[I would have posted this earlier, but I’ve been suffering from a weird hangover/caffeine-induced insomnia which has meant for the past 48 hours all I’ve managed to do is turn up for work and not much else. Not fun. Anyway…]
It’s not common for four of my mates to independently suggest going to the same gig, but that’s what transpired with this charity fundraiser for Shelter. The reason for the uncharacteristic bout of enthusiasm probably lies in the buzz surrounding any of the three bands on the bill – well, four, but I missed Endor as I was still eating chilli con carne at half past six. Sorry guys, but a man’s gotta eat.
By the time I do drag my bloated self down to the Bongo, Broken Records are a couple of songs into their set. I saw them earlier this year at the Forest Café, and in that short time they’ve emerged as arguably the most talked-about new band in Edinburgh. They strike an obvious resemblance to the Arcade Fire or Beirut – a numerous collective of archaically dressed bohos who play an assortment of guitar, cello, violin, trumpet, keys etc, with real passion. The enthusiastic home-town audience is probably full of groupies, but Broken Records are a class act, both technically and emotively. A record deal is around the corner, you’ve got to expect.
Maybe it’s because they’re sandwiched between two of the best new bands on the scene, or maybe it’s because there’s a distracting babble of conversation during their set, but Foxface (who’ve already done the album thing) don’t come off quite as well tonight as on previous occasions. Their minimal, Celtic-slanted indie is perfectly listenable, guitarist Michael is a low-key virtuoso, white-frocked singer Jenny looks the epitome of Gaelic mystique (and sounds it too), and the fox mask is an unusual, if gimmicky, touch. But they just don’t engage the senses in a live setting, so that, for once, you can almost condone the chatterboxes. Then again…
The third prong of this triumvate of emerging Scottish talent, Frightened Rabbit saunter into town amid a definite sense of expectation – a nationwide Chinese whisper that has even got my cynical mates predicting good things. First time I’ve seen them, and they were gonna have to be pretty damn good to live up to it all. And they are, by a stretch. Tellingly signed to the same label as the Twilight Sad, the bass-less trio perhaps aren’t quite as distinctive as the Kilsyth noise-mongers, but they are just as raw, vital and exciting. Single Be Less Rude is a standout, and personally I kinda like the sentiment: ‘be less rude’ – I should have called this blog something like that.
Drummer Grant is a revelation, smashing every cymbal like it’s a steel effigy of Simon Cowell, while singer Scott even achieves that elusive added-value bonus of live music: genuinely funny fill-the-gaps banter. His impromptu skit about the toilet door in the gents’ that creaked the sound ‘blowjob’ even gets us soor-pussed hacks at the back giggling – you do have to ‘be there’ of course. Even the bar downing its shutters 20 minutes early (sacrilege!) can’t dampen the experience of Frightened Rabbit, and us cynics agree that the whispering was not in vain. On the same night that an 18-year-old Livingston lad won some trumped-up karaoke contest, the real vitality of Scottish music was on show right here. From this angle it doesn’t look too bad at all.