Friday, 17 June 2011

Gig Review - Doune The Rabbit Hole - Friday

Bit late getting round to this, I offer no excuses other than I've been busy of late.

Last Friday the 10th June, saw Doune The Rabbit Hole take place in the cosy little town of Doune, just outside Dunblane. Certainly held in the shadow of the more commerical Rockness, Doune The Rabbit Hole was always going to be given less attention. Luckily for the organisers though, their target audience was certainly different to fans that the big names and dance orientated acts of Rockness would draw in.

The festival itself is a relatively new one within the Scottish Festival scene. Returning in 2011 for it's second year, it is a non-profit festival, and focuses greatly things such as recycling waste, locally sourced food, supporting local Scottish bands and family fun. This running theme throughout the festival, given away by the name I guess, is Alice In Wonderland. The stages were all named after characters, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, The Mad Hatter and The Jaberwocky, and the surrounding countryside also feeds into this. Set in the grounds of Doune Castle, you probably couldn't ask for a more picturesqe setting, with plenty of trees, plantlife and a river snaking alongside the campsite, with the sun shining on the Friday it was perfect.

As I mentioned, families were very welcome, and with that in mind, I headed along with my wife and two kids. We viewed this as a trial run for next month when we head to the much bigger Lattitude festival, and certainly there was things available for the kids. Other than the large grounds to explore, we took in clay model making, story telling, and the RSPB tent which had badge making and colouring in. Other activities included an '80's theme tent with computer games and films to watch, latern making, and a cafe stocked with homemade cakes.

The festival itself however, despite a strong line up on the Friday consisting of Polar Bear, Mitchell Museum, Zoey Van Goey and more, was sparesly populated. Speaking with a few people, this was attributed to the fact that the festival normally gets busier on the Friday night heading into Saturday, with more people coming from the weekend. It was I suppose the one sour note.

Music wise, the day progressed nicely. First up I caught the closing shows of Tango In The Attic, who were the first band to grace The Jaberwocky Main Stage. A scattering of people who were arriving took in their blend of indie pop, which was pleasant. Shame I missed the rest of the set.

Next up was Sophie Ramsay who played here new age/folk songs in the Tweedledee Tent. Sounding very much like Joni Mitchell, Ramsay's self admitted purpose was the make everyone miserable, with song Timelessness.

The reasons I caught Ramsay, was waiting for next band on in the Tweedledee Tent, Mitchell Museum. Waiting is the key word, as the band did not take the stage until well past their advertised stage time of 14:30. I sat through a lovely soundcheck, so at least I was assured that the band were well prepared. Finally taking the stage, their first song had a slow trumpet led building intro, which culminated in a frenzied sing-song leaving the band with red faces all round. The band make great use of sound bites interlaced into their songs, and had a very atmospheric sound, almost a punky feel.

There was a hefty gap between Mitchell Museum and the next band I wanted to see, so we plonked ourselves down on the grass and took in all the variety that The Jackerwocky Main Stage had to offer.

First up were The Balladeers, who got people dancing with their blend of jaunty pop. They sound like someone took jazz, pop, rock, pysch and folk, melted them together, and crafted a pub band out of the mixture. Great fun, and their shanty like songs fitted well with the feel of the festival.

Following on from them were Cloud Shoes, which felt like we had stumbled upon an impromptu jamming session. Prog rocked out their nut, it served to further drive home the 'differentness' of Doune The Rabbit Hole.

From prog rock to a balls out barn dance. Rag & Feathers took to the stage with a mission to make people dance. And they accumulated a devout army of dancers, including my children! Ending with a rocked up version of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', Rag & Feathers' set was worthy of the sunshine that we were enjoying.

It had been threatening for a few hours, and the drizzle eventually started. Luckily though The Ray Summers had just begun their set in the Tweedledum Yurt. They attracted an army of fans, however I'm sure that would have been the case even if the rain hadn't begun. The pace and intensity of their set never let up.

Next on The Jaberwocky Main Stage, was the reason I had wanted to come up on the Friday. But before they hit the stage, there was time for a burger or two. Having suitably re-fuelled, it was time for Glasgow indie gods, Zoey Van Goey. Their latest album, Propeller Versus Wings was released earlier this year, and it's a joy to listen to. Live, they didn't disappoint. Switching from melodic pop, to pyschedelic synths, to chilled out tweeness. Lead singer Kim Moore's beautiful vocals, lead the three part harmonies, and audience participation during 'Robot Tyrannosaur' helped complete the package.

Much in part to the late running order, and the fact that I had two children nearly sleeping, we called it a day, and headed home. This meant of course I never got to see Conquering Animal Sound, Randolph's Leap or grnr. Still, a fun day was had by all.

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