THERE’S going to be a lot of running around going on so it seems sensible to start the Hinterland experience at the top of a hill, in the Art School.
The only problem with that is, given the venue’s distance from ticket exchange, not many have yet ventured up this way.
The vast emptiness of the room at the 7pm start time would surely be daunting to an act with less balls.
Fangs, however, look like they couldn’t give a stuff how big the crowd is – they have come to perform and perform they will, whether it’s to 20 people or just a cleaning lady.
Their punchy pop shows absolutely no fear as frontwoman The Queen strides around stage shouting ‘Shock Horror’.
It doesn’t get any busier as Edinburgh trio Come On Gang! take to the stage. Apparently they’ve got a new bassist – but, to his great credit, if this hadn’t been announced, you wouldn’t have know it from the sound as the band is very together. They are pleasant enough, particularly on a quirky number where drummer/singer Sarah Tanat Jones comes out to the front (even if she has forgotten her tambourine)
But it’s time to dash down to the Flying Duck and hear a bit of Pooch… or rather it would be if they weren’t running so very late.
They take the stage about ten minutes before they were supposed to leave it, but with a confidence which belongs in a much bigger arena. Fun, electric pop ensues and encourages a little shoulder bopping if not full-on dancing from the crowd.
Pooch promise good times with every tune – but unfortunately for them Geordi La Force is about to start in Classic Grand.
Geordi provokes the first genuine roars of the night from a crowd staring in rapt attention.
Who knew one boy with a midi guitar, a thwackload of samples and a big screen could provoke so much joy?
He mixes Animal Hospital, MacGuyver and Ulysees theme tunes with static bursts and rocking riffs and makes it all sound original and fun.
Just time to pop into Macsorely’s for Beerjacket, who is managing to win over the crowd despite the stage’s position right beside the door, where people are in and out.
His melodies are heartwrenching and haunting but not enough to stop the lure of Galchen, who have the same time slot in Pivo Pivo.
I’ve had a tendency before to be honest of just staring in awe at Galchen’s drummer who is, quite honestly, amazing.
Tonight because people are squished in to the side room of the venue it’s hard to see any of the band or their timed-to-the-music projection screen. This does however have the benefit of lending a little more concentration to the other two members as well – and well deserved it is. Their stunning, stirring, epic tunes deserve every throaty cheer they provoke.
Sadly this makes a hard act to follow for Brigade at Classic Grand.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with their brand of punky pop rock but there’s a glossiness to it without a lot of heart – which, in a festival like this, is unlikely to stick in many minds or attract many new fans.
Upstairs, then, to catch a bit of Fanfarlo who have a cavernous hall, with few people to fill it. Everyone’s off to see the Fall.
Those Beirut comparisons must get tiring for the band but they come with the territory of such folky ensemble music. They do however have strong songs pulled off with flair, to throw back. Trumpets and standing drums add a bit of bang to the affair and they deserve a much bigger crowd than has shown up.
Moving on to the Arches the first stop is a pop in to Copy Haho, who sound great but are just finishing up – even they want to see The Fall who are in the neighbouring room.
So this is where the crowds have been hiding all night – the room is absolutely packed with dancing, grinning punters swaying to the music. Mark E Smith warbles over the top as he struts the stage, gazing out at those gathered there with a somewhat lost expression. I don’t know if it convinced anyone from outside their fanbase but the rapturous applause shows it’s certainly gone down well with the target audience.
To round things off, Sucioperro at Classic Grand. Still struggling to get away from the Biffy’s mates/Marmaduke Duke label, their performance is a cry to appreciate them on their own merits. Passion imbues every note, every cry, every chord they make amd they invoke mass singalongs at almost every chorus.
At one stage, JP Reid introduces the next song as ‘Are You Convinced?’ The answer from the crowd is a resounding yes.
AFTER a bit too much running around last night, the plan is to keep it to venues a little closer together tonight – which means missing out on the great stuff happening in Sleazy’s and so on but also means missing out on running for 15 minutes to catch the end of a set.
Kicking things off is at the Arches is Y’all Is Fantasy Island – a good choice of opener, the Falkirk four-piece don’t disappoint with solid melodies throughout.
Onwards to The Admiral for 85 Bears. This trio of Londoners create a big, big noise in the basement bar and combine space-age guitars with driving beats. They’re very good – so good, in fact, that it’s hard to leave meaning that Remember Remember, disastrously, are playing just the last few chords and finishing up early on arrival.
More bad news – Young Fathers have pulled out of their gig at Macsorelys, so it’s off to Stereo to catch a little of Eugene McGuinness, a surprising and refreshing singer songwriter. He starts late but immediately catches attention with a dark, thrumming riff and proves throughout the set to be a competent and very entertaining storyteller.
He comes across like a less silly Adam Green in terms of lyrics and his songs are fascinating, provoking laughter, smiles and well-earned cheers.
Back down to the Arches for Punch and The Apostles who are as overblown and theatrical as McGuinness is contained.
One minute charging through a pompous treaty on the civil war, the next smoothly gliding through an off-kilter lounge number, this is never a band who you could describe as boring – and they are clearly enjoying every minute.
Over at Classic Grand, iLiKETRAiNS are powering through their set in nifty matching jackets which receive a complement from the audience. Their epic, gloomy rock is complemented with booming drums. A good show which it would be great to catch more of but for Sons and Daughters starting up at The Arches.
The four-piece is rejoined by bassist Ailidh Lennon after a maternity break and delivers a strong setlist proving how high quality their short back catalogue is.
Adele Bethel Is as exciting a frontwoman as ever and strides about sharing her excitement that it’s Friday night (and that people have turned out to see them). But sound malfunction on Scott Patterson’s mic certainly takes the shine off the double-punch of ‘Rama Lama’, not to mention the verses of ‘Johnny Cash’, which is a real shame.
On to Broken Records at Classic Grand. The Edinburgh group seem to have lost a wee touch of their usual sparkle tonight – maybe just gearing up for the massive tour they have arranged this summer – but still sound epic and grand.
Things end the way they started – at the Art School, but now the room is full and appreciative for This Will Destroy You. Loud is definitely the word here – the windows aren’t quite shaking but there’s a vibration from the speakers which moves through the audience during the big bits of their massive sounding, post-rock numbers, so earplugs are a sound investment. The room is silent and reverential during their quiet bits and stirred into rapt attention and impromptu headbanging when the booms come. The band stamps and swings its way through, ending with a very welcome promise that they’ll be back soon.