Music festivals 2010: Festival profiles
Big or small, loud or quiet, dry or muddy – we love festivals whatever their size, sound or likelihood to leave you soaking wet. Over the next 20 pages we'll give you the lowdown on every major fest hitting Scotland this summer, and information on a few that are farther afield. Plus, see Reader Offers on page 6, and Music Competitions on page 77 for details of how to win tickets for T in the Park, Rock Ness and many more great festivals. Wherever you end up this summer, don’t leave home without us.
There are festivals in every corner of Scotland this year, from one-day parties in Glaswegian glasshouses, to intimate shindigs in castle grounds. We profile the best of the music fests
Belladrum Tartan Heart
Where and when: Beauly, Inverness-shire, Fri 6 & Sat 7 Aug.
Unique selling point: There’s a fancy dress theme (this year ‘Wonderland’) with the best dressed revellers getting free tickets to next year’s festival.
Belladrum successfully snares the youth with hip bands like Young Fathers and Unicorn Kid, but also ticks the ‘family friendly’ and ‘sing-along’ boxes with headliners like Feeder, The Wailers and The Divine Comedy.
Beyond the music, there is theatre, cabaret and comedy to keep audiences happy and a Saturday morning bike race, the Sweaty Bella, to blast away the cobwebs. Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas has hinted he may take part: ‘I’d maybe be up for the mountain bike race. I used to be a cycle courier many years ago! As for the fancy-dress, I think it’s best to leave that to our road crew.’
If you’re looking to find the (tartan) heart of Belladrum’s musical patriotism, head to The Potting Shed stage – a haven for Scottish acts and the best place to catch some raw talent. As Nicholas recognises, there’s something wonderful about a Scottish stage. ‘It’s always a challenge to headline any festival, but Scottish festivals have great audiences who love their music.’
Line-up: Feeder, The Wailers, Amy Macdonald, Candi Staton.
Where and when: East Kirkcarswell, near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, Fri 23 & Sat 24 Jul. www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk
Unique selling point: They burn a big bloody man!
The Wickerman Festival capitalises on the urge within every man and woman to stand around with your friends and burn something to the ground. Tommy Perman, of Fence Collective members FOUND, agrees. ‘I’m a big fan of the The Wicker Man film, so I’ll be disappointed if I don’t see sacrificial goats, naked frolicking and burning wooden effigies.’
There are several crowd-friendly acts topping 2010’s bill including Futureheads (pictured, below). The real draw this year, though, is the Solus tent, where FOUND will be joined by Unicorn Kid, Conquering Animal Sound and Django Django, among others. ‘I’m particularly happy that Django Django are on the bill,’ says Perman. ‘We played with them at this year’s Homegame Festival and they were a joy to watch – they all donned safari suits and there was at least one pith helmet being worn on stage. I’m also intrigued to check out Unicorn Kid’s set (although I fear I’m now too old to be allowed in).’ (Niki Boyle)
Line-up: Charlatans, Buzzcocks, Ocean Colour Scene, Futureheads.
Where and when: Craigieford Park, Aberdeenshire, Tue 27 & Wed 28 Aug. www.wizardfestival.com
Unique selling point: Attention paid to families.
This fest goes kid-friendly in a very big way, with a separate camping ground for families and plenty of activities courtesy of the Wee Wizards arena. Little ‘uns will be able to see shows and try their tiny hands at various workshops, including hip hop dancing and rapping, and (appropriately for Wizard) a magic show.
How this gels with the Madchester vibe created by Happy Mondays (pictured, left), The Complete Stone Roses and James will remain to be seen, but all three offer good potential for some ground-stomping sing-along action. Altogether now, ‘Oh sit down, oh sit
Line-up: Happy Mondays, James, Alabama 3, Peatbog Faeries, The Complete Stone Roses.
Where and when: Queen’s Park Glasshouse, Glasgow, Sat 29 May. www.weechill.com
Unique selling point: It’s in a massive greenhouse.
Cheekily taking its name from Herefordshire’s well-established Big Chill festival, Glasgow’s twice-yearly Wee Chill emulates its namesake’s fondness for electronic music. Founded by Brian Traynor eight years ago, and now run in conjunction with the team at the Sub Club – Paul Crawford, Mike Grieve and Barry Price – the one-day event pairs a whole bunch of Glasgow’s very finest DJ talent with a few big-name headliners. This year the Innervisions label’s Âme (pictured, right) and Dixon will be playing house, Mark E will provide the disco and Hamburg’s Tensnake will bring a beautifully old-school acid house sound.
‘I think a combination of things sell the Wee Chill,’ says Crawford. ‘The venue [Queen’s Park’s Victorian-era glasshouse] is definitely one of them, but a certain level of trust in what the festival does has also been built up over the years. We try to avoid putting on obvious guests, and to present a variety of styles over our different rooms.’
This year’s bill will feature one room each curated by the Sub Club’s Subculture and Optimo DJs, concentrating on house and disco respectively, and two smaller bar areas hosted by local favourites David Barbarossa, Wrong Island and Boom Monk Ben. Outside, meanwhile, a new live stage will make its debut, showcasing indie to electronica and featuring bands such as local outfit The Ray Summers. (David Pollock) To win tickets visit www.list.co.uk/readeroffers.
Line-up: Âme, Dixon, Tensnake, Mark E, Twitch & Wilkes (Optimo), The Ray Summers, Jackmaster, Domenic & Junior (Subculture), Sensu, Wrong Island.
Where and when: Falkland village, near Glenrothes, Fri 23–Sun 25 Jul. www.bigtentfestival.co.uk
Unique selling point: Scotland’s environmental festival.
Run by the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, Big Tent is highly focused on sustainable living practices. There’s a marketplace dedicated to free-range and organic produce, as well as various workshops and discussions in the Craft and Wood Zone and a solar-powered cinema. This wholesome environmentalism is complemented by a feeling of global community – this year’s theme is ‘Moving with Africa’, and sees artists such as Grassroots Zimbabwe, the Zawose Family and Brazil! Brazil! sharing the stage with local Fifers from Fence. Lastly, The Poetry Place and Body & Soul Zone add that element of diversification essential to smaller festivals. (
Line-up: Rosanne Cash, King Creosote, Second Hand Marching Band, FOUND, Aberfeldy.
Where and when: Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Sat 5 Jun. www.colours.co.uk
Unique selling point: Scotland’s only dedicated dance festival.
Now in its ninth year, this year’s epic techno fest from clubbing brand Colours promises nearly 50 artists across six arenas in one ten-hour stretch, spread between the main indoor hall at Braehead and various outdoor stages under canvas – ‘on the Clyde Riviera’, as Colours’ director Ricky Macgowan has it.
Other arenas include one from Back to the Future, where old school styles will be provided by Italy’s Technoboy, Noisecontrollers and many more, while Italy’s Colours analogue, Meganite, will be bringing Mauro Picotto and Umek to the party and Fantasia Club Classics host their first Coloursfest arena, headlined by Radio One’s Kissy Sell Out performing an exclusive 90s rave set alongside big names of the era like Danny Rampling and Jeremy Healy.
Line-up: Above & Beyond, Sander Van Doorn, Lisa Lashes, Dave Pearce.
This is not le weekend
Where and when: Tolbooth, Stirling, Sat 29 May. www.leweekendfestival.com
Unique selling point It’s like the excellent Le Weekend festival. Just, not.
Having shifted the main Le Weekend festival from May to October, the organisers felt sorry for those poor lost souls left hanging, so they created this mini teaser-fest to keep them going. A jazzy undercurrent is a given, but what with the introduction of dubstep artist Jazzstepper and the Moody Boyz cropping up at least year’s full-length shindig, anything could happen.
Line-up: The Sexual Objects, Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells, Veronica Falls
Where and when: Inshriach Estate, near Aviemore, Fri 18–Sun 20 Jun. www.62stockton.com/insider
Unique selling point: It’s like a big, friendly party.
The end of a festival would be painful for most folks, but at the expiration of Outsider Festival, the organisers simply shuffled everything a couple of miles upriver and renamed it Insider. Against the backdrop of the Cairngorm mountains, people gather round campfires (the event coincides with the Cairngorms Firewood Festival) while listening to the best alt.folk this country has to offer.
Line-up: Sparrow and the Workshop, Three Blind Wolves, Alasdair Roberts, Trembling Bells.
Kelburn Garden Party
Where and when: Kelburn Castle, Largs, Sat 3 & Sun 4 July. www.kelburngardenparty.com
Unique selling point: A fairytale event for only 500 attendees.
Begun in the wake of 2006’s Grafitti Project, when partygoers were drawn to the carnival-like atmosphere around a group of Sao Paulo graffiti artists working on the wall of Kelburn Castle, KGP now caters for the young, hip music-loving crowd. The festival mashes together jazz musicians, dance DJs, sambistas, hip hop-ers and folksters over three areas: the Garden Stage, the Viewpoint Area and Electric Cocktail Bar.
Line-up: Broken Records, DJ Vadim (pictured).
Where and when: Perth Concert Hall, Perth Theatre and various venues, Fri 30 Jul–Sun 1 Aug. www.horsecross.co.uk/southern-fried-2010
Unique selling point: A festival of American roots and traditional music – in Perth.
Three days of blues, country, gospel, soul and R&B in this, the third year of Perth’s Americana festival. Following last year’s twin coups of Los Lobos and Booker T, this year’s big attraction is grizzled blues from Seasick Steve Wold (pictured, above). String band Carolina Chocolate Drops and blues trio The Holmes Brothers are other high-lights.
Line-up: Seasick Steve, Justin Currie, Paul Buchanan.
Where and when: macrobert and various venues, Stirling, Fri 30 Jul–Mon 2 Aug. www.mpowerscotland.org
Unique selling point: The festival’s programming team are all under 18.
Billed as ‘Scotland’s first ever arts festival produced by 12–17-year-olds’, the inaugural mFEST has so far announced a line-up including 23-year-old rapper Tinchy Stryder (pictured, above), Scots singer Pearl (& the Puppets) and hotly-tipped Essex singer-songwriter Daisy Dares You (aka Daisy Coburn, 16). Plus dance, theatre, acrobatics and comedy from 19-year-old Daniel Sloss.
Line-up: Tinchy Stryder, Pearl and the Puppets.
Where and when: Ullapool, Fri 17 & Sat 18 Sep.
Unique selling point Tagline reads: ‘Unknown by most and not yet spoiled by Neds …’
Residents of Ullapool know that, given their remoteness, their festival, Loopallu (Ullapool spelled backwards of course) is only for dedicated music fans. The event always pulls in some future talent – Franz Ferdinand, Frightened Rabbit and Mumford & Sons are ex-guests – making for an exciting mainstage bill. Fringe gigs in smaller venues add to the energy across the weekend. A gem if you’re looking for good, clean festival fun.
Merchant City Festival
Where and when: Merchant City, Glasgow, Thu 22–Sun 25 Jul.
Unique selling point: Performance art on Glasgow’s glossiest streets. www.merchantcityfestival.com
Yes, you’re right, it is usually on in September. The Merchant City’s annual celebration of food, fashion, art, comedy, music and anything else it can lay claim to has shunted up the festival schedule this year.
Based on previous events, we can guess that this year will include at least some of the following: outdoor stages covered in great local bands at all hours of the day and night, well-kennt local comedians plying their trade, short films screening in intimate venues, street artists, dance performances, aerial displays, colourful street markets and innovative artistic exhibitions. Also look out for events housed in the new Trongate 103 venue.
West End Festival
Where and when: Glasgow’s West End, Mon 7–Sun 27 Jun.
Unique selling point: The original community-run festival in the middle of the city. www.westendfestival.co.uk
‘This year’s West End Festival will be the biggest yet, to celebrate our 15th birthday,’ says Festival director Michael Dale. ‘We have organised almost three weeks of art, music, theatre, dance, exhibitions and talks.’ He’s not lying: the West End Festival programme is seriously fat this year, comprising almost 450 events hosted everywhere from local shops and hidden galleries to the regular, better known venues. The Stand will run a special series of comedy shows alongside their usual line-ups, Ashton Lane are once again playing host to the outdoor muso love-in Fête de la Musique, Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint theatre strand runs ‘cut-down classics’ all month, and look out for a very special classical event to mark the reopening of Cottiers’ Theatre.
The highlight remains the Festival procession though, which will take place with a ‘Myths and Legends’ theme on Sun 13 Jun. Oh, then there’s the price. As Dale puts it: ‘Considering the difficult economic times we have been living in lately, I am also pleased that many of our events remain free so that as many people as possible can enjoy the festival.’
Line-up: Maple Leaves, Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers, Bard in the Botanics, Janey Godley.
Where and when: Leith, Fri 11–Sun 20 Jun.
Unique selling point This year’s festival includes a series of gigs in chip shops called Batter of the Bands. www.leithfestival.com
Once one of the seediest, most deprived areas of Edinburgh, Leith has emerged as a chic stomping ground, complete with great pubs, live music and a host of hip community events. Building on its rep, this year’s Leith Festival boasts some 100 events in 50 venues. Leith Links welcomes back the Gala Day, Fun Fair and Parade festivities, while Cruz on the Shore hosts a rammy of rib-ticklers including Vladimir McTavish. Elsewhere, The Village, Out of the Blue and Iso Bar play host to electronic, disco and folk acts and more. Lastly, film lovers can check out the Leith Short Film Festival at Duncan Place Resource Centre.
Line-up: The Gillyflowers, Martin Metcalfe, Epic26, Chris Bradley, The Vibe and Machar Granit, Susan Morrison, Susie Lowe.
Fringe by the sea
Where and when: North Berwick, East Lothian, Tue 10–Sun 15 Aug.
Unique selling point: Eating fish and chips on the beach between shows. www.fringebythesea.co.uk
While the Fringe festival swells Edinburgh to double its size, a calmer dose of culture can be found along the road at the other Fringe. Expect a mix of comedy, live music, kids theatre, dance workshops, author ‘In Conversation’ sessions and film screenings from The Filmhouse’s 25th Anniversary retrospective. And sand in your sandwiches and seagulls stealing your chips. Ah, summer! Just how we like it. They’ve got a big Spiegeltent too, for performances from Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, Barbara Dickson and Mr Boom – the kid’s entertainer with the whirly bit on his hat.
Line-up: Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Orkestra Del Sol, The Singing Kettle, Quentin Jardine, Fred Macaulay, Shappi Khorsandi, Scott Agnew.