Live review: West End Festival All-Dayer

Oran Mor – 29/06

The Oran Mor celebrates ten years with an ambitious festival featuring fourteen acts on three different stages throughout the building.

The nature of the event means choices have to be made about which acts to see but there is a good selection to please everyone.

The Whisky bar has three singer-songwriter acts perform in the afternoon and their style fits the relaxed vibe of the room as people start their evening with a drink. Reilly & Burns offer well-written songs with a mixture of improvised banter to those who pause their conversation with mates to catch a chorus or two.

The downstairs venue starts with Man of Moon, an Edinburgh duo consisting of electric guitar and drums. The pair appear comfortable on stage, though they don’t chat much with the audience. Nonetheless the lone guitar fills the stage quite well and the riffs provided are reminiscent of Creed.

Hector Bizerk are on next and they provide one of the most energetic sets of the whole night.  They start full throttle with lively Caribbean-flavoured beats and funk elements laced through-out. The band features a rapper, drummer, percussionist, bass player, and key-player. Rapper Louie educates the crowd in the ways of the hip-hop show, encouraging them to dance a little and to sing along with some of the choruses. There are several times when there are what appear to be drum solos, yet they aren’t strictly the drums nor a solo.   They are more like percussive ensemble demonstrations which are far more collaborative and satisfying to the audience than a typical drum solo.  By the end of the set, the crowd seems far more comfortable with the music style in general and specifically the act of Hector Bizerk.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Auditorium a more reflective stage of music begins with Laura St. Jude and Monica, before the enticing Siobhan Wilson. Every note she plays and sings has purpose and motifs that initially appear repetitive are actually laced with miniscule differences as she expertly crafts songs which all the audience to enter into. Many in the audience choose to sit and listen so that more attention can be given to the music.

Downstairs, John Knox Sex Club and Holy Esque are keeping the tempo and temperature turned up as the venue continues to fill up to capacity with each act. The last act of the night on this stage is The Vaselines, a five-piece punk-rock band originally from Glasgow. Their songs are straightforward, catchy and though they’ve had a long career, surprisingly many younger fans are connecting to their music and dancing.

Upstairs the anticipation for Admiral Fallow is also building. A four-piece string section and a five-piece horn section join them as they begin their set with several well-orchestrated ballads. Initially the dynamics of the music only seems to be found in the layers that they choose to add or exclude and not much emotion is displayed by each individual band member but about half way through the set, when it looks like Admiral Fallow will not be offering anything more to the slightly restless audience, they play two up-tempo tunes which immediately raise the mutual connection found within the room.

At this point, the horn section leaves the stage and the strings sit silent as Admiral Fallow play a few tunes just as a more traditional rock band and ironically, these are the songs which provide the most emotion and drama.

Called back for an encore, they begin with a very stripped back song involving all six members on vocals and no microphones.   Having drawn the audience into a silent and attentive hush, they finish the evening with a fast-paced and crescendo-building song leaving the audience almost satisfied yet craving for more.  Knowing that a second encore is improbable, most people leave willingly with smiles on their faces and memories in their hearts from all the great Scottish acts that they saw at the West End Festival All-Dayer.

[Micah van Dijk]

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