Day Two at Brew at the Bog 2015 with Freil Sisters, Silver Coast, Life on Standby, Garden of Elks, Dr Wook, Skinny Dipper and Skerryvore. A review.

The Friel Sisters
The Friel Sisters

The first band to grace the Northern Roots stage were the superb Friel Sisters, the trio from Glasgow play predominantly traditional Irish tunes reflecting their Donegal heritage. They threw in a fair bit of trad Scottish music in there too including the mournful ‘My Heart is in the Highlands’ which led to a mass ‘sway along.’ Playing with a mix of Flute, Fiddle and the Uillean Pipes they helped clear away any lingering hangovers and pulled a good sized crowd for the first band of the day in the Roots tent.

Over on the main stage local Silver Coast were given a rousing introduction by Vic Galloway, describing them as the ‘greatest band in the world right, better than Led Zeppelin’. It’s early days yet, but who knows what lies on the horizon!

This, their last gig before heading back into the studio for a few days was a triumph in the face of another brisk afternoon at Bogbain. Frontman and guitarist Aaron Murray looked chilled to the bones but that didn’t stop them from putting on a fine performance of emotive and anthemic college rock tunes.

Life on Standby over on the barn and were a band that I stumbled across and new absolutely nothing about before Brew at the Bog. The first I knew of them was when lead singer Erin Donnachie’s vocals came soaring over the Barn, It’s like someone spliced the DNA of Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper and Siouxsie Sioux and sat back to see what would happen.

The Electro Alt Rockers were nothing short of blistering, Donnachie whirling like a woman possessed while the rest of the band pummeled their instruments and the audience into submission. They’re unsigned at the moment but I think that’s a state of affairs that will change soon.

Garden of Elks
Garden of Elks were in no mood to take prisoners

Garden of Elks were in no mood to take prisoners either, putting on a surly front when people dared to leave the area of the main stage; singer Niall Strachan proclaimed that he hoped they slipped in cow shit. The rest of their set was equally uncompromising, playing what they call ‘thrash pop’ with some proper rock star theatrics for good measure – a guitar went flying across the stage at one point.

They’ve been recently championed by Steve Lamacq on 6 Music and based on the above you can see why they’re beginning to turn heads. And it’s not because they’re pretty…

Back over in the Northern Roots Tent the quality of acts continued to impress, Siobhan Miller and James Grant play folk music with no additional thrills, just Siobhan singing and James on guitar. The calibre of musicianship is high and I was rooted to the spot as Siobhan’s gorgeous vocals and James’ understated yet emotive guitar playing washed over me.

‘Scotland’s Winter’ an Orcadian poem set to music being a particular highlight. Another coup for Brew at the Bog, anyone who sneers at smaller festivals without ‘name’ headline acts are missing out, it helps of course that Bruce Macgregor manages to sniff out the best in folk talent via his Travelling Folk show on BBC Scotland!

Dr Wook otherwise known as ‘Kris Douglas from The Whiskys’ takes to the stage wearing what can only be described as a sou-wester and bunnet, looking like a man who’d come off the boats at Peterhead and wandered into the Barn by accident. His wife rather uncharitably called his look ‘dumpster-chic’, we at Inverness Gigs being at the forefront of fashion would like to say that it’s a look that will be quickly replicated across festivals this year, so what does she know…

Skinny Dippers, bit brave in the weather though
Skinny Dippers, bit brave in the weather though

On to the music, his acoustic guitar is accompanied by Paul Elliot (Pel) on electric guitar providing mournful harmonics and subtle notes underpinning each song. If I’m honest, I’m not sure it completely worked and it sounded very similar across each track. The songs themselves are good and there’s no denying the power and soul that Kris has vocally, a few Eddie Vedder comparisons peppered the audience again but enough already with that. If I’m being honest I genuinely don’t think Vedder matches his range.

Olive Grove Records act Skinny Dipper manage to squeeze all nine of themselves on to the Barn’s stage and in contrast to the big folk tunes happening over on the Northern Stage provided by Skippinish they’re a mellower prospect, reminding me a bit of Belle and Sebastian. That said, they were quite capable of moving the pace up a notch or two and could switch from mournful to uplifting alt-pop tunes in the blink of an eye. This is their second time at Brew at the Bog and definitely a feather in the cap of Olive Grove Records.

Finishing the night, Skerryvore
Finishing the night, Skerryvore

Northern Roots headliners Skerryvore were highly anticipated and did not disappoint. Like Skippinish and Sketch before them the folk rockers were here to party and they did just that. By now a well lubricated Brew at the Bog crowd were showing absolutely no sign of wanting to take a breath and Skerryvore duly obliged by finishing off the weekend in stellar fashion.

The band has been on the go now for a decade and it’s clear that that experience is paying dividends as they belt out an hour of traditional and rock tunes. They finished by playing two encores and if it wasn’t for licensing laws and I suspect they could have easily played another hour or two to the fired up Brewbog punters.

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I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer!You can contact Toby direct at Toby@Igi.gs