Earlycomers are treated to the guitar pop of locals and Unearthered winners The Creases, a midday ray of sunshine on the proceedings despite the overcast weather.
The surreal quality of Cass McCombs is diluted a little when performed with a conventional rock band, but he manages to captivate with his Americana doowop jangle.
Pond drummer Cameron Avery fronts The Growl, a still-psychedelic but more straight-ahead rock combo than his other band. Pretty good.
A bit of outsider fusion is up nest from King Krule, but it’s hard to connect wither with his snotty kid stage persona or the distancing rock that he peddles.
For those who missed out on wither the Hills Hoist indie of The Go Betweens or the ’80s chime of New Zealand label Flying Nun, Dick Diver is your modern taste or this rather lovely sound. Although they are somewhat sonically lost in the large sheep shed where they play, their compact nuggets of guitar pop are irresistible noneless. Amongst all this slightly aloof coolness, it’s something of a treat to get something big-sounding and earnest. This comes in the form of Frightened Rabbit, Scottish area-scale indie rock fronted by Scott Hutchison, who also happens to be one of the day’s greatest vocalists.
Also from Scotland, the dry ice is sprayed liberally around for Chvrches, makers of some of the most compelling synth-pop in the world right now. While singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice is as gorgeous live as on record (she also manages to impressively feminise the Roger Daltrey mic twirl), there is something a little bit detached and antiseptic about the performance as a whole.
Kurt Vile’s stoned Stones ambling is much more the ticket, and while Hottest 100 dominator Vance Joy is nice, acoustic and personable, there are far more potent reasons to be here.
Thank whichever God created twitchy post-Fall rock & roll for Parquet Courts, junior apprentices of Mark E Smith and Stephen Malkmus who rage and jerk through a furious, energetic and melodic set.
But I don’t believe anything gives me a bigger smile all day than Haim, whose nouveau Fleetwood Mac-flavoured pop is given a rcokier edge by Danielle Haim’s wailing guitar solos, Esme’s bass face and all three sisters participating in thumping percussion jams. When their Eagles-borrowing hit The Wire comes along, resistance if futile.
This still gives me time to catch the end of Savages’ clanging post-punk which rises to a one-chord krautrock finale that is nothing short of goosebump-inducing.
Lorde is a big star now, Grammy winner that she is, and she admirably behaves like one, with the charisma and stage presence to match her world-dominating electro ballads.
Jagwar Ma are one of several acts to suffer from the sheep shed acoustics, but their thumping dance rock still manages to thrill.
It takes a little getting used to Warpaint’s shimmering guitar grooves and ghostly female vocals, but sticking with their set brings big rewards. A hypnotic highlight.
The Zoo Stage closes with three hip hop acts including Danny Brown and Earl Sweartshirt, but this reviewer falls in love with the blazing rhymes and beats of Run The Jewels. Good to end a consistently great festival on such a high.
Words by Matt Thrower – Originally published in Mouthzoff Magazine