Review: Rockness 2010

Rockness is unique in so many ways. Not least in its line-up, with the festival gaining a reputation year upon year for securing exclusive acts. And this year was no exception...

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 22nd Jun 2010

Date: 11-13 June 2010

Reviewed by: Jayne Robinson

It's hard to imagine a more beautiful setting. A natural amphitheatre carved by glaciers out of the Scottish landscape, ambling gently downhill to the stunning Loch Ness in all its vast, peaceful magnificence.

But who wants peace and quiet? Certainly not any of the 30,000 hardcore revellers that descended on the Rockness site last weekend to enjoy some of the world's finest musical artists making very loud noises across seven very different stages.

Rockness is unique in so many ways. Not least in its line-up, with the festival gaining a reputation year upon year for securing exclusive acts. And this year was no exception, with legendary dance duo Leftfield choosing the festival for their return to the stage after a decade away.

Friday night got the festival season off to a typically British start weather-wise, but even the rain and chilling wind couldn’t dampen the mood when Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim took to the main stage with an incredible set encompassing a stunning visual and laser show, and a career of 20 years. Headlining on the Saturday and Sunday respectively were legends of electronica Leftfield, and New York rock n' roll revolutionaries The Strokes. 

After ten years away and just four small warm-up shows to prepare, Leftfield - famous for huge hits such as 'Phat Planet' and 'Release the Pressure',  stormed the main stage on the Saturday night, attracting a sizable crowd with their sonic eruption of pounding basslines, trippy visuals and a sizable roster of guest MCs and vocalists - including one particularly show-stealing, silver-cat-suited singer.  

Another band who have become strangers to the UK festival circuit in recent years are The Strokes, whose headline appearance on the Sunday night drew possibly the biggest crowd of the weekend. Fresh from their much talked-about secret show in Camden only a few nights before, the New York rockers arrived on the bonny bonny banks of Loch Ness to headline the last night of the festival and prove that after ten years in the game, The Strokes are still very much at the top of it.  As with the Camden gig, the band played a greatest hits set of favourites from their three released LPs - with no new tracks to hint at an imminent release of their fourth album which is - apparently - well underway. 

Highlights of the Clash Arena - the second largest stage at the Festival - included a stunning set on Saturday afternoon by Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip  - which was also undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire festival. Performing tracks from their previous album Angles and latest offering The Logic of Chance, the spoken word and electronic beats duo created an emotionally charged, passionate and rousing atmosphere in the darkened festival tent with their unique brand of hip-hop. 

Other notable performances came from Boys Noize, who played to a packed-out Annie Mac arena, Aphex Twin in the Clash tent on the Saturday, an intense display on Sunday by drum n bass duo Chase & Status,  and The Maccabees, who played an impromptu set at Howard's End Pub before they took to the main stage on the Sunday evening. 

Late night parties came courtesy of the Strongbow Tent, the Rizla stage and the fantastically weird Arcadia Afterburner, where revellers partied outdoors around a central space-age totem pole, which ejected flames skywards in time with the music. Music which, might we add, came courtesy of a startlingly clear Funktion 1 soundsystem. A particular highlight of the afterburner stage was a Saturday night appearance by Green Velvet, who kept the party going strong until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Overseeing proceedings all weekend was the black double decker Skiddle bus, which offered an unrivalled view of the main stage and festival site from its hilltop perch. Acting as the VIP and hospitality area for the fantastic Go North stage, the bus gave Skiddle staff and readers alike the chance to upload photo content live from the festival - as well as offering some much needed shelter from those chilly Scottish winds.

Click here to relive Rockness through our live coverage page and view photos from the festval. 

Tickets are no longer available for this event