If the arrival of the Olympic Torch, a mass impromptu can-can and 35,000 music lovers all having the weekend of their life isn’t enough, Rockness boasts one of the most beautiful views on this planet. Standing at the top of the hill in front of the giant ‘Rockness’ sign, you face towards the main stage. The hill makes for a perfect view point as in front is the main stage which is nestled right in the middle, Loch Ness directly behind it visible from both sides – and beyond. The stage sits centre, Loch Ness and countless hills behind and around it, providing one of the most breathtaking views you will see – not just at a festival. The site is nice and compact and getting from tent to tent, around site and to the main stage is easy.
Most of the weekend remained grey and overcast, but the sun made a brief appearance on Saturday afternoon. Judging by the faces of those watching bands and djs, the weather didn’t matter to anyone. We are used to these conditions in Scotland, and if we’re honest, nothing was going to ruin the spirits of the thousands who had travelled to the banks of Loch Ness to participate in 3 days worth of music and good times.
On Friday Admiral Fallow took to the stage. The Scottish band received a warm welcome as they played through songs from Boots Met My Face and Tree Bursts In Snow. Mystery Jets were next on stage, lead singer Blaine Harrison took to his seat centre stage. The band made their way through songs such as Two Doors Down and Flakes. Meanwhile, The Drums put on an impressive, high-energy set on the main stage next. Lead singer Jonathan Pierce is animated and the crowd lap up song after song, and Pierce announces that this is their last show for quite a while. The NYC band have definitely been inspired by countless garage rock bands, the biggest influence evident is that of their home town’s The Strokes.
Over in the golden voice arena, the largest of 2 tents at Rockness, Wretch 32 took to the stage in front of a full tent. His live band are tight and his tracks are given a new, more impressive feel in this live setting. Wretch 32 himself is has a ball – the crowd bouncing along to his hits such as Unorthodox, which is sung back at him from the enthusiastic crown. The band break out into House of Pain’s Jump Around, and of course the crowd comply, and then Ed Sheeran joins him on stage, sealing the deal on a confident, enjoyable performance from Wretch 32.
Meanwhile, over on the main stage, Noah & The Whale worked their way through their hits such as L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. Their set is somewhat calm, but creates a nice atmosphere in the crowd as it has them all singing along. Elsewhere, Ed Sheeran played his own set in the golden voice arena, which is again packed out. Sheeran is confident and genuinely happy; working the crowd to perfection. His use of loop pedals is impressive and, of course, the crowd know all the words to all of his songs, so predictably a sing-a-long ensues.
Towards the end of his set, it’s time for headlines Mumford & Sons to take their place on the main stage. Given their soft, folky sound it’s surprising how loud and energetic their set was. In typical festival fashion, the whole crowd belt out each and every word, Little Lion Man being a particular set highlight. And finally, to round off a perfect first day at Rockness, techno legend Dave Clarke of Soma played a blinding 2 hour set at the Soma Afterburner.
Photos © Nuala Swan and must not be reproduced without prior consent