It’s Saturday night and I’m stood in The Hug and Pint watching the exquisite Living Body as the news starts to roll in about Playground Festival. Lauryn Hill is over an hour late for her set, there’s a 45 minute queue at the bar, and the rain has turned Rouken Glen in to a mudslide. I feel the promoter’s despair as the reputation of their new festival sours. I can only sympathise and hope that their carefully-curated third day would not be met with the same fate.
Walking into Rouken Glen on Sunday afternoon it almost feels natural to find Lylo on stage given their solid reputation in Glasgow. Small groups of sun-soaked early arrivals build comfortable seating arrangements from the freshly laid hay purposed to soak up the mud from the torrential evening prior. There’s mention of it “not being Giffnock without a white-wine spritz” as Iain McCall’s smooth saxophone soundtracks the moment, Mitch Flynn’s dancing ever-identifiable.
“He-bride” dweller and musical-psiren Pictish Trail (aka The Pictish Trail, Pitchish Trail)) hits it off super-dreamy with Rhombus before bridging the audience-artist gap; asking each individual crowd member “How are you doing? Good? Good.”. A heartening barrage of hits from their last album Future Echoes follow. Tipping his Hot Chip embroidered cap, and forever the most socially-capable front-person, Johnny Lynch states “Now we get to come out there and annoy you, we’ll be the drunk ones down the front. I’ll take my top off to Hot Chip, I love that band”.
A line-up of esteemed international acts has spanned the weekend for this first iteration of Playground. The family-friendly aesthetic, location, and bookings have likely contributed to its not-so-TRNSMT appeal. The distinct lack of neon clothing and shoulder-donned bumbags is striking. The Big Feed Forest food-court offers the usual pricey snacks, garden variety seating, kids play area, and DJ-gazebo. The area provides adequate respite for families and those suffering from alcohol-induced “mambo legs”. The lack of onsite cash-point combined with a no-re-entry policy was a common complaint here however.
Honne and Little Dragon bring in the afternoon pre-drinkers proper. There’s disco vibes, the temperature is rising, and the forecast thunderstorm is nowhere in sight. I’m not sure how I feel about seeing Maribou State outside of a sunrise setting, there’s significantly more prosecco here than the 4am shores of Barcelona. Their set of Holly Walker lead quality summer-house shakes out the early evening lull.
“How the f**k are you all doing out there?!” a cacophony of synths and drums whittles down to a single floor tom being hit and ported from location to location about the stage. It’s my first time watching Django Django, a band with unsurprising ties to Scotland. Django’s show is layered, dancey, and colourful. We’re into the evening now and the population here still doesn’t quite fill the space, but this proves to be an intimate festival show for the die hard Django fans here.
A single balloon is enthusiastically batted around the crowd as we wait in anticipation for Hot Chip. Their set is laced with new material and every back catalogue masterpiece we wanted to hear. “You’re very good at music!” is hollared from the mass of skyward reaching arms toward the front of the stage. Laser’s fire out into infinity while four members of the band align at the front of the stage to perform the traditional step and twist moves along to Flutes. A new favourite of mine, Positive, holds many Erasure qualities, I recall my childhood listening to Sometimes on my grandparent’s record player, breathing new life into nostalgia. The second to last song lands with a wall of distorted guitar, “I can’t stand it! I know you planned it!,” in disbelief that we’re hearing Sabotage by The Beastie Boys we push our vocal chords to the limit. Another in a line of superior covers, and shows, by Hot Chip.
We attempt to compose ourselves as we stumble wildly through the mud toward Whitecraigs station for the train home, stopping off at Queen’s Park that last pint we didn’t need at Heraghty’s.