Garden of Elks performing on BBC Rapal’s stage at XpoNorth 2017, at The Phoenix, Inverness.

Off-kilter lo-fi group Garden Of Elks were gracing the Phoenix’s temporary stage on the Wednesday night of XPO north and wee Marty was there to have a gander. From the moment the band started sound check you knew this band were going to be raw and loud. A two-piece on the night, Garden of Elks only really need two members to make your teeth rattle and your new pound coins jangle in your pocket.

Comparisons with Sonic Youth or a grungier Death From Above are easy to make as Beardy and co lead you down a garden path of reverberation and dirty be-bearded ‘thrash-pop’. With esoteric guitars and drums that beat you into the ground, this band doesn’t really allow the gig-goer the time or space to ignore what’s happening on stage. The lead singer swings often from insightful haunting vocals to bawling at microphone in an attempt to look for all the answers.

The band has a good rapport with the crowd and converses with them between songs about voting, art viewing habits and Morrison’s salads. You can help but be drawn in by the pair before you are blown away by a thunderous indie-thrash chorus and left wondering if you’ve just been assaulted or just been educated.

Favourite track goes to ‘This Morning We Are Astronauts’ – an almost Violent Femmes sounding number with a great vocal hook that stuck with me right up until i was elbow deep in the next band of the night.

The final song from the guys was punctuated by an absolutely hellish version of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ which said everything you needed to know about the band. They are raw and very aware of what they are all about but thankfully they don’t disappear up their own arses whilst doing it.

If you missed them this time then the good news is that they will be performing at festivals this season so do the right thing and trot along.

More content on XpoNorth 2017 can be found here.


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I’m best described as a part-time writer of words and a full-time fanny. I’m a keen advocate of the live experience when it comes to music and you will either find me creeping about the shadowy corners of that pub you don’t go into whilst listening to that band you’ve never heard of, or dancing (respectfully) with your auntie to her favourite 90’s indie sensation. I have an allergy to both fruit and mainstream music but give me something new, strange or unpronounceable and I’m all over it. In my ‘real’ life I’m a disposable fool at an I.T. company that shall not be named, so when I get the chance to actually enjoy my life I choose to hit as many gigs, festivals, and self-service checkouts as I can find. My only plan on this earth is to share my feelings with the world about what is good, bad and downright confusing and the only way I know how is either through writing it down or whispering at bewildered pigeons down the canal. Good luck to us all.