Opening Stage 2 on Sunday and making a welcomed return to Split are Young Liar, a five-piece instrumental ensemble who mash together elegant ambience with loud and thrashy rock to construct beautiful soundscapes of settling yet thought-provoking scores of music. Forming in 2010 for a one-off gig, the group encountered an affinity with their end product and felt compelled to continue, quickly discovering the winning formula which can take bands years to uncover. A brilliant way to start Sunday's Stage 2 festivities.
Next up are Shy Nature, are an alternative rock band from London. Their distinctive, delicate vocals contrast an urgent mix of jangly guitars and rasping organ, drawing inspiration from timeless sixties songwriting through to more recent New York garage groups. Their playfully quick melodies and easy on the ear production make Shy Nature a fun and rewarding listen, and a definite excuse for a bit of a dance (if you ever needed one).
Fresh from Brighton pier come Lovepark, a jagged fusion of post-punk and slow pop complete with whispery tender vocals and baggy shirts. Lovepark have a very current sound, precise guitar licks, plenty of room and delay, punchy reverbed drums and well calculated arrangements. Plus, the name of the band is 'Lovepark', they love parks, the festival is in a park, we couldn't not book them really, why do you think Maximo got the gig? Now where are Linkin...
Following those are Bad Breeding, a violently in your face loud and proud punk outfit whose insistence on doing things completely differently is reflected in their carbon footprint. They don't even have a Facebook page! Their lyrics tell tales of frustration and indifference with the banal life spent in cities the government forgot, and their music is as aggressive and confrontational as anything you'll hear all weekend. I love it. Grrrr.
Next in the day are School of Language, the brilliantly elaborate and elaborately brilliant new project of Field Music's David Brewis. The recently released album 'Old Fears' showcases an incredibly funky 80's pop feel, like Peter Gabriel if he was raised on mince and dumplings. Come catch School of Language and see if you recognise any of the backing band, Sunderland's a small place you know.
The penultimate act will be The Twilight Sad, a Scottish unit of power combining all the complexity of industrial and krautrock to find a sound which has served them well for 11 years and counting. Their notoriously loud and engaging live performances have become something of a must-see in modern music, and their intensely dark melodies coupled with haunting subject matter make The Twilight Sad often imitated, never replicated.
Headlining Stage 2 on Sunday will be Gruff Rhys, a Welsh master of all trades who you may be a fan of either working under his own name, from the band Neon Neon or perhaps even the iconic Super Furry Animals. Gruff's most recent release 'American Interior' took the form of not only an album, but also a film, a hardcover book and a mobile phone app! Whether donning a wolf skin on his head, or accompanied by a puppet, Gruff will put on a spectacle, and is a worthy weekend closer of Stage 2.