Live Review: The Dark Jokes+Big Fat Panda+ Victorian Trout Conspiracy .

Liquid Rooms LogoI arrived during the opening set with a confused look of wonder on my face. The dark stage was lit up by a few spotlights, setting an ominous atmosphere. My ears were alerted to the ambient instrumentation of the opening act delivered by the shaking bass vibes that shot up my spine. I had previously heard of the Dark Jokes but until now was unfamiliar with their sound, maybe even guilty of judging a book by its cover and pegging a band because of the connotations the name had. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t what I had bargained for but exceeded all expectations I had previously.

The instrumentation they used really separates this band’s sound from most bands in the local scene. Their sound is truly captivating; it is wide and ambient with a real energy and depth but at time’s can be darker and heavier whilst maintaining the elements that are synonymous with their ability to engage with their audience. The string section rolls off the back of the soft and beautifully delivered vocal melodies.  This opens up the sound of the band’s diversity gripping the attention of the listener and forcing them to take notice, something I felt as soon as I arrived at the gig.

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The band played to a fairly empty room however they were able to fill out the fallow space with their powerful sound, so much so that I was unaware of the crowd gathering throughout the set.  I still had no idea who this band were and felt hypnotised by their energy.  They had a dark stage presence which fits with the sound and really sparked my interest. So much so that I had to ask a random person next to me; “who is this band?”, I was met with a sense  of agreeable surprise.  The penny just dropped. In a way, I was regretting not listening to this band before now but also felt a stronger connection with them as I first experienced them without any pre-existing judgements or expectations, which may have influenced my decision on them.

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Next came the cheers of; “BIG FAT PANDA, BIG FAT PANDA!!” as the Ska outfit took to the stage. I have always been sceptical when it comes to traditional Ska bands as a whole really, it’s something I feel has been done for a long time, there’s lots of similar bands out there and in my opinion they all stick to a similar structure. Big Fat Panda however are at the top of their game and delivered a wild, upbeat set to a growing crowd in The Liquid Rooms, they put on a fantastic show. Although, sticking to the traditional sound of Ska I think the tightness and stage presence of the band make them stand out as THE Ska band to take notice of in the city. Comprising of a brass, keys, guitars and a larger than life lead vocal… in all manners! This band will, without a doubt, get you moving.

Having watched the second act’s full set I felt VTC would have to really up the game to follow such an energetic, tight support act. The emotions on stage were visually strong; one thing that stood out to me was the bands enjoyment whilst playing to the crowd. They looked like they were having just as much fun as the fans, charming the mob with their set.

The venue filled out for headliners The Victorian Trout Conspiracy, there was ten band members in total! It was clear who the fans had come to see this evening. I had never before experienced The Trout’s; the reputation the band has in the city was enough to excite me for their performance.

You cannot put this band into a category, what if a friend asks; “What kind of music is it?” You have two choices; find a new friend or get into a ten minute discussion on how a band with so many members and varying influences can be pinned down by one genre. There is a clear heavy Ska influence; however, this is not a straight up Ska band. The complex song structures are reminiscent of some Punk, Rock and even Surf music. They use various melodies within one track, different sections that other bands may use to write various compositions, giving me the strong impression of musical dexterity within the collective. There are elements of Reggae and Blues in places you just would not expect. One attribute to the band I can highlight is the unbelievable crowd participation they have whilst on stage. The Trout’s had the crowd energetically thriving from start to finish mouthing lyrics to favourites ‘Cider bam’ and ‘Super Duper Electric Scooter’.


After a storming set the band returned to the stage for a well-deserved encore playing a medley of ‘Tarantula’, ‘Slam’ and ‘Propane Nightmare’s by Pendulum. The place literally went off. The energy in the room was elevated back up to a higher level than before as the crowd went wild for one last dance.

As the lights came on and the crowd dispersed it was clear that all these different people from various walks of life were mutually united under one roof to experience the captivating sound of The Victorian Trout Conspiracy.

Do not go and see this band… Don’t do it! Unless you want to find yourself totally obsessed, scouring the net for the next month for material and upcoming gig dates! Once you have experienced a live show from the VTC you may find yourself at a loss next time you find yourself at a local venue. Unless they’re on the bill of course!

Mon the Trouts’

Edinburgh Undersound. X