I bought myself a drink and ambled around saying hi to people, finding where everything was. There were three stages and lots of stairs. There are a dozen or so floors in the Tolbooth. Bar areas, performance areas and unofficial smoking and sitting areas, connected by a winding staircase and a lot of big windows. There is also a lift, as the cheery Jim Gellately discovered to his delight. He was working as an introducer. Giving good-natured enthusiasm and crap jokes to the audience before introducing the acts. I said hello. The three stages were the main stage, the acoustic stage and the attic stage.
A local band called Gunning for 88’ were on the main stage at about six o’clock, playing their own brand of American influenced ‘post-hardcore’. It reminded me of Fightstar, that spin-off band with Charlie from Busted in it, which I shamefully had to Google “charlie from busted” to find out the name of. Gunning for 88’ and their tight riffage and pounding rhythms were joyous. I saw University of Stirling’s Open Mic frequenter Calum Gilligan play a set on the acoustic stage, where a Buster Keaton film was being projected onto the wall behind the performers and it made for a great ‘vibe’ (though it was a bit of a shame having an overlap of noise from the main stage). Calum’s set was great; pleasant baritone voice, softly strummed guitar carried by a quietly engaging presence. Considering he’d supported The Peatbog Faeries the night before and just recovered from tonsillitis mid-week, it was evident his voice has an endurable quality. He performed well-chosen covers with a couple of his own songs.
I listened to End Of Neil, another Stirling based act, up at the attic stage. Their use of the acoustic guitar with a gain pedal, and the modestly simple rhythms of a snare drum and Cajon were very enjoyable. I thought it was unfortunate that there weren’t a lot of people to watch them play. A bit after End Of Neil played the main stage area filled up for Fatherson’s first song, a Glasgow based band. A tight band with a brilliant singer, playing rock music that can be quite cathartic at times. The drummer was excellent and the guitar and bass player’s sweated out the riffs, playing with that quiet and loud dynamic. It was all very well complimented by a cello player and by some male and female vocal harmonies intertwining every now and again. Everyone I spoke to was impressed by their set afterwards.
And then there was the headlining set of re-LOADED 2012, with ‘post-electro’ band Errors. I personally loved their first two records, and their new album ‘New Relics’ (released on the Monday before re-LOADED) shows them exploring some new sounds. The set was pretty sweet, though it was unfortunate that the crowd decreased slightly towards the end as their musicianship was more deserving. Layers of melody from the guitars and synths worked well with incredibly smart drumming and various other interesting sounds emanating from laptops and other devices throughout the set. I briefly spoke to Simon Ward and Stephen Livingston (Errors’ guitar/keys/programming duo) after the show over cigarettes. They’d just been in Athens and were going to Manchester next to tour their new record. I quizzed them about the sound of their most recent stuff, which they mainly said was an attempt not to become stale or to keep making similar sounding music. They were a bit annoyed that people left the room during their set, but said they’d prefer to play to people who enjoy the show. Between general conversations I asked them about their early days and what it’s like now for them. Supposedly they used to get booked for club nights a lot, which they didn’t enjoy very much. When I asked about a blaring technical error that occurred in their set they laughed and said they’d definitely become less uptight about their shameless reliance on machines over the years.
So, Saturday at the re-LOADED festival was a brilliant night! Good music, good people and very reasonable prices at the bar. Fatherson were probably the stand out act, in my own opinion, though the whole event was steeped in talent and importantly, a resounding success. I implore you all to support the Tolbooth as it’s a great arts venue.