It’s not every festival that you can sit on a hill in the sunshine nestled between mountains overlooking a loch.
RockNess has one of the most beautiful surroundings for a festival, with sheep grazing in the field next to the campers and an outstanding view behind main stage, it’s hard not to be won over in minutes of arriving.
As the Scottish sun shimmered on the loch reflecting the rays on the water, the crowds gathered on the hill to bask in the sunshine preparing for the day ahead.
From legendary DJs to chart stars and a few old favourites thrown into the mix, RockNess manages to appeal to a wide audience across a range of genres and ages.
With RockNess’ intimate setting, you can walk between all the stages with ease making sure you catch as much live music as possible.
The festival is known for having a dance element and this year was no different, with DJ sets set up throughout the day on the main stage on Saturday 8th June.
From 2pm crowds had gathered at the space and were already dancing and jumping along and it wasn’t long before the Scottish music chanting had begun as ‘here we, here we, here we f**king go’ echoed across the arena.
The main action at RockNess doesn’t kick off until later in the day, but the crowd were already warmed up.
And not because of the rare beaming Scottish sunshine, but the strong festival atmosphere had feet moving and arms waving.
If you weren’t ready to dance just yet, the GoldenVoice arena was host to Dog Is Dead, an indie rock five-piece from Nottingham who looked as if they’d raided the nearest vintage store. The crowd was in good spirits during the set, clapping and singing along to their infectious accents. With Robert Milton and Paul Roberts vocals working well together, the saxophone was a nice addition to the indie sound and was met with a gratuitous applause and screaming. Burial Ground was a strong song in the set and the band maintained an energetic appearance throughout their set. The smaller crowd were keen joining in with every cue and there was a great connection among the musicians on stage.
Slowing things down offering a beautiful acoustic treat was Benjamin Francis Leftwich in the GoldenVoice arena. His captivating wispy vocals were a great relaxing treat from the main stage madness. It’s easy to tell each word he sings means something to him and the connection between his music and himself is one that easily transcends to a live performance. Winning the crowd over in just one song, he looks at home on stage and in particular track Pictures captivated the audience.
Livening things up once again, the main stage was host to Steve Aoiki who proved exactly why RockNess has a dance reputation. Singing the lyrics back, jumping and constantly moving, the audience were now in the full festival party spirit. One festival go-er even came prepared for the crowds, surfing along in a giant yellow boat across the crowd. And to maintain the party atmosphere even more, Aoiki brought out a large cake throwing it in to the crowd who were now covered in sugar, icing and fluorescent paint.
If you’d rather dance the day away inside, the Sub Club offered an alternative dance party with a great nightclub atmosphere and the idea you were in a tent in the middle of a field was long-gone after a few minutes in the space.
Bombay Bicycle Club packed out the GoldenVoice arena for their performance and turned the Festival tent into their own stage. With large firework shaped lighting, the band burst onto stage and had full presence and interaction with the crowd from the first note. They explained this is their first festival appearance and with the crowd engaging from song to song, singing along and jumping, it seems they’ve launched the festival season with a bang.
Taking things back to where it all began, Fatboy Slim performed on the main stage. With a massive crowd gathered, it was easy to see how he manages to keep his reputation so well. And it is no wonder this is the way RockNess has started, his flawless set works seamlessly together. He knows exactly how to get the crowd moving and they are hanging on his every word, jumping at the exact moments in the song and having the time of their lives.
The comedy stage was packed to the brim for the full day with the crowd sitting inside the tent enjoying the stand-up, a mini Edinburgh Fringe Festival taster for the Scottish audiences.
Headlining Saturday night and his first headline festival slot was electronic rap artist Example. Opening his set with Kickstarts, the crowd were engaged from the start, dancing and rapping along. Despite maintaining high energy and a crowd connection, it is easy to see the crowd are a little calmer than the previous Fatboy Slim set.
With the crowd reaction and feel-good feeling projected from Fatboy Slim, he was the talk of the festival walking from stage to stage and it seems the headline slot should have been his.
And as the main stage action was drawn to a close, the party was well and truly on in the other stages.
The Black Isle Pub comedy tent transformed into a platform for new up and coming acts and it was here we caught Public Service Broadcasting. Producing an amazing sound with little equipment, it’s hard to believe there are only two people on stage. They take it in their stride and have a great crowd interaction. From start to finish, offering a great alternative to the DJ style dance scene for those looking for a band aspect.
Back to the GoldenVoice arena and it was Fenech-Soler’s time to shine. The band showcased songs from their forthcoming album release alongside previous hit songs. Lies is a very popular track and the band were as energetic as the crowd. With interaction throughout, the crowd were automatically hooked to the band’s flawless performance. Fenech-Soler proved they could have performed on the main stage with ease, combining rock and dance with a fantastic vocal range. All I Know is another strong song in the set and they certainly showed why they were given the Festival slot.
But it is not all about the bands and names we know, as Festivals are known for introducing you to new acts.
This year we’ve discovered two bands in particular we think you should keep an eye on.
Jeremiah Weed presented their Backyard Bash with table tennis, sofas, chairs and tyres for people to enjoy a taste of their alcoholic refreshments served out the back of a truck. But it is not only the prospect of free alcohol that was drawing crowds, as Man Get Out performed short sets between the main stage action. The band from Liverpool are travelling the country with Jeremiah Weed after the brand sponsored their single launch. With a taster of their songs, it is no surprise why they were chosen as the Festival touring band as their infectious tunes managed to draw a crowd every time providing the perfect summer soundtrack.
Another secret find of the day was energetic Brighton rock/pop four-piece Rubylux who performed a strong set. Bassist Clark Coslett-Hughes even entered the crowd on their last song engaging with enthusiastic audience members. The band drew a large crowd despite many not recognising their name, but it seems it will be a familiar name in the future as they suit the festival scene with ease and won over the crowd in the Black Isle tent within minutes of their performance.
And as the crowd partied on into the night, their spirits (and we don’t just mean the alcoholic kind) were kept high.