There was certainly a gap in the Scottish music calendar after the announcement that the well-loved Wickerman Festival wouldn’t be going ahead this year.
Ready to step up was Electric Fields Festival, situated near Thornhill next to Drumlanrig Castle, who this year extended their usual one day event to a weekend of music, spoken word and lots of fun and games!
Looking at the high quality line-up of bands on offer I was expecting a large-scale festival, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was very compact with everything you needed in close range. No snaking queues for the bar at this festival.
Arriving early Friday afternoon, there was enough time to get acquainted with our neighbours and suss out what was on offer. A full bar with local ales, a can bar and my personal favourite the Hendricks Gin and Prosecco bar kept me well liquored up.
As far as food was concerned, there was something for everyone. I especially liked the nondescript white van who sold garlic mushroom stuffed Yorkshire Puddings. Or if you felt up to the challenge you could ‘Hang Marvin’ on a pole for two minutes and win a free burger.
My favourite place to hang out was Tim Peaks Diner, the brainchild of headliners The Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess. There was tea, delicious coffee, comfy sofas and an abundance of new and upcoming bands. Friday also brought us a Tim Burgess DJ set with a reading from his latest book. Perhaps a slightly disjointed series of events, but anything goes in the Diner!
Taking to the main stage was Public Service Broadcasting who delivered a stellar set with an appearance from Sputnik as they played through their ‘Race For Space’ album. The rain also showed face, but brought a magnificent rainbow just in time for a rapturous finish with debut album track ‘Everest’.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Sugarhill Gang were not to play on Friday but there was plenty to choose from with Field Music, Don Letts, Eliza and the Bear and Baby Strange. The Charlatans followed Wild Beasts in what was an outstanding night of alt-rock and 90s nostalgia.
King of the samples DJ Yoda brought the night to an end in the Sneaky Pete’s tent with a nostalgia tinged set that more than appeased the late night revelers.
Saturday started with a spinning high kick as I ventured out of my tent early doors to take part in the Northern Soul dance class. Iced coffee in hand, all ages took to the “dance floor” to learn how to do the Northern Soul hands and an impeccably timed high-kick to Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’.
The afternoon brought sunshine and the arrival of festival stalwarts Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five as they taught the crowd how to ‘Cross the Road’ leaving everyone happy and smiling in true Dijon fashion.
Also taking to the main stage were Admiral Fallow, a band who have progressed from their folk/rock roots into something more dynamic with lead singer Louis Abbot’s tenor voice and well-worked harmonies. They were followed by Honeyblood, a two-piece Scottish band who have recently been B-listed on Radio 6 Music with track ‘Ready for the Magic’. Their set was tight, punchy and hyper-melodic bringing rock music back to the fore.
Back in the coziness of Tim Peaks Diner, Glasgow based Teen Canteen played to a packed out tent. Made up of members Carla, Sita, Chloe & Debbie they are a slightly kitsch pop group who manage to pull off some blinding harmonies. You can’t help but feel encapsulated by their understated fierceness especially in their song ‘Honey’.
Dundee sunshine rockers Model Aeroplanes graced the stage in the Stewart Cruickshank tent. Now that may seem somewhat of a juxtaposition, but these boys are all about tropical rhythms and make music you can’t help but dance to.
In the same tent were WHITE, another Scottish band who are making quite a racket on the music scene right now. Taking influences from post-punk, it really is the magnificent voice and striking stage presence of lead singer Leo Condie that carries this band, separating them from mundane rock acts.
Next up were Londoners Fat White Family who have a visceral approach to music making which is taken even further in their live performances. The are reminiscent of late 70’s rock bands and their onstage antics lead the audience down a road of corruption which they eagerly lap up. As they played through tracks such as ‘Touch the Leather’ you became totally immersed in their world. The performance of the weekend.
Headliners Primal Scream brought everyone to the main stage where they played through hit after hit ‘Loaded’, ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Movin’ On Up’. It was absolutely perfect from start to finish. Bobby Gillespie seemed to soak in the Scottish crowd – a homecoming gig of sorts as they chanted and sang in unison.
Finishing the night were the vivacious Malian band Songhoy Blues who manage to flit between R&B and rock in seamless fashion. They brought smiles, and fearless dance moves that nobody could possibly hope to recreate after such a high-energy day.
Other honourable mentions were Steve Mason, founding member of The Beta Band, with his poignant lyrics and highly endearing laid back attitude, Twilight SAD and proper rock ‘n’ roll from Paddy Considine’s band Riding the Low.
The Electric Fields experience was one to be recommended. It balanced music from a cross-section of genres, and managed to not seem overwhelmingly commercialised while still having some pretty big name acts. As a relatively small festival of 5000 people, the sound was impeccable across all stages which lended itself to feeling totally captivated by all of the performances on offer.