Despite their status, on paper Mogwai seem unlikely headliners, their near-instrumental post-rock demanding a patience and reverence not native to an inebriated and restless festival crowd. However, the afternoon’s biblical weather demands a suitably epic soundtrack, and the Glaswegian five-piece’s catalogue of brooding apocalyptica fits perfectly. Ambling on stage clad in unassuming track suits and caps, Mogwai have always been a dichotomy, their masculine appearance at odds with the aching melancholy and brooding intensity of their songs: theirs is not a set reliant upon image or fashion. Nor does it draw much in the way of crowd interaction: aside from a few sparing comments from Stuart Braithwaite, communication is left to the tearing squalls of guitars and the pounding drums, early-onset deafness chiseled into every note.
For the uninitiated, the lack of stage convention proved too much: pockets of blank-faced fools, many refugees from Skream’s truncated set, haunted the crowd, disinterested and confused and insistent that we all know it, again again and with ever-increasing volume, severely compromising the more contemplative aspects of the set (most criminally on Mogwai Fear Satan – where were the police?). A stunning Friend of the Night silenced most critics, though, and a penultimate 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong, augmented with glitches and electronics, evoked the closest thing to dancing, albeit of a twitchy, seizure ilk. They closed with Batcat, a terrible song on record but a revelation live, walls of sound coarsing through us like electricity conducting through the rain that now seems an distant, irrelevant memory.