Friday, 2 August 2013

Wickerman Review - Saturday

Day two of Scotland 'alternative festival', and the Scottish Fiction team are awake, if not fully compos mentis, fed and water, and ready for a full on day of great music, centred once more around the Solus Tent and the goNORTH Festival Tour Tent.

A change in the advertised stage times (or perhaps a misprint in the lanyards) meant that my early afternoon trip down to the Solus Tent to see Giant Fang, instead meant I was able to catch some of the The Recovery instead.  Brash, loud and angry metal coated rock was the order of the day, sharply dispelling any remnants of sleep that were lingering.  Lead singer Andy prowled the tent, spitting vocals with fury and passion, and giving one of the most confident and self assured displays of any front men all weekend.  Not content with the sizable crowed that had gathered, he proceeded outside the tent shepherding in punters from the blaring sun to the sweaty tent for their daily dose of hardcore.

Staying in the crushing heat of the Solus Tent, four piece instrumental post-rockers Vasa provided another masterclass in layered experimental rock music.  Giving tracks from their début EP 'Never Have Dreams' an outing, their carefully designed sound thrusts the listener along an interstellar path, each boom of Alex Gordon's bass drum propelling us further into the unknown.  But it's a journey the crowd make with aplomb.  Vasa are a post-rock band with pop sensibilities, their musical ears able to tag onto a catchy hook and build around that.  From the already mentioned EP, 'Cynthia' is a real stand-out with it's rhythmic melodies and enthusiastic execution, guitarist Scott Coupar throwing himself around the stage and in the photo pit. 

The goNORTH Festival Tour Tent allowed me the opportunity to right a wrong that has lingered for some time.  Despite actually having put the band on a gig bill back last October, I've never actually seen Book Group play live.  Their charming brand of indie-folk has already drawn comparison with the heart-on-sleeve style of Frightened Rabbit, and it's not hard to see why.  The crowd lap up each track, including a group of toddlers that probably bring the average age of the whole tent down by a good decade, and one break dancing maestro who answered the call to dance very well.  Ending with their strongest track to date, 'Year Of The Cat', lead singer Graeme Anderson climbs the front barrier while bellowing out through a megaphone the final refrain of "don't you ever change".  The only change one suspects for Book Group, will be more a higher billing and bigger audiences.

Douglas Frew makes melodic and catchy electronica music under the name Giant Fang.  For this Wickerman set in the Solus Tent, only his second live show, he has bolstered his set up to include a full backing band, provided by members of Prides and Take A Worm For A Walk Week.  Recent single 'Aqualung' was made for moments like this, the track soaring with all the airs of a festival anthem, Frew and the band bringing out the big notes at all the right times.  It's great to be able to hear a full set of Giant Fang material, and there's a couple of tracks that pique my interest including a very minimalist '80's sounding song and one that chimes familiarly with The Killer 'When You Were Young'.  'Kingdom' is another one of those magic moments, Frew majestic vocals gliding over the glittery electronic melodies, and bringing the summer sun inside this small tent.

Similar to my predicament with review Hector Bizerk for Friday's review, Fake Major are a band I've seen live a good few times over the past months.  What is also similar is how my awe never fades and my enjoyment increases each time they perform.  It should never be understated just how in sync Richard Ferguson and David 'Jarv' McGinty are.  The vocals gleefully intertwine, each man knowing exactly how to complement the other.  With a set packed with their usual crowd pleasers such as 'Little Researcher', 'Love in the Mundane' and closer 'Fiction' it's another festival under their belt, and another fantastic performance for the band.

Garden Of Elks transport the crowd back to the early '90's.  Not via a DeLoran or Tardis, but through the power of their grungy alt-rock rhythms they prove the power of the Seattle underground scene still holds sway.  Lead singer Niall yelps "fun, fun, fun, fun" in a fusion of the Pixies and The Beach Boys, whilst hunched behind the drum kit dodging the low hanging tent canvas, Kirsten lashes rhythmically with raw punk power.  'This Morning We Were Astronauts' with it's angular guitars and dark vocals proves a popular highlight.

When Vic Galloway says a band are his favourite rock band on the planet you take notice.  Fat Goth are that band.  Vic isn't the only to sit up and take notice, rawk journo types Kerrang are feeling the Fat Goth love, as are the many faces gathered.  With scrumptious basslines, growling guitar hooks, and killer drum beats, the band shred through tracks off their 'Stud' album, including 'Creepy Lounge', the intentful 'Debbie's Dirty Harry' and final song 'Surf's Down' which is greeted with an emphatic moshpit.

Glasgow five piece The Yawns are another Scottish Fiction gig alumni on show at Wickerman, proving that we share great taste.  The band are led by Sean Armstrong, who throughout the set ambles about on stage nonchalantly.  Luckily their appeal is not their stage presence or stage banter, but their sun kissed surf pop, which on a day like today is the perfect tonic.  'Summer's Wasted' kicks the set off, and that breezy alt-pop vibe continues throughout.

When I started this blog I said I wouldn't write negative reviews.  Afterall, what's the point of writing about something you didn't enjoy.  So on that note I can confirm that The Enemy and Amy McDonald played on the Summerisle Stage. 

One thing to be thankful for is that the repelling power of Amy McDonald on the main stage may have pushed people into the smaller tents for a musical discovery.  On the benefiting end of that effect are Prides, Glasgow's next big electro-pop band.  The band have rocketed their way through, pretty much on the strength of set closer 'Out Of The Blue', so far their only track to hit the internet, but they are far from a one tune band.  Neither are they comprised of one sound either.  While it's true there's a flavour of '80's synth-pop running through, the band know when to hit the dizzy heights and when to pull things back and display a knack for heart-on-sleeve writing.  I'm not yet familiar with track names yet, but 'Let It Go(?)' is sheer baby making music, such is the funky soulful vibe.  Despite trepidation about filling a 45 minute headline slot, Prides masterfully and energetically make that time fly by.  One of the highlights of the weekend, and having brought the Scottish Fiction / campsite neighbourhood watch along with me, we all leave the tent ready to silent disco the night away.

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