Link to home page

Doune the Rabbit Hole

Cardross Estate, Stirlingshire (Sunday August 21st)

By • Jul 27th, 2019 • Category: Gig review

With festival revellers a little weary, what they need is to blow away the cobwebs. And Belfast foursome And So I Watch You From Afar may be just the band to do that.

asiwyfa 3

Ostensibly post rock, there’s also a fair bit of metal, and the odd funky bassline, this clash of styles no better evinced than the drummer’s Tears For Fears t-shirt. Mathematically precise (if not safe), they are one for the early-afternoon musos present, but offer plenty for the dancers (those who can cope with awkward time signatures) as well as early-arriving Hawkwind fans who fancy shaking a leg, or artificial hip. Even a jig? At times a speed metal Mogwai, there’s even what sounds like a jig, presumably absorbed from their Celtic heritage.

Perhaps with the Vaselines’ Nirvana influence ringing in her ears, Carla J Easton’s combo are exuding a decidedly grimy sound. The dirty guitar on ‘Light In The Dark’ is more grungy club than festival tent, perhaps appropriately as a whole new audience pack in to shelter from the rain.

murder capital 2

The Murder Capital are a band who divide opinion, it seems. Are they derivative? Isn’t everything? Coming across as a less cheery version of Joy Division (there’s definitely a steal, unconscious or otherwise, from ‘Day Of The Lords’), the Dublin quintet offer an intense, emotionally-charged performance. Singer James McGovern plays a happy cop / angry cop routine with himself – encouraging the audience to step forward, to clap along, to tell friends you care about them while you can. And then going rather introspective on us – one song, new single ‘Don’t Cling To Life, is a “celebration of death”. His bandmates adding to the air of menace – the bassist’s instrument is higher-strung than Mark King’s, as he wields his weapon stage front, while the singer at one point dons his jacket and, as if clocking off work, takes a fag break on the monitors while his bandmates deliver a claustrophobic instrumental break redolent of The Twilight Sad at their most intense. And anyone looking for a lazy reference could cite countrymates Fatima Mansions on ‘Feeling Fades‘, an brooding, blisteringly angry closer.

One true pairingJPG

For anyone wondering how One True Pairing are on the main stage, it seems that they were once, at least in some part, Cumbrian indie rockers Wild Beasts. To be honest they never left any sort of impression on this reviewer so whether the new act’s Talk Talk stylings were reminiscent of the previous combo is open to debate. As is, later, the question of if they are ‘Yacht rock’, and yes, now it’s come up, there’s a definite Chris Rea element to their breezy if a little nondescript pop.

hawkwind

With the dash around the site we only catch the last number from the Cosmic Dead and Friends, but that number lasts for most of the afternoon. A never-ending jam, the ‘friends’ include Bell Lungs on violin, and eventually, it seems, anyone who can scale the stage and holler their heart out.
And winding up just about in time for the main deal on the main stage – the band’s Twitter profile describes them as “Scotland’s foremost Hawkwind tribute band” and they’re the ideal soundtrack to the space movie in your head, if you’re more Alien than Dark Star.

Perhaps performing with less intensity than their successors in the Baino tent, Hawkwind – with Dave Brock the sole original member – do what is expected at such a festival – dust down ‘Warrior At The Edge Of Time’ for some hippy trippy dancing from the hard core fans there to see them. It’s a disjointed set, with a hastily-organised ’Hymn To The Sun’ filling the gap during an emergency bass drum repair (weirdly, the third of the festival). With some psychedelic visuals and singalong numbers for the faithful, we get a singalong ‘Spirit of The Age’ and an old Motorhead tune ‘The Watcher’. However, there’s only one Lemmy song the crowd want, though it seems the band are less keen – “we’d better do ‘Silver Machine’” is pretty much the prelude to a pretty half-arsed take on their greatest hit / millstone, which to be fair Brock neither wrote or sung on. Things rather peter out before the band are seemingly ushered back onstage to complete their timeslot with a largely-unasked-for encore. Still, one ticked off for the casual music fans.

shonen knife 1

A quick trip for The Banjo Lounge 4 in the Bandersnatch, who offer a new take on some old songs including some beatboxed Snoop Dog, but this is a mere entertaining diversion on the way to Shonen Knife. In the same tent as other Cobain endorsees The Vaselines, the Japanese trio endear themselves to the busy tent with a lively ’Capybara’. There’s also, as far as we can tell from their broken English introductions, a track from the new album, ‘My Independent Country’ and a tribute to “70s British hard rock”.

Which signals time to leave, and catch Kapil Seshasayee, who is, aptly in the BeatRoot Cafe, sponsored by Love Music Hate Racism. Delivering amazing guitar tapping / harmonics he employs a guest flautist to adds a haunting backing to songs mainly drawn from his album about India’s caste system, the intense mix of sound melding with his politically charged lyrics.

beak2

Kathryn Joseph fears she may have angered the rain gods, so she’s written “some shit sings about it”. It is indeed chucking it down when she appears stage centre, and very isolated on the Jabberwocky, but soon the rain abates a little and the crowd approach down the hill, as she suggests, like the undead in a zombie film. At least the rain has reduced the chances of a wasp attack like the last time she played one of the smaller stages, but the most notable thing is how she effortlessly enchants the watching crowd, just armed with a piano, her voice soaring into the evening air.

Tongue Trap

Fresh from TRNSMTs Queen Tut’s stage, Tongue Trap are maybe less riot grrl and more noughties indipop – with the songwriting craft of The Delgados, their melodic yet urgent tunes are worthy of further investigation.

The act formerly known as Happy Meals, Free Love, are brewing up a party in the Baino. The whole stage is a reddened haze, as animated Greek statues wave flags and Suzi Rodden distributes flowers and purrs “Adieu” over Lewis Cook’s pounding beats – well, that’s how I remember it anyway.

Girobabies have been a fermenting fixture on the Scottish scene for a while now and late on Saturday on the Whistleblower stage they proved again why they are so vital in these hardened times.
With Mark McGhee on lead vocals, Jo D’Arc on bass and various others on guitar, drums, keyboards the Giros blasted through some older songs like ‘Equinox’, ‘Late Night Sketchy’ and some newer ones like ‘Dear Monday’. McGhee is a compelling frontman, conjuring genius lines out of what at times seem unlikely scenarios (lampposts?) and the racket they make comes down from punk, Madchester and all kinds of other influences. A dark party band (is that a genre?), BM would recommend them to anyone with a beating heart. (BM)

So to the final acts of the long weekend – following a brief stop to catch The Raptors energetically performing single ‘Death Becomes Her’ in a darkened Beatroot Tent, it’s headliner / closing act time.

Wailers

And the main stage headliners are of course The Wailers. The reggae legends sadly have just one original member, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, whose lineage goes back to Bob Marley, and also to Lee Perry’s house band The Upsetters. It’s a shame though maybe no surprise that ‘Scratch’ hasn’t stuck around to reunite with his former charge, who rather than taking the easy route and working their way through ‘Legend’, instead throw in some comparatively obscure tunes like ‘Ride Natty Dread’ into the mix early on. Singer Junior Marvin is no Marley impersonator, but does a decent job on the back catalogue, assisted by guitarist Donald Kinsey, whose has served under Marley as well as Peter Tosh, while there are a couple of, well, I-Twos, who do the necessary in replicating backing vocals on ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and ‘I Shot The Sheriff’.

Rise Kagona

Such is the length of the Wailers’ set, we’re able to catch a good chunk of Rise Kagona in the Love Music Hate Racism tent. The former Bhundu Boy doesn’t do any material from that part of his back catalogue (well, not that we catch), but does delve back to one of the first tunes he wrote while growing up, his take on Burns ‘Red Red Rose’, and his illuminating tale on government control in Zimbabwe at the time. There’s some sound bleed from the main stage between songs, prompting a shout of “fuck the Wailers” – who are still going even after Kagona’s final encore. Sadly there’s still no sign of Lee Perry, as ‘Exodus’ is wheeled out as an encore before ‘Punky Reggae Party’, with its “The Dammed, The Jam, The Clash” line, just about ties everything together, and draws down the curtain on another Doune.

Doune the Rabbit Hole, Sunday

Leave a Reply