Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall isn’t your usual gig venue. It’s a provincial theatre with cushioned seating, suited ushers, pinned-up notices of stage times and a drinks ban in the auditorium. It’s a comfortable yet contrary setting, and local trio Dirty Summer (**) don’t do anything to assuage any tension with their relentless noisecore onslaught. Wilfully unconventional, they are fronted by a standing female drummer who is flanked by a synth/harmonica player and a thrashing bassist/lead screamer. It may be sore on the old tympanic membranes, but it’s nothing if not original.
“They made us look like Care Bears,” Frightened Rabbit (****) frontman Scott Hutchison quips after his band have ensconced themselves on stage with opener The Modern Leper. True, Selkirk’s finest do seem a tad cuddly after Dirty Summer, and as if to prove it they launch into Old Old Fashioned and selected others from recent album The Midnight Organ Fight. But Frightened Rabbit also make physical, pained, passionate music, and the highlight of this is undoubtedly new single Fast Blood, in which Hutchison’s ragged voice strains to breaking point, the guitar soars, drums pound, and for four minutes it’s utterly spellbinding.
The gauntlet has been thrown down by their good friends, but The Twilight Sad (****) aren’t fazed one bit. Banter ensues when one fan shouts ‘Mon the Twai!’ and singer James Graham indulges in some ‘An Audience with…’ chat about what they’ve been called by less encouraging punters. When they let the music do the talking it’s as raw and heartbreaking as ever. The only drawback is their understandable eagerness to play so much new material, even if it does augur well for a forthcoming EP. Nerves jangle when a tipsy-looking Graham staggers close to the stage-edge, but he’s in total control, channelling everything into And She Would Darken The Memory, breaking two mic stands in the process and reminding us just how fucking great this band is.