Strange Behaviours at Tolbooth, Stirling, 21/11/15

Prior to tonight I’d never been to a show in Stirling, my current location being the main reason, still despite a host a of strong line ups in Glasgow this year’s Saturday line-up for Strange Behaviours has me intrigued, with names acts like OUTBLINKER, Happy Meals and CARBS all impressing recently.

The initial line-up did also include United Fruit, however the impressive live performers sadly had to pull out due to personal reasons.

On seeing the running times the first note is the clash between two of the nights star turns, Happy Meals and CARBS, something I touch on in passing with Jamie from the latter act, who expresses that he wouldn’t blame everyone for going to see Happy Meals.

The early portion of the evening gives me the opportunity to catch some acts I’d never seem or even never encountered before; opening up the night in the venues main space, the Auditorium Stage, are from what I can assume, local youngsters Soft Drinks Club, and the wonderfully named and ridiculously young looking four-piece pack a punch, if not quite having reaching the chops some of their influences might have.

Still, they seem to have gathered a reasonably home support and do themselves justice, with their drummer (the youngest looking of the lot of them) pulling off some impressive stick duties.

Over in the festival’s smallest stage, the Gallery Stage, Kieran Hughes has things stripped back as he lulls the audience into affection with some forlorn acoustic tracks, before we pop upstairs for local grunge/punk stalwarts Crashing Jets to give us a lesson in energetic delivery.

Their set is the most impressive of the night so far as the act, whose age seems a good deal older than your any other band on the bill tonight, deliver a set that oozes post punk enthusiasm with plenty of nods to that 80s and early 90s sound.

A wee chat with the man behind Edinburgh’s Super Inuit about Glasgow favourites Fuzzkill Records, swings things his way over The Winter Tradition’s reputation and he delivers a whimsical set of chilled out, droney electronics from behind his laptop.

From his comments this set leans heavily on his more accessible material, but regardless I see enough to have him noted as one to check out in future, but this being a festival I feel compelled to see as many acts as possible and pop along from the some of The Winter Tradition.

The well-respected Edinburgh four-piece certainly make an impression when you look at the merch desk, still their set doesn’t quite cut it here, on record they’ve channelled the likes of The Twilight Sad with their very Scottish, dramatic indie rock, but tonight it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations they’d set on record; maybe another day.

There’s time for a short burst of ULTRADEMON at the Attic Stage, before we have to dash to try and catch precious moments of Happy Meals before CARBS start, but the French trio don’t really get enough time to make an impression past noisy intensity, but that’s really only down to set timings.

Still you can’t please everyone and back at the Auditorium Stage Happy Meals are running behind as the duo seem slightly disgruntled as they struggle to get the sound they want prior to taking the stage, the lack of people in the room for a set that should have started 10 minutes ago may be a slight worry to.

With things not quite running on time I leave for CARBS at the Gallery Stage, with the hope the late start might mean a late finish here.

It doesn’t, but getting to see all of CARBS’ set is a delight, the duo have release what is one of the most entertaining and addictive releases of the year, in Joyous Material Failure, and that engrossing edge just boils over in their live show as the duo’s, Jonnie and Jamie, connection and hilarious banter makes it hard not to be entertained.

From the infectious bleeps and hilarity of ‘James Special’ to the Resident Evil 2 chat prior to ‘Infinite Ammo’ the two just feed off each other grabbing the attention of many uninitiated crowd members.

The note that Jamie first played the Tolboth back in 2002 gives some impression on how long the two have been on the scene; Jonnie Common’s prolific productions have been of consistently addictive standard, while Jamie’s forays from the quirky ambient pop with the wonderful Conquering Animal Sound to his hip-hop alter-ego MC ALMOND MILK, who makes an appearance tonight on the retitled ‘How2B Cool in 2015’, have always been of high quality.

As CARBS the duo seems to have found the perfect outlet for letting out the humorous side to themselves, and let out it should be, at points the set could be seen as stand-up, and it’s fun to see the lines I’ve come to recognise get laughs from a new crowd.

The music is pretty spot on too, it’s got Common’s stamp all over it, but it’s just the right turn to their geeky Scottish jokings that it rightfully has people talking about them after their set.

By this point my energy is a bit zapped to take in what is a dauntingly loud sound coming from the attic in the form of Glasgow trio Civil Elegies.

Their output on record has been pretty impressive and the list of acts they have emerged from reads very impressively, still this is a bit much for now.

This is much the same for OUTBLINKER, I’ve seem them twice before and they’re an engulfing live prospect, but what they aren’t is one you can wander into unprepared.

After an all out fun set from CARBS, OUTBLINKER’s krautrock leaning powerhouse of a sound is one that quickly tires you out.

Their set builds euphoria out of utter chaos and with a few monster riffs and some blinding drum work on show they will have sure won a few more fans tonight; I’m just struggling to find my own groove by this point, but that’s no bad light on the band, go see them, definitely go see them.

For my first show in Stirling Strange Behaviours certainly gives a good impression; the venue is nicely set up and having sold out the previous night, no doubt due to Admiral Fallow’s high profile slot on the bill, the festival seems to be a positive alternative addition to, from what a glance at the venue’s programme, seems a very traditional heavy focus.

I’m told Stirling thrives on this traditional sound, understandable with the reasonable level of tourism in the town, but for a place that’s reasonably accessible from Scotland’s two biggest cities there’s no reason why events like this shouldn’t thrive.

Words: Iain Dawson


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