Live review: Doune the Rabbit Hole 2011

Missing the Friday like a fair few for the GSA Degree Show opening and last official night at the Vic, I arrive in Doune early Saturday afternoon still feeling strains of a night of free drinks, rammed galleries, streets parties, and a rousing Errors set. For the record, Errors were clearly reveling in being the last band to play in the Vic bar as we know it, turns out they still might not be but nonetheless they pulled out a blinder.

Anyway after dropping behind somewhat on the trains we aimed to get we still get there in time to catch Fur Hood, who play a delightful pop set even if it looks as though Jodi’s jeans could fall off at any moment.

The Cosmic Dead follow and due to drummer Julian’s failure to rise that morning Laurie Pitt steps in for another set. With everyone relaxed enjoying a slightly different sounding set to the usual they stop after about 20mins, apparently just a sound check. They return to the stage about half an hour after and deliver a full set, it’s captivating but not what you usually get from a Cosmic Dead set, maybe it’s Laurie or the lack of smoke and strobe or maybe it’s the daylight who knows. It’s good that’s all that matters.

Cue the most adorable moment of the festival as Glasgow’s resident burrito blogging behemoth and Take a Worm lunacy creator Joe Qumiby, playing guitar with Remember Remember (top) fathers his young boy from stage in the most endearing fashion. Remember Remember incidentally play a perfectly beautiful set, daylight brings a new wonder to Graeme Ronald’s music and his minor fits of energy and collection of odd instruments add to the spectacle as they bring together one of the most fitting sets of the festival.

Dam Mantle has to acknowledge the early slot he has been given, the man used to playing after midnight playing mid-afternoon, but that doesn’t detract from how much a Jack Russell puppy down the front is enjoying things. The wonderful electronic music combined with the hyperactive dog more than make up for the lack of mood for a dance.

Tokamak combine dreamy bliss with apocalyptic noise and fill it all out with a mesmorising backdrop, before a skip over to Zombie Science 1Z which while cheery and slightly amusing in a silly way grates after while.

The middle of the day merges into one but Alasdair Roberts provides some beautiful folksy numbers and another oddly timed set this time coming from Ben Butler & Mouespad manages to get the crowd dancing with playful bleeps and addictive hooks.

BMX Bandits are billed as one of the festivals headliners and rightfully so as Duglas T Stewart and co deliver both old and new indie pop, with a quirky edge. Still, Duglas’ musings about reaching the hit parade and the like grate a touch after a while and an upper for the evening is needed, that is supplied in astounding fashion by Blurt frontman, Ted Milton, backed by Fur Hood. The avant-garde, poet and saxophonist treats us to an inspiring performance where every part of the experience impresses to massive levels, and none more so than his rough, unique vocal offering. The best set of the festival, hands down.

Then it’s time for the band that everyone is here to see, and The Vaselines act as the ideal follow-up to the captivating Blurt performance the delightful toe tapping indie pop brings a charming relief. A drink flies towards Frances at one point leaving her rightfully annoyed is a rare low point in the set and the sight of people topless in a mosh pit at a Vaselines gig is not one you will see often. Still this picturesque setting is perfect to see this band and one that is enjoyed and savoured equally by most.

From there the night turns into a blur, several attempts to go to bed are cancelled as dancing is on the agenda, a delightful campfire chat with folks from Bristol’s Animal Folk, and then the call from The Cosmic Dead’s James T McKay that they’re playing again at 5am. An inspired DJ slot from Button Up causes Gropetown’s set to go missed but arrival at the secret stage for The Cosmic Dead, Julian intact, where they play the second of three sets, the next would be around 6am and last until the next day had well and truly started.

As Saturday was such a massively hectic day Sunday is thankfully much more relaxed and the rain holding off is a great relief as people laze on the hill and take in the surroundings. This festival is wonderful, kids and dogs run around looking like they’re having the time of their lives, and all in the delightful setting of Doune. The village is worth a visit too, a collection of pubs and cafes offer a welcoming atmosphere in a village familiar with tourists as Doune Castle holds fame from its appearances in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Arising early a nap was very much in order, the sacrifice does mean missing well thought of sets from Tut Vu Vu, James Yorkston and RM Hubbert and returning dazed to catch the end of a baffling yet at times quirkily pop filled set from Trembling Bells.

The DT6 wake things up a bit as this collection of wonderfully talented musicians produce an engaging, funk enthused set that sends the crowd into a sea of grooving feet. Punch & the Apostles provide a captivating but not all together fitting set of bombastic brass filled prog before it’s time for the festivals uplifting end.

Them Beatles take the stage and no one could ask for more than what they got. The impressive Beatles tribute act give an almost two-hour set, three encores, plowing through rarities and classics alike to bring the curtain down on Doune in a glorious field of pop.

The night takes in dancing, campfire songs, drug fueled saxophone playing and skinny dipping for some but the festival as a whole delivers on everything you would want, I’ll be back next year and I expect most here will be to. The perfect alternative from the brash mess of Rockness.

Photos kindly donated by Ralph Thompson

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