As the summer draws to a cooling, darkening, miserable close I found myself drifting back to the festival season passed. A festival season blessed by generally agreeable weather, largely predictable headliners and the over riding sense that the market is now well and truly saturated. In terms of festival highlights The Rolling Stones seemed to be tipped, before they'd even hobbled on stage, to be the rulers of the 2013 festival roost yet it was a band 35 years younger that owned the summer.
For the first time since 1992 it was a legendary set on the Sunday of Reading festival that defined the festival season. That year a trio of Americans going by the name of Nirvana bade farewell to our fair land with a set that will never be forgotten. This August a trio of Scottish men from Ayrshire, who have appeared at the same festival 8 times before, performed a headline show that will go down in Reading legend as the moment Biffy Clyro proved they are the most important band of the 21st century.
Before you throw your computer out the window at such a claim, hear me out. I don't throw around bold statements like that without thought. My point is that Biffy Clyro are a band. A real band. The sort of band that every music lover has once been a part of. Playing in your parents garage, with any of your mates who can pick up a guitar, let alone play it. Biffy's success story isn't a tear jerker.
They've had their fair share of ups and downs (see drummers recent struggle with alcoholism and the death of Neil's mother heavily influencing the Puzzle recording sessions), but theirs is not a sensational tale, quite the contrary. As 3 men who have spent 10 years of their lives making the music that they want to make they have succesfully fulfilled the dreams that every young band aspires to. Instilling hope in the countless bands stuck in toilet circuit limbo across the land.
When I first argued the importance of Biffy to a friend I was met with a now inevitable reply, "what about the Arctic Monkeys?". Let me begin.
In an age of instant stardom and XFactor where Mumford and Sons headline Glastonbury on the back of 2 albums which sound the same. In an age where a pop star has 9 number 1s from one album of club songs which also unsurprisingly sound the same. In an age where a band's debut forever seems to determine their future, a future that inevitably ends up in milking the cash cow of reformation. Watching Biffy Clyro conquer Reading Festival was a breath of fresh air. A band whose career was formed upon the boyhood dreams of many an aspiring rock star. A band who have truly grown with their music.
Arctic Monkeys are the rock equivalent of this generation. A band propelled to superstardom on the back of a few songs, and headlining festivals before their debut had reached its first birthday. A feat not to turn ones nose up at. In fact I love Arctic Monkeys yet their story is something quite sensational, and 5 albums in they're still proving that they were wrong and we were right to most certainly believe the hype. Arctic Monkeys success, however, doesn't exactly inspire the hard graft that is so often needed , if anything it fuels aspirations of luck and 'being found', something that as long as Calvin Harris still tops the charts is increasingly less likely to happen.
Big money simply isn't in Rock music any more. Big labels nowadays sign A$AP Rocky for £3million not a rock band from the North, let alone Ayrshire. This isn't to say the scene is dead, far from it, it's just nowhere near the most lucrative dimension of the music industry a fact that doesn't look like changing any time soon.
If you take a look at the rest of the Reading lineup Biffys success breathes hope in to the lungs of the bands who cluttered early main stage slots: see Lower than Atlantis, Don Broco, Deaf Havana et al. The bands who have spent years endlessly touring taking support slots wherever and whenever yet seem destined to never surpass the heights of club academy's countrywide. Biffy have proven they can dream bigger.
They played out of their skin at Reading, bringing not only massive production of flames, fireworks and a simply beautiful stage set, but they delivered an overwhelmingly powerful performance musically. The passion driven in to each and every song was lapped up by the impressively sized and ridiculously loud crowd. The set made you believe that every song they've ever written was made to be played in this environment. It was nothing short of magical.
Maybe they aren't still making the same schizophrenically obscure and unpredictable music they were on Infinity Land and Vertigo of Bliss, in fact their new sound is more akin to their grunge tinged debut Blackened Sky... but where would they be without the artistic progression and expression of the first 6 years. Their maturity in song writing shines through, vindicated by the decision of the 'movers and shakers' at the very top of the music business mountain to use Many of Horror on XFactor.
It's a dream come true in the most humble of circumstances and I couldn't be happier for them, long may they inspire a generation of bands to come.
Mon The Biff.