Retreat Festival – Edinburgh Bristo Hall, Sunday 16th August 2009
The Retreat Festival and its organisers do not like to be called twee. They fucking well are though – you can’t have tea and toast advertised on your posters and decorate a hall with bunting and then complain about being called twee, can you?
Then again, the same festival featured mental drummers, garage rock two-pieces, ear-splitting guitar solos, and the frontman of the headline band being sick through his stage mask. So not all that twee, exactly. In fact, that’s probably what I like best about Retreat: yes it’s twee, in a sense, but it would be just plain wrong to use that to pigeonhole it in any sense.
In the words of Enfant Bastard’s Cammy Watt, it was just like Wayne’s World 2.
For example, this year’s festival was all about the guitars, for me. I did turn up late, so maybe I missed some of the early afternoon’s less raucous acts but Enfant Bastard, Meursault (with their new electric guitarist) and the splendidly mental Pineapple Chunks were my highlights. My Tiny Robots were really good as well, as was what little I could see of Rob St. John over the wall of sweaty backs which faced me when I arrived. I caught some Come in Tokyo as well, but they are slightly less my cup of tea, in all honesty.
Particularly as a live performer Rob is just getting better and better, so losing him to Oxford is a big shame for the music scene around here. His electric version of Domino was as excellent here as it was at his recent Electric Circus set, and it will be a real shame to see him go.
After a wee comfort (ie beer) break, My Tiny Robots kicked off the evening schedule. They’re not a band I have seen before, partly because I think they lost their drummer recently, and subsequently drifted for a bit, but they were really good. Their guitar sound in particular has an old-style sound, sort of combination of lounge and rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s a sound I really like.
Enfant Bastard played next, although it was more of a Love Gestures set, something Cammy described as ‘like sleeping with an ex-girlfriend’ seeing as how the Love Gestures haven’t really existed for over a year now. It was fucking brilliant, whatever it was. Cammy is forever apologising and telling us how under-rehearsed the band are and how shit the music is, but he’s talking bollocks. This was bloody exuberant, completely ramshackle and fucking great. He’s more than happy to tease with his ‘just not bothering to sing’ vocals and ‘can barely be arsed to even play this’ guitar style but the man writes great fucking pop songs, it’s that simple.
Enfant Bastard – Michael Jackson
The Pineapple Chunks were also bloody good. They make a right bloody noise, their rhythms seem to be all over the place – just barely under control half the time – but there was a real dynamism to their performance on Sunday. Maybe it’s because I was drunker than the last time I saw them, but for some reason I just seemed to ‘get it’ a hell of a lot more clearly this time than when I saw them at Limbo about six months ago. It’s quite melodic indie, to listen to the mp3s, but there’s a hell of a lot more edge to them live, where they play with real aggression. Fantastic.
The Pineapple Chunks – Look Back in Horror
Meursault were my headliners because, for domestic reasons, I had to scoot home before the increasingly infamous mask-barfing episode from The Leg frontman, which is gutting. They were brilliant apparently, chunks and all, and I have still to actually see the buggers play, which is really starting to get on my tits.
Meursault have added a guitarist to their lineup – Debutant guitarist Phil Quirie – and his first show with them was bloody seamless. I can’t say how impressed I am with how the new material is shaping up. Some of it is just fucking sensational – Crank Resolutions, Sleet, that song with the duelling omnichords – the new album is going to be really, really fuckin good.
So a massive thanks to Bart and Emily – an absolute triumph, yet again guys.More: bristo hall, come in tokyo, enfant bastard, meursault, my tiny robots, pineapple chunks, Retreat, rob st john, The Leg