Saturday night at Reloaded

Three Blind Wolves' lead singer Ross Clark

The Tolbooth in Stirling is something of an institution in the area. Bands from Frightened Rabbit to the Tashi Lhunpo monks have played here as well as a fair few distinguished literary faces appearing from time to time such as Ian Rankin. This weekend, however, it was host to ReloadedFest. This is an annual festival covering three stages which showcases both young local talent and more well-known bands too. Saturday night, in particular, shows great promise in the bill with the headliner being We Were Promised Jetpacks and smaller acts such as Three Blind Wolves, Annie Booth and Cartoon Violence. So, despite the fact I’ve been at work all day and my feet are bloody aching I decided it was a gig not to be missed.

First act of the night was Cartoon Violence; a Clackmannanshire based indie-punk-pop four piece. Given the fact it was only five o’clock there was a distinct lack of the usual beery, foggy atmosphere but they managed a very good turnout for a band on so early and up so many stairs in the attic. They kicked off with Half-heartedly but it wasn’t until a few songs later with I Should Be So Bold that the crowd got going and lost their inhibitions. The tracks themselves were energetic with a hint of teenage angst and too much cider about them, but, even though the drums weren’t mic’d up they overpowered the vocals. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to actually hear the lyrics at least just a little bit. This didn’t seem to bother the crowd, though, who excitedly tapped their feet until the end of the set.

Downstairs in the acoustic bar was Annie Booth. She obviously had a loyal following as a throng of teenagers were gathered near the stage and a large poster on a piece of cardboard read I HEART ANNIE. She seemed somewhat nervous as she covered the Dylan/Adele crowd-pleaser Make You Feel My Love but obviously plucked up courage after a great response. It was mainly covers in the set with the obvious stand out tracks being Oasis’ The Importance of Being Idle and Muse’s Supermassive Black Hole which she added a more Swing feel to through the rhythm of her guitar. Her solo stuff, though, was incredible. The songs Demons, Don’t Judge Me and Mystery retained an element of Laura Marling folk but with a more soulful voice akin to that of Zoey Deschanel. So when I found out Annie was only fifteen I nearly fell over. If the current rate continues of female singer/songwriters rising to fame then Miss Booth is certainly one to watch.

The beery, foggy atmosphere materialised at the Main Stage as a girl (who, by the way, didn’t even look like she had anything to do with the venue) ran onto the stage and introduced Three Blind Wolves with the words “I don’t know much, but I know they’re freaking awesome”. The band entered as their bespectacled, moustachioed frontman swigged from a bottle of Buckfast and they were clearly pleased with the sizeable gathering of fans in the room. They played a multitude of album tracks with the sound being so perfect that if I closed my eyes it could have been a recording. The song Emily Rose was a highlight, starting out as a decent indie ditty but really coming into its own with an abrupt stop and an a cappella part followed by an amazing instrumental finale. The band’s atmospheric harmonies were pitch-perfect and because of this the instruments felt like a folk-rock frame for the outstanding vocals rather than a pre-requisite. A few previously unrecorded songs popped up in the set giving the diehard fans something to really get their teeth into. When they finished on the thunderous Sex Is For Losers it was something of a sad occasion but only because it signalled the end of their stint. The band’s passion for their music was clearly visible and the crowd left feeling the very same.

We Were Promised Jetpacks were last on the bill and everyone’s safe bet for the best act of the night. But they seemed to only have two settings: Loud and extremely loud. And considering it was the same stage as Three Blind Wolves it can’t have been blamed on the acoustics of the room. The obligatory mosh pit had appeared at the front and the crowd were buzzing. Most had been here since early evening so who could blame them. This was native Edinburgers’ WWPJP first ever gig in Stirling and they played a mix of songs from both the last album These Four Walls and the upcoming In the Pit of the Stomach out this week. Their first single Quiet Little Voices has had critical acclaim (and featured on the film Hall Pass which starred Owen Wilson) and was the band’s saviour along with other tracks from the first album. These, predictably, were the stars of the show and made an otherwise mediocre set something that was definitely memorable and worth the wait. The gig eventually descended into a crescendo of feedback and the festival-goers left the Tolbooth with their ears ringing… And me with my feet still killing me. Next year I’ll remember to take that day off of work.

 

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