Thursday, 6 September 2012

Doune The Rabbit Hole - Friday Review

Back for it's third year, Doune The Rabbit Hole took place over the weekend of 24th to 26th August, with the DTRH team nestled into their new home.  And what a home it was, the picturesque Carron Forrest Valley, with it's views of Scottish hills, the glorious reservoir and the trees of the forest, adorned with decorations creating the illusion of a magical faraway forest.

Having had a fun time last year, my wife and I decided we'd take the kids along for the full weekend this year, and whilst I'd be on reviewing duties, they could enjoy the family based activities that the festival had to offer.  This included pottery, wood carving, story telling, and plenty more.

Arriving within the site to a pre-pitched tent (like the kind husband I am I drove up earlier to set up camp whilst the kids were in school), it was obvious we had descended into a slightly different beast of festival.  Gone were the vast 'quality' burger stalls that blight the culinary landscapes of bigger festivals, absent were the fairground rides whose music act like a buzz kill for the actual performing artists, and missing were the huge snaking queues to get in, get parked, or get your tent up.

Yet for these benefits there's a pay off.  At times things seemed to lack to organisation that one normally associates with larger events.  There wasn't much security, although granted there wasn't really a need for it, and certain things which were advertised didn't appear to happen.  I suppose this kind of spontaneity and care-free attitude added to the laid back approach of the festival itself, and I do know from speaking with festival organiser Jamie Murray that a helluva lot of effort, passion, and organisation did go into the festival, so it would be extremely unfair to criticise DTRH too much for this.  That said however, I can't over look the decision not to publish stage times (until late Sunday afternoon, some of which were wrong anyway).  Honestly, the idea of "time is an illusion, festival time doubly so" sounds interesting and fun in principle, but when you've got two kids to cater too, plus you want to see specific bands, for enjoyment as well as reviewing, it simply didn't work. 

However all that aside let's move onto the music eh?  If you were paying attention you'll have seen I tipped Behold, The Old Bear as 'ones to see', however sadly I missed them.  What I didn't miss though were SAY Award winners Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat.  Backed by their talented band, the duo proceeded to wow the crowd with tracks from their album 'Everything's Getting Older', playing songs almost in the album running order.  As I stood with my wife and two children a small part of me couldn't help but chuckle during 'Cages', where Moffat returns from a mundane shopping trip with his family, lamenting "freedom's over rated anyway".  Whereas later during 'Glasgow's Jubilee', the filth ridden tail of sex and infidelity a small part of me wondered if I should be covering the kids ears!  However, that would have deprived them of the glorious sounds of tracks such as 'The Cooper Top', '(If You) Keep Me In Your Heart' and 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' all of which were sung and played with passion and beauty.  Despite this, part of me was a little disappointed.  For me the greatest strength of Wells & Moffat live is the intimacy they effortlessly create.  The warmth of the piano and trumpet wraps the audience up, and the deep truthfulness of the lyrics hits home.  This was lost somewhat by the openness of the Jaberwocky stage, and the general movement that a festival brings.  This isn't to say the Wells & Moffat in any way underperformed, I just feel that their set doesn't suit festivals.

The next band however had no such worries.  No strangers to festival stages were Glasgow's The Phantom Band.  The band really made the Jaberwocky stage their own, and genuinely looked like they were having a ball of a time, with the bassist sporting a blonde Marilyn wig, and lead singer Rick joked about Avril Lavinge and Chad Krueger.  Their four vocals across the front, and three guitars plus bass really create a full, loud, deep sound.  The band treated the receptive crowd to songs off their latest album 'The Wants' such as 'A Glamour' and 'Mr Natural'.  The Phantom Band also revelled in creating little quirky electronic sounds to layer their set, like kids playing with electronic toys.  Their closer, old favourite, 'Crocodile' was one of the best moments of the festival and a great way to finish the evening.

And at that it was off to sleep in a tent and wait to start all over again tomorrow...

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