Stirling’s Fringe Festival has been highlighting arts and culture in Scotland’s heart for three years now and this year they launched The Shindig – dubbed “The Best Wee Party in Scotland”.
Running from September 9th-11th at the Old Town Jail, it showcases some of the best Scotland has to offer in the arts and entertainment scene.
As part of the event, two afternoons of free music are hosted by Europa – Stirling’s independent music store.
The main stage is given a homely vibe with hay bales for the audience to sit on and bunting hung from trees – very Bake Off-esque.
The first band to take to the stage are Crashing Jets – a rocking five-piece I had come across last year at another local event, Tolbooth’s Strange Behaviours.
On my way to get a much-needed caffeine fix, I am stopped in my tracks by the acoustic sounds coming from a tented area in the beer garden section.
It comes as a lovely surprise since I had assumed the main stage was where all the music of the day was.
Inside was Michiel Turner, sitting up on the stage in a foldout chair, shoeless, with just his acoustic guitar for company.
The comforting atmosphere he creates with his soft, soulful vocals and acoustic guitar fill the tent; sadly, most of his set goes unwatched by the crowd as a few dip in and out throughout, but through it all sat his proud girlfriend up at the front.
Turner dedicates ‘One Another’ to her –a “jazzy little love song”, as he describes it, that even includes a bit of scatting.
‘Ride’ is a welcome addition to his set as it ups the tempo while still retaining those stripped back, almost haunting vocals.
The range in his vocals isn’t what you’d expect from an acoustic singer, there’s a twist in there that lends perfectly to jazz-sounding songs like ‘One Another’, but he has the ability to switch back effortlessly to those classic acoustic vocals and mix in a bit of gnarly angst that we hear in ‘Ride’; definitely a hidden gem of the event.
As well as the tented Marquee and the main Europa stage, there is a much more intimate venue placed within the beer garden – the Yurt, complete with bean bags and paper decorations hanging from the ceiling.
I catch some of Miss Irenie Rose’s performance in this cosy setting; similar to Turner, it is just her and her guitar, which makes for a welcome change from the electric guitar frenzy going on at the main stage.
Not only does Rose mesmerise her audience with her voice, but she provides us with banter in the moments between songs – a comedienne and a musician, it would seem, but more than that, it shows a commitment to her chosen genre.
Not only is her music folk-inspired, but she brings that through into her storytelling abilities as well.
The Media Whores close the main stage bringing back the rock vibe we had seen earlier in the day from Crashing Jets.
With a classic rock’n’roll look (sunglasses on an overcast day and silver hair aplenty), reflected in their music, they show the younger generation how to make rock music full of roaring riffs that’ll make you want to dust off your air guitar.
The music from the main stage on Sunday has a much calmer feel compared to that of the previous day.
The first act of the day is Megan Adams – a young Stirling local, but don’t let her petite look fool you, the voice that comes from her is something else.
She has the confidence to take on iconic ballads from the likes of Adele and she handles them perfectly; her vocals are warming and full of emotion, lending well to her choice of songs such as Paramore’s ‘Still Into You’ – her music could thaw the iciest of hearts.
You can’t seem to turn on the radio without hearing Calum Scott’s version of ‘Dancing On My Own’ but Adams gives us her own version – stripping it back, she creates a hauntingly beautiful rendition that silenced her audience.
As well as performing recent chart hits, Megan crosses music generations and covers Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ and even plays a Scottish anthem ‘500 Miles’ – almost making it unrecognisable from the song we’ve all drunkenly bellowed out at Hogmanay.
Continuing the laidback Sunday theme, Alan Carberry take to the stage and despite admitting he was a “hungover man”, it doesn’t show in his performance – if anything, it would have only added to the natural huskiness already present within his vocals.
There is never a dull moment at The Shindig and a spontaneous performance from the Boom Bike Bourrée proves this– a medieval traditional themed ensemble with some beat boxing thrown in for good measure – I bet that’s a combination you never thought would exist.
It’s as bizarre as it sounds and yet there was something simply fantastic about it; dressed for the part and accompanied with percussion, an accordion and a string instrument called a hurdy-gurdy, commonly associated with folk music; their brief performance is definitely one of the highlights of the event.
The Insomniac Project closes the event with their mix of dancey synth and power ballad vocals.
Their music swamps the entire venue, drawing me away from the spoken word event – “Rhyme and Punishment” I had been attending in the Marquee stage.
Having seen them in the past I knew what to expect and they don’t disappoint, despite playing to a slightly lack-lustre crowd, they keep their energy levels high and party on stage like no-one is watching.
After a successful weekend enjoyed by many, I hope to see The Shindig reoccur next year with more local acts getting involved.
The arts scene in Stirling is beginning to thrive and with the amount of talent around, I can see why!
Words: Laura Imrie