boys) and she was amazing. As a performer she demands your attention: moving constantly all the over stage.
Sons and Daughters were another highlight. Hailing from Glasgow, it was brilliant to see them performing in front of a welcoming local crowd. Maybe I am a little biased, but I felt really quite proud realising how many of the bands performing were from Scotland. Teenage Fanclub (affectionately known as the Fannys to their fans) played an excellent set, as did the seismic Mogwai. Primal Scream played to an excited crowd although Bobby Gillespie was less than impressed when a bottle hit him. He challenged its owner to come up on stage and retrieve it (wisely, they didn’t). MIA, towards the end of her set, invited a couple of people up on stage: at least the first 5 or 6 rows joined her…. security was a little overwhelmed….. the technicians on stage looked a little up-set…. the sound was cut….a few pale, if well toned, Scottish behinds were displayed to the crowd….her set was cut short.
As well as the main stages there was the Speak Easy Tent which had unsigned acoustic acts performing, talks by authors and stand up comediennes as well as giant board games (Empire State Jenga and dinner plate sized Connect 4), newspapers and assorted soft things to sit on. Not to be outdone they also had a café, once again focused on homemade and wholesome fare.
Oh and did I mention the spa offering massages for £10, manicures, facials, or the tepee which you could lie down in and sleep or read newspapers, or the glade with a tree swing and DJ’s playing some of the funkiest music I’ve heard in a long time (put it this way I danced till about 1am and I don’t do dancing….), the Silent Disco or the fact that you could wander down into the town of Inverary and look out across Loch Fyne and the mountains then go and have tea (again!), scones and jam in little tea rooms complete with proper tea cups and grannies.
Yes, it was an amazing festival. Book your tickets now (but please don’t tell too many sassernacks….heh heh).