Electric Fields rocked the grounds of 17th century Drumlanrig Castle on August 29. Second year for this fresh faced festival with low-priced tickets, cheap bus travel from many a location and pints for £3.50.£30 entry or £45 for camping.Kids £3.50 – same as aforementioned pint, not bad and fairly logical, don’t you agree? Set in the castle’s lush surrounds, this rolling scenery with the campsite close by is a picturesque place for a party.
My new neighbours helped put up my tent – thanks Annemarie and James Turpie fae Lockerbie. Been a happy camper all my life but this is a new tent and I’m no too sure about it. We pitch up facing a beautiful fir tree forrest rising up the hills – not just for the awesome panorama but to make a sun trap for our south facing home when cooking up our barbecue later.
It’s midday by this point and the weathers not only holding out but positively shining and looking like it’s going to continue.Ya beauty! Press and bookings manager Chay Woodman told me in an pre-fest email that he booked the sunshine – must be feeling good having put his money where his mouth is.
We head for the security gates, then onto the 2 main stages Carse Valley and The Arc to hear Randolph’s Leap, who according to official festival bumpf ‘write pop music for unpopular people and specialise in creating a joyous, brass-tinged folk-pop racket centred around the self-deprecating, humorous and heart-warming songwriting of Adam Ross.’ These guys were energetic and a great start to our electric experience.Songwriter and frontman Andy who penned Foolishness of Youth from last years album Clumsy Knot keeps it minimal with lyrics like ‘If I spoke in Swiss, would you still take the piss?’ Nice. There’s also the artfully named To lose La Trek where The Vegan Leather, Victorian Trout Conspiracy and Root Stem will play later.
Shuffling sideways to The Carse Valley podium we are in for a treat with another weegie band, Pronto Mamas at 2pm. Nominated for “Best Live Act”, at 2014’s Scottish Alternative Music Awards we wanted to experience them live, having missed their sell out gig at the Old Hairdressers last year and hearing good things about this six piece experimental outfit with loyal fan base. They didn’t disappoint. Their EP Niche Market is worth a listen. Interesting lyrics and punter interaction kept us entertained on mass till next act Little Kicks gave us a slice of Aberdonian dance action : Steven Milne, Andrew Corse, Adam Morrice and Scott Kelman looking ubercool. Stephen ‘initially wanted to be a drummer but was shite so stole my brother’s guitar to learn that instead.’
I liked This Mess We’re In with its lyrics :
‘Good times pass right in front of me…
The more we talk the less I understand.’
The line up is a veritable showcase of flourishing Scottish emerging and established talent. Some Spanish vocals came our way from Glasgow band Golden Teacher post barbecue at 6pm. Who’s seen them at the Arches in Glasgow? If not, check them out : Sauchiehall Enthrall, Party People / Love and Bells From The Deep End are EPS recorded at The Green Door Studios (Argyle St. Glasgow)- where they formed on a course there. Unsurprisingly, spanish speaking vocalist Cassie of “No Hemos Vivido” and “On The Street” delivers the bendy, fragile but agile dance moves that don’t translate as well in photographs as they do on stage.. good for gouching to but could’ve done with a later slot for more crowd participation. Drums,electronica, bass notes, dancehall vibes with absurdist notes, lots of funky abstract experimentalism, bit of blonde cross dressing thrown in and you will definitely not forget this trippy, transkei troop in a hurry.
‘I got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you.’
A big thanks to the bar staff who let me recharge camera batteries for the evening ahead.The kids tent could be more diverse…I was sitting outside when a kid called Zak came up asking me to make his balloon into a hat like mine….I did it for him but a wee bit more staff here would be great….especially as you can see from the photo that it is not my forte! Food at the festival is noodles,burgers etc. We didn’t try but saw people looking happy munching away. Only four people were forcibly removed and they were so compliant and cheery that you could’ve thought they were mates of the security, some chatting to police on their way out.
At 7pm in The Skinny Tent Mercury Prize nominee and London-based East India Youth mixed startlingly mesmerizing music with an intense live performance. Excellent .. New second album titled CULTURE OF VOLUME follows his critically acclaimed debut album TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER. If you like a bit of skinhead ska then Root system is your band comprising of Kev Fek (Vocals) Ronnie Ripped(Guitar/Vocals) Handsome Dan (Bass) Ryan Davidovic (Drums) Ekto (Dancer). This Fife act wouldn’t have been out of place in the working mens clubs of Bradford in the 90’s if it wasn’t for the astounding contemporary stage presence of Ekto who had the crowd in the palm of his hand mesmerizing us with his colossal choreographed moves of strength and eloquence which juxtaposed ironically well with lyrics,
‘Im a cannabis farmer, sinsemilla marijuana
Helicopters come for me
I don’t really care
fuck the police.’
Root System squeezed every ounce of dancing out of the crowd, a total highlight of the festival.
But so were hip hop rappers Hector Bizerk who were on at the same time…back at the Carse Valley venue. ‘1 summer. 20 odd festivals. 125 days sober. NOT A PROBLEM FOR ME Louie x’ is up on their website post festival…..Absolutely overwhelmed by the welcome we received at Electric Fields yesterday. For Hector Bizerk it was the last festival of a very busy summer and it feels like it couldn’t have went any better. Thanks to Chay, Al, Kenny and everyone who made it all happen.’ Hear, hear! Two days after their free gig at Moulin Rouge in Edinburgh they were in top form
Here’s some lyrics from Skin and bones
‘I do feel pain
I’ve no Achilles heel
A Grecian tragedy
A real apology
Get ma story straight
the Gods of Greek Mythology
You need a policy
Let standards increase
Fed man to the beast
Kept the rancid receipts
Claimed it back in expenses
Nobody ever retreats
with lads in the trenches...’
You just canny get too much Hector B in your life.
Next up,the Xcerts ..with their big fan base presence who knew all the words and were belting them out ‘shake shake shakin’ in the water’.’ Moving on fluidly to big tidal wave or at least maelstrom changes from the Vessels…gone are the guitars from 2008’s White Fields and Open Devices and its follow up four years ago Helioscope. Dilate is the Leeds based five-piece’s third album and they are electro camped right up.. kraftwerking their way to crescendo crowd pleasers Attica, Glass Lake, On Your Own Ten Toes. The purity of their t-shirts, each one a solid block of primary or secondary seems to emphasise their new clean cut musicality. Twelve years together it seems right for them to make sure they evolve whatever way the music takes them… it’s certainly not bothering the crowd ..‘gaun yersel’. Their new album has a track featuring the beautifully ethereal cantations of Londoner and Bristol based Isolde Freeth-Hale called As You Are which is a gorgeous trance set to transformed Vessels rhythmic soundscapes…yes please!
King Creosote headlined this years event doing the grand finale at the Arc Stage. Kenny Anderson,composed the soundtrack of Virginia Heath’s compelling BBC documentary From Scotland With Love.With more albums than years and his own micro-label, Fence , Anderson doesn’t hang about. If he’s not being his alter ego King Creosote (K.C.from here on in) then you could find him strumming for another band – Indie-folk act The Burns Unit which boasts The Delgados’ Emma Pollock, Sushil Dade (Future Pilot AKA), Karine Polwart, and hip-hopper MC Soom T.
K.C.and his sunshine band proved their slot and their feel good spirit flied as rapidly as the midges did earlier. A roaring combo of instrumental infusions that leave us immersed in the memory of a fantastic festival that saw us through the chilly night and misty morn ahead beyond the glorious full moon. The Skinny Tent was still heaving. Topped off with a dj set that was supremely entertaining, not only the sounds which upsurged to crescendo taking the crowd with it, – neither could stand at their mixing desk/laptop for more than ten minutes without one half of Surgical Punch deciding to climb the crash barrier to hug members of the crowd while the other got fed up on stage alone and walked off for sporadic out of skinny tent experiences…well funny!
Such is festival life that you are guaranteed to miss sounds you don’t want to: mine were Kloe, Victorian Trout Conspiracy, Happy Meals, Esperanza and Miaoux Miaoux. But what I did see branded both my retinas and memory forevermore!
Reviewer : Clare Crines