Ah Doune, how you’ve grown. Now in its twelfth year (give or take, pandemically-speaking) it’s gone from being Scotland’s mini-Glastonbury, into, er, a bigger mini-Glastonbury – increasing its capacity from a few hundred hardcore revellers during its time at the titular Doune Castle, to many thousands of music fans on the beautiful greenfield site close to the Lake of Menteith.
However, despite now being a magnet for some seriously famous acts, it’s still the place to see the best in up-and-coming performers from both Scotland and around the world.
Take Poster Paints. Formed by Carla J Easton (TeenCanteen, Ette) and Simon out of Frightened Rabbit, the duo have roped in an impressive band of musicians including Suse Bear on bass to deliver their big wall of sound on ‘Falling Out’.
Carla has nieces in the audience, joking about the “embarrassing auntie” onstage, but the youngsters, if we assume good taste in music is a familial thing, would be rightly proud of the creators of the soulful groove that is ‘Rupture’.
Our exploration of the site takes us to the aptly-named Comhla tent (assuming that’s a Gaelic) as we encounter the sparkly-clad, lively Kinnaris Quintet, who are entertaining a sizeable crowd with their fiddle-driven folk.
The Strange Blue Dreams are on the Whistleblower stage, the ideal party band whose largely unclassifiable sounds meld good-time rockabilly with klezmer led by consummate live frontman Dave Needles.
It’s often said that if the performers onstage are having fun then that’s half the battle won. Peaness therefore are already home and dry – clearly enjoying themselves, their enthusiasm wins over the crowd. Dressed for the summer temperatures – apart from, surely, Nicky’s hat – their effervescent grunge-pop matches the mood and the climate perfectly.
As their name suggests there’s a touch of tongue-in-cheek feminism, as on the short ‘Good For A Girl’ (which could stand being stretched out to at least a couple of minutes), and recent single ‘How I’m Feeling’. Rocking with exuberant harmonies, they’re attitudinally a bit Sleater-Kinney, musically a bit Courtney Love if she was on uppers. But with a better set of tunes. The quartet are, it seems, staying in Fintry, Highland cows for neighbours, and enjoying their time here – having been forced to cancel their Great Eastern appearance back in May we can only hope they will be gigging around these parts again soon.
“Welcome to my dream,” says Richard Dawson. Must be one of those dreams where you wake up and find yourself on what was earlier a folk stage, but now standing alongside your favourite band, in Dawson’s case, Finnish prog-metallers Circle. They’re usually driven by flamboyant keyboard man Mika Rättö, whose falsetto vocal melds perfectly with that of the man from Newcastle, usually better known for more pastoral sounds.
We said “prog metal” but Circle are at the credible end of that spectrum, evoking Sabbath and Van der Graaf in their complex-but-sticky riffs (a Stooges fragment also appears at one point as a further clue). Finns like their guitars too, and while even with Dawson added they’re a couple short of Teksti TV 666’s total of seven, there’s plenty of room for big licks, tongue-in-cheek rock photo ops, big hair, and strange pixie dancing.
She Drew The Gun are greeted with a wee chant of “Fuck the Tories” which given Louisa Roach’s political leanings will have made the band feel right at home thanks to a main (Jabberwocky) stage crowd who require little warming up. As evidenced by ‘Next On The List’ they’re more full-on guitar pop than their records which are often squonky electronic pop. Which makes their blend of agit-pop and politics more accessible while remaining somewhere to the left of Billy Bragg, none more so than on ‘Class War’: “How much did you get paid for that?” goes the chant as the crowd needs little encouragement from Roach to sing along – “in Scouse if you like!”
Sadly, we find later that a running order snafu means that The Rezillos have been and gone, replaced instead by the running-late Irish trio Deep Blue, who offer a dreamy sound redolent of Fleetwood Mac. Which they can take as a very much unintended compliment if they like. Two songs in, the crowd at the Baino is drifting away with only a woman in a ‘Rumours’ T-shirt remaining.
But if Doune is all about anything it’s contrasting styles, so Audiobooks are possibly the actual musical opposite of what we’ve just witnessed. Edgar Winter’s on keys (ask your grandad), the woman out of And The Native Hipsters on vocals (ask that weird uncle that doesn’t come to Christmas dinner any more). A decided odd couple, but not as odd as the set of electro-backed poetry they offer. ‘Blue Tits’ is not about feathered birds, and neither is it as sexy as some of you might have been imagining.
You Call That Radio occupy a special corner of the arena, alongside Glasgow reggae shop Raggamuffin Records’ tent which pumps out the vibes all weekend. The darkened tent offers some cool respite and trombones, and a noisily rocking set from Anna Secret Poet and band.
Warmduscher take the stage looking like they mean business, resplendent in their Devo-style trademark white boiler suits. However, it’s quickly taps aff for Clams Baker Jr. for some of the sleaziest electrofunk imaginable, recalling a mildly threatening but always likeable Huey Morgan. Their Fat White Family connections are less musical and more theirthat overall vibe – Baker is irrepressible, educating the kids present there will times they will have to tell their parents and teachers to “go fuck themselves”.
‘At The Hotspot’ is a mighty mutant disco anthem, while ‘Wild Flowers’ might well be the music in the elevator to Hell. Or the most soulful of soul; in one impassioned coda Baker channels so much James Brown we’re expecting the MC to come on and cover him with a cape. ‘8 Minute Machines’ is more given a bassy Killing Joke-style rework. If this is how discos sound nowadays then bring me my white jumpsuit and platform heels, for a final birl before resting up for Saturday.