Hydro Connect Festival 2008

I’m back in Sydney now after a long and thoroughly enjoyable month of travel throughout August. I am not too sure what is going on with the weather at the moment, but the London-like conditions in Sydney are quite frankly unacceptable.

One of the things that I did manage to get along to during August was the Hydro Connect Festival, which was held over the last weekend of the month at Inveraray in Western Scotland. The weather there was not much chop either, but to be honest the rain did not really ensue during the performances of most of the headline acts, so all was well that ended well. Despite gumboots becoming obligatory by the second day of the festival due to the rain and 20,000 people tromping across the grounds, it was certainly the best festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending.

The festival highlights for me were performances from Mercury Rev, Bloc Party and the inimitable Sigur Ros, whose bombast knows no equal. I also managed to catch Ladytron, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Noah & The Whale, the Manic Street Preachers, Gomez, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Spiritualised, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Grinderman, Goldfrapp, Elbow and Franz Ferdinand over the course of the long weekend. Needless to say, it was great!

Some pictures below:


Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Had never seen Malkmus before live so this was a treat. They played a solid set, although nothing I was familiar with. I have his self-titled album, but none of his albums recorded with the Jicks.


Mercury Rev closed out the Friday night of the festival for us and they were excellent, as usual. The band really has a flair for theatrics and know how to make an impact visually and sonically live.


Nick Cave heads Grinderman, his “rock” outfit with which he has recorded an album and is in the midst of recording a second. Warren Ellis was free to cut sick to an even greater extent than usual as Nick;s right-hand man, and the band had the audience in thrall.


Bloc Party closed out Saturday night and were awesome – probably the pick of the festival for me. All the band’s best tracks were played along with two encores (the second quite unexpected), and track Flux off A Weekend In The City was accompanied by a very cool laser show.


Sigur Ros as always put on a great show on Sunday night before the headliners – including a horn section in Scottish apparel.


Sigur Ros.


Franz Ferdinand closed out the night and the festival with a pretty tight set. They probably suffered a bit by comparison with Sigur Ros’ immediately preceding epic set, but of course the predominantly Scottish crowd went nuts. A number of tracks from the band’s forthcoming third album were given a run, getting something of a mixed reception.

4 thoughts on “Hydro Connect Festival 2008

  1. Hey Guy, welcome back! Bloc Party are pretty damn good (though I haven’t seen them live).

    Bummer coming back just as we lose government in WA. I suppose having all governments in Labor hands was too good to last – and it wasn’t exactly a thumping. I guess we can expect wedge politics and all the usual bag of Liberal tricks to be used in W.A. That was one of the good things about having Labor governments in every state – not having to listen to that kind of sludge.

  2. Thanks! It’s good to be back.

    There’s certainly been a fair bit of commotion this week what with Nathan Rees’ rapid ascension from obscurity to the top job in NSW, and of course what is looking like a fairly poor result for Labor in WA. At this point at least however, it is looking like the WA Nationals don’t want a piece of the WA Libs, so there is a bit of hope left I guess. It will be interesting to observe how all this plays out.

  3. Rees I thought gave a very good extended interview on Stateline – came across as very bright and upfront about things like the problems Costa caused in cabinet. The odds are against it, but touch wood he may just get Labor out of the ditch it’s in NSW.

    And it’s good to see the factional system starting to break down in what is most faction-ridden state. If a member of the Left – nominally at least – can become premier in NSW – NSW for crying out loud! – that’s a good omen for sensible and talented federal ministers who happen to belong to the Left. People may look back on this moment as a definitive one in ALP history, when the rigid factional system that was set in concrete by the early 70s had finally shed some of its worst excesses. Good riddance!

    And the other good news is what happened federally. A very popular – and young – independent took another seat from the Nats. I don’t know which way he leans politically, but hopefully it’s one more buffer for us. Bad result for the Libs in Downer’s old seat too.

  4. You’re right – it is quite amazing that in a caucus utterly dominated by the Right, we have a Premier and Deputy Premier who are more or less both considered to be from the “left”. I suppose that might be an indication of the desperation that NSW Labor is feeling right now. One has to wonder to what extent the views of the leadership team are going to prevail over the Right-dominated caucus, given that these views are certain to clash relatively frequently. It’s probably going to prove to be a fairly prickly point of contention moving forwards, but I guess at this point the caucus really does need to rally behind the new leaders and try to get the ball rolling for them in both policy and public opinion terms.

    On the other hand, there is some likely bad news on the horizon with by-elections coming up in the NSW state seats of Ryde (almost certainly a Lib win) and Lakemba (likely retain for us, but if we get smashed around a bit I would not be surprised). A pretty amazing week in state politics all in all.

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