Friday: White Air, White Ace, Brighton.

As trains chug deep down into the faded glories of Brighton’s heart, specs of smoke paletted in accordance with the Union Jack drizzle down from the exhausts of the decadent Red Arrows. The murky clouds above threaten to dampen the mundane pavements with far worse and nothing spells disappointment and disillusion quite like the disintegration of the festival season. It is September after all and perhaps not the ideal time to stage a beachside festival. The wind rattles over the curvaceous pebbles of the shore like wet fingers circling the rims of haughty wine glasses in deserted restaurants and the once-sparkling sea’s bracing to the point of pneumonia induction. And suddenly, the glorious heavens pierce through cracks in the cover and Brighton basks in effervescent light.

Slumped half way between the cobbled sea front and its neighbouring road like a beached whale, White Air boasts an entirely unfathomable amount of extreme sports ranging from utterly breath-taking (60-foot diving boards targeting oversized paddling pools) to the entirely bemusing (rolling metal fibre surfing). In amongst the modest rabble clawing for sleep-deprivating energy shots and Rowntrees Randoms intertwine remote-controlled skateboards and it becomes devastatingly apparent that the extremity of musical debauchery takes a rare back seat. Quite honestly, Friday’s bill is something of a hodgepodge, albeit a rather spectacular soldering of genres and infamy that don’t quite stick; 90s indie guitar hero Evan Dando and his Lemonheads fall prey once more to bizarre bookings, placed below hometown hedonists British Sea Power and doom-pop pretenders White Lies. His extreme sport fanaticism extends to “skateboards and sex” and from then on, a fine line is struck in the sand. Taking to the stage before the suited and booted of the south coast have had time to rip off their ties and in the words of contemporary Scottish Saint Calvin Harris, put on their shoes ready for the weekend, Dando’s fairly merry band of ragged gentlemen ought already have taken to the stage. Although they’re delayed as Evan disappears off into the sea. Apparently...

Tonight, well, this afternoon, Dando exorcises a subliminally lo-fi set of indie inspiration plunging primarily into the seminal waster anthemia It’s A Shame About Ray. Whilst the likes of Bit Part, Confetti and a barnstorming rendition of the oh-so-apt Rudderless sew the seams together, the trimmings come thick and fast from Varshons and beyond. The contestable highlight comes in a heart-shaped box, as a rousing run-through of Big Gay Heart, is, predictably and endearingly dedicated to the jewel in the Sussex crown. Layin’ Up With Linda explains somewhat the slightly contrived latest covers outing yet it’s at home that Dando strikes the home runs, with Into Your Arms cajoling flailing limbs and heart-wrenching howls right back into his wavering, wind-swept goldilocks. Once a fallen angel, these days he’s an underground hero cowering in the corner seeking serenity, evading the mainstream martyrdom that’s dogged him perilously previously.

British Sea Power flood the stage with military paraphernalia and half of the shrubbery of Westonbirt Arboretum before Wurlitzer sirens and smoke turn proceedings into something of a steam train convention. Musically sound but never spectacular, flagging followings and conventional-turned-conservative songwriting have transformed BSP into something of a festival formality, although Remember Me still tugs on a heartstring or two. Dashing over in a helicopter seemingly temporarily borrowed from the special services, White Lies jet over from supporting Coldplay at Wembley to blare out their expired hollowed melodrama as the sun sets on the strip. Almost an hour late and out of tune, heartbreak may triumph if their disaffected monotony were in any way anticipated.

“Help me be Captain of our crippled disguises. I won’t show what’s underneath, it’s time for surprises” soothes Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro on the crass-pop follow-up to tonight’s megalomaniacal opener That Golden Rule, The Captain. And just for tonight, he steers the sails of White Air from the winds of despair into triumphant waters. Surprises are thin on the ground with Bubbles offering the singular glimpse into the Ayrshire trio’s fascinating future, yet they pulsate through a pop-pummelling set to rival Girls Aloud, albeit in a parallel universe. Glitter and Trauma injects venom into a devastating and devious forty-five minutes filled with more thrills and spills than the precarious pier rollercoaster. Following an incendiary Who’s Got A Match, Love Has A Diameter raises hairs on necks like pins into the hearts of beloved voodoo dolls before 9/15ths lurches into view and Mountains brings their adrenaline-fuelled guitar jolts and jerks crumbling to the ground in disjointed cacophony. Shrouded in delays and missed trains, White Air’s predominant failing was in its vague neglect of Britain’s only true heart-on-sleeve rock behemoths.