Waking in your shell with yesterdays musical assault of goodness still ringing in your ears, it’s hard to believe you are only half way through this festival. ‘Blessed’ with a somewhat less hectic day we have the morning to enjoy the site itself. Ask yourself this, what other music festival in the world would have a Michelin-star restaurant making dinners for less than €8? Copenhagen’s Kiin Kiin are doing just that in a food hall that boasts some of Denmark’s best known kitchens. The food is as good as the queues are long but it’s a great addition to the experience.
The sun is not going anywhere but higher in the sky and it’s on the grass behind the Arena tent that a few of us repose to take in Sweden’s Jenny Wilson. A sweet festival moment of beer with friends in the sun, turns to a focussed look across the heads in the tent at Wilson who is laying slab upon slab of business-class grown-up pop like only a Swede can do. The more electronic some songs get the fresher and beefier it all sounds. We recognised nothing but loved almost everything.
Meanwhile at the far reaches of the site are Denmark’s Bottled in England. Pop tinged in a dubstepy sound, it was in the main a parade of guest vocalists from grime singer Lucy Love to the frontman of local indie big shots Veto. Talking to the crowd like we were a raffle audience wore a little thin and though the guest parade was impressive, the party never really got going with the sun so high in the sky, and not enough of an anchor on-stage.
Manu Chao and Omar Souleyman are up next at opposite sides of the site, neatly combining two artists we just don’t get into one avoidable hour. Manu Chao had the sun kissed audience at the main stage in predictable arm waving and no doubt enjoyable, brightly-coloured, come-all-ye antics but we’d prefer to digest Jenny Wilson in a calm place a bit more until it was time for more Swedish pop to roll around.
This time it’s a little more neon piping, matching dresses and FUN because Icona Pop are giving and getting the Arena treatment. Almost impossible to take your eyes off them, cheery, strong and throwing some fun sexy moves, yes, but there’s not a licked hammer in sight. Oh to wean the youth off the consumable and hypersexualised big-business pop and onto something like this that has dancing as a priority over selling. ‘Manners’ is something we have waited years to enjoy live, and ‘I Love It’ is of course a screaming party but they put so much joy and effort into every song you’re just buoyed on a thermal right to the end.
To follow this Alex Turner’s hips are doing all the heavy lifting for Arctic Monkeys on the Orange Stage. No surprise that he’s a pal of Josh Homme, both magnetic frontmen, but it’s his swagger and slick hair that combines the allure of both the Beatles and the Stones. Kicking off with a guitar sound that could cut through pack ice, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ sounds to your ears like what watching Usain Bolt come off the blocks in the 100m in ultra slo-mo would be to your eyes. No time to think – this is palm-of-the-hand stuff and it’s only the libido-less who can control their pelvis. As the gig went on he did seem to get a little looser, or ‘tired’ perhaps but the boy sure has swagger.
Drug Honkey are a band who we are told expected to play Gloria stage at the ‘Rock Slide Festival’ but no matter they grind out some doom and death metal much to the joy of State’s photographer. While he’s lapping this up we cajole some bar girls into making us larger mojitos if we can produce a larger glass, whereupon Bekker makes a trip to a nearby bar and returns bearing 30 fresh plastic pint glasses. A pint of mojito in each hand, we duck in to see Interpol looking comfortable on the Arena stage once again. Never quite convinced of their live connection, they were doing as well as we have ever seen them and it was to our rum-fuelled delight that they dropped ‘Evil’ early on. We got to hold the cold glasses high while destroying our vocal chords to the ever lengthening chorus, closing in a sea of voices singing “Why can’t we just look the other way?”. Paul Banks looks happy, unusual to see his poker face spill. It was a dimly-lit New York guitar party and we were sad to leave it but something even more of the night lay across the site at Avalon.
Kavinsky was pushing through his ‘Outrun’ album alone on stage, but it was still bringing a badly needed dance party to the early hours of the festival site. One of the faults of the festival may be not providing enough dance music on-site for the later hours when standing and looking have been done all day. A tent curated by some of the local flag-bearers of the dance scene would be very welcome instead of ghettoising this to the campsite’s Apollo stage. Kavinsky was driving tired feet into action. He knew what he was working up to, and so did we, and the release from the entire Avalon tent (on- and off-stage) when ‘Nightcall’ built up and burst forth was a power surge.
Another of the salvo of cancellations was Chromeo which left a hole in Saturday that could never be filled by Slowdive. Icons of shoe-gaze have their time and place but it’s not on a festival Saturday at 2.30am. The ghost of Chromeo hovered around us, as the 1990s wall of sound did an fine job of their back catalogue but we required something more. We wanted to have chosen Sleigh Bells back in Arena but it was a long walk. Not much of this gig remained with us, preferring to mentally close Saturday’s chapter with a neon drive and a Nightcall.
Icona Pop photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen.
Additional reporting by Marina Friis Ghazaleh.