Kicking off the entire festival were Freakwave, a group that have been highly touted in recent memory across the scene, yet I had been unfortunate to have not seen them as of yet. It became pretty obvious the benefit of this spot on the bill, given the rammed crowd on hand all ready to get their individual days on the road, and it’d be a safe bet to say that none of them were let down.
Surrounded in strobes and clouds of smoke, they battered through a short batch of whopping tracks that were tightly performed and generated a contagious energy within the room which never ceased.
Summer was a sensational frontwoman, her vocals being super strong and packing a punch. The riffs were totally great, thick throbbing bass chords were slapped out, and the drum work boosted the loud and large rhythms.
It was amazing how they could shift tones in a flash, seamlessly switching from smooth and easygoing to raw and ballistic, and remaining engaging regardless of the style being tackled.
Man, talk about setting the bar. Showcasing a real booming presence and virtually no chinks, Freakwave put on an impressive headline-worthy set in the space of 20 measly minutes. I’m officially in love, and I have a feeling this quartet are going to launch to bigger heights, and in not too long either.
Secondly were Edinburgh electronic pop duo Chuchoter, the only act I’ve actually seen in the flesh before, after they blew me away and cinched me as a follower back at King Tuts in January, and I was buzzing to witness them again.
Admittedly, it was awfully surreal to see them playing in this cosy pub (The Doublet, specifically) to a seated, respectfully well-behaved audience, given their energetic sound, particularly when wanting to dance along in my case, but I was too comfy in my chair. But despite the unlikely location, they were fantastic and the people were hooked.
Emily was suffering from a cold, although it didn’t affect her too much as she powered through with her usual stiff and effectively caustic singing that resonated within the restricted space, getting across the magnetic and unforgiving feminist lyrics as she really got into it and strutted about with fearless passion, while Owen handled the sweet keys, pounding beats and quality production.
With top picks from both of their damn fine EPs, this was another unsurprisingly stellar display from a mighty talented pair with tonnes to offer.
One mad dash to the Webster’s Theatre later, I entered and was immediately drawn in by Caitlin Buchanan, who was already in action.
To begin with, what a beautiful voice that she boasts, spanning a wide pitch spectrum, and if you don’t get chills around your body when she’s chimes at full strength, then there’s most likely something wrong with you.
Matching that quality was the really nice writing that kept my attention, and her fluent plucks and strums on the guitar which helped in enhancing the surrounding atmosphere.
A couple of fidgety mic and pedal issues hurt her stride a little, but otherwise, a captivating experience.
While this was my first time seeing the trio of Avocet, they weren’t brand new to me, as I was given the opportunity a while back to review their Borrowed Seed EP which was awfully nice and I had wanted to scratch them off my list.
After a miserably long issue laden set up process causing delays, the wait would be worthwhile as they played these nice songs with a charming essence blending pop and traditional folk and featuring solid lyrics that had the over-spilling room focused in a silenced hush.
Making up their music were these gracious, softly sung harmonies, lovely melodic harp strings, very subtle touches of bass, and excellent acoustics that were superb during the more livelier sections. The highlight was undoubtedly their haunting rendition of The Death Of Queen Jane, as the goosebumps were just spreading all over during that piece.
Despite the hiccups, they endured to provide a satisfying end result, and I’m happy to know I have a new album to look forward to now.
Returning after an extended hiatus, Holy Mountain were the only act on the itinerary that I had no prior experience with whatsoever, but given the preceding hype, I took a chance to potentially discover something new and worth my time; a blind plunge that paid off in spades.
The crowd were above and beyond the most loving and enthusiastic I had been part of in the day thus far. They were just eating up everything the quartet threw at them over the course of the hour, aptly hollering with much appreciation between the tunes, and on the topic, their ability to maintain a hot streak of that high a calibre for a lengthy duration like that truly has to be admired.
Their tracks were large and freaking bombastic, chugging on all cylinders at a mighty scale, drenched in these grungy, progressive overtones, plus the guys had quite the outstanding live presence that couldn’t be ignored. The guitar solos were supremely radical, the keyboards neat, the basslines insanely dynamic, and the drumming was earth-shaking.
They also battered through their planned set so fast that they outran their allocation, but not being ones to let that go to waste, they treated us to a few impromptu extra cuts which included a sizzling cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, even if the lyrics did slip the mind briefly…
With plenty to be happy and headbanging about, Holy Mountain administered the most phenomenally executed of glorious one-off comebacks.
Out of all the bands on my schedule, Home$lice are the one I’ve known by far the longest, stretching back to 2016 as a matter of fact, but a string of bad luck has kept me from seeing them at a show, until now…
What was nice was that their songs didn’t necessarily place into a single pigeonhole, although if it had to be narrowed down, it’s mainly an interesting blend of sharp indie rock and sleek dream pop, with bits and bobs of modern punk tucked underneath.
The dual harmonies were on solid form consistently, and both the quirky spoken segments and switching up who had the role of lead singer regularly helped give it an added freshness.
They progressed through these engaging, often warm toned melodies that would either be slow and smooth, or faster and toe tapping. The riffs were slick, the bass chords juicy thick, and the drum work was plain fantastic, especially when required to up the energy.
On the whole, the crowd liked it, as did, I so being topped off by a spot of the old amusing banter, so all in all, it was jolly entertaining stuff.
“Are you watching Match Of The Day?”
Kitti was a priority. I had seen her as a reliable partner to Emme Woods and Fenella in the past, but never in a lone scenario, which I had heard nothing but positive things about it.
Webster’s was already brimming as soon as I came around and it only piled up with more and more bodies along the way. On the subject, her ability to control the crowd was incredible, and a major factor in that was her infectious personality and unreal confidence. I struggle to think of many others on the scene that come even close.
As for her voice? Words cannot do justice as to just how breathtaking it is, she is hands down one of the very best vocalists in this entire country, simply a pure powerhouse in that field. And if that wasn’t enough, she also happens to be a capable pianist and great lyricist.
She played to us a line of infectiously fabulous RnB tunes that were utterly catchy and brought to life so well by Katie and the most ample group of musicians she could have possibly picked for the job, and you knew they were making a noteworthy impression as a sea of bodies were joyfully swaying about, and how could you even resist doing that?
Straight and to the point, this was my personal highlight of the entire festival. This was spectacular and a privilege to be front row for. Katie has given enough blatant evidence that she has checked off all the requirements to become a superstar, and it’s almost disgraceful that she’s still working small venues at this stage.
In the unlikely event that a major label is reading this: sign her the f*** up!
And now the main event – Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, an outfit I’ve been craving to bear witness to ever since they emphatically emerged. Oran Mor was lingering with a lot of buzz, so clearly I wasn’t the only one highly anticipating this. Lo and behold, magic happened.
A lone sax signaled for people to emigrate towards the stage until the front floor was jammed, and one by one, members of the entourage appeared before Tom himself leaped up and got the show going with Begone Skunks, which was responded to with a flurry of impassioned dancing, where shapes were being thrown in every direction; Tom’s awesome mum leading the charge; and it never died down from start to finish, it was a perpetual belter of a party going on, and there was no way of battling the urge to shake your hips even slightly.
Tom is the ideal blueprint for what you want out of a frontman, flaunting limitless contagious energy and an infinite heap of charisma that the attendees latched on to with endless love in return. Meanwhile, stimulating guitars, deliciously groovy basslines, dazzling keys, a funky four piece brass attack and thrilling drum fills drove forward the immensely addictive rhythms.
The audience interaction only escalated, complete with fervent clapping, jumping, echoes of the words and a trade off sing along. Focal points across the board included MC Sickboy, What’s The Point and Old Man On The Subway, and naturally, the legendary classic Ric Flair was in there.
With a palpable sense of excitement, countless epic scenes unfolding and buckets of sweat dripping down the venue walls once they wrapped up, it was a marvelous performance of legendary proportions. It was indeed a nice human experience, as promised.