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Hear the sounds of the future at T in the Park

Southampton's Foxes brings her dance-pop to the Radio 1 Stage at T in the Park. Picture: Contributed

Southampton's Foxes brings her dance-pop to the Radio 1 Stage at T in the Park. Picture: Contributed

  • by DAVID POLLOCK
 

BEYOND the main stage at T in the Park this year are the performers who could become your new favourites, from Scottish bands like Tuff Love and Birdhead to US rapper (and Justin Bieber collaborator) Chance the Rapper

With the news that T in the Park is to vacate the Balado airfield site it has occupied since 1997 after next weekend’s festival, there’s a sense of “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” in the air. For those of us who have attended most of the festivals held there, the decision has prompted quite a bit of memory bank-searching about the best acts we have seen there over the past 17 years.

Everyone has their own favourites, and for many people it’s the bands then making their way up from near-obscurity to higher things that leave an even greater impression than the much-heralded headliners who drew the crowds to Balado in the first place. For some people, the smaller bands might have remained little more than curios, names they still remember fondly even though their friends might scratch their heads in bewilderment.

To others, though, they remain central, the kind of performances that stick in the synapses for decades. Take, for example, Coldplay in 2000, when they appeared midway down the King Tut’s Tent bill (between Urusei Yatsura and A). Or Snow Patrol in the same position the following year (between Mull Historical Society and Alfie). Or Franz Ferdinand in the short-lived X-Tent in 2003. Or Biffy Clyro on the T-Break stage.

Every year there will be someone you’re unlikely to have heard of but will go on to love, which is the point of a festival after all. We can’t guarantee our pick of the best new bands to see at T this year will feature any future megastars – or even anyone the world at large will remember this time next year – but we hope there’s a new discovery or two to suit all tastes in there.

FOXES

Southampton-born singer-songwriter Louisa Allen found her career blown up to stratospheric proportions in 2013, thanks to a guest vocal she had recorded for little-known German-Russian dance producer Zedd’s song Clarity. Buoyed by the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) craze in the United States, it went top ten there and won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. This year’s debut album Glorious is packed with similarly anthemic, commercially focused dance-pop, such as the UK hits Youth and Let Go For Tonight, while she’s apparently set for a guest role in the next series of Doctor Who.

• Radio 1 Stage, Friday

THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS

Frontman Dale Barclay may be the sole survivor of the original line-up of this Glaswegian swamp-blues trio, but replacements have been found and they are still powering through their summer festival bill. Although they perhaps didn’t quite have the impact they would have hoped for with their debut record Amphetamine Ballads, there’s still time for them to make a big impression by working hard at shows like this. They are, after all, signed to esteemed indie Domino Records (also the Arctic Monkeys’ home) have a dark, visceral, raw power.

• BBC Introducing Stage, Saturday

ROYAL BLOOD

Brighton’s Royal Blood effortlessly blend two styles that haven’t been at the height of fashion in a while – the unreconstructed power duo sound popularised by the White Stripes and recently taken overground by the Black Keys, and the good old-fashioned rawness of British rock music. The Arctic Monkeys are fans, and invited Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher to support them at Finsbury Park this year, while the anthemic Little Monster promises big things for their upcoming debut LP.

• King Tut’s Tent, Friday

TUFF LOVE

The latest addition to the Lost Map stable of artists is also one of its best yet. Formed when Eigg-based label boss Johnny Lynch transferred a bunch of artists out of the imploding Fence Records last year, Lost Map has found a gem in this Glasgow-based trio (Suse Bear, Julie Eisenstein, Michael O’Hara), whose sound has evolved since they formed in the summer of 2012 into a crystal-clear blend of 1990s Riot Grrrl, alternative country and grungy slacker rock. Try the Junk EP to get you in the mood for them.

• T-Break Tent, day to be confirmed

SAM SMITH

After making his debut as a singer on dance duo Disclosure’s single Latch, 22-year-old London soulman Sam Smith has built a formidable solo career in the intervening period, not least with his gospel-tinged hit Stay With Me, which broke the top five in America and went to number one in the UK. The album from which it came, In The Lonely Hour, has also been one of the year’s mightiest commercial successes on both sides of the Atlantic.

• Radio 1 Stage, Sunday

NAKED

Little known about but much loved locally on the basis of one wonderful song, NAKED are an Edinburgh-based trio comprising members Aggie, Alexander and Grant, who apparently met on the island of Faro off the south-eastern coast of Sweden. Released on the city’s Song, By Toad label, Lie Follows Lie is a glistening iceberg of a song built on a soaring vocal part not dissimilar to a more down to earth Sigur Ros. It’ll be interesting to hear what else they can do here.

• T-Break Tent, day to be confirmed

GEORGE EZRA

Twenty-one-year Hertfordshire singer-songwriter Ezra might look too young for the songs he sings about, but he does so with a voice that truly commands attention. He cites Dylan and Guthrie as influences, and although his lyricism isn’t anything like as epochal, songs such as his big hit Budapest are musically enticing and built for occasions such as this.

• King Tut’s Tent, Saturday

CHANCE THE RAPPER

Hip-hop producer and performer Chancelor Bennett comes from the same city – Chicago – as Kanye West, and it was the latter’s The College Dropout record which turned on the now 21-year-old to rap music exactly a decade ago. Coming to prominence through his acclaimed, self-released mixtape album Acid Rap last year, his trajectory appears set to move in the same direction as West’s. At this point he still just about counts as under the radar, even though he’s appeared on a Justin Bieber single.

• Radio 1 Stage, Sunday

MIA DORA

While not exactly a household name in wider circles, Glasgow duo Mia Dora are just one of the many reasons why the city’s club scene is on such a high at the moment. Formed in 2010, they make pounding house music with a soulful funk to it, and have released records on high-profile labels including Moda Black (run by Radio 1’s Jaymo & Andy George) and MadTech (run by house legend Kerri Chandler).

• Slam Tent, Thursday

BIRDHEAD

Not the kind of band you’d usually expect to see amongst the list of potential commercial successes who usually populate the T-Break stage, Edinburgh duo Birdhead have cult success written all over them. Regulars at places such as the city’s musico-literary jam Neu! Reekie!, Stephen Donkin and David Nicklen’s band play a thrillingly high-powered selection of post-punk and Krautrock-influenced tracks, as heard on last year’s low-key debut album Pleasure Centre.

• T-Break Tent, day to be confirmed

• T in the Park, Balado, Kinross-shire, Thursday to Sunday, 13 July, www.tinthepark.com

 

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