Our arrival at Oxegen on day three is greeted by an unfortunate but rather hilarious queue of 300 people for the ATM near the Red Bull skate ramp. After three days of booze, food and more booze, it’s obviously taken its toll on wallets as well as bodies too. There is plenty of energy about the place however and you sense people are looking for an outlet.
When MGMT take to the stage it becomes obvious where the gathered are going to deposit that energy. The tent is full with many rows of people standing outside, looking in and many are arguing with the security. The band playing the last date of their European tour, jam good versions of some album tracks; some of it very prog like ‘4th Dimensional Transition’ and ‘The Handshake’ but the assembled are loving it and the exuberance is catching on. Then, it happens. Some people get the bright idea of scaling the large metal pillars holding up the canopy. (Photos at Lili Forberg’s blog) The band realise what is happening and decide to stop the show to encourage people down. One girl who clearly can’t contain herself inside the tent anymore climbs most of the way up. There are shouts of encouragement and shouts of dismay. She climbs a good 25 metres to the very top of the canopy and suddenly disappears under the fold. Organisers frantically call on her to come down. Eventually, she does to the sound of boos. It’s a scary moment for many. The band return and play ‘Electric Feel’, ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Kids’ to a by-now frenzied audience. An experience.
Later on, in the same cursed Pet Sounds tent, RÃ“ISÃN MURPHY is about to play. Of all the stages, the Pet Sounds has the most gremlins with 4 out of 5 shows witnessed this year striking an impressive sound balance between shit and crap. Murphy has one of the most captivating voices going. Take her acoustic Choice Music Prize performance. Powerful stuff. As her band start to play and her two backing singers lunge around the stage, she arrives and begins to sing. We place the sound shitometer at 7 and try to get into the set. The vibe is disco and electro with a full band. There were songs from Ruby Blue and Overpowered as well as the old Moloko track ‘Forever More’. ‘You Know me Better’ was a clear highlight. Murphy ever the style diva, changed costumes throughout. A great show but the mediocre sound seriously hampered enjoyment of her voice.
As Oxegen comes thundering to a close, the big hitters are giving one final blast – from the frantic energy of the main stage to the CHEMICAL BROS‘ blinding lights. Where does that leave the New Bands stage, home to some of the weekend’s most memorable moments? In the hands of seven Welsh school kids and a hundred or so punters it appears. LOS CAMPESINOS! could be forgiven for thinking that they’ve drawn the short straw on this one but they are so utterly charming, so spirited that you cannot help but be swept along by it all, particularly when they power into -You! Me! Dancing!’. It feels like a fitting way to end the weekend, watching an exciting young band in the company of so few. This was the year when Oxegen finally got the balance right, pulling in the major names but underpinning the event with the new and the interesting, the hidden gems that keep you coming back. And we will be back. See you next year.
Can you live without Kate Nash? She was rubbish.
Additional Reportage: Phil Udell.
Photos (by James Goulden)
Band of Horses
We Are Scientists