Hinterland

Okay, now I’ve got my brain back I’m going to attempt to summarise what I got up to at Hinterland Festival on Friday. In essence, I pretty much saw everything I planned to, although there was an early evening scare when the printed timetable had Isosceles on at a different time from the pdf I downloaded (went with the pdf and got lucky).

Kicked things off in energetic fashion, pingponging between The Arches and The Classic Grand. Dipping in here for four or five songs, moving on there to sample someone else, always on the move, layering up the festival feeling. After a quick squint at a mysteriously unlisted first act (although rumour suggests We Are The Physics) in The Arches I started with the dependable choice of Y’all Is Fantasy Island who seemed to be in more of a full-on Kings Of Leon mood than I remember them. Good way to get in the mood, but I skipped out before the end to catch Miss The Occupier. MTO, always entertaining, on this occasion were on top form with their cheeky, spiky songs engaging the slowly increasing crowd. But once again, I had to skip out early to get back to The Arches in time to catch the first of my must-sees of the night.

Remember Remember were an act I’d no knowledge of prior to last week’s myspace trawl, and I was keen to see how their intricate, layered, beautiful instrumental compositions would transpose to the live arena. And I wasn’t alone. For what was still early in the evening, a decent turnout had squinched in together to enjoy the way RR’s eclectic sounds wash back and forward along the length of the bricked-in space. Joyous, even if the leave-em-wanting more maxim was taken a little too literally when determining the set length.

Where next? Oh, yeah, back to Classic Grand to catch Juno! Heard good things about them, and liked their poppy energy on their myspace tracks, but in terms of performance I found them frantic, shambolic and overexcited. Maybe it was a bad choice to follow Remember Remember, but I just didn’t click with them at all, so I nipped upstairs to catch some of Prego instead. The larger venue was possibly not appropriate for the number of people that had turned up to see these London rockers, but the crowd grew as their set went on and the band put in a really decent set. I was sorry to have to tear myself away to get back to The Arches again.

Because it was time for Punch And The Apostles. I’ve been getting good words about this band for months, and was determined to see them now I had the opportunity. This was my one real cemented-in fixture on the schedule, and others clearly felt the same. The room was rammed, but I managed to squeeze myself in up the back and settled in for one of the most full-on music experiences I’ve had in years. This was wild, wild music, played with exuberant abandon but kept from falling apart entirely by being played with great skill. The combination of piano and horns in polka rhythms reminded me of Tom Wait’s loudest, brashest, most eye-popping moments, but more so; the control the band exerted time and again to snap themselves back from screaming wall of noise into one of those crazy-catchy Eastern European melodies was possibly the equal of Waits’s live assembly. All in all, an incredible experience.

After that I found it difficult to settle  Nipped in to see some of Ming Ming And The Ching Chings, and liked what I saw enought to want to check them out another time, but even though their sax player was giving it laldy, after the PaTA experience their sound came across a little two-dimensional. Next I opted for Sons And Daughters, a band who somehow I had never seen. They kicked off with Broken Bones followed by Gilt Complex, two crowd favourites, and they rocked along nicely, but – perhaps because of the acoustics of The Arches or perhaps because they’ve become a slick and professional act or perhaps I was still PaTA’d out – whatever the reason, I felt a little disappointed. I wanted rawness and merely got a good rock and roll show. After nine acts of loudness, it was time to take a break.

Pivo Pivo, a few streets away, isn’t a big venue, but it was a decent size for Oh, Atoms. The trio, recently returned from touring Mexico and having begun the trip north in the early hours, were showing signs of fatigue, but their likeable music and personality totally charmed the small but very appreciative audience. Possibly, like me, they were all glad of the chance of a comfy seat, a chance to relax with a nice beer and listen to some lovely songs.

Time to walk up to the Art School to experience This Will Destroy You.  A huge sound that washed over a healthy crowd like the cold Atlantic, a strangely calming experience of the kind that makes good writing music. Bought the CD. And finally, at the end of the night, Isosceles.  No pun intended but they are a very angular band. The songs I’d heard to date, full of hard pop and intrigue, reminded me of Bekerofka. And live they were the same, but more so, putting a whole bunch of energy and humour into their late night set. Bit of a shame that the majority of the audience who’d seen TWDY had slunk away (presumably in the direction of We Were Promised Jetpacks), but Isosceles gave it all for those who remained, and I’ll definitely be watching them again.

So all in all, a grand trawl through the musical hinterland. Discovered a good few new acts that I’ll keep tabs on, and had one pretty unforgettable experience.

Hope to God they do it again next year.

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