DiS is in Norway for the second Hove Festival - find our coverage of the first here. In our third diary entry from the site, James Skinner updates DiSsers at home on developments regarding Rival Schools, White Denim, Wild Beasts and Foals.
Day three at Hove initially seems an overcast affair, though by the time this scribe has rubbed the sleep from his eyes and emerged from the veritable Big Brother house of co-habiting UK music press the sun is once more beating down upon his fair skin. Or something. It’s beautiful and sunny and everyone is delighted to be here.
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Heading over to the amphitheatre stage in time for White Denim to open proves a good bet; despite a tinge of bemusement at the lack of a real audience to speak of, these Texans kick out the jams as if they’re headlining the rock festival of their dreams, a scuzzy charm and dizzying explosion of ideas ample recompense for the occasionally messy nature of proceedings. In a particularly sweet turn near the end of their set James Petralli struggles to think which tune to play next, before being helpfully jogged by a trio of girls down the front (“Oh yeah, it’s our single! We really should…”). ‘Let’s Talk About It’ is, suitably, fantastic, the band both a superb way to kick off the day and a highlight of the festival thus far.
It’s time to party like it’s 2001 next, Rival Schools taking to the stage with a splendiferous sound at once assured and sprightly. Walter Schreifels is very much pleased to be here, and alongside an airing of tracks from the mighty United By Fate we get a few new numbers, ‘Paranoid Detectives’ standing out as a fine synthesis of every element that caused this band to be held in such reverence in the first place.Following this it’s a dash to the gloriously pink Teltet tent for the tail end of Wild Beasts’ set. They are superb as ever, their marriage of quintessentially British pop leanings with those grandiose vocals (worthily relayed in a live scenario, it must be said) certainly winning over some Scandinavian fans.
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Over on the main stage it’s the turn of Foals, who, subsequent to a fruitful fishing trip earlier on, turn in a blistering performance. Yannis Philippakis comes on like a whirlwind of tense, fizzling energy, but watching the group for the second time it’s their ability as a unit that again comes to the fore – in the way they face each other as they play and function as a five-headed beast of the finest precision, it’s exhilarating stuff that increases in intensity throughout. ‘Two Steps, Twice’ and ‘Heavy Water’ prove choice moments, the two pumped Norwegians stood in front of me with rudimentary (i.e. felt-tipped) band t-shirts on seem to agree. At one point Jack Bevan flings a broken drumstick to the crowd, and in another smile-inducing example of band-fan interaction one of these two manages to claim it (one hug later) from another audience member. “I love your drums!” broken stick aloft he bellows at the stage, a sentiment many (rightfully) echo.
Band Of Horses
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After all that Band Of Horses make for a rather different but no less appealing proposition. The sound team at Hove are clearly well versed – in something of a festival rarity every band sound more or less bang on – and when you deal primarily in crystalline waves of stately guitar you’re going to want things done right. And right it certainly is, the expansive, airy nature of the aforementioned almost perfectly realised. ‘The First Song’ and ‘Is There A Ghost’ make for a one-two punch of early brilliance, setting us up for a set equal parts sedate, lively and rapturously received. The term ‘great festival band’ is one seemingly bandied about with abandon, but it truly applies here; reflected in the ecstatic reception that greets a simply massive ‘The Funeral’.
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What’s that? Dimmu Borgir? Go on then. The amphitheatre is heaving, and the atmosphere fiery. Quite literally in fact, as on stage there are two flaming torches, and the black metal the band capably deal in is embellished with all sorts of pyrotechnic activity. What are they like? They’re like a black metal band embellished with all sorts of pyrotechnic activity. It’s uncompromising and undeniably impressive to a point but there’s only so much of this one can take, so off it is to MSTRKRFT in the Teltet, where this critic hits the dance floor in a manner that can only be described as that of a loon. Perhaps the strongest day yet then, one slight let down failing to tarnish a set of diverse and brilliant performances in beautiful, sun-kissed surroundings.
Day three: In Photos
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Tomorrow: more news and views from Hove Festival 2008. Find the fest’s official website, where you can see who is playing where, and when, here.