Review: Rockness Festival

Roasalyn Old 29 June 2012

Picture the scene: a beautiful natural amphitheatre, set on the banks of Loch Ness. Add several stages, tents, stalls, a jolly Scottish crowd and a fantastic set of medium to well-known bands – and you have Rockness.

In this unique setting, Rockness manages to have a chilled-out (almost family) atmosphere during the day whilst retaining the all-out festival party element at night. Popular first-night acts Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran showed that although rock-focussed, the festival has a distinctly mixed bill of genres.

On Saturday a beautiful acoustic set by Lily Rose was followed by the up-and-coming indie Guillemots, leading up to a popular set by The Pigeon Detectives. The only real issue of the weekend occurred when crowding caused a couple of poles came out of their place in the Clash tent – postponing The View’s performance after just four songs. Their agreement to stay on and relocate to the indoor Goldenvoice Arena the next day turned out to be a great choice, with the larger venue allowing a huge crowd to enjoy the popular band.

On Saturday DJ Fresh and Annie Mac got the crowd going before headliners Deadmau5 hit the main stage. The highlight of the day, though, was the absolutely incredible set performed by Justice to a positively electric crowd in the Goldenvoice – the perfect venue for this type of electronic duo.

Sunday saw a lively performance from Cambridge-favourites Jakwob and an impressive array of comedy, while the Main Stage hosted upbeat sets from Kassidy and Friendly Fires. After encouraging a collective peace-sign tribute to the teenager who died of suspected legal high overdose at the festival, Zane Lowe brilliantly warmed the crowd up for festival headliners the native Biffy Clyro, who, after 18 months away from the country, played a perfect show to round off the weekend, which ended with fireworks lighting up the idyllic landscape.

The Arcadia UFO “360 degree rave machine” provided a fantastic outdoor dance arena into the wee hours, the Drambuie Tent provided constant happy reggae beats throughout the weekend and a myriad of food and drink was available with barely any queues. The Olympic Torch even made an appearance! Intimate venues combined with the Goldenvoice and Main Stage really complimented the variety of music and comedy, and the atmosphere was incredibly friendly and relaxed throughout.

It is well worth making the trip up to Inverness for a festival which offers a brilliantly varied line-up, but is manageable and set in probably the most incredible scenery you can get in a festival. And the rain stayed off…mostly.

Roasalyn Old