Although the addition of a Friday at Oxegen is undoubtedly a good thing, like last year the first day still feels a bit like a false dawn. Bands are playing to very small crowds, the site itself feels empty and devoid of atmosphere. JAMES do their best to lift proceedings and few are better placed to try. Armed with a selection of ready made anthems, a huge sound and one of the great, unhinged frontmen in Tim Booth they raise the spirits greatly. The kind of status that they enjoyed in their heyday may never be their’s again but they seem happy to be here and we are equally delighted.
This time last year, FIGHT LIKE APES were on the New Bands Stage, about to release ‘Something Global’ and head off on their great adventure. They’ve been on tour pretty much ever since and – at times – the weariness has been evident. Thankfully not today though, as they attack their Heineken Green Spheres set with gusto. Smashing chairs, climbing the staging structure, that sort of thing. We’ve seen their tricks a lot over the past year but they are still effective – May Kay is an icon in the making – and the ever growing crowd respond accordingly, suddenly it feels like we have a festival on our hands. It’s not all perfect; Jamie is tucked away to the side and has an altercation with security that seems to upset him, while if at times they appear to be coasting it’s understandable after two years plus of playing the same songs. They debut two new tracks and the effect on the band is palpable, their energy cranking up a couple of gears. The good news too is that they are both fine things, the second one especially. They sprint for home with ‘Jake Summers’ and leave us in a whirl of chaos, noise and flying instruments. Then they are gone and perversely we hope that it’ll be for a while.
Talking of icons, the arrival of Brody Dall on site seems to have caused huge ripples of excitement, especially amongst the female contingent. Her musical status doesn’t quite seem match her personal one. The Distillers had their moments but never broke out of the US pop punk world and, although SPINNERETTE are attracting positive reviews they find themselves playing to a small crowd on the New Bands Stage. Excitement does not fill the air when State joins them for their final songs. Dall, once a mohican topped ball of energy seems strangely subdued and the band draw out their spot with a fairly tuneless dirge. Given the wind up signal by the stage manager they seem to have misjudged things but still there’s a general feeling of disappointment. Which kind of suits the mood of the day.
Photos courtesy of Heinekenmusic.ie.