Fence Collective's Homegame: Homeward bound
Doug Johnstone chats to the heads behind Homegame, the Fence Collective’s annual gathering of cracked folk, indie pop, electronica and beyond
In the ever-growing Scottish music festival calendar, the Homegame remains something of a well-kept secret. Despite a steadily increasing profile since its inception six years ago, the weekend, run by Fence Collective head honchos Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) and Johnny Lynch (aka The Pictish Trail), remains a good-natured, cosy, boutique affair, and that’s just the way they like it.
Set in the stunning environs of the fishing village of Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife, the event grew out of Sunday Social all-day gigs and was originally planned as a showcase for the multifarious acts that make up the Fence Collective’s eclectic roster, but gradual expansion has made it a much more diverse and expansive affair.
This year’s line-up includes Emma Pollock, De Rosa, Karine Polwart, Adem, Foxface, Malcolm Middleton and The Phantom Band, who join the leading lights of the collective, such as the aforementioned organising pair and James Yorkston, for a weekend of hazily boozed-up exploits and sea air. ‘We like to pretend that it’s a proper festival,’ says Lynch disingenuously, ‘but really it’s just an excuse for us to show how drunk we can perform in front of our pals and coked-up tabloid journos.’
One of the keys to Homegame’s success is that it hasn’t lost any of its initial charm despite its steady growth, a mistake Lynch was keen to avoid. This year’s festival, with gigs scattered around various venues in the town, has a capacity of 700, twice what it was last year (‘There are still a few tickets left!’ Lynch rants hopefully). This increased size will certainly make the queues for the chippies busy come teatime, but it could’ve been a lot worse.
‘We were thinking about making this year’s event much larger, like 2000-plus people in a marquee on the shorefront,’ says Lynch. ‘But we scrapped that idea as we felt it would be too imposing on the town and the festival would lose its homely feel. Plus the queue for the bar would have been a right bastard.’
Fence has an unfair reputation as an insular folky outfit, when the reality is the exact opposite. The collective’s roster contains everything from quality electronica to dance music, full-on noisy rock bands to wonky singer-songwriter experimentalism, as well as a quality core of Scottish folk and traditional sounds.
‘There’s a perception of Fence that we’re antisocial, ageing vegans with massive eyebrows and terrible sweaters who abhor anything above two decibels, but that’s not us,’ says Lynch. ‘There’s plenty of music to go ape to this year, should you be so inclined, and it’s not thrown in as an afterthought either, we genuinely just put on music that we want to hear.’
All of which makes it one of the highlights of the Scottish music calendar, and if you don’t believe us, here’s Lynch’s final pitch. ‘Without wanting to sound cheesy, it’s a festival you can make your own,’ he says. ‘It’s the folk equivalent of Centre Parcs. If you want to go nuts, you can go nuts. If you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and sway, you can do that too. If you want to go on a waterslide, you can take the bus and fuck off to Dundee.’
Consider yourself invited.
Homegame, Antruther, Fife, Fri 17–Sun 19 Apr.