Electric Fields Festival
Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire
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RUNNING across two days for the first time, Electric Fields might have masqueraded as a typical festival this year but its personality was all its own.
Forgot your dinner money? No problem: hang on for two minutes from the pole suspended by the burger stand, and you could win your dinner. At the top of the Ferris wheel was the perfect view of The Beta Band’s Steve Mason singing about how much he hated everybody, but that’s the closest one gets to a bad vibe at Electric Fields.
I arrived to find Glasgow’s multi-legged musical cult, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, apparently teaching an entire main stage’s worth of revellers to cross the road. There was enough of the pantomime in their garish outfits and easy to follow songs to keep even the younger members of the audience entertained, and their yellow t-shirts brightened up the compact arena for much of the rest of the day.
Mercury Prize nominee C Duncan’s voice was a marvel. Stir in a little backing vocal from the keyboards and bass and it turned into an entire church choir. Songs that opened as deceptively simple chamber pop turned into dreamy, beautiful mysteries by the end, especially The Garden – ostensibly the closest thing Duncan has to a conventional pop song, it was anything but while the festival’s "living sculpture", People Pavilion, wove its way through the crowd.
Admiral Fallow’s brand of indie loveliness was an excellent follow-up. Frontman Louis Abbott, his voice like rose-tinted spectacles, always sounds like he is reminiscing and it was the perfect soundtrack for a sunny afternoon.
There was a shift in the mood when Honeyblood took to the stage; their songs a thudding, brat-punk inspired catharsis delivered with nothing but electric guitar, drums and tonnes of sass. There was even a sneak peek at their upcoming album in the form of new single Ready for the Magic – part-Runaways, part-party.
Tim Peaks was a little oasis in the middle of the festival, a place to curl up in a cosy armchair with some barista-quality coffee and some lesser-known bands and DJs. Teen Canteen packed out the tent with their summery girl-gang vibes, and their Spectoresque harmonies were the perfect accompaniment to an early evening dance. Riding the Low, fronted by actor Paddy Considine, sounded exactly what you’d think a band playing a Tim Burgess-curated stage would sound like, only with an added intensity that bordered on the slightly creepy.
On the Stewart Cruickshank stage, the hotly-tipped White were a little too clinical to win me over, but Fat White Family were tremendously good fun. Their set sounded like being trapped in a funhouse hall of mirrors, while getting serenaded by a guy with a kazoo in his throat.
Primal Scream ended the night like old festival pros with just the right blend of hits (Moving On Up, Accelerator, Some Velvet Morning) and new material. making new song Where The Light Gets In sound like a classic – that’s the Electric Fields magic right there.