Experimental Music Love

October 1, 2008

Reloaded Festival – Stirling, Tolbooth

Filed under: Features,Live Reviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 5:34 pm
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Reloaded  Festival Tolbooth, Stirling  27/09/08


Regularly attracting many of Scotland’s top young acts to Stirling, Stephen Hume’s Reloaded night have found both success and acclaim amongst the city’s young music lovers.  With Twilight Sad, Hazey Janes and Frightened Rabbit all alumni of the indie evening, the quality of the day’s entertainment seemed to be assured, though the ambition of a first all-day, three-stage festival may have raised an eyebrow or two.


The music started just after five, with acoustic acts sound-tracking conversations at the bar, and dutifully so. It wasn’t until Tillicoutry’s The French Quarter came on the main stage though that interest turned from alcohol to music.  Fellow performer, and former Stirling University student, Matt Johnston saw fit to describe their music as so Scottish as to be “born on a raincloud” and few analogies would some up such a sound better.  Give them a rainy Glasgow street or windswept glen and they’ll give you the perfect soundtrack to explore.  There’s just such poignancy in trembling guitars and painstaking keys, and Frank Murray’s vocals showcase a colloquial romanticism that broods with intensity.


Zoey Van Goey follow, promising eclecticism with a diverse range of Irish, English and Canadian musicians.  Things are kept simple though, with electric and acoustic guitars providing a rich texture allowing the sweet mix of male and female vocals to take prominence.  Looping devices do add to the formula as songs get busier and bigger, but it’s the softly told English in Japan that stands out.  Oh, and drummer (and former Stirling University film and media tutor) Matt Brennan’s tale of camping in Canada is fascinating too.


The Stirling University connection continued with Matt Johnston next on the acoustic set by the bar.  Much of his performance though was lost in the bustle of such a busy situation, though a clear passion and talent in his work was all too evident.


Downstairs again then, and Amusement Parks on Fire stormed through a set that tried it’s best to be Sonic Youth in their prime.  They were never close though, but not many would be.  Hectic lights and the expected wails do almost create that hedonist atmosphere, and there’s a future for these guys yet.


Headliners, The Attic Lights, certainly have one, and it should be as bright as their music.  The rawness of a live show does take the gloss off their honed harmonies that sound so vibrant on record, but undeniably great pop songs like Wendy and Bring You Down would work no matter who performed them.


A humour is prevalent throughout, with Kevin Sherry’s affection for the crowd of his former town clear and full of jokes and calls for the drunkest person in the room to get on stage. 


Stirling doesn’t get much great new music its way, but this was a fun, imaginative way to show off great young acts to a somewhat starved crowd.  Wariness of what was on offer may have meant attendance wasn’t as impressive as the music, but this certainly seems like the future of live music in Stirling.  Good music always attracts the crowds, and though Stirling will never match Glasgow in terms of quality new music and venues, matching Edinburgh is an achievable task that Reloaded is helping to realise.     


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