11 September 2012

Doune The Rabbit Hole Review Pt. 2

After a night in my own bed (I can promise there's no greater feeling than leaving a muddy campsite knowing there's a hot shower waiting on you twenty minutes away) it was back to the Carron Valley. On arrival, we heard some rather interesting noises emanating from the Baino Stage. It turned out this was the cheery pop of Teen Canteen, who are beyond twee but are also fantastic – of all the bands I've heard who are named after Showaddywaddy songs, they're definitely the best. Sadly we only heard a couple of songs (including one cover of Kylie's All The Lovers) but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for them.
Teen Canteen  (Photo by Wullie Crainey) 

Onto the main stage now for Dead Temple, who write doomy, stoner rock. Their songs are constructed with little subtlety and guile, preferring to hit you with a wall of noise for most of it, save for the odd quiet part which they've nicked from Radiohead. They're not terrible actually but the fact that the singer rarely strays from singing one note for most of the songs does grate after a while. Its starts to rain like fuck and we get soaked so back into the Baino tent for shelter and for...

...Duncan Drever, who plays fairly uninspiring folk music and really wants to be King Creosote. He has a really good voice, but then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like 'this song is about vaginas' and proceeding to sing a song about vaginas.

Scran time, and it's up to top of the hill  for some pulled pork on a piece (courtesy of SMOAK). It's great stuff, must make a point of dropping into their place in Glasgow one day. Fed, I traipse back down to the main stage for Withered Hand, who is always impressive live. This is the first I've caught him with a full band though, and the expanded lineup brings so much to the occasion, giving each song a sense of weight and power. Ever a live highlight, Religious Songs brings about a rather triumphant climax, provoking a mass sing-along. One of the most enjoyable sets of the weekend.

Sacred Paws  (Photo by Wullie Crainey) 

Next up we have London/Glasgow duo Sacred Paws, who I've never been convinced by from listening to their recorded material. Their live show is something else though. They play ramshackle and disorganised post-punk with some rhythmic African influences chucked in at times. The dual vocal lines may not be in tune, nor are they the tightest band around but the shambolic nature of their show is pretty endearing and they're obviously passionate about what they do. Definitely worth seeing them live if you get the chance.

King Creosote  (Photo by Wullie Crainey) 
Rounding off our day is King Creosote who is, well, okay. He's just too happy these days. He and his band are in full-on summer mode, Hammond organ and all. I just couldn't enjoy it. Stop being so happy, Kenny! I preferred you when you were utterly miserable! Actually, I'm doing the band a real disservice because they're fantastic performers. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more on any other day but my companions and I had reached that point where we were soaked through and dying to get home. Any other day I'd have loved it but I think by then I just wasn't in the mood. Ach, another time, eh?

The Second Hand Marching Band  (Photo by Wullie Crainey) 
We arrive in time to see Olympic Swimmers, although it turns out they're not onstage when the programme says they'll be (it later transpires that they've been moved to a slot later on the bill on another stage). To console ourselves we head up to the Tenement TV stage for Pronto Mama but...well, they've had to pull out unfortunately. So the first band we see are The Second Hand Marching Band, whose heartfelt folksyness are the perfect start to our Sunday. I've caught them live them a few times and they're always good fun and today was no different. “We have a song about a love triangle in a mortuary and one with a mad drum beat: which one do you want to hear?” Mad Drum Beat song it is. Or, to call it by its real name, Don't. It's one of the standout tracks but special mention should also be given to A Dance To Half Death, another highlight.

It's North American War next in the Baino, who sound like XTC crossed with the second coming of Be Your Own Pet. I reviewed their excellent Ivory and Geraniums split 7” a few months back and it took me by surprise because I loved it, even though it's not normally the type of thing I'd listen to.We enjoy listening to them from outside the tent as we get some food. They wrap up some pretty catchy choruses in repetitive rhythms and discordant noise and the result is thoroughly enjoyable.
Kid Canaveral  (Photo by Wullie Crainey)

Up to the Tenement TV stage for Kid Canaveral, who are one of my favourite Scottish bands, and certainly one of the most accomplished live bands I've ever seen. I've seen them loads of times but this is my first opportunity to hear their new stuff. From what I can hear in this set, it's not a massive shift away from the guitar pop of their debut, but it's a touch heavier and bigger. On one song there's even...A GUITAR SOLO! But anyway, the new stuff has got me soaking in anticipation of the new album. There's not a weak song among the new lot, and the best for me was Low Winter Sun. They rounded things off nicely with my favourite from the first album, And Another Thing. Possibly my favourite set of the weekend too.

Human Don't Be Angry  (Photo by Wullie Crainey) 
I'd already missed a good chunk of Three Blind Wolves by the time I made my way back to the main stage but they were sounding pretty good from what I heard. I'm not a huge fan of their music (it's just not my kind of thing) but they're always good to see live as they're as tight as a gnat's chuff. Nae different here either, and the addition of a third guitarist means that they're sounding massive. And heavy. Really heavy. Heavier than you could ever really expect a country rock band to sound. But, oddly, it works very well.

We finished our weekend in the Baino tent to see Human Don't Be Angry. I have to admit I was in the minority wasn't taken on self-titled album when it came out earlier this year so I feared I wouldn't enjoy them live. I needn't have feared anything because they sounded far better live than they did on record. It was a strong set but special mention must go to NDBA Theme, a real highlight of the set.

So, my first Doune The Rabbit Hole experience was over. It wasn't a bad experience at all, although there are definitely a number of areas that could be improved upon. First of all, they have to make sure their volunteers are up to scratch on the basics, such as what constitutes a press wristband etc. As I said in the first part of this review, we were sent to a number of different places for our press passes only to discover the wristbands we already had on were the passes themselves. It didn't waste a lot of our time or anything but it was just a wee bit annoying. Basic stuff.

As I also touched on in the first part of the review, the lack of times on the timetable was just sheer laziness. I suppose it was supposed to be part of the carefree 'hippy' ethic but I'm one of these types who like to know what's on and when. I don't think that's an unreasonable request. At least if you have a list of times alongside the bands and things start to run a wee bit late on some stages you can put up a message on the sign next to the stage with updated times or whatever. The problem with that being that there weren't any signs telling you about set times, presumably to encourage people to buy a programme. And the problem with that is that there didn't seem to be anyone selling programmes. I managed to blag one at the gate and seemed to be one of the only people at the whole festival who'd managed to get a one, going by the number of people who came over to get a look at it or take a photo of it when they saw it in my hand. They only decided to put up signs with set times on the Sunday at 3 o'clock. And I imagine this was only because there were some major lineup changes on the various stages that day. Again, it's not really a major thing but it's something to think about getting sorted for next time.

One other thing that isn't all that pertinent to the normal punter but definitely is to the organisers was the number of times my wristband was looked at all weekend. Once. One single time. And that was when the guy actually put it on my wrist at the gate. I know the festival provides itself on being a bit of a 'free-spirit' but it shouldn't get the reputation for being easy to get into for free, particularly when they've had serious problems with paying bands in the past. Just something for the organisers to think about...

All of these things contributed to a general lax and disorganised feeling about the festival. But that doesn't mean I didn't have a good time. There were so many positives. The majority of the music I saw was cracking and, from what I've heard from other sources I missed a lot of excellent stuff too. The only small criticism I'd have here is that maybe there's actually too much of it...there's genuinely no need for so many bands to be on the bill at a festival this small when you could really maximise crowds at three or four stages rather than spread them out over 5.

The general vibe of the festival is lovely, a real friendly atmosphere that I found comparable to the few hours I spent at Wickerman in July this year. It's definitely one to consider for next year if you're looking for a more relaxing festival experience with some big names but without the big crowds. I know I've given it a bit of criticism here but these are just wee things that can be improved on with a bit of attention. Hopefully, if the organisers see this, they'll give it a wee bit of thought. As things stand, I'll probably be going along next year. Provided it's still being held within commutable distance, right enough. I hate camping. I fucking hate it.

Hippy in the mud  (Photo by Wullie Crainey)

1 comment:

  1. Duncan20/9/12

    Weird. Just typed my name into google (as we all do sometimes) and came across this review. Just to clear things up, the vagina song that I played is a traditional sea shanty and not one of my own.

    The vagina comment was made to grab peoples attention as i seemed to be losing the audience (due to my uninspiring music) which seems to have worked. ;)