Crystal Castles – Heineken Green Spheres Tent
Alice Glass is an absolute lunatic. Tell you something you don’t know, right? Glass comes complete with her own security man to help with front row stability, which Alice needs while she writhes around atop those on the barrier, or bows and shimmies her way along to track after track. The Heineken tent is packed to the rafters for Crystal Castles’ set and the pulsing lighting, indecipherable vocals and throbbing bass lines are nothing if not bounce-along euphoric. Scenes down the front as the two-piece and their live drummer blast out the likes of ‘Crimewave’ and ‘Celestica’ are only a touch short of hero worship, while Alice adds a nice flourish to her bordering-on-hysterical performance by standing atop the drum kit and assaulting it with her microphone. It’s crude and, at times, an absolute aural barrage but – as difficult a proposition as they are live – Crystal Castles’ live show is absolutely awesome.
Slash – Main Stage
Slash is quite a character, isn’t he? Few people can exude quite the level of charisma the legendary guitarist exhibits by doing little more than taking his shirt off and wearing a ridiculous hat, and his work on the ol’ axe is unsurprisingly epic. In terms of actually engaging the audience, though, the guitarist’s Axl-a-like singer takes the lead, aside from a couple of brief and vocally dodgy tracks featuring Black Eyed Peas notoriously awful live vocalist Fergie. There’s preciously little new stuff here, and while it’s all very nice when it comes to a bit of a sing-a-long (let’s face it, that’s what we’re all here for), we might well be getting to the point at which Slash can join Axl in Guns ‘N’ Roses coverband-ville. ‘Paradise City’, ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ and ‘Mr. Brownstone’ are epic, anyhow, and all served up on a nice shiny platter of main stage festival staples, but it’s a far cry from the general cheese-free, guitar-heavy theme Slash goes for when he’s playing to his own crowd.
OFWGKTA – Heineken Green Spheres Tent
Wow, Scroobius Pip would not approve of this lot. You’d have to be living under a musical rock not to have heard about Odd Future and their glorified front man Tyler, The Creator over the past few months. They’re (self) billed as the saviours of hip-hop, and while Tyler might have rebranded Pip’s precious four pillars as something along the lines of ‘gratuitous violence, misogyny, aggression and deep vocal layering’, there’s certainly something about them. On stage, OFWGKTA are like a lyrical tornado, with even Tyler (in his lower-leg cast) unable to sit calmly for more than the few seconds it takes to flex his bare abs and then hammer his cracked ankle against a wedge. Sure, the group are barely able to get through a sentence without screaming either “bitch” or “Wolf Gang”, but when your name is built so heavily on controversy, perhaps that’s to be expected. When things get up to their full, brutal force, Odd Future really do have a quite ridiculously boisterous, bordering on violent sound. The front rows are so into things that when one of the rappers walks along the front barrier he’s held so fast by the crowd that he appears to throw a punch to free himself (though we couldn’t absolutely swear it wasn’t just a firm shove). What’s undeniable, though, is that this new brand of outrageously livid hip-hop might be backed by a memorable beat, but it’s the sheer outlandishness of it that brings in most fans. Having seen the likes of Metallica, System Of A Down, Slipknot and Insane Clown Posse in concert, this is probably as raucous and fierce a crowd as we’ve come across.
Manic Street Preachers – Main Stage
It’s a set chock-full of classics but Manic Street Preachers might feel like they could play anything today and be met with faint indifference. James Dean Bradfield plays along, coming out with wisecracks like “come on, sports fans!” while Nicky Wire struts about behind his flower-coated mic stand, smiling inanely to himself throughout. The sound is still exceptional: ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, ‘Faster’, ‘You Love Us’ and ‘Everything Must Go’ all come in studio-perfect, but Nicky’s customary political ramble and some brave attempts to gee-up the crowd fall almost completely flat. Don’t worry, we still love you, lads.
Odd Future photo by Jamie Tanner.