Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Doune The Rabbit Hole - Saturday Review

f you've got a good pun, you hold onto it!"  That was my answer to why the festival, which had moved from it's origins at Doune back in 2012.  Truth be told, whilst it is a great pun, the name serves as a descriptive warning/preview of what to expect from Doune The Rabbit Hole (DTRH).  Pass through the gates and you'll find a meeting of people from all sorts of alternative lifestyles; hipsters mixing with druids, hippies swanning about with punks, circus performers mingling with face painted kids.  You're in wonderland now Alice.

This year is the small fledgling festival's fifth year, with punters returning to sample the eclectic mix of music, arts, and spoken word on display across three days.  Sadly our review kicks off on Saturday, as that small pesky matter of work meant I was unable to attend on Friday meaning I missed out on catching Hector Bizerk.  Never mind, there's always next time!

With the sun behind me, I caught the closing few tracks of troubadour Jamie Flynn, a man I had met purely by chance a couple of nights prior - life is strange like that!  Playing the Fruit Stage and armed with a bottle of Vimto; drink of champions so we are told; he entertains with a range of acoustic tracks, supplemented by some loop pedals, as well as tipping a hat to influences with a cover of Withered Hand's Religious Songs.

There's a few bands on the bill who can sum up the ethos of DTHR and SambaYaBamba are one of those.  Bringing their unique blend of carnival vibes and samba in kilts, they certainly know how to get the crowd up for it.  Musically things are a little bit same-y as each track has the tendency to blend into the next, but as you look across the crowd, there's Wonder Woman dancing with an old bearded guy, mixed in with Spanish dancers, all having a great time without a care.  Fun by the barrel load.

A quick hop, skip and a jump from the Jaberwocky stage and you'll find yourself in the darkened realm of the Baino stage.  It's there that we find ska legends The Amphetameanies with throngs of people enjoying some ska-throwback.  As the band start, the crowd swells with dancing and revelry of youth and memories, which seems to be a mutual feeling as lead singer Jane picks out familiar faces in the crowd, which is impressive given that almost everyone has dark sunglasses on!  Older fans are joined in their pogo-ing by those unfamiliar with band when This Boy  (of course made famous a band named after an Archduke led by alumni Alex Kapranos) starts playing. 

Mixed in with the above music, I spent much of my afternoon running after two kids (don't worry they were my kids) who had a great time playing with circus toys, making origami, seeing the various animals, doing woodcraft and just running around in general.  DTRH bills itself as a family festival, and it has to be commended for providing ample entertainment and things to do for youngsters.

PAWS kicked off their Baino set later than advertised as the three piece took time to get the sound and set up ready.  Kicking off with a Jellyfish -  Catherine 1956 opening salvo before launching into an impassioned and raw version of Sore Tummy  the band were three of their biggest tracks down within 15 minutes of their set starting.  It soon became clear that all was not quite  right, with snippy comments aimed at the quality of the sound, and Philip's erratic onstage manner, spending most of the time with his back to the crowd.  Quite what the problems were, I'm not sure, but none the less, the show did go on with drummer Josh providing some sweet drum fills, allowing Philip and Ryan to build their mid-set jams into an epic climax.  Bloodline,  Owl Talons Clenching My Heart  and War Cry  are also played, before Philip takes himself off stage, sitting at the side of the stage and embarking on a 15 minute shoe-gaze outro which brings the set to a close.

Prog quintet Secret Chiefs 3 clearly took their name to heart, wearing long Jedi style robes to guard their faces.  Filling the time between bands, I decided to stick around and invest more in their set on the Jaberwocky stage, which soared with nice melodies, intergalactic guitars and supplemented with out of this world keys.  There's a sizable element enjoying what's on offer here, but for my tastes, things just lose their way too much too often.

In a rare non-Scottish band moment, I headed along to check out Grumbling Fur, who had made the trip up to DTRH from London.  For reasons unexplained they had been shifted to the Fruit Stage, which seems to have had ongoing implications.  With quite an intricate and complex set up, moving stages was never going to be an easy task, and sound issues seem to plague the band throughout.    Moving away from these 'issues', the band plod on with a trippy, wonky and glitchy set, mixing violin, synths, keys, guitar, drum machine, along with an smorgasbord of samples and pedals.  Singer Daniel O'Sullivan's vocals are feed through heavy reverb, which with the low rumbling bass and at times ethereal violin layered over, create a psychedelic trip that is fitting of the surroundings.

It's been a while since Errors have been out on the live circuit, an appearance at The East End Social at the start of August, their first for a considerable time.  Something the band are all too aware of as they introduce themselves; "Hi we're Errors.  It's good to be playing again."  I mentioned earlier that progsters Secret Chiefs 3 had a tendency to lose their way mid tracks.  Well Errors have no such problem.  They should be heralded from on high as the perfect example of how to make engaging instrumental *mostly* music.  With tracks such as Pleasure Palaces  and Earthscore  demonstrating perfect how to build and layer, utilising repetition until finally at just the right moment unleashing the crucial beat drop or change in melody.  Pleasure Palaces  with it's monastic chanting creates an eerie hypnotic atmosphere, whilst A Rumour In Africa  electrifies the crowd.

Darkness falls, disco lights stream out, and before long the euphoria is close to an end as Errors announce, "this is our last song." 

"Maybe.  We'll see how you react to it."  Challenge accepted.  And as the obligatory 'one more tune' chant follows, Errors know the score.  "Ok, we'll play one more" they tell the rapturous crowd.  A glorious ending to a great set and a good day.

1 comment:

  1. >Secret Chiefs 3 had a tendency to lose their way mid tracks

    Nahhh maybe you got lost but they knew the way like the back of their hands! I was stunned, celestial bliss and glory