Tag Archives: Electric Circus

Review of Dante w/ Alan Carberry & Sian + A.H. Doune @ Electric Circus, Friday 23/10/2015

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST
As Dante hit the road for a handful of Scottish shows to warm up before heading across the pond for their first foray into performing stateside, I caught up with singer, guitarist and songwriter Sean McLaughlin before their set at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus for a blether about the tour, heading to the states and gearing up for the release of their second album.
So far the tour is going well for Dante; bar one cancelled show each performance has gone down a treat, McLaughlin saying it’s good to get away from the central belt and main cities to beat the track slightly less trodden. McLaughlin hails from Shetland originally himself, so he must be relishing the opportunity to play some more stripped back material in similar locales to where he grew as a musician and as a person; though towns like Perth and Inverness are hardly as rural as Shetland, in comparison to Glasgow or Edinburgh it’s decidedly more modest.
Support tonight came from acoustic two-some Alan Carberry & Sian as well as solo multi-instrumentalist A.H. Doune. I can’t say much on these guys as I was upstairs chatting with Sean during their sets, but the brief couple of minutes I overheard of each set were pretty good – Alan Carberry & Sian performed the most delicate acoustic set, just their fragile vocals and guitar to accompany; and A.H. Doune gave us a set of trippy, bluesy loops and massively reverberated vocals as a one-man band of electric guitar and a desk rammed with a laptop and countless gizmos.
As for Dante’s set, I probably wouldn’t have known it was an acoustic gig if I hadn’t been told – they sounded as confident and full-bodied as any ‘plugged in’ act, the acoustic guitars and mandolin offering an alternative sound to Dante’s music rather than a more minimal one. The financial viability of perfoming in the US has previously been an issue for Dante, citing now to be the time to head over in the run up to their second-album release and now having the far cheaper option of lugging only a handful of guitars across the Atlantic rather than a full band rig, though they should be safe in the knowledge that this decision has in no way sacrificed the quality of their live performance. They play a few existing songs to start proceedings, like ‘Ghost’ and ‘Know Where You Are’ … “A poet’s muse, every line is a bruise, it’s a full time job to pretend you’re abused” It’s a shame their professional sound and stunningly mature lyrics are falling on the ears of a sparse crowd, but it’s their loss!
“Okay, this is the point in the set where it all goes very well, or very badly… Very well, definitely!” McLaughlin is obviously confident in his songwriting ability but that quintessentially Scottish sense of self-doubt can’t help but peek through, more humbling than debilitating and only feeding the emotional strength of the songs their self. His influences range from the obscurest local folk singers of his hometown through to popular modern acts like Frightened Rabbit, Gaslight Anthem and Idlewild – McLaughlin also plays as part of The Birthday Suit, a side project of Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones and he expresses his satisfaction from playing with a musician he looked up to for many years. Mercury prize winning fellow Leithers Young Fathers even cropped up in conversation and shows his taste in music is not just based on folk or indie but anything soulful that comes from the heart and manifests in a primal, unpretentious way.
I asked Sean how the new material would differ from that of the first album (produced again by Andy Monaghan of Frightened Rabbit) and he cites the biggest influence on his songwriting now is parenthood – every singer says the same, that bringing a child into the world shifts your outlook drastically and it undoubtedly spills over into your work. His perspective has changed but his head (or heart, rather) is always cast back homeward as Sean admits that his lyrics are sometimes autobiographical but always set in Shetland; “I’m 30 now, with 2 kid, so I can no longer pretend to be a young guy from Shetland, singing about teenage problems of ‘Ooh, my girlfriend doesn’t like me, I haven’t got any money!'” McLaughlin has changed but Shetland has not, still offering the same emotional pull and warm imagery that defines the lyrical style of Dante. Though one of the songs performed tonight came from such a period (having been written when Sean was only 17) the massive age gap in the songs is unnoticable, the established and the unreleased offering real continuity in the setlist. My personal favourite of the new bunch was ‘Rose’, a quick paced song both fast and mellow with the mandolin constantly picking away a pedal over the top. The whole band provide backing vox to stunning effect, giving off that gather-round-the-hearth country pub singalong feel and it warms the soul.
Of his next album, McLaughlin reckons it’s not as outright ‘folky’ as the first as family life in the capital has obviously distanced him from the comforts of home, though he has no qualms about being regarded as primarily a folk musician. Reductive media tags aside, if tonight’s perfomance is anything to go by they will go down a storm in both Philadelphia and the Big Apple; the market for folk in Scotland is saturated to say the least and will be a welcome, niche change of pace in the land of freedom. Best of luck guys, though I doubt you need it!

Review of Spector w/ Golden Arm & Spring King @ Electric Circus, 20/10/2015

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST
There was a positive atmosphere the moment I walked into Electric Circus tonight, you feel it on occasion – some kind of general amicability throughout the venue, everyone here for a good time and aware of it in those around them, no deadpan posers leaning against the back wall judging the dancing free spirits down the front and nobody vying for more attention than the bands on the bill. Spector have come straight up the A1 (presumably) from London to Edinburgh for only the second time in support of their new album ‘Moth Boys’ and beat my expectations, performing for a teaming Electric Circus.
3-piece Golden Arm are first on the bill tonight, sounding to some degree like Franz Ferdinand but far more like the old-skool Scottish post-punk scene they were influenced by – Josef K, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, that lot – and the singer sounds the absolute spit of Edwyn Collins! Up-beat, quick-paced and non-pretentious, their obvious light-heartedness comes through in the music they play and their stage presence. “You’re here to see Spector, I presume?” says the singer; “Well, if they’re here to see the Kooks they’re f*cked!” the drummer chimes in, a solid backbone to the band. The solos sound almost Dire Straits-y and bass and guitar chords move together in big chunky blocks spanning all frequencies. The guitar could have done with a tad more treble to help it cut through the mix just a little bit, but that’s about the only hole I could pick in the set. They have an EP coming out on the 31st October, be sure to check it out!
The main support tonight is from Manchester outfit Spring King who were so much fun! Coming on stage looking like a right motley crew of trucker caps, beanie hats and brandless baseball tops, their high-energy set never relented (apart from one slow one near the end), breakneck indie beats and brash guitars awash with fragmented sharp snippets of reverb and layers of Lennon-esque vocal delay, as in lots of it but not for very long. ‘Can’ sounds like a sweetened Ramones spliced with a slightly less deranged Dead Kennedys – “If I’m not dead, If I’m not dead I’m going home!”, sings the drummer stroke singer stroke front man (quite a mouthful) – and ‘Batman’ was the best of bunch in my opinion, the best example of pace and playing style converging into what is essentially surf-punk without the ‘surf’ clichés, if that’s make any sense at all. “Tonight, I just wanna be somebody else, somebody new” – innocent, youthful lyrics derived from a world of comic book kitsch. ‘My Sleeves’ is that afore mentioned slower one, it’s chilled Motown-like beat playing backing to lyrics both sweet as sugar and weirdly abstract – “Take my hand, take my hand with you”, an odd image if you think about it for too long – the song being filled out with a solo like a more abrasive Mac DeMarco. The band looked like they were having the time of their life pogoing away, except the drummer/singer who was too in the zone and, well, too seated to do the same but his ability to thump away on the kit and still turn in a flawless and composed vocal performance was impressive to say the least.
Headliner time: front man Fred McPherson comes bounding onstage looking, erm, different to how I’d imagined he would; publicity shoots from the first album era look like rejected applications for Made In Chelsea, suits as sharp as a button, the kind of neurotic quiff fixing that Alex Turner is getting a bashing for (not too much of a shock to see some of their past gigs have been sponsored by Topman), and I’ve not exactly been keeping up to date with the band. So I wasn’t expecting a not-so-fresh plain white t-shirt and unkempt ponytails! But if that’s what he’s comfortable wearing, then go for it; stages aren’t catwalks after all, and this more ‘unrefined’ attitude permeated into the performance. The place was packed, and I mean PACKED, the cheers and post-song applauds bigger than you’d think possible in a venue of this size. Spector serve as an almost pop and rock melting pot, the most popular comparison being The Killers, which I find reductive; yeah, big choruses, guitar, 80’s synths, fair enough, but it’s far too easy a comparison. I hear indie rock, new wave, new romantic, synth pop, some straight-up balladry and the tongue is undeniably pressed firmly against the cheek despite the honesty and veiled pain hidden between the lines creeping through. McPherson is a born front man, his over the top mic-stand maneuvers and dynamic use of the limited space on stage would be hackneyed if deployed by anybody else – with McPherson it seems more than natural. He downright refuses to shy away from the audience, maintaining eye contact that makes you feel like he’s peering into your soul (I got it a couple of times, he locks your gaze!) and leaning about as far into the audience over the edge of the stage as gravity would allow – the people down the front must have been able to smell his scent and a lucky few got to hold his hand whilst he crooned directly for them all Romeo and Juliet. New cuts ‘Decade of Decay’ and ‘Cocktail Party’ went down a storm, and these fresh songs were equaled out with picks from the debut so as not to lean to heavily either way. I was never that sure of Spector before tonight but they’ve definitely converted me now. Top set!

Some useful links:

Review of Indigo Velvet w/ Lewis Capaldi & Lisbon @ Electric Circus 9/10/2015

Written by Chloe Mcintyre @ FEAST
When previously asked what the audience should expect when at a live set of Indigo Velvet their exact words were “Sweat, Hip Wriggling..and a party” and they couldn’t be more right! In fact there’s not many bands I know whose music gives the audience just a feel good, let your hair down vibe, but I have to say, Indigo Velvet is definitely one of them. Indigo Velvet
For their first headliner show in Edinburgh, the turnout was absolutely phenomenal, giving you barely any space to actually move around the Electric Circus, but that’s the sign of a good gig to come, am I right?
But before talking about the headliner, I need to highlight the talented support acts because they obviously built up the energetic atmosphere.
Lewis Capaldi is the young talent who started up the party with an acoustic set of his own songs and even a brilliant mash up cover of well known tunes that the crowd could sing along too. All that and his brilliant interaction with everyone in between songs made his set an extremely good one, I definitely have to say that if you’ve not already heard of him, go and listen to him.
Next up were the band Lisbon, showcasing a vibe that reminded me of Indigo Velvet, a lot of dancy, sing a long, feel good sounds. The floor was filled with budding ears ready to hear some new music . I have to mention that the song “Rio” got everyone to their feet, kudos to that. This band deserve a listen.
Indigo Velvet’s set was full of surprises, from fun things like Jason’s see drumming solos throughout songs, talented local performer Chris Greig being invited on stage to perform his cover of ‘Wooden Pavements’ (which I must add was truly phenomenal), even to a member of the crowd taking the microphone and owning the stage at the last song. All in all it was hard to believe that this was the first time the boys headlined a gig in Edinburgh, everything from stage presence, song choice and crowd reactions is definitely one to remember. My only wish was that I was tall enough to catch it all on video! This gig followed the release of the bands new song ‘Blue’ which I will link below, I challenge you to listen to that while trying to sit still, it’s damn near impossible. Anyhow, well done guys, yet again I think everyone’s expectations were filled, heres to next time eh?

http://open.spotify.com/track/2uKBbnsxVkXX4Wdt38QyTI (link to single)

Review of Be Like Pablo @ The Electric Circus 15/10/2015

Written by Ross Grant @ FEAST
Be Like PabloThe 5 piece powerpop outfit Be Like Pablo headline The Electric Circus tonight. Hailing from the idiosyncratic town of Forres up north, they have gained steady traction since formation. Notable past gigs include Belladrum, Rockness and the Ironworks respectively. Together they take elements from keyboard pop and surf music to create a rather individual style, and I was looking forward to experiencing it first hand.
They’re a colourful bunch, each sporting an impressive piece of gear. I found myself curiously glancing at the Moog Sub Phatty during the set up, which turns out to be the main character in their signature sound. Be Like Pablo waltz on stage very animated and excited to play. While the venue wasn’t packed, a little encouragement from Ewen the lead vocalist had the crowd ease up to front and centre, creating a cosy atmosphere.
Being familiar with only their 2013 LP ‘The New Adventures’, I was pleasantly surprised to see them open with two brand new songs. Both were well received but it was the following song that loosened everyone up. ‘The Post-It Song’ immediately puts a smile on your face thanks to it’s straight to the point opening, and what can only be described as ‘happy’ sounding synths. It all gives off a very Japanese vibe, in the sense that they would probably go mad for this music over there.
The set flowed on effortlessly with the gem that is ‘Julianne’, easily one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard. Folk who didn’t know the lyrics were singing along by the time the second chorus rolled around. The highlight for me was a new song they dropped towards the end innocently titled ‘Do You Wanna Go Surfing?’. Judging by how the band members were bouncing about the stage, It seemed they had the most fun with that song too.
To close the 45 minute set they went with the very Weezer-esque ‘Without the Pain’. Take away the guest vocals on this track and it would probably sound a lot different. That’s why I was genuinely excited when Kuda himself mysteriously appeared from behind the crowd to perform. Although Kuda’s vocals did get lost slightly behind the ringing guitar, it was a great touch to conclude the show.
On a dour evening in Edinburgh I was in need of warming up. Be Like Pablo cooked us up a treat mixing rock, pop and cheese all in the same pan. Very tasty.

Review of The Bohicas w/ Return To The Sun + Whitehill Grove @ Electric Circus (7/10/2015)

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST
I wish more bands would take themselves as not-so-seriously as The Bohicas – the passion for performing within a genre you love conveys far more to the listener than squeezing yourself into the earnest-shaped hole you think the public expect. Their second gig in Edinburgh (and coincidentally their second at Electric Circus) was a boisterous let-your-hair-down cure for the midweek blues!
First up tonight, Return To The Sun deliver a top notch set, their more Scots-rock oriented sound standing not in opposition to the bluesy-indie rock of The Bohicas but rather in complementary contrast, a display of the energy of both the north and the south under one roof. The Edinburgh group are doing the rounds in support of their upcoming EP ‘ElevenFiftySeven’ (cool title!) due for release in December; quite a while away but better to have the punters over-hyped and foaming at the mouth rather than under-hyped and indifferent. Turning on a distortion pedal seems like the easiest task in the world but very few really get it right – these guys did, and their heavier sections are glorious! More epic than Rome and tighter than the Tory party budget, they turned in a performance to be proud of. You could listen to the shrrredding lead guitar until your ears bled and the drummer thumped a mean tub with some flourishes and fills that make you say “woa-hoah, where did that come from?!”. There wasn’t much variety in style/sound between songs but that is a moot point; whilst some bands try to adopt a different façade for each of their tunes, others explore all the possibilities within one style that works for them and Return To The Sun have a hell of a lot more room to move within their groove before we get even remotely fed up of it.
Whilst reeeally not wanting to be unduly harsh towards the next band, you can’t help but wonder how Whitehill Grove blagged the main support slot tonight. The pop-punkish three piece turned in a set that, whilst undoubtedly under-rehearsed, still appeared to convey the joy and energy of three lads imitating their idols. Nothing wrong with the performance per se, it just felt like they needed a few extra months of honing their song writing craft and getting it ‘there’ in terms of tightness as a band before they start making some waves. Well, I did think that – right up until they started taking the mick a bit too much. The bassist would sarcastically clap his hands or give an annoyingly arrogant thumbs-up towards the singer anytime a bum note was played; the singer would cast unmissable daggers towards the bassist in response to every piece of improvised banter with the crowd; and the drummer kept looking towards the other two for his queue despite, you know, being the timekeeper. Unless you’re the Gallagher’s this level of obvious tension on stage is just not fun to watch; a bad case of ‘well I didn’t mess up’ syndrome. The thing is though, the singer/guitarist had a good sense of melody and he could really sing – at points his voice had a fantastic raspy quality to it! He’ll do well for himself if he keeps at it and if the band as a whole stops mucking around – there was a fair crowd in Electric Circus tonight and they fluffed up a good opportunity to blag their selves some new fanboys and girls. Sorry guys, I can’t lie! The Bohicas

But enough of that, on to the main attraction – The Bohicas! Essex lads only in birth right, they saunter on stage to some choice soul funk and hit the ground running with ‘Upside Down’, guitarist Dom John with his leather vest and wide-brimmed hat making him look the lovechild of Pete Doherty and Jimi Hendrix and lead singer/guitarist Dominic justifiably confident in himself but not arrogantly so; you see the inherent gratitude when he makes not-uncomfortable eye contact with most in the crowd. The mammoth 12-song set (mammoth for this scale of gig anyway) is unrelenting; even the ‘slower’ ones aren’t even that slow, only describable as such in comparison to the rabid indie energy of tracks such as ‘XXX’ and ‘Crush Me’. A wise decision to never let the pace drop – the crowd just keep getting more and more and more into it as we witness the evolution from head-nodding to body-swaying until every punter on the floor is dancing, and I mean REALLY dancing, excluding those who deem themselves ‘too cool to dance’ who act like I can’t see their feet tapping along in spite of their composed face. The guitar tone is brilliant, both guitarists taking equal prominence in terms of alternating rhythm/lead duties with some mad, mad solos – it’s not ground breaking but they never claimed to be! “We’ve got one more song to play for you” they say… “SWARM! SWAAARM!” the audience scream! They save the best for last, the anticipation within the crowd finally released in a manic performance featuring a riff that seems so simple on paper but is without a doubt their most effective by far. Even after 12 songs the crowd could easily have lapped up more and the faithful quite-a-few scrabble for a copy of the set list (sorry guys, I got there first!). I leave to catch my bus as soon as the performance finishes, and within the two minutes it took me to grab my coat and leave the venue I get outside and see lead singer Dominic ‘swarmed’ by a big handful of fans, pestering for a selfie and singing his praises. I shout over, “You guys were awesome!”, but he’s too preoccupied to notice – fair play to him, that performance warranted some adoration!

Check out Return To The Sun on Facebook for updates on their upcoming ‘ElevenFiftySeven’ EP:
Check out Whitehill Grove on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whitehillgrove?fref=ts
Head over to The Bohicas website for tour dates, tunes and more:

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: