Doune The Rabbit Hole 2015 (Friday) ReviewOne of the things that I absolutely loved about my first visit to Doune The Rabbit Hole last year was having the boundaries of my musical comfort zone challenged and pushed out that little bit. Although there were a few familiar names in the lineup, there were far more unfamiliar ones from genres I’d never ordinarily listen to. And you know what? It was fantastic! The relaxed nature of the festival really helped to open your eyes, ears and mind to enjoy new music.
Fast forward 12 months, and once again DTRH organisers assembled a vast lineup of diverse artists from home and abroad, performing on 4 stages over 3 days. There was only one personal downside to this years event and that was I would only be able to cover the first day due to other work commitments. Blasted day job, eh!So, with limited time available, I wanted to make sure I got to the site as early as possible to catch as much of Day 1 as I could. And I’m glad I did, since first up on the Jabberwocky Stage was Hannabiell & Midnight Blue. Hannabiell Sanders and her band combine Afro-Caribbean & Latin percussion, Jazz, Afro-beat, Funk, and Reggae to create ‘Afro-psychedelic Funk’. You can’t sit down and listen to these guys. Their pounding drums and almost hypnotic rhythms had everyone on their feet and getting a groove on. Yep, even ‘can’t dance for toffee’ decibelROGUE!
A little wander along to the Baino Stage and I caught Glasgow-based Tokamak‘s set. They describe themselves as ‘a sonic hedge fund accumulating incidents of musics for future tribal dominance in a post apocalyptic supermarket’. In other words they’re pretty experimental! Hardcore, metal, electronica and punk influences made their set a dramatic and challenging listen. Plus they had a Cello – more guitar bands should have them!Back over on the Jabberwocky Stage, Stanley Odd really cranked things up a notch with a tremendous set. Frontman Solareye, aka Dave Hook grabbed the audience by the scruff of the neck and bounced his way through a set of songs which really showed why he and his band are regarded as the standard bearers for Scottish Hip Hop.
Highlights for me were ‘Sun Dance’ and ‘Son I Voted Yes’ which demonstrated the real depth to Hook’s songwriting. Whether drawing on his childhood experiences in Airdrie, or casting a thoughtful eye over current socio-economic issues, he has the ability to make you stop and think. And these two songs do just that. ‘Sun Dance’ also showcased the beautifully soulful voice of fellow vocalist Veronika Electronika.
Stanley Odd are constantly touring, so if they’re coming to your town, you really should check them out.By now I was getting a little thirsty, so a trip to the bar seemed in order. Handily, the Whistleblower Stage was just next door so I was able to enjoy a small refreshment while listening to Happy Meals. The Glaswegian Synthpop duo created a pretty chilled out atmosphere with songs from their debut album ‘Apero’.
Beer finished and it was time to head back to the Jabberwocky stage for another band I had been looking forward to seeing, Fatherson. The band released their debut album ‘I Am an Island’ last year and are just about to begin recording their second. In recent times they’ve been playing festivals such as T In The Park, received lots of mainstream radio airplay, and have supported bands such as Feeder and Enter Shikari.Fatherson may be (comparatively speaking), new kids on the block, but they can already give more established Scottish rockstars such as Biffy Clyro a run for their money. These guys seriously rock! But the really good thing about their music is it’s not just about massive guitar riffs and impressively anthemic choruses. There’s also plenty of quieter, thoughtful moments, which highlight lead singer Ross Leighton’s impressive vocal range. ‘James’ was probably the best example and had the crowd singing along to the quiet sections before switching into fist-pumping overdrive during the massive guitar-driven choruses. Overall though, it’s when the pace picks up when they really impress – ‘Mine For Me’ being a particular favourite of their set. No sooner had Fatherson finished, The Ex Ex-ploded (sorry!) into their set on the Baino Stage. The Ex formed in Holland back in 1979 and have been defying categorisation ever since. I’d describe their music as leaning heavily towards punk, although there are jazz influences in there too. Highlight of their set for me had to be Terrie Hessels getting a rather interesting sound out of his guitar by battering it’s strings with a drumstick. It’s the simple things I like!
Last up on the Jabberwocky Stage was Deerhoof. Now, when none other than Dave Grohl says that Deerhoof is one of his favourite bands, you really have to sit up and take notice. If you like music which is non-conformist, unpredictable and packed full of different ideas, then you’ll love these guys. There’s something deliciously cool about the way their songs switch instantly from massively heavy guitar riffs to Satomi Matsuzaki’s delicate vocals, then blast straight back into more heavy-duty riffage. Listening to them play you kinda feel that they had a million ideas for each song, and included each and every one of those ideas in each one of them.Don’t get me wrong, if you like your rock music in a more conventional form, Deerhoof will probably be a little bit too left-field for you. However, they had the audience absolutely bouncing and rounded off the evening with colour and style. And I have to say that – based on Friday night’s set – drummer Greg Saunier is probably only second to Grohl himself in terms of the enthusiasm he puts into his drumming performances. Very impressive!
So with that, my day at DTRH15 came to a close. I just had time to poke my head around the door of the Baino Stage to catch the opening bars of the Cosmic Dead’s set on my way out. Gutted I couldn’t have stayed longer to watch them, because they sounded awesome!All in all, DTRH15 Day 1 was absolutely superb! Once again it lived up to it’s reputation as the best wee music and arts festival in Scotland. So next year if you’d like to go to a music festival but the big corporate events like T In The Park leave you cold, grab your tent and head to DTRH16 instead. Family friendly, dog friendly and as laid back as you like. Keep your music mind open, kick back and enjoy!
You can visit the Doune The Rabbit Hole website by clicking HERE