Having not made the conferences during the day due to work commitment I arrived at Wide Days for, well, the best bit.
Let’s face it people talking about the music industry can be very interesting and entertaining, and there were some topics on this year’s agenda which I would have very much like to have seen discussed, but it doesn’t beat seeing a top live act and this year there’s six on the bill across three venues and all for the wonderful price of nothing.
Arriving at The Pleasance just as one of Wide Days’ founders, Olaf Furniss, is finishing introducing the wonderful Be Charlotte; I’m equally as relieved not to miss her as I am surprised to see the act that I considered to have the most commercial potential on the bill on so early.
From the start young Charlotte Brimner possess a likeable swagger and her output oozes quality, whether it’s smashing a glimmeringly modern take on the pop song or mesmerising the crowd with a breath-taking accapella cut.
Granted the all-seated venue doesn’t suit the Be Charlotte sound, but she does herself more than justice, and had she been placed in a more fitting venue this set would be a real showstopper.
Following on from Charlotte is another impressive young talent in Aberdeen’s Best Girl Athlete; last year’s Carve Every Word album was a beautiful crafted, emotionally powerful piece of work that elevated it to number two in our end of year lists, so finally seeing these songs live is a treat.
Fronted by Katie Buchan would teams up with a full band, including her father, Scottish folk musician CS Buchan, who helped compose the album, Best Girl Athlete sound pretty emphatic, despite Katie looking a touch on the nervous side, but for the teenager, who’s dad just bought her her first pint in a pub today, this will come as she grows into her live show.
All in all she deals with the set brilliantly, sounding much more composed than I could imagine many high schoolers would in her position; she even deals admirably with some awkward, yet amusing dad chat.
A short jaunt over to La Belle Angele for London based popstress Elle Exxe, the third of four female fronted acts on the bill, something which has been made quite a lot of, and while admirable for giving a spotlight to some of the many great female fronted acts in Scotland stating you’re doing it does dim it somewhat; regardless, I can vouch that girls on this bill are here on merit and not just a token gesture.
One thing’s for sure Elle Exxe doesn’t hold back on her performance, at points her vocals seem to get lost in the mix, but so full on is this girl’s spiralling, riotous presence that you can’t tell if it’s intentional, just a poor mix or that she’s that into the performance that the mic isn’t quite making it to her mouth properly.
A London based musician, who already seems to have a solid footing in the industry seems an odd choice for Wide Days, but regardless of this Exxe, who seems much more genuine and lovely than her onstage pop diva persona may hint at, gives a performance that’s pure in-your-face theatre, over the top dancing and dirty pop beats that could be huge with the right breaks.
Next up are Tongues who certainly have the knack for a catchy synth hook, they also deliver their material with such an engaging pop tinged attitude that they have the potential to skyrocket.
If this Glasgow-based four-piece can muster enough songs to match the best they deliver tonight then there will be no stopping them; there’s enough soaring “woahs” to keep the chart touting indie fans howling along and plenty of interesting touches to their song-writing and arrangements, who knows where they’ll end up next.
Things start to blur into one once we arrive at Electric Circus, people have by now had enough beers to make the networking flow that much easier, still I’m delighted that The Van T’s are only just getting started when we arrive.
The band, we have been championing since very early on, show just why they’re getting all the attention, with a full on rock show filled with surfy goodness and the ever impressive harmonies of the Van Thompson twins, despite being severely dulled by the murky sound of Electric Circus.
It’s safe to say that Scumpulse are the showcase wildcard and the black metal act soon have the younger, hipper members of the crowd heading towards the exit, or at least the bar.
That’s not to say they’re not good, they technically are excellent delivering easily the most complex set of the day with ounces of punk energy that goes down as well with their diehard fan as it does those that give into their relentless power for the evening; I resisted the urge to mosh or buy a t-shirt… quite a few didn’t.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Jannica Honey