So there we were rushing like madmen (well actually I was running) to the site in order not to miss Pete and the Pirates. Knowing very well that their songs last about 2:00, I didn't want to be a second late. Thankfully I arrived on time and the band burst into action.
On record Pete.... are very unhinged, messy and sloppy even. Live the band are tight, punchy and take no prisoners. They played the album in full with no chit chat or banter whatsoever. One thing I noticed was how loud they are, the fact that they have two bassists (yes not guitarists) so they have this rumbling earthquaking sound to their music. Although it was boiling the whole crowd were jumping about, especially to an ear shattering version to 'Come on Feet' true i felt like a paedo king in the middle of tattooed, t-shirt/ bikini clad 18 year old brits and spanards but when a band sounded this good I didn't care.
After a three hour wait (i really didn't feel like seeing Ragdog and The Kooks) we gathered round the main stage to watch The Breeders Considering that this group tour every five years or so, I saw this as an opportunity.
One thing you notice about the Deal twins is their earthiness. In fact both of them didn't even bother on making a grand entrance and appeared on stage to check their amps a good deal (no pun intended) before their actual playing time. On stage the sisters crack jokes, make fun of each other and it is completely natural (Kim Deal talks A LOT). Setwise the show consisted of a spattering of songs from all four albums and some tracks from The Amps album 'Pacer'. The obvious highlight was Cannonball and their cover of the Beatles Happiness is a Warm Gun'. Another thing you notice is how instrumental Deal was in constructing The Pixies sound. While credit usually goes to Frank Black, you can see that Deal had her part to play as well. A very satisfying gig which left one warm afterwards.
As we were waiting for Kings of Leon to start we noticed two things. 1) there were enough lights to blind the human race and 2) there were tons of speakers littered all over the stage. This was going to be an almighty gig.
As soon as the band took the stage and started to play 'King of the Rodeo' I knew this was going to be one hell of a performance. I was partly right.
Although the band have the tunes. energy and noise they are surprisingly lacklustre when it comes to stage presence. Caleb Followill looked at the sky most of the time while the rest of the band just amble about. Mind you it was the most violent crowd i've met and my glasses were nearly crushed twice. It was the only gig I partially attended due to the fact that the next band clashed. So after 45 mins (each gig was an hour) we spent ten minutes going through the constant moshing crowd to watch ....
Mogwai! yes in the past i have berated post rock bands - but I have heard so much about Mogwai live that I was gearing to see them. Also they were playing their debut 'Young Team' in full and I know that album very well (and consider it their best one).
When the band took the stage, the silence was tremendous and it stayed that way till the very end of the gig. Live Mogwai are extremely tight and the chemistry between Stuart Breathwaite and John Cummings is very intense. Plus the way the band shift from mousey quiet to ear bleeding loud is something to be seen. The obvious highlight was Aidan Moffat appearing on stage to sing R U Still 2 it and trust me it was the most goosefleshy moment of a performance made up of goosefleshy moments. Even when John Lydon's caterwauling drowned out Mogwai fears Satan, the group were unfazed and even cracked a smile at the situation. The best gig of the evening.
CSS played directly after Mogwai so there wasn't any need to move around. After about 20 mins we were surrounded by 18 year olds, pervy looking men with pencil moustaches and a clutch of andrgynous looking people. However when CSS took the stage and lead singer Lovefoxxx beleted out, the new single 'Left Behind' the crowd united.
Live CSS are not great. In fact the group i was with had trouble deciphering the songs and we would recognise them whena distinguishable line would be sung. BUT Lovefoxxx has bucketloads of charisma, very energetic and tries to involve the crowd as much as she possibly can (she gave the mike to yours truly and I helped continue the song 'Alcohol'. In this respect CSS are a very fun band to watch live more than anything else and the hour sped by breezily. The most entertaining gig of the night.
We were buzzed up and in an excellent mood and we trundled up to the Walkman stage to catch Kaiser Chiefs. Needless to say that we got bored after 15 mins so after buying a burger the size of my baby finger we found out that foals and Neon Neon were playing at the same time. After debating the pros and cons we decided that Neon Neon would be the best choice.
I have spoken on these pages about the band but i'll expound again.
Neon Neon is the oft talked about collaboration between Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys and electro wizard Boom Bip. The debut album is a concept record on the life of barmy scientist John Delorean (his car can be seen in Back to the Future). There are a lot of guest stars on the album and I didn't expect them to show up.
when we arrived Gruff and Boom Bip took to the stage and started playing the intro and then after gruff explained the concept of the album.
Four songs in and s far things were going smoothly till Har Mar Superstar arrived.
For those who don't know Har Mar Superstar (aka Sean Tillman) enjoyed some fame in the early 00's, mostly due to the fact that he would perform in his Y fronts and do headstands while singing. He plays a crucial role in Neon Neon and I was surprised to see him.
That's when things started to go wrong. The sound went completely and neither musician could hear their instruments so this lead to a lot of improvisation.
Har Mar started to ad lib and did his headstand act, went into the audience, stole a t-shirt off a punter , wore it then ripped it off and stripped to his waist.
finally things got working again and har mar lead the whole crowd ( 200 + ) into a big sing and clap along. When the group left, the audience were still clapping and whistling,
it was a first class gig and we were buzzed up on that too!
I also caught bits form other sets as well
Foals - tight band
Maximo Park - paul smith is a showman
Juan Mclean - very dfa-ish
Tiga - so so
Kaiser Chiefs - Boring
The Kooks - Mediocre
Ragdog - even worse
Verve - dull as dishwater
Los Planetas - I can see why they have a great following in Spain. They also attracted the biggest crowd of the night.
Best Gig of day 2 : Mogwai
Worst (full) gig - None
In all my one and only complaint about summercase is that it should have given more prominence to younger bands (in fact the only newbies were pete and the pirates, Los Campesinos and rex the dog) - but benicassim did clash so guess that's the reason. I had a blast and hopefully i'll go next year.