Thomas Bisset charts his experience of goNORTH 2012 in words and images.
First stop was Glasgow’s Quickbeam in Hootananny. The harmonies between the two vocalists almost sooth, and the minimal input from the other musicians in the band serve only to highlight this. Nicely done, ladies and gents.
Heading upstairs to Mad Hatters to Matt Norris and the Moon and we arrive in somewhat familiar territory. Mumford and Sons is an apt – albeit slightly lazy – comparison but if you can banish that thought from your head a few moments, they really are a good, solid band in their own right.
Edinburgh’s Dead Boy Robotics put on a pounding set in The Room, in what arguably could be one of the odder band/venue combinations of GoNorth this year. Their high energy set would probably have suited a place which didn’t appear to cage them in, and the electronic blips, glitches and noise were at odds with some members of the audience who apparently just wanted to sit down and have a nice meal. Crystal Castles fans, check them out.
Letters, from Edinburgh, are a little darker than most of the bands on show today, in both overall mood of their music and in the venue’s lack of lighting with only a small projector playing a slightly creepy video loop (hence, no photos). Think along the lines of the Twilight Sad, only without the massive walls of sound; Letters do just about as much, with much less.
He Slept On 57 are quite a popular bunch it seems judging by the very crowded Exchange,and they proved why tonight. Guitar-pop as it should be, and not at all dampened by the apparently quite shy folk who turned up.
Cancel the Astronauts (from Edinburgh) are an incredibly difficult band to describe. Their lead singer sounds almost folk-ey, and the overall vibe does encourage a good bit of foot-stomping like much of Scotland’s traditional music. With that said, “traditional” is far, far from being even close to describing them. Perhaps a band for those who want a good knees up, but hate traditional music with a passion, instead preferring guitars and synth?
Ilona is currently based in London but is originally from Bulgaria, and that fact is very obvious when she performs. Very European sounding, probably not out of place in a certain Europe-wide singing contest…
On to Thursday night, and we begin in Mad Hatters with a tinnitus-inducing onslaught, courtesy of Elgin’s Cleavers. Loud, brash and punky; definitely not everybody’s idea of a good night out, and these guys couldn’t possibly care any less.
Meanwhile, Blindfolds were playing downstairs. Clearly a well rehearsed, well thought out band, they have their look nailed aping the likes of the Clash, leather jackets and slicked hair all present and correct. But this gives no clues to the Glasgow band’s sound, reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s earlier days. Well worth checking out.
On to the Ironworks to see a band that’s no stranger to these pages, Red Kites, who put on precisely the kind of performance we’ve come to expect. Quality stuff from the guys from Guildford.
The interestingly named Nelson Can are also interestingly made up – a female trio singing, drumming and on bass, with no other guitar in sight. It definitely sounds as strange when you hear them as it does when you read this, but it also totally works – think Tilly and the Wall, the Ettes or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Can’t say this year’s GoNorth isn’t diverse.
Welshman Sion Russell-Jones was certainly a nice break. The red-headed singer-songwriter acoustic guitar player is inevitably going to get a comparison to Ed Sheeran at some point by a very lazy journalist, but in reality he’s probably the more talented of the two, and as a multi-instrumentalist with a very unique voice, he’s got a lot more going for him as well.
Team Kapowski appear to be getting more popular by the day, with the Invernesian rap trio nearly packing out Hoots this evening. Perhaps a good sign with their Rockness performance coming up?
Hush appears to be somewhat unfamiliar territory for the guys in the Whisky River Band, all looking very dapper on the one night there isn’t some kind of dress code in force. No matter, if tonight’s anything to go by they too should be set up for a great performance at Rockness.
The Mirror Trap were last seen up here to support fellow Dundonian’s The View in the Ironworks, so to see themselves go from the area’s biggest venue to what has to be one of the world’s smallest must be a bit of a shock. If it was, it certainly didn’t show. Another top notch performance.