T in the Park 2012: Mud, Sweat And Beers

Harry Smith talks about his experience at this year's T in the Park - or, as it was affectionately dubbed, 'T in the Puddle'.

T in the Park. For one weekend a year, Scotland’s fifth largest town. This year it has received criticism for its line-up, with accusations of a bias towards pop music. Though TITP may be changing – for better or worse – the music is only one (albeit large) part of the weekend.

This was my third T in the Park and I went with three friends, who I shall refer to as Mandrew, Olay! and Raveid. We arrived at midday on Thursday, a full three hours before gates opened. Upon arrival we were randomly selected for a drugs search, but this was abandoned quickly when the stewards declared us “too square” to have any illegal substances.

Some time later, we pitched our tent. We follow a rule of no beer until the tent is erected. It’s a stupid rule and I hate it, and it seemed far worse this year. However, all was forgotten once we cracked open the first tins and the sun broke through the clouds. This proved a problem for Mandrew, who looked like a lizard by Monday morning.

Thursday night went almost to plan: drink lots, meet neighbours, drink lots, get food, drink lots. That was until eleven, when we heard Feeder had pulled out. Raveid and I had been looking forward to seeing them immensely. There was only thing to do – drink lots!

By attempting to forget our Feeder-related sorrows, we awoke on Friday with vicious hangovers. Friday at T in the Park is the first day of live music, and it commenced at 5pm. After starting with The Darkness and Kaiser Chiefs, I spilt from the group to watch UnderSong favourites Pulled Apart By Horses. The quartet was playing at the Transmissions Stage. The enclosed tent really suited them and they played a brilliant set complete with impromptu dance off and crowd surfing.

The next morning was accompanied by the one sound I didn’t want to hear: rain. A quick peek outside confirmed my fears, overnight the heavens had opened. For readers that haven’t been to a festival, the combination of rain, bare earth paths and eighty-five thousand people results in only one thing… MUD. Lots of mud. Mud up to your shins. Mud with the power to steal your wellies if you’re not careful. Unfortunately, the rain also caused a large amount of flooding in the campsite. We saw people abandoning tents filled with water and entire areas of both arena and campsite turned into swamps. Some people are impossible to put down though, as was demonstrated by the two men Olay! and I saw near the arena on Saturday.

You meet people like this all the time at T in the Park. Despite its reputation for attracting ‘neds’, (chavs to Englanders), those there to cause trouble are very much in the minority. Almost everyone is there for the same reason as you, to have fun, see some great music and drink a few beers in the rain. The only antisocial behaviour I experienced this year was someone kicking mud at people’s tents as they walked along.

I managed to catch a wealth of acts on Saturday, the best of which were Vukovi and Two Door Cinema Club. The former are a Scottish quartet who completely owned the T Break Stage. The crowd were up for some fun, and the band fed off this. If you can, catch Vukovi on tour, as their loud, punchy rock music will blow you away. Two Door Cinema Club are a band I’ve always enjoyed, but never loved. After their performance on the Radio 1 NME Stage, that changed. With a live drummer, their sound became fuller, and their charm won everyone over. Their first album material was met with mass sing-alongs, while their new material sounded tight, fresh and exciting.

Sunday presented the same muddy challenge. Wellies on, we ventured into the arena to discover that many of the muddy patches had become lakes. We bravely waded through to watch a slightly disappointing set from home-grown heroes Twin Atlantic. Afterwards, we went to King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent to see Miles Kane. This performance was the surprise of the weekend for me. I know a few of his songs and expected to be bored, but the atmosphere from the crowd was infectious. This was followed by Bombay Bicycle Club on the main stage, who again surprised me. I knew more songs than I anticipated, and couldn’t stop moving. Credit to their drummer, who is absolutely brilliant. His solo in the middle of ‘Ivy And Gold’ was a real crowd pleaser.

We finished the weekend with Kasabian. They brought an awe inspiring light show to accompany a set full of huge festival hits. ‘Club Foot’ saw a number of flares lit in the audience, and ‘L.S.F’ produced a mass sing-along. The encore of ‘Switchblade Smiles’, ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and ‘Fire’ finished the night in perfect style.

Of course the festival didn’t end there. We enjoyed the exciting – if expensive – Bomber ride. A forty metre long spinning stick with seats on either end is the perfect way to see the entire site and beyond at night.

Monday morning arrived and we reluctantly packed our possessions up. Leaving the car park presented a bit of a problem for Raveid’s little Renault Clio, and we had to get out and push. Even worse was the wait. Eighty-five thousand people trying to get out of a car park takes time, especially when everyone is hungover. Luckily we rescued everyone with a dose of comedy. Olay! donned a hat that looked like a dog and sprinted out of the car. I then dashed after him shouting “Fenton! Fenton! Jesus Christ! Fenton!” in homage to the famous Youtube video.

And there it is; four days of music, mud, beer and great company. Perhaps the line-up wasn’t quite up to its usual standard, but there was always something to watch. The festival is what you make of it, whether that’s watching every possible act, strolling around the arena listening to whoever takes your fancy, or drinking far too much. I’ll be returning next year for T in the Park’s twentieth anniversary hoping for a tremendous line-up and even more fun, and I hope to see you in the front row, wellies and all.