We’re back at Doune for another year and thankfully this year isn’t cut short for illness reasons, however what we find when we arrive is a very weather affected site; still there’s line up that on paper looks as strong as any in Scotland this year.
Sadly, after a long queue to get into the car park, we’re met with the news that Saturday headliners Songhoy Blues have had to pull out, but thankfully the weather has affected proceedings enough that we manage to catch a bit of Bdy_Prts who shimmer with the honey drenched vocals of ponchoed pair.
Their sound has an original yet classic feel about it that gives a refreshing take on pop music; it’s a shame they’re on so early as most of the crowd are still on their way or setting up at the campsite.
Of what we manage to catch ‘Warrior’ and ‘Cold Shoulder’ are standouts as the girls, now complete with full band, seem to be on the road to fulfilling the promise they emerged with a couple of years ago.
Over at the Baino Stage, in a new home from previous years next to the bar, (its former place to the right of the Jabberwocky Stage is held with a circular structure, which is supposed to the be the 0///Dome remains still in construction), LYLO suffer a similar early festival slot; a stage trying to figure out their sound and a crowd that is still yet to fully arrive.
Regardless the band deliver a profound set the merges space age tropical bleeps with jazzy undertones and foot moving post punk that makes them one of the most exciting bands in Scotland now.
Add to that an addictive frontman, whose dream filled yet punchy vocal tones are only upstaged by some serious dance moves.
Over at the slightly smaller The Lodge stage Fallope and Friends play super lo-fi garage tinged pop in front of a giant inflatable squid while dressed as planets, that’s a mouthful and a half.
The instrument swapping all girl six-piece is a spectacle to behold, true their yelped vocal opening track can take some adjusting too, but ultimately it’s rhythmic fun, and when they hit their groove it’s somewhere between good family fun and utterly bizarre perverseness.
Not long into the set there’s kids flailing around with the giant squid, looking like their having the time of their lives and as the band switch from growled punk with powerful basslines and dirty synths to hypnotic actioned numbers that build to frantic ends – dogs barks with confusion and by the end the kids have killed the squid; truly entertaining stuff.
Dashing back to Baino, the clashes between Baino and The Lodge become a theme of the weekend, we manage to catch the end of Adam Torres’ set and we’re treated to a settling retro beauty, with Torres’ sunshine coated vocals creating a real sense of calm with a touch of sadness thrown in.
On the Jabberwocky stage BMX Bandits are delivering in all their guitar pop glory; as a band they’re an odd proposition, it’s super fun and impressive indie pop, but there’s this touch of cheese lingering under the surface, from the call back boy girl chorus to Duglas T Stewart’s banter, that is full of comic wit, however is delivered in the tone of a children’s TV presenter yet still oozes charm.
‘Serious Drugs’ may be 15 years old now, and comes with a Grange Hill pre warning to the kids in the crowd, but as a track it’s perfect; as Stewart’s gentle vocal float over the evening crowd it’s a pleasant start to an evening that’s set to go up a gear.
It has to be said that LAPS’ EP completely passed me by, strange as Cass’ former band, Golden Teacher were a personal favourite; for this project she’s joined by Organs of Love’s Sue Zuki and the duo cut an insanely cool image.
That image is only matched by a sound and energy that fits perfectly; soulful vocal interplay and dirty electro beats combine with a dubbed up post punk vibes to create an a act that are really one to look out for; proper sultry stuff.
Next up on the Main Stage are Liars, who manage only a couple of songs sans lead vocals before the set is pulled to the disappointment of the crowd and anger of the band; that’s the two headliners not playing this weekend, seems like promoters nightmare – still what could they have done.
Still if you head over to The Lodge everything is forgotten as, what is becoming a familiar yet never old thing for us, Happy Meals absolutely kill it.
The duo of Lewis Cook and Suzanne Rodden are an infectious experience, soaring electronics hit disco honing, genre expanding beats topped by Rodden’s irresistible French vocals; go see these guys immediately they are the best band in Scotland right now.
Next up I make my first journey to the Thunderdome stage, through a muddy walkway and down a treacherous path into the woods you find a rather magical stage set up, tomorrow’s line up down here is packed full of quality local acts, but tonight revellers have filled out the space as snooker star DJ Steve Davis spins some tracks.
Yes, there’s a novelty value too seeing a 60 year old snooker player perform a DJ set in the woods at a festival, but such is the selection of tracks from the potting legend that you soon forget the novelty and get carried away in a set full electronic gems that swells from the less heavy end of techno to the more bangin’ end of IDM.
Closing the night at Baino Ubre Blanca are proper apocalyptic, just as you want them to be; yes the duo look heavy pissed off at the range of dreadlocked tie dyed messes dancing around at the front – cultural appropriation seems a sad theme of the weekend, but these people seem to be a fixture of most small, boutique style festivals these days, especially ones like Doune that insist on putting on a stage dedicate to repetitive super bassy dub for 16 hours a day – still Ubre Blanca are emphatic.
The duo’s thunderous Italo enthused performance is as doom infected as it is dancingly contagious, a real powerful experience that closes off the first night, unless you’re into dancing off beat to monotonous bass; I tried to sleep to it instead.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Allan Lewis / Harrison Reid