08

Aug

Set-nav: why more musicians should get off the beaten track

I love it when artists play alternative venues or in intimate settings. Take Charlotte Church, for example, who will be performing at Inverness’ Bogbain Farm (scene of the Brew at the Bog festival), on October 20. I still struggle to understand how she has managed to sell over 10 million records, however I’ve got to commend the girl on her choice of venue. The farm houses a timber-beamed stone barn, a rustic byre and a cute wee bothy with the largest accordion collection to be found outside of Italy. They also have a pirate ship and serve up hog roasts. Sold!

If the Voice Of An Angel isn’t your thing, but crypts are, then you’ll be delighted to know that Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble is playing the Isle of Bute’s Mount Stuart on August 23. The red sandstone monstrosity is quite breathtaking, and has seen the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Jon Hopkins, King Creosote and even that old hag Madonna grace its haunted corridors. The crypt is situated under the famous Marble Chapel and possesses the most beautiful toilets you will ever set foot in. Honestly, they’re bigger than my flat and the paintings on the walls are probably worth more than it too.

It’s not that I’m averse to arena tours; back in May I attended Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne concert at London’s O2 Arena but, to be honest, I found the whole spectacle quite overwhelming and very impersonal. Take note Bon Iver and your Glasgow SECC appearance on November 10.

For me, there really is nothing better than seeing your favourite musician up so close you can count their nostril hairs and almost taste the sweat dripping down their temples; when the singer actually responds to the crowd and doesn’t utter the same old shite patter you know they’ve said night after night.

I appreciate that more punters = more income but often a balance can be found, and I think Frightened Rabbit have got it down to a tee. They are in the fortunate position of being popular enough to play to 80,000 people at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, yet you’ll just as quickly find Scott Hutchison doing a wee acoustic set in some pub or, if you’re lucky, in Spandex.

Fortunately these guerilla-style gigs are becoming more common as artists seek out more unusual and unexpected ways to showcase their music.

Back in 2010, Austrian videobloggers They Shoot Music filmed 11 sessions with the likes of Meursault, The Second Hand Marching Band, Withered Hand, Beerjacket, The Fence Collective and There Will Be Fireworks over various random locations throughout Glasgow and Edinburgh; Sonny Marvello booked out Rowardennan Lodge on the banks of Loch Lomond in October 2011 for a mini-festival to celebrate the release of their Tiny Little Sparks EP; and then there was the Comets & Cartwheels label launch featuring Quickbeam, Endor and Washington Irving’s Joe Black on the lower deck of Glasgow’s Tall Ship in April.

This hunger for offbeat performances is being fed by the likes of Detour, who have just unleashed Episode Three of their television show, Glasgow PodcART, who filmed, among others, Julia Doogan singing in a portaloo at last month’s Wickerman, and Netsounds Unsigned, who invited several bands up to the outdoor balcony of Hootananny in Inverness to record a series of Rooftop Sessions at GoNorth in June.

The future of live music in Scotland is going to be a very exciting place, wherever that place may be.

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