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Review: T in the Park, Scotland, July 2015

Jonno Coll gives us the skinny on T in the Park's dance music pit stop, the Slam Tent.

Last month I wrote a wrote a feature on Sonar Festival, describing how much nicer it was not to have to suffer listening to indie landfill like the Courteeners and struggle on through driving rain in search of your festival fix. This weekend I found myself back at T in the Park, where the rain was lashing and the Courteeners were headlining King Tut's tent. Whether that makes me a hypocrite or merely somebody who will do absolutely anything to justify his weekend drinking habits, I'm not so sure. Fortunately, Glasweigan veterans Slam had their stage filled to the brim with many of Europe's finest techno artists.

The Slam Tent has always been a curious creature. Ostensibly loved by all, it often struggles to hit capacity even for the biggest names. T has its roots firmly in guitar music, so this is no great shame, but with a line-up this strong the enthusiasm at Slam fizzed throughout the entire weekend. I could spend a while droning on about T's poor organisation, which really sullied the debut year in Strathallen Castle, but that is in nobody's interests. Instead I'll run through some of the highlights in the strongest Slam selection I have ever seen.

Jackmaster is by far and away the best DJ in Britain right now. With him being an almost local hero his back-to-back set with Joy Orbison was bound to draw a sizeable crowd but this surpassed my highest expectations. In the Sonar review I mentioned above, Jack kept a disco-infused set moving smoothly and switched in some of Numbers' housier efforts with consummate ease. Here he was less restrained - throwing the shackles off. Jack dropping Blawan's Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage was my weekend highlight and following up this with his own Mercy (Boddika VIP) was inspired. Perfectly at home playing driving techno in sodden Scotland as dropping piano tinged house in the Barcelona hillside, he's a man at the top of his game.

Ben Klock gave a techno-by-numbers performance on Friday night and Maceo Plex was at his most experimental on the Saturday evening, but it was on the Sunday the Slam Tent really came into its own. Dense and Pika took the Sunday lunchtime reins; a challenging spot, with many campers still drinking their morning Buckfast, but they performed admirably. They read the crowd superbly, gently coaxing them out of their Sunday slumber with some more ambient cuts, before Klank sounded predictably impressive.

Maya Jane Coles kicked off a mouth-watering run of DJs on the Sunday evening with a hugely impressive showing. The most elaborate and unsettlingly quirky LED display of the weekend accompanied her brooding tech-house. Maya has really come under the spotlight recently as she moves onto projects under her new moniker, Nocturnal Sunshine, but this served as a timely reminder that she still has an awful lot to offer under her less ethereal alias. She ushered in the final evening with a set as impressive as anything else I heard that weekend.

Loco Dice performed admirably against the stiff competition provided by the other stages, pulling in an impressive crowd. Although TITP might not have its roots in techno, Slam is doing an excellent job of carving out its space in the landscape of the festival.

WORDS | Jonathan Coll PHOTOGRAPHY | Anita Russo

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