Eye o’ the Dug - St Andrews, Sat 14 & Sun 15 Apr 2012
A fantastic weekend of performances from Django Django, Malcolm Middleton and more
They may have quadrupled the size of their show, and conscripted beefcakes to man the doors, but the spirit of Fence chiefly prevailed at the inaugural Eye O’ The Dug – a musical hoopla which (kind of) filled a Homegame-shaped hole in the calendar (and our hearts).
With Fence’s beloved East Neuk pop paradise Homegame on indefinite hiatus, it was gratifying to witness that festival’s hallmarks at a larger event: the merchandise haven; the pastry products; the fruit-based alcohol – and above all, Fence’s knack for ensuring that big surprises happen in small corners.
First, however, there was a large one. Saturday was party night, as decreed by a euphoric opening performance from electro-alchemists (and SAY Award nominees) Conquering Animal Sound. They played an outstanding set of new material which was heavy on vocals, beats and vivid lyrics.
This club vibe was vigorously upheld by tropical-indie troupe François and the Atlas Mountains and exotic-pop archaeologists Django Django, before electro-rock leviathans Errors raised the roof. ‘Pleasure Palaces’ inspired people to dance, cry, flail and clamber onto shoulders.
Sunday was the day for surprises. The greatest of these came from RM Hubbert, a man who has solely communicated via nylon strings for several years and two albums and who, on a hungover Sunday lunchtime, found his voice. Despite his bygone crooning in El Hombre Trajeado and Glue, it was oddly moving to hear, and watch, Hubbert sing songs like ‘The False Bride’ (usually sung by Alasdair Roberts) and ‘Car Song’ (ditto Aidan Moffat).
Malcolm Middleton, too, had a trick up his sleeve. On the eve of the release of the debut album from his epic-pop alter-ego, Human Don’t Be Angry, he bundled HDBA into a box, and treated us to a classic Middleton set – ‘A Brighter Beat’ and all.
Many gigs boasted new material – Kid Canaveral previewed their invigorated alt-rock (‘The Wrench’ was colossal), while an unheard psalm about the sun from James Yorkston was among the most gorgeous, and heartbreaking, he’s written. (And as this month’s re-issue of 2002’s Moving Up Country testifies, the dude’s got form).
Congenial host The Pictish Trail played one of the weekend’s standout (and most popular) sets, all trouser talk, call-and-response, and promises of great things from his new album. His ace new single, ‘Of Course You Exist’, available on the popular sweatshirt format, is ravishing.
And so it continued. Withered Hand was wondrous; Monoganon slayed with unsung genius; Barbarossa is the closest thing that Fence has to Prince, or at least Will Young. Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor turned piano bard; Seamus Fogarty beguiled with Geese and a laptop. King Creosote and Jon Hopkins’ crowning Diamond Mine recital eased us into a celestial night, and reminded us that Fife’s what you make it.
Django Django play as part of RBS Museum Lates, as curated by The List, on Fri 18 May, and as part of Stag & Dagger, Glasgow, Sat 19 May. King Creosote and The Pictish Trail play the Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Mon 18 Jun to launch Refugee Week Scotland.