Escape the Bubble: Electric Fields Festival

‘Escape the Bubble’ is a wee slice of something going on outside of our wonderful town, if you ever feel like you want to explore further afield. In the first article of the series, we look at Electric Fields, a Scottish music festival.

In a large field in Dumfries, overlooked by a beautiful castle, a couple of thousand people gathered to listen to some of the newest and most interesting Scottish music that is circulating at the minute. Only in it’s second year, the very young festival boasted an impressive line-up and was a very well organised event. With quite a variety of different music genres, the event had something for everyone and featured an eclectic mix of people.

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Walking into the festival it certainly seemed small, but in a really welcoming way. There were 5 stages in total, but only 3 would ever have music on at any one time. At first glance, it seemed foolish to have 2 different stages so close together, as the crowd would so easily be able to hear music from both stages at the same time. However, the festival organisers cleverly used these parallel stages very well, having one band playing as another was setting up. The crowd then just shuffled along between the 2 stages, and there was never a break in the music.

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The 5th stage, and the only one indoors was hosted by The Skinny, a free arts and culture magazine based in Edinburgh. There was an impressive line-up in this tent, including a surprise set from the Twilight Sad, an indie rock band originally from Kilsyth who have a significant fan-base throughout Scotland and further afield. Their set was one of the highlights of the day; a stripped down and acoustic set featuring only 2 of the usual 5, yet powerful because of their lead singer, James Graham’s incredible voice.

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Another highlight was Glasgow-based, 6-piece band Pronto Mama. Their pop-rock style is infectious and fun, and their song ‘Goose Steps’ was particularly memorable. Sadly their set clashed with Catholic Action, however we did catch a bit of each band’s performance and neither of them disappointed. Having recently opened at the Barrowlands for FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks), Catholic Action are gaining some real big-name supporters around Scotland. The Libertines are even having them as one of their support acts for their show in Glasgow tonight. With their Franz Ferdinand-like sound and seriously cool, catchy songs, Catholic Action are one to watch.

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One of the most highly anticipated acts of the day were Hector Bizerk, a Glaswegian hip-hop act who are popular throughout Scotland, and who have even played a set at SXSW in Austin, Texas. They had the most energetic and enthusiastic crowd of the day. Songs like ‘Party at A&E’and ‘Bury the Hatchet’ went down really well with the crowd, especially as Louie (Hector Bizerk’s front man) writes humorous and clever songs that really capture the essence of life in Glasgow.

Man of Moon, tipped by the New York Observer as “not only the band of the year, but the band of the decade” saw an impressive crowd at Electric Fields. Their debut single, The Road, was a particular highlight of the set, and really lived up to the hype that Man of Moon have had recently. Even Elton John is said to be a fan.

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Electric Fields was really unlike any festival I’ve ever been to be before. It was certainly small, however this led to the sets from the bands feeling more intimate than they would have at a bigger festival, where you’re so far away you have to watch the acts perform on a screen. All of the bands mingled within the crowd before and after their sets, which added a very casual vibe to the whole thing. Sometimes a couple that you spotted earlier in the day would be up on stage in front of you later in the afternoon. If you want a taste of the best of new Scottish music, in a really casual and cool atmosphere, in a beautifully stunning setting, then Electric Fields is definitely the festival for you next summer.

All images provided by the author.