Second day at Brew at the Bog 2015 with Kill the Waves, Have Mercy Las Vegas, Golden Arm, Henry and Fleetwood, Daniel Meade and more. A review.

Head to Head with Have Mercy Las Vegas
Head to Head with Have Mercy Las Vegas

With a few stage timing changes, mainly to accommodate more acts on the Northern Roots stage, Sunday got underway at Bogbain. First for me were Barn Stage openers Kill The Waves. Obviously still feeling the cold from presumably a night’s camping they were bedecked with a few extra layers. This didn’t stop them generating their colossal electro based set.

As well as being electrifyingly powerful they are also emotionally intense. But that intensity is tempered by a vocal which at times shows fragility. They also have just released an album which is now on my shopping list. If you get the chance see them, really you should, you won’t be disappointed.

Next was a couple of steps through to the Northern Roots Stage and Have Mercy Las Vegas. A new name to me but one full of fun, vigour and close harmonies. This was one pacy hillbilly bluegrass hoedown and even relatively slower numbers such as ‘That’s Life’ were full of boundless enthusiasm. Impressed? Yes. Add me to your fan list.

Next was the interesting and much vaunted Golden Arm in the Barn Stage. There was a lot to capture here from early rock ‘n’ roll with a clear Shadows influence though to a purposeful Editors’ Tom Smith vocal. Triangulate that with a Casual Sex delivery and you are almost there. A great and absorbing half hour enough to knock a Steve Guttenberg stalker of a trail which at least links with one of their songs. A tight 3 piece ensured that Sunday was on a roll.

It was time to take a step back and enjoy the softer tones of Henry and Fleetwood who are not a firm of solicitors but a close knit duo fusing vocal, guitar and harp with a dash of minor electronica. Once again a quieter act in the Barn Stage but equally one which held the attention. The audience gave full respect which in all honesty their music deserved and thankfully received. Currently on the Olive Grove roster they are in the right place to develop their burgeoning relationship. You don’t have to be loud to make a lot of noise.

A wee turn to the Northern Roots Stage saw me take in Daniel Meade. As with Have Mercy Las Vegas I made a point of visiting this stage more on day two. Pervading a cool honky tonk bluegrass feel Daniel Meade played an extended set which took advantage of a growing crowd as the main stage became less of an attractive proposition due to inclement weather.

From Glasgow but with a heart in the south east and southern States this was another crowd pleasing, and when can it not with a double bass, set of rootsy pleasure.

Pronto Mama
Pronto Mama

I also managed to grab a little bit of a number of acts before I had to leave at the all too early hour of 8. Firstly, Pronto Mama. There is a lot going on here; horns, a solid rhythm, and vocal solidarity. The lead may look like a maths teacher with a couple of pupils lacking their school ties either side but they are very much more than a school band. Why have I not seen them before? Disappointingly I only caught the end of Randolph’s Leap, who I have seen before, and they were doing it with amazing energy. Twenty minutes too late but ten minutes to enjoy.

United Fruit were given a fleeting look over. I’ve seen them before and their sheer charged electric set is always a joy to behold. They did it again tonight by the bucket load. Talking of bucket loads there was a temptation to give a seafaring apparel Dr Wook a few buckets of wet fish to go with what he described as ‘dumpster chic’. Dr Wook along with Paul Elliott were charming their intimate audience in the Barn.

Vic Galloway introduces United Fruit to The Main Stage
Vic Galloway introduces United Fruit to The Main Stage

With my festival rounded off if it was time for a little reflection. Brew at the Bog ticks many boxes. The music across all stages was at a top level; there were no weak links. It was also refreshing to see, as it has been in previous years, Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae taking in a huge number of acts and also taking time time to talk to bands. You don’t get that at other festivals.

Food and beer queues were at a minimum and the festival was well staffed and mainly due to the purely musical reasons of those attending there was minimal, if any, trouble.

This leads on to the elephant in the room; the weather. It was, to say the least, bitterly cold especially on the Saturday. So much so Northern Roots usurped Brew at the Bog in terms of numbers in front of their stage. Sunday wasn’t quite as bad but on both days it led to people locally either arriving late or leaving early. This was unfortunate.

Brew at the Bog has never been blessed with the best of weather in its four years, however this year just took it to a new level. The question must be asked; is May just too early for a festival in the north of Scotland? Unfortunately the answer is not that simple. The weather that we have had in the last couple of weeks has been fantastic and even the day after, the Sunday, was perfect.

Personally, the Rockness weekend is now free and would tie in nicely with XpoNorth, but even then there is no guarantee with the weather. Whatever the decision is, and whenever it is held, I’m sure that the support from those that attended will be certain. The unanswerable question is whether a later date would bring a larger crowd.

But whatever the answer the commitment  and enthusiasm of the organisers can never be questioned. I look forward to next year whenever that may be.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via