Review of The Winter Tradition w/ Silver Coast & Mt. Doubt @ Electric Circus 2/10/2015

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST

Walking into Electric Circus the first thing I am struck by is the stage; a bank of various floodlights and strobes that look fit for an Academy sized venue swallow up half the stage and suggest a band with a musical ambition that massively outweighs the venue they feature in. Rightly enough, The Winter Tradition have been playing some notable larger scale gigs in support of their new album ‘Lumi’ (such as the Belladrum Festival in August) and this is not a case of a band with heads bigger than their fan base, but rather a band outgrowing their old haunts who couldn’t resist playing an intimate hometown show.
First up tonight are Inverness alt rock 4-piece Silver Coast performing their first gig in the capital – nobody would blame them for thinking perhaps this was an ill-fated venture as they walk on stage to a dishearteningly empty room though you’d think they hadn’t noticed. Opening with a sparse sound heavy with reverb and confident vocal delivery before hitting us with a glorious wall of sound, all distorted guitars and crashing drums, you feel they deserve a far better crowd than this. But patience is a virtue, and as the Edinburgh gig-goers finally make their way towards Market Street the venue is packed by the time their set draws to an end. “Come forward, come forward, we don’t bite… much!” jokes frontman Aaron Murray – you get the sense they are a down to earth bunch of lads with a good sense of humour. Current single ‘Wake Up’ from their new EP produced by no other than The Winter Tradition’s guitarist Mark Morrow (who has seemingly produced for every band in the Edinburgh independent scene worth their salt) is performed perfectly, the jangly lead guitar filling our ears with echo and bends that tug at your heartstrings – the vocals are consistently on point even when venturing into falsetto and offering some truly impressive screams. They pull off the loud/quiet dynamics to wonderful effect proving they know when to give it their all and, more importantly, when to hold back.
Up next is 21 year old Leo Bargery – better known as Mt. Doubt – delivering a set of folky ambience infused with a punkish edge. Gruff vocals and unconventional synths pull the band back from the brink of generic folksiness and with a variety in structure keep each song in the set sonically diverse with no musical ideas getting recycled. A couple of songs into the set Mt. Doubt having properly greased up their musical hinges start getting right into it; singer Bargery jitters and jerks at his most impassioned moments seemingly just within the boundaries of self-control. At their best points the band build and build into a cascade of noise briefly toying with chaos before snapping back into seriously delicate bridges topped with vocals more fragile than you could expect given the sheer energy you just witnessed. A female backing vocalist joins the band for the latter half of the set though could hardly be considered ‘backing’ as she mimics the lead vocal line with just as much prominence creating a more complete and well-rounded sound. The heaviness of Mt. Doubt lies in the energy of delivery rather than reliance on pedals and overdrive, the drums being the rawest sounding of all the components. The keyboard player is the unsung hero in this ensemble offering a brevity and diversity that keeps the set really interesting – each song is unique!
The crowd are well and truly pumped for headliners The Winter Tradition, the venue now packed to the brim. The crowd are anticipating a truly special performance from the established Edinburgh group; nobody brings a stage set up like this unless they intend to bring out the big guns. The house lights fade, the band emerge from the darkness to swelling metallic ambience and without any warning or audible count-in launch straight into their set – more than a few distracted punters jump out their skin! Straight to business, The Winter Tradition are note perfect being more than experienced in performing to such crowds; this band have fully realized their sound and are well and truly running away with it. Second song of the set ‘Call’ provides the best example of a selective and seamless use of backing tracks to fill in the gaps when a group of guys with only two arms apiece can’t replicate the grand musical landscape concocted in their rather smart heads. The distorted vocals of singer-come-bassist Ewan Simpson combined with the statuesque silhouette he casts is enough to give you goose bumps and guitarist Mark Morrow knows exactly what he’s aiming for and hits the target. The levels throughout the set are really well balanced and fill your ears, every bit of screeching feedback only enhancing the electric atmosphere in the room. Each song segues smoothly into the next indicating a curated and properly rehearsed set, and the last song of the night is met by massive applause and one particularly ecstatic fan holding his Winter Tradition t-shirt high in the air with pride. The music really connotes wide open spaces as large and epic as their sound, like Ben Nevis in a thunderstorm condensed into a sonic punch in the face. Massive respect for the Winter Tradition for turning in an epic hometown show before heading into pastures greener and far, far bigger!

Check out Silver Coast on Facebook:
Check out Mt. Doubt on Facebook:
Order the new album ‘Lumi’ on The Winter Tradition website:

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