Last year's inaugural Connect Festival had a few organisational teething problems, but it also had the bare bones of a world class festival for music lovers. Set in the grounds of a castle in the beautiful Scottish countryside, under the shade of a mountain on the coast of Loch Fyne, we were treated to Bjork, the Beastie Boys, Primal Scream, the Jesus & Mary Chain, MIA, the Fire Engines, the Furries, Jarvis Cocker, CSS, Nathan Fake and more. I tried a fresh oyster from the loch - as Dave's pal Dave pointed out, they taste like giant salty bogies - and spent most of Saturday wearing a paper Spiderman mask enjoying what was actually one of the best days of my life.
Left: Broon gets ready to slurp on a giant salty bogey...
Right: ...and is later confident that "Spider-Broon, Spider-Broon, does whatever a Spider-Broon does" is the height of contemporary wit
But it was far from a sell-out, so it should have come as little surprise that this year's line-up would move a little more mainstream to try to cash in on the insatiable British festival appetite. But this? Firstly, it's now called Hydro Connect thanks to some peculiar hook-up with Scottish Hyrdo Electric. That sounds more like a tool a plumber needs to fix your sink than it does a music festival, but names aren't important. What is important is this:
Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, Bloc Party, Paolo Nutini, Sigur Ros, Manic Street Preachers, Goldfrapp, Amy MacDonald, Grinderman, Duffy, Elbow, The Gossip, Spiritualized, Mercury Rev, The Coral, The Roots, The Breeders, The Levellers, Camera Obscura, Sia
So last year we got Bjork and MIA, this year we get Amy MacDonald and Paolo Nutini? Last year we got the Beasties and JAMC, this year we get Kasabian and the Manic Street Preachers? Bloc Party's most recent album was terrible, Sigur Ros are atrocious, Elbow are possibly the worst live band I've ever seen (though I like their records), while Spiritualized, Mercury Rev and the Coral are all a good 5 years past their sell-by dates. Don't even get me started on Duffy or Sia...
Admittedly there's still a lot of acts to be announced but they're coming from a long way back in the field after announcing that, and it's quite clear they've changed their strategy from 'providing a boutique festival of interesting and innovative music for 24-35 year old music lovers' to 'a more expensive version of T in the Park and Rock Ness for those who would rather eat oysters with their noses in the air than drink lager with weegie neds'. Actually, T in the Park's line-up is the best of the three this year - so says REM, the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy, Primal Scream, Sons & Daughters, Aphex Twin and The National.
I'm really disappointed with Connect's announcement. As if the permanent departure of Triptych from Scotland's musical calendar wasn't bad enough, we now have to console ourselves with Connect going soft too. If you add the downfall of Indian Summer, which was brilliant in 2006 and apparently rather pathetic in 2007, it seems that promoters are cottoning on to the fact that it is just not viable to put on alternative music festivals in Scotland.