We look at Mark Ronson, The Fratellis and White and more, at Carnival Fifty Six, Dundee.
With my daughter having a base in Dundee as a student this was the perfect opportunity to have a look at a new city based festival. The festival is situated at the suburban Camperdown Park around 3 or so miles from Dundee city centre. As this was a non-camping festival with very limited parking the accent was on festival goers either being dropped off or taking the specially organised buses.
It was the bus service that we chose with regular site runs from Ward Road every 30 minutes and every six minutes from Greenmarket. Tickets were in the form of £5 return wristband for a day return. The bus took you to the park gates and from there it was a walk uphill to the festival site.
Although queues were relatively short but growing they were taking a disproportionately long time to clear. As well as a police presence, with a sniffer dog, which is pretty much standard, the stewards were in my view a little over zealous checking purses and wallets in what I felt was a very invasive search. Is that the norm these days? Certainly not my experience at either TRNSMT or Belladrum.
The site itself was well set out with the Mardi Gras Stage (main stage) and VIP area at the far end. Close by was the Jam Live tent. It was this area that we concentrated our time at the festival. Close to the entrance was the Festival House Big Top Tent (second stage), dance tent, and two further stages as you made your way through the site. The festival reminded me of a compact version of Rockness, combining dance acts and indie rock acts. It wasn’t just the music but also the site layout with the gentle slope of the site as it ran towards the Mardi Gras stage.
First act on the main stage that we caught were White. This was a really meaty performance and the band look at home on the main stage. With the busy VIP area set stage right with a clear view of the stage they were taking advantage of this captive audience while the area in front of the stage slowly began to fill as more arrived on site and became more familiar with the layout. Good strong early performance but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Leo Condie and co.
One band that impressed me at both XpoNorth and at Belladrum was 100 Fables and it was a no brainer to see them for the second time in a week. The location of the Jam Live tent was such that its close proximity to the Mardi Gras Stage made it easy to move between both stages and once the struck up the crowd increased. With catchy irrepressible tunes are the link between all eras post 80s. From their killer cover of ‘Psycho Killer’ to Lyndsey Liora’s ‘psycho girlfriend’ performance this is very much a band to watch now.
Boxed In were next on the Mardi Gras Stage and their electronic set was a fusion between the two genres predominant at the festival. Not as high energy as the other performances but nonetheless fitting in well with the festival feel. Jesse Rae, on the other hand, who is going through a little renaissance of late fits well with a festival feel but he could fit in any festival. With a projected backdrop Jesse’s set curtailed by the restraints of time slots was a potted history of tracks from his heydey and more recent tracks taking in his collaborations with Odyssey for example. Not shy on wandering through the crowd and singing and interacting, it was Over The Sea which brought the biggest response from the crowd.
Honeyblood, another Belladrum favourite, equally delighted the crowd at Carnival 56. They have a great rapport with an audience and with songs that had stuck with me since Belladrum it was a very fast 45 minutes which gave us a little opportunity to catch the end of The Van T’s back in the Jam Live tent. Heavy on guitar and mixing vocal duties I wish we had seen a bit more of them but that’s what happens at festivals.
The Fratellis took to the Mardi Gras stage and knocked out a very solid set of rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd though were animated in pockets through the bulk of the set and it wasn’t until ‘Chelsea Dagger’ made its appearance that the main stage crowd became a main stage crowd. Rounding of with a cover of ‘Runaround Sue’ the pace of the set ended on an uptempo finish.
But first there was the appearance of a special guest. As it was Dundee there could be no more special a guest than Kyle Falconer of The View who rattled out a very quick acoustic set of classics of which ‘Same Jeans’ was the highlight for a packed Mardi Gras stage.
The stage was set up with an array of lights surrounding the decks from which Mark Ronson would operate from. Mark urged the audience on from the start and they needed no encouragement. With the full light show and jets of CO2 from cannons coupled with the fading light it gave a fine closing scene to the first day of the festival.
At this point we made our excuses and left. As we walked back through the site it was clear that activity was centring on not just the main stage with a packed Big Top tent and Discovery Stage. For a new festival it was well organised, other than a few issues on entry, and will hopefully be one that will establish itself and go from strength to strength. Dundee has pound for pound the strongest music scene in Scotland and deserves a festival to back this up.
Keep an eye on the Carnival Fifty Six page for any updates.
You can also check out our photographs of the festival below;