Day One at Brew at the Bog 2015 with Birdhead, The Winter Tradition, Poor Things, Man of Moon, Searching for Donkeys and more. A review.
Opening act for me at Brew at the Bog was Birdhead, a relentless, hard edged electro rock duo. Angry vocals mixed with an instrumental about Italian roads. Their drive and intensity made them sit comfortably, as comfortably as you can, between the not forgotten Amazing Snakeheads and Crash Club. The crowd may have been small as festival goers were still making their way to the site but this was seriously impressive and a very early festival highlight.
Next on the main stage at 2 were The Winter Tradition with their cold sounding name to match with the biting north westerly wind which afflicted this stage throughout the day. However, that didn’t put off the faithful, and a few converts, as they got the crowd jumping to their infectious beat and maybe also out of some necessity. Highlight ‘Gradients’ proved popular in a softer but every bit as lively take on a sound reminiscent of Twin Atlantic. And that’s not a bad thing.
My first venture indoors took me to the Barn Stage and Poor Things. Dual vocals and fizzing sparkle in abundance. Snappy tunes and even one with the long name of ‘A Drunk Man Contemplates The Royal Wedding at Kelvingrove Park’. We now await a track about the royal baby. We may though have a long wait. Great fun and placed between Weezer and the Banana Splits this can seriously only be a good thing.
Following on in the Barn was Man Of Moon. With a change in the tone this was moodily atmospheric with a measure of darkness pervading their set. Another 2 piece who held their audience with a sense of gloom but equally it landscaped over a soundtrack backdrop.
Staying the Barn local act Searching For Donkeys found there way to the stage. Here’s a band that can put a smile on even the coldest of faces and today that was a very good thing. They were upbeat, uptempo and creating a spirited party atmosphere. There songs were well received and although it may not have been the sunshine of their main stage appearance of last year they did at least put smiles on faces.
Back down at the Main Stage were the ever popular Woodenbox. They are a party band and boy did they do that! There may have been a short power outage mid-set but that didn’t affect the atmosphere that they had created. With a fantastic horns section and an ability to turn any situation into a carnival they kept the crowd truly entertained.
Back in the Barn it was the turn of the much travelled Siobhan Wilson. Just back from Hollywood, as you do, it was Siobhan’s turn to wow a more local audience. And wow she did. Siobhan goes about her work quietly and lets her music sit there in the moment.
It is a thing of beauty; controlled and seemingly effortless. It is also music that demands to be listened to and it was a little unfortunate that there was some leakage of noise from the rowdy Northern Roots stage and a little chatter from the back of the room. That said this was still a sublime performance.
The rest of the evening saw me dot from stage to stage picking up a little of the acts on both the main stage and, as mentioned above, the rowdy Northern Roots Stage.
I wouldn’t be far off the mark if there were about half of the festival crowd in the Northern Roots Stage at any one time on Saturday. One advantage that it had was that it was the warmest venue with the tent holding the body warmth better than the night sky at the main stage or the solid stone walls of the barn. It wasn’t just about the warmth inside there but the quality of the music.
It all became more than a little raucous in there with Whole Lotta Folkies whipping up the rammed tent as did Rob Heron and then headliners The Elephant Sessions.
As the temperature dropped further there was no real encouragement to venture beyond the relative warmth of the buildings and tented structures but those that did, and they did in growing numbers, picked up some great sets on the Main Stage.
Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of Hector Bizerk and so they are still on my ‘must see’ list. Neon Waltz proved why they have been signed up by a label. Young lads with a big future; they didn’t put a foot wrong. It was also good to see Fatherson garner a big crowd late in the evening for their headline slot (see the photos of the set). They’ve done this before and once again they delivered; this time with a greater presence and a strong belief that they are on the verge of another leap forward.
My evening wanderings as I stage hopped were in part fuelled by the mix of excellent Brewdog beers on hand. Many an eyebrow was raised at the £5 token price but the 4 cans for a tenner (2 tokens) with Brewdog proved a winner; so much so that the tins were sold out on the Saturday night.
It would appear that their ‘Truck Norris’ proved popular as it closed early in the festival too. There was also a great mix of other ‘refreshments’ on sale and Crossbill Gin, Thistly Cross Cider (try their ginger cider!) and a Prosecco bar would have had a busy day going by the full and emptying glasses and bottles on display.
Special mention must also go to girls from The Spaniard Bar in Belfast who were serving up their Dark ‘n’ Stormy; a rum, ginger beer and bitters cocktail which they twisted my arm to try. Each outlet was well staffed and queues were almost non-existent.
Overall a very successful first day even if I haven’t mentioned the elephant in the room; the bitterly cold weather. But that can be for another day.
Check out more reviews of Brew at the Bog and sign up to our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out on new features as they are added. Also check out our Folk at the Festival pictures on Facebook.