During yesterday’s write up I failed to mention that one of my boots struck a leak.
so, I spend the early portion of Sunday waiting for Allan, our photographer for the weekend arrival, who is kindly bringing some wellies for me, unfortunately this means missing Ultras, but I do get on site in time catch Hairband whose fun noisy pop, with three way soft yet high vocal harmonies, have a real endearing lo-fi charm.
Lazy chilled out building numbers and chirpy garage pop, they’re a band we look forward to hearing some recorded material from.
Over at Baino Martha Ffion is simply delightful as ever, timeless sun kissed melancholy pop, her voice just caresses the crowd, it’s hard not to like and with a solid band behind her it’s the kind of stuff you could chill out and listen to all day.
Still this is a festival and clashes need to be accommodated for and Towel, just round the corner, brings a synthy punk energy that would be a shame to miss out on.
They’re a total not for everyone affair and nowhere near as comforting as Martha and co., but the trio are intense and fun, loud and aggressive, during their short set.
Indeed such a short set that Martha’s still on when I get back, and as ‘Lead Balloon’ ends the band explode into a pacey punchy rock section for ‘No Applause’, which closes things out beautifully.
Talking of timeless Jessica Pratt is the soothing experience sat on the grass that the entire weekend has been waiting for, she looks tiny sat herself on the Jabberwocky stage, but her voice has that perfect warmth to it; add over that her soft finger picked guitar than lingers over the field in a calming fashion hushing everyone to a chilled awe.
Pratt is joined on keys later on in the set, but this doesn’t change anything of the vibe, nor would you want it too.
Back at Baino Laura Gibson gives another calm chilled vibe, delivering soft folk tinged acoustic tunes, with a warm American accent.
Yet more gentle finger picked guitars create a delicate backdrop and a vocal delivery that brings to mind the gentler end Regina Spector catalogue with a slight twang, Gibson ends the chill out portion of the day.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Lovely Eggs and damn I forgot how good they are, their indie pop enthused punk with a comical edge and a proper northern accents changes the pace of the day nicely as we ease into evening.
The duo give out a confident presence and have enough surreal humour in their songs to keep everyone entertained, while maintaining a sound that at times build to a engulfing post punk display that gets you caught up in by itself; throw in songs about magical onions and sausage roll thumbs and you’re onto a winner.
Over at the Jabberwocky stage Pronto Mama deliver another solid familiarity with their brass touched poetic pop; they’re another act that it’s tough to tie down to a genre, but one with irresistibly crafted songs and catchy vocal hooks that stay in your head for days.
The Evil Usses bring back the psych tones of yesterday with a set that sways from soft jazzy vibes to cheeky 90s video game touching flourishes to trippy funk filled passages.
The band never quite get to the overpowering psych of the likes of Kikagaku Moyo yesterday, but it’s a teaser and a small reminder of the revelry on what so far has been a pretty chill Sunday.
Big Thief seem to deter the cultural appropriating portion of the festival crowd, which is a nice relief, as their delightful set of dreamy beauty with sad overtones goes undisturbed, well despite the unrelenting repetitive bass from the Decade of Dub stage.
They’re real, very real; Adrianne Lenker putting herself emotionally on the line with a backdrop that just quivers and haunts in the best way possible.
She comments ever so politely about the awkwardness about playing the set on the bass drowned backdrop, a feeling that is echoed by pretty much everyone in the tent, regardless their set garners such a delicate splendour that you can’t help leaving mesmerised by them.
Next it’s the turn of Start To End to close the main stage for the weekend, covering Daft Punk’s Discovery start to end would you believe, and they manage to attract the largest crowd of the weekend, despite lots of people having to leave early for work/school commitments the next morning.
Musically the band are on point, the Glasgow super group of sorts are unquestionably very talented musicians, but somehow the set feels a little flat, and while Pronto Mama’s Ciaran McEneny’s vocals are usually hooky and addictive, his Scottish twang doesn’t quite lend itself to Discovery’s electronic vocals, still despite this the crowd seem to lap it up and that’s ultimately a success for the festival.
There’s a little bit of time before we have to dash to see a bit of the much hyped Ho99o9, who in the short burst we see of them more than live up to it with an explosive live show that encapsulates as much the experimental harsh hip hop of Death Grips as it does the hardcore punk of Bad Brains.
The duo’s volatile presence is difficult to draw yourself away from and their sound is so powerful that I doubt you’d want to, sadly we have to get leave but have these guys noted to see again as soon as possible.
All in all 2017’s Doune the Rabbit Hole has done itself proud considering, what can be only described as a promoters nightmare, two headlines ultimately unable to play and the festival site being drowned in mud from before the festival’s start.
Maybe there’s a bit too much going on for a small festival, eight stages was always a bit optimistic, and while a festival can never chose its audience, losing 16 hours a day of dub and a few less ‘new age’ stores may go some way to not encouraging the more offence causing audience members.
Regardless, the bands that do play are of a consistently high calibre and the food and most of the atmosphere is to match; all of which make for a great festival, we hope the low turnout this year doesn’t effect it returning stronger than ever.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Allan Lewis / Harrison Reid