Discopolis, Dems and Jonnie Common among highlights at Big Day In
Inaugural Edinburgh indoor mini-fest: Wan day, hunners o’ bands
Having successfully assembled an astounding line-up of electronic indie talent from across the UK, the initial concern for Electric Circus’s inaugural Big Day In mini-festival was getting people through the doors, especially given that the similarly-minded Brew at the Bog and Big Beach Ball were taking place on the same weekend (albeit much further north). Thankfully, a steady stream of punters throughout the day showed that such concerns were unfounded, although the wisdom of holding an all-dayer in such a confined space is up for debate.
Things got underway with a set from Glasgow’s indie-rock-with-beats outfit Machines in Heaven, whose habit of building their songs up into noisy squalls was a repetitive downside to what was otherwise a decent, varied set of synth-and-guitar-led electronica. Acousto-electric duo Made of Glass were a much quieter affair, meaning they often struggled to be heard above the growing crowd – thankfully, an impressive performance by vocalist Nicky Carder gave rise to a few moments of justly awed silence. Those that paid attention to the delicate Dems were also suitably entranced with singer Dan Moss’s almost Thom Yorkean falsetto vocals, thought the fragile nature of the band’s material meant they too suffered from audience chatter. Sandwiched in between the two was idiosyncratic folktronic wordsmith Jonnie Common, whose witty, banterful set was an early highlight to the day (his alternative #BigDayIn-themed song titles included ‘Frasier triple-bill’, ‘Poached Egg on Toast’ and ‘Bathwank’).
Things took a slight dip following a foreshortened dinner break, with so-so indie-schmindie dream-poppers The Machine Room seeming at odds with the electronica-heavy line-up of the day (the odd synth hook did little to leaven the guitar-heavy nature of their setlist). Lomond Campbell did a grand job of using his vocal to marshall River of Slime’s eclectic sci-fi weirdness into a kosmische-tinged set that marked a new direction for the now two-member band FOUND – nevertheless, their occasional forays into experimentalism left some audience-members scratching their heads. Much more unifying was the kinetic dance-pop of Discopolis, who were visibly delighted at the rapturous reception which greeted each of their songs. This particular reviewer would rather they ease off on the neon balladry in favour of more straight-up dancefloor-fillers, but it’s difficult to argue with their results.
All that remained to be seen was a headline set from Manchester alt.electro-pop group Dutch Uncles – but, with feedback mounting and the cumulative effects of seven hours in an enclosed space starting to kick in, your hardy correspondent had to bail out. Electric Circus should be commended for putting together a great line-up, but spreading the entertainment over several small rooms (in the style of Stag & Dagger or the Camden Crawl) might lessen the sense of confinement for those enlisted for the long haul.
Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Sun 5 May