Following The Black Keys on the main stage are the band being touted as many people’s highlight of the festival so far come Friday night. Though perhaps this accolade is easier received in circumstances which saw Vampire Weekend as one of the only bands some saw on the opening day of Oxegen 2010. Taking to the stage in the late afternoon looking chipper and upbeat as they bound around the stage Vampire Weekend are intent on keeping the quickly expanding crowd in high spirits in spite of the profound downturn in the weather. ‘Summer’s not just about being warm, it’s about having FUN’ proclaims lead singer Ezra Koenig as he and his comrades belt through a mixture of tracks from recent album Contra and their debut. The best danceoffs are kept for ‘Cousins’ and ‘Holiday’ and ‘Giving up the Gun’, with ‘Blake’s Got a New Face’ getting the hearty sing-a-long required and desired. An hour in the rain does little to hinder Vampire Weekend’s fun and the festival goers in their short shorts are on the same vibe.
Over in the Heineken Green Spheres tent a hefty crowd is gathering, and looking out from the canopy it is as yet unclear whether they are here for the shelter or for here for The Coral, but the cheers, claps and surge to the front when the band arrive onstage happily confirm the latter as they open with early hit ‘Goodbye’. Their sixties infused folkpop keeps the punters bopping along to the likes of ‘In the Morning and Pass It On’. One is left wondering however, if The Coral have given their best as ‘Dreaming of You’ from their debut album remains the highlight of their set and gets the best crowd reaction in an otherwise fun but unremarkable set.
We have little time to ponder this further as the psychedelic affair this evening in the Heineken Green Spheres tent continues with Empire Of The Sun. What they lack in quality tunes they endeavour to make up for with theatrics and take a more visual approach to their performance. Taking Fancy Dress Friday to the limit the duo appear on stage with 10 or 20 of their best friends clad in an ever-changing array of spandex leotards, blond wigs and masks that get fiercer as their set progresses, culminating in pointy-nosed Slipknot-esque grotesquery. The rock n roll antics onstage continue throughout culminating in a guitar being smashed and thrown into the audience halfway through the set! The tent starts to empty as Jay-Z is scheduled to take to the main stage but the duo aren’t deterred, leaving and returning with a dance troupe of geisha girls for an encore of ‘Walking on a Dream’, their only standout track from the evening.
It is left to Fatboy Slim to close proceedings on the Vodafone Stage for the evening. Arriving around 11ish his AV setup welcomes him with ominous crashing thunder clouds and lightning, very apt for the weekend that’s in it! He runs onstage, arms in the air and launches into a set that features the best of his back catalogue mixed with the best the weekend’s acts have to offer, as he whips the massive crowd into an Oxegen-themed mass of dancing happiness. Everyone worships at the alter of Fatboy Slim as the screens announce soundbites and self-help mantras centred on the hedonistic excesses the like of which this weekend is already in full swing in offering and Fatboy proves he’s still got it.