A lot of Sunday is spent at a relaxed pace and wandering in and out of tents to check out stuff just because it’s nearby. This pot luck approach leads to a minor revelation with THE MACCABEES, a once jaunty, but lightweight Brighton based guitar band who have recently recast themselves as a more aspirant proposition with a recent album, the earnest Wall of Arms, making a vault from the indie-landfill with lots of big Arcade Fire shaped songs. Even without being too familiar with all of their material, it is clear that here is a band who are currently glowing with energy and potential. Lead singer Orlando Weeks cuts an energetic little figure as he leads the tight band through songs that will be vaguely familiar to anyone who watches MTV2, and obviously much-loved anthems for the manic kids who pack out the New Bands Tent.
The award for weirdest set of the weekend goes, unsurprisingly, to Kevin Barnes and his bizarre crew OF MONTREAL, who bring the usual parade of extras dressed as snakes, moustachioed men in neon leotards, glitter, interpretive dance routines featuring people in gas masks and pig costumes to the Red Bull Music Academy. What does it all mean? Who knows for sure, but it breaks the bonkers-o-meter and then some. Their most recent album Skeletal Lamping was a fractured but ultimately rewarding affair, telling the story of Barnes’s alter ego, the transsexual Georgie Fruit. Barnes surely must be trying to communicate something profound in the freakish onstage circus which swirls around his increasingly disco-influenced take on psychedelic rock, but the songs themselves are getting lost amid the visual overload. The human retina can physically only take in so much information, and Of Montreal appear to be doing their darndness to make their audiences’ eyeballs explode in bloody protest. Still, it was worth it for the terrified looks on the faces of the few lads in Dublin jerseys who clearly did not know the band and quickly left the tent for dust.
THE KILLERS have a big job to pull off tonight. By this stage, the main arena looks and feels like the Somme, punters are probably developing trench-foot and the unpredictable, crazy-eyed booze casualties who tend to make day three of a festival their own have altered the atmosphere. On top of this, they are a band whose live reputation is shaky to say the least. In the past, their sets have been functional, dull affairs and Brandon Flowers isn’t exactly Freddie Mercury when it comes to wowing crowds. Yet, somehow in spite of the odds, they manage to pull the hat out of the bag and deliver a sing-along set worthy of the main stage. Part of their success might be down to Flowers being remarkably relaxed, throwing out bits of banter such as a long story (something to do with an old car he owned) explaining the genesis of ‘Mr Brightside’. “Are we human/ or are we dancer?” he sings in one of the most famously grammatically questionable songs of recent years. Well, tonight he’s human and the crowd love him for it. Later, the visuals behind the band turn into a beautifully crimson sky during a heart-felt reading of ‘All These Things That I Have Done’ and as the crowd holler along joyously it feels like one of the most cathartic and redemptive moments of a weekend that was both hard going and often inspirational.