Haddow Fest, various venues, Edinburgh 2–3 April 2010
With over one hundred bands performing (many playing twice over the new two-day format), Haddow Fest’s second year took place across Edinburgh’s music venues, promising the return of many artists recently off the radar (headliners Razorlight were no exception) plus a huge contingent of hotly-tipped local acts.
Kicking things off early at Electric Circus were local trio The Marvels, making a strong impression with their energetic and synth-like progressive indie which, together with up and comers Radio Arcade, drew the venue a large crowd. Up the road at The Store, duo Ghosts of Progress also stood out, their frontman playing guitar and kick drums simultaneously in a rollicking blues and roots-tinged set.
At the Liquid Rooms crowd-pleasing OK Social Club’s indie-pop was served up with rock-out mentality, a vigorous live performance which had an entertaining whack of audience banter thrown in. Fifers Dead Sea Souls were up next, launching into happy-go-lucky indie tunes with the tongue-in-cheek comment; ‘We’re not the Dykeenies, sorry about that’, after the event hosts blamed technical issues for the band dropping from the line-up. It was Rosyth’s finest The Draymin however who drew the biggest cheers, a loyal fanbase revelling in their polished electro-rock set, which earned points for the dance beat beneath their Eurythmics’ 'Sweet Dreams' cover. The highly billed Twisted Wheel proved a lacklustre follow on by comparison, with the overall feeling that the event bemoaned the lack of a strong Saturday night headliner – instead, smaller sets were dotted across selected venues. At Maggie’s Chamber the charming Strawberry Ocean Sea gave a melodic, noteworthy set dominated by thick, lilting Scottish vocals while Stirling’s Miniature Dinosaurs proved to be a retro indie find.
On Sunday (having sadly missed an early performance from The Undertones) Broken Records played what the revered band themselves pegged ‘our first Sunday matinee performance’. Their folk-rock overcame sound issues at The Caves to be one of the weekend’s true highlights; singer Jamie Sutherland’s gruff vocals combining with melodic piano, deep bass and drums and a dramatic violin to magical effect. For a band who could be pegged as Arcade Fire’s dark, edgier little brother, they created similar touches of epic. Other notables included the ludicrously cheerful Miyagi, whose infectious music reminded of the kind of sunshiney rock and roll at home on a beach bandstand; foot-stomping Glaswegian’s The Imagineers – melodic harmonies, 60s guitar riffs, violin and an Alex Turner-esque vocal delivered with refreshing identity and Modern Faces, a band whose gritty indie anthems made their frontman’s undoubted comparison to Liam Gallagher all the more apt. The inclusion of the HMV Picture House took the event to a different scale and indie locals The 10:04’s played the pre-headline slot, all thumping guitar and drums, to great applause. Weekend headliners Razorlight gave a predictable performance, mixing old anthems with new tracks which went down well enough with inebriated crowd.
Overall Haddow Fest’s approach (running order lists were handed out on paper each day and changed throughout regardless) sports a devil-may-care ethos that makes it a musical treasure trove. I for one would be back next year to see what could be found.