Duty Free

Gratis quo

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Duty Free

Camilla Pia rifles through the raft of most excellent talent on show at the Duty Free season of free entry gigs at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire this month

2008 heralds the arrival of a brand spanking new bunch of bands for us to sink our teeth into. But which ones will re-invent new rave, who will outdo The Horrors in the hair department, out-kook Kate Nash or beat the Arctic Monkeys in a pithy lyric battle to etch their way into the nation’s consciousness? After the hideousness that was Leon Jackson’s X-Factor win, you can be sure that reality TV shows won’t tell you, but perhaps Duty Free can – a diverse run of free entry gigs at Cabaret Voltaire showcasing the finest up-and-coming touring acts and homegrown talent, which in the past has seen Frightened Rabbit, The Vivians, The Magnificents and The Acute take to the stage.

This year’s line-up kicked off earlier this month with Chutes and Broklynites Levy and continues with appearances from Geordie post-rockers Kubicheck!, the latest local purveyors of the loud-quiet-loud genre Cry Over Billionaires, menacing electronica-tinged fivesome Roys Iron DNA, hyped riff-merchants The Parlotones and Dundee’s eccentric folk and falsetto combo Luva Anna. Multi-instrumentalist chanteuse Lou Hickey is also performing alongside Glasgow tweecore sweethearts The Felt Tips while Zane Lowe and Jonathan Ross-approved Camden indie quartet Operahouse play with the atmospheric Endor, and unbelievably, there are still more acts to be announced.

Excited yet? You should be. Cabaret Voltaire’s Events Co-ordinator Solen Collet certainly is. ‘We’ve had several runs of these shows over the last couple of years and there have been some really great gigs,’ she explains. ‘The most memorable so far for me has to be Frightened Rabbit’s first Edinburgh show. I love them so I nearly wet myself, and we had a crazy sweaty gig with The Acute and The Vivians this time last year which ended in an onstage pile on. Good times.’

Sounds like fun. So, what are Collet’s feelings on this year’s offerings?

‘We’re really looking forward to another run of Duty Free shows as we’re featuring some amazing Scottish bands as well as the return to our stage of much loved Newcastle lads Kubichek! and a few guests from further afield playing their Edinburgh debuts. Hopefully lots of people will come along and support the bands, as you never know, you might get to see your new favourite band for free.’

Snotty-nosed, loud-mouthed punk sitting alongside soaring indie, electro rock, straight-up pop and savvy grime was the flavour of 2007, and this cultural crossover is surely set to continue into 2008. In fact, when it comes to genre-busting, the next few months promise to be even barmier with some of the most anticipated new releases combining a thrilling blend of styles, from Foals to The Teenagers, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Hot Chip, MGMT and Madonna. In keeping with this, Duty Free is the perfect example of an event boasting Scotland’s first truly mind-melting mix of the year and is therefore nigh-on essential for any fan of modern music. Just be sure to leave your preconceptions at the door.

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Sat 19, Mon 21, Fri 25 & Mon 28 Jan. See listings for full details of each gig.

The Parlotones

Rock four-piece from Johannesburg.

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