Hydro Connect: The Complete Review

By on Sunday, 7th September 2008 at 5:41 pm
 

Hydro Connect Festival was my first proper music festival, and quite possibly one of the furthest away from home we could get. After a 9 hour drive leaving home at 5am on Friday morning, we arrived at one of the most beautiful festival settings I think you’ll find this side of Coachella.

After the horrible trek from car park to campsite (we were warned it was 20 minutes, but we’d suggest you double that if you’re carrying a tent), we set up our tent and went out to explore the main arena.

First up were Noah and the Whale and Ladytron on the Guitars and Other Machines Stage (otherwise known as the second stage for those of you who are Glastonbury / Reading / Leeds fans), before a wander around to see Amy MacDonald sporting a rather fetching kilt. I’ve never been a huge fan of her Radio 2 – lite tunes, but the Scottish crowd certainly loved the Glaswegian girl.

Manic Street Preachers were up next, and were on absolute fire as they did an amazing set. I’d heard people rave about them, but now I really can understand why – they were amazing. Kasabian headlined, but frankly were nothing on the Manics. Tom Meighan is an amazing frontman and certainly can whip everyone up some, but frankly they don’t have the tunes that the Manics do.

After an interesting night in the campsite, we slowly started our Saturday in the Speakeasy cafe on the sofas, listening to some amazing acoustic music. Quickly time rolled around and we had to amble back to the Media tent to catch a quick chat with Paul from Glasvegas and Kele and Matt from Bloc Party. After coming down from that little bit of excitement, we went to catch Friendly Fires on the Guitars and Other Machines Stage. We knew they were good having stumbled across them several times around the blogosphere, but weren’t expecting the amazingly high-energy set they provided us with. Black Lips disappointed, failing to energise the rather small crowd. Glasvegas had one of the biggest mid-afternoon crowds of the weekend, and provided the anthem of the weekend around the campsites.

A bit of food, and back to the main Oyster stage for the evening. We had high hopes for Grinderman, but simply didn’t appreciate Nick Cave’s new project, with it sounding largely inaccessible to us. Paolo Nutini I wasn’t holding out high hopes for, but he plain and simply blew me away, with his songs providing some great sing alongs. Oh, and his cover of Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? AMAZING.

We’d been excited about Bloc Party since their confirmation as Saturday night headliners, and with the announcement of their new album, Intimacy, just 10 days before the festival we were all the more excited. Kele and co didn’t disappoint, blasting through everything we’d hoped for and a bit more.

Somehow getting almost 6 hours sleep on Saturday night, we were woken by the pouring rain on Sunday morning, and took the decision to put our tent back in the car to prevent it from floating away in the increasingly boggy waters around our tent. Making the way back to the main arena we couldn’t decide who to catch, so caught snippets of a few different bands. Santagold looked rather out of place in a metallic blue dance suit compared to the muddy audience, but none the less was amazingly good, with her indenti-kit backing singers coupled with her backing band providing some surprisingly good tunes.

I’d heard about the Levellers from friends, but never actually caught them live. They were a true festival band, getting everyone moving, and really warming things up a bit. Elbow I’ve never been a huge fan of, however they again surprised me. Lead singer Guy Garvey was decidedly chatty, commenting that “this is my sort of weather – I don’t like the hot weather ‘cos people take off their clothes and it isn’t pretty from here! In Manchester just about every beer garden looks like it has about 2 dozen red eggs in it anytime there’s a mildly warm day!”

Goldfrapp were so-so. I’ve never been a huge fan of their stuff, on the basis lots of it is a bit too arty-farty for my liking. Plus, I was simply excited for Sigur Ros, who were next up and closing Hydro Connect 2008 for us. They didn’t disappoint.

With that, we left leaving Franz Ferdinand to do probably much what they did last time I caught them, and to make an exit from the car park (with the help of some amazingly nice girls who pushed us out of the mud).

What was hot:

  • Amazing setting
  • Great food at good prices
  • The lineup… simply amazing for a festival so young and small
  • The speakeasy tent with its comfy sofas and free newspapers
  • Friendly and helpful security

What was not:

  • Mobile reception was always hampered by “network busy” responses… if Hyde Park can cope with having upwards of 40,000 people all with mobiles, why can’t Connect? This was also the reason for a big lack of live updates from Connect – we didn’t take a laptop, and had been planning on there not
  • The hideously long trek to and from the carpark
  • A massive lack of toilets and washing facilities on the campsites.

Overheard:

“I now know where they let the oldies out to: we were by far the youngest in that tent!” (joked two mid-20 somethings on the walk back to the campsite)
“When you fail to perform, it really knocks your confidence… then you just can’t perform next time!” (overheard one morning at the campsite… you can only guess what it’s regarding!)
“This is SO overrated!” said by a guy completely covered in mud after wrestling his mate

Want more coverage?
Why not check out these Flickr Streams:
jjbuchan’s flickr stream
Taburetka’s flickr stream
Foofango’s flickr stream
Aaron Bassett’s flickr stream

… or these other reviews:
NME.com’s review
Sunday Herald’s review
The Lancashire Herald
The Independent
The Times

Thanks go to:
Lee and all at Burt Greener Communications for looking after us so well and sorting out the tickets.
Dan for the photos and putting up with me for a weekend.

Roll on Hydro Connect 2009 is all we can say!

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One Response

[…] Not gonna lie, I hadn’t been to one and was too frightened of getting my feet muddy. Then we went to Hydro Connect, and fell in love with the concept, so expect a bit more festival coverage this […]

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