XpoNorth 7-8/6/2017 – Review

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We look at Mt. Doubt, Posable Action Figures, Edgar Road and more, at XpoNorth, Inverness.

Last year was my first time at XpoNorth, so I thought I knew what to expect this year, I was a fool. XpoNorth is such a great event over the two days and nights, there is so much on offer for everyone and the music spread across Inverness is no different. With over 60 acts performing in ten venues across the city centre there was something for everyone and I tried and failed to catch as much as I could.

The first place I went to on Wednesday night was to the SAMAs stage in Blackfriars to catch Edinburgh pop rockers Rebel Westerns. A very fast paced start, which never really died down. The energy on display was frantic, as proven by the keyboard player, who never stopped dancing as he played until the very end. I was really impressed with their single from March, Envy and new single which I think was called Shake, which had a sound similar to Blink 182.

From here I made my way to the Market Bar to catch The Begbies. The gang from Livingston squeezed themselves in to the corner, saxophone and all. They brought a energy to forefront of their Ska infused music. As they begin they declare that this is an “End of Austerity” party, for the following days general election. In the tight nit space the crowd were moving quickly to their second track She’s Too Experienced. They play a five song set and give it everything they have to entertain the crowd, no more so than previous single Give a Little to close the show. I thought they were a really impressive unit and one I will definitely need to catch again.

I then took the short stroll over to a packed out Hootenanny’s to catch the end of Ernest Rambles who ,as always, were brilliant. I caught the last couple of songs before going up stairs to Mad Hatters for the show of the night with Skjor. The place was packed to the brim quickly reaching its capacity. The band were absolutely outstanding with a beautiful indie sound, that got the hairs standing on your neck. Lead singer Louise McCraw was oozing sex appeal and her voice was perfect no more so on Lost Control. One thing for certain is that after that performance they are going to have a hell of a lot of new fans.

Next stop on my magical musical mystery tour was Blackfriars again for WeCameFromWolves. After squeezing myself in to the bar I got exactly what I was looking for and that was hard hitting in your face rock music. A hot and sweaty set from the lads from Perth, with tunes that would wake up a bear from hibernation. This was the first time I have been able to catch the guys live, but it certainly won’t be the last.

By now the beer was starting to take hold so I decided that the Mercure would be my last stop of the night and disappointedly just missed The Youth and the Young, but that did mean that I was there in plenty of time to catch Posable Action Figures. I absolutely love the music these two guys bring to the table, with elements of rock and electro built on getting people up to dance and enjoy themselves and the crowd knew their part with gusto.

By the end of their set you couldn’t even see the band as everyone rushed to the front of the stage. This was the end of the night for me, as I say the drink took over and I’m very disappointed that I never got a chance to catch BooHooHoo perform as they seemed like great lads and a band I have been listening to a lot for the last couple of months.

On the Thursday I attended the conference while not feeling anywhere near 53% never mind 100! I bumped into Edgar Road who were brilliant in trying to help me with my recovery. As I was with them they were invited to perform a live session in Rob Ellen’s campervan for Moose Medicine radio and kindly intived me along. In what was a very intimate setting we managed to fit six people, a guitar, a bass guitar and a tambourine, which was no mean feat. The band played a stripped back track from their first EP, which they rearranged specifically for Xponorth.

As the night time fun was to begin again I headed for The Phoenix to catch Glasgow’s Savage Mansions. I had not heard anything from the band before this, but as they kicked of their opening number which had a sound similar to the Teenage Fanclub I knew I would need to. The best thing about these guys was that every song had a different sound and each was a pleasure to listen to.

I then nipped across the road to Blackfriers to catch local lad James Mackenzie and band. He’s is a joy as always to listen to. I have caught James about 4 or 5 times since last year’s Xpo, sometimes on his own and other times with the full band and he captivates the audience everytime.

I had a quick stop in the Penta to catch the lovely sound of Carma. With beautiful voices combined with ukulele and electric piano these girls continue to go from strength to strength. I absolutley adored The Cute Song and Little Hummbird, before having to make a sharp exit to run to The Tooth and Claw to catch The Oxides. The local band definitely came to play with a fast hard and sweaty set. This was the first time I had caught the band and was really impressed.

I then attempted to run over to Mad Hatter’s to catch my personal favourite performance of the night from Noah Noah. I thought they were fantastic with catchy rifts and choruses, that drew the crowd in. If you get the chance to catch these guys from Edinburgh over the festival season I implore you to go along, you will not regret it.

I went back to the Phoenix next for my babysitters for the day Edgar Road. The place was packed and rightly so as these guys and girl, rocked the place from start to finish. This is another band I encourage you to go see as the Moary band put on a great show and never leave you disappointed.

My last stop of the night was in Mad Hatters to catch my favourite act from last years Xpo Mt. Doubt. The band were nearly late on stage and that was my fault, as I kept a couple of the band members talking down stairs about their journey up from London that day after a show there the previous night. They came on a provided a blistering set with tracks from their last album and latest EP Loneliness of the TV Watchers. They put on a great performance and the vocals of front man Leo Bargery have a beautiful mystical feel to them, that takes you on a journey through every emotion possible.

I had a great time at this year XpoNorth, met a lot of old and new friends and more importantly now know what is going to be my playlist for the summer. I can’t wait for next year’s event, can we do it again next week?


A notefrom the editor

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Alan Forbes
Alan Forbes
I have been in to music from the age of five with AC/DC being the most influential, so much in fact that I went to Perth Australia in 2016 to see them. I host The Future Starts Here on www.northhighlandradio.co.uk every Sunday 12 - 2pm playing the best new acts from across Scotland and beyond. I am a bit of a comic book and film geek but don't hold that against me.