Wickerman Festival 2013 – Review

Here’s what Wickerman first-timer Pierced Princess thought of the weekend with a little gallery of random images from the weekend at the bottom of the page.

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Well, what can I say… Wickerman 2013 was great!

The west coast Scottish climate was kind to the festival goers in sleepy wee Dundrennan in Dumfries.

We arrived down before the gates opened on the Friday morning, to a slightly misty, sea haar morning, but great for pitching the tent in.

The quiet camping area, quite a misnomer, was packed at that time already, so I would advise arriving on the Thursday night if you can to get a good spot. Saying that, had space for my tent, and my travel companions nearby as well. The neighbours were friendly and welcoming, which really is the flavour of the whole weekend.

Having already agreed with my travel companion, who had different goals for the weekend, we pitched the tents, and went and got our wristbands sorted. Plain sailing through the wristband collection, with able knowledgeable staff.

So off to explore the festival area. Well laid out, but compact, so nothing was a hike away. The main stage is tucked off to one corner of the fields, and everything else leads towards it.

The usual festival stores are there, clothing, some souvenirs, t-shirts etc – and all reasonably prices for festival pitches. Same for food, fairly good range, and reasonably priced.

Prices for the usual bits and bobs – the programme and map £5 – a well produced, glossy wee card timetable. T-shirts about £15 for a t-shirt, with deals for buying t-shirts and hoodies together. Good quality too! The Down n Dirty toilets were an extra £10 for the weekend, but in my view, definitely worth the investment, although the porta-loos were definitely the best maintained I’ve seen at a festival (but then I’m a fussy girl and like modern things like a flushing loo!)

The atmosphere is fun, friendly and lively, with ages ranging from a 4 week old baby, right up to grey rockers and ska fans!

On to the bands… a slightly eclectic mix ranging over the 5 performance venues. From the moment it kicked off on the friday right through til the closing on the saturday night, there never needed to be a moment where you weren’t watching bands unless you chose to. With a great range of artists, from poppy sounds, to country, to ska, to dance, right through to rock and metal.

I visited all the performance areas, the ingrid pit, the acoustic stage, the gonorth tent, solus tent, scooter tent and the summerisle main stage, as well as the BASS camp which comprised of the skiddle.com tent, the reggae tent, the em-it tent, and the vinyl frontier.. I spent most of my time between gonorth and solus, with a few trips to the ingrid pit, acoustic main stage, and the summerisle thrown in to the mix too.

The site is on a slight hill, but nothing that makes navigating difficult or unpleasant, and actually is an advantage for viewing the main head liners on the summerisle stage later in the evening.

So on to the bands, a vast array of choices to suit all musical tastes and moods.

Kicking-off Friday The Temperance Movement had a fantastic range of songs, sounded really good, and Phil Campbells statement about the weather – “Scottish people enjoying the sun, if we had more sun, we’d rule the f***in’ universe!” really set the day up. It was a shame they were on the bill so early, as they would have been good with a larger crowd.

Dreadzone played to a busy arena with the sun splitting the sky, on a gorgeously hot afternoon. A great party atmosphere, lots of singing and jumping, and a good mix of the old classics like Captain Dread (a personal favourite of mine) to songs from the new album “escapades” whish is due for release in september. MC Spee did a very well received wander about the crowds after the set was finished, posing for photographs with fans, being amiably and cheerful, and a really nice guy!

Glasgow based Admiral Fallow were the next band that grabbed my attention. The folky-pop well crafted songs sounded good, and were a lovely soundtrack to a scorching hot friday afternoon. Good catchy songs that stay stuck in your head!

KT Tunstall starting off her set with a fan shouting “I love you KT”  the Fife born songstress took us on a tour of her back catalogue as well as some highlights from invisible empire // crescent moon. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree neatly segued into Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes, and a cover of “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen made for an interesting and lively set, with the lady sounding in high spirits and fine voice.

The Porno Dwarves at the ingrid pit stage – fantastic energy, and a great performance even with the slight technical hitch of the lead singers guitar having some issues, but more than made up for with the panache and delivery of the (delayed) but hugely entertaining set. The front man has some very Mick Jagger-esque moves, and the band perform well together, ensuring a great experience for porno dwarves virgins!

Vukovi, the Kilwinning band with vocalist Janine, were on fine form. Janine seems to be getting more and more confident in her role up front of the band, and interacted well with the audience, getting lots of involvement. Even the usually shy Hamish took a moment in the spotlight and danced!

Primal Scream were the headliners on the friday night, were, as one would expect, a polished and well presented set. Sounded good, and did some of the classics as the crowd had hoped. You don’t actually realise how busy Wickerman is until you see the crowds converge for the bigger acts!

The Saturday started with another warm day but not as hot as the friday, thankfully – judging by the unusual sunburn patterns a lot of people were supporting.

Vasa kicked off the solus line up on the saturday. Playing in a very warm tent, I am sure lots of the fans lost a lot of weight watching and dancing to the performance – the four piece put on a great show, ferociously bashing out the music, with a confidence that shows the impressive musical skills the members have.

The Book Group on the GoNorth stage with singer Graeme Anderson leading them, with some witty, but sometimes self-deprecating lyrics, this is one group that really should have had a bigger audience. Well crafted and nicely presented songs, made this a great way to spend a half hour. Nice sounds and worth checking out their EP “Homeward Sound”

Also took a wander and had a listen to Mike Cameron and Catalyst Gravelly vocals and polished performance, and the very electrical sounding Giant Fang in solus. The OK Social Club showed why they were the winners of the “best live act” at the scottish alternative music awards 2013, with a polished, well thought out set, that left the crowd wanting more.

For a trip away from new music, The Ramonas an all female cover band were an interesting diversion, but still talented and good fun.

Back to something original and Bear Arms in solus, a grungy sounding 4 piece, with some Biffy sounding moments had the crowd moshing, and having a great time in a very hot and sweaty tent! Its not often you see a man with a horses head on moshing away!

This led on to my “find of the festival” – Fake Major  in the solus tent. In a fluke find, I popped into the solus tent to fill in some time until my next band was up, and found this very talented band were in their 4 piece form. Beautifully crafted songs, with tight harmonies, and awesome vocals with some lovely lyrics made these guys my find of the festival. That moment on hearing something new that you actually stop and just listen – which by looking round the tent a lot of people were doing. The new discovery, when you just enjoy the moment. Richard and David have such well matched voices and a really great sound together (Interview to follow)

Roman Nose well how do you define these guys – electro/rock? Fantastic! Great energy. I’ve not seen energy like this since the rave scene, great fusion of the electro side with the heavy drums. Stage presence was fab!

Amy MacDonald sadly the lady was not on her best form, apologising for not being able to carry many of her tracks as her voice just wasn’t there. She did do well though, and was chatty and happy to be there. In my mind, I have seen her perform much better, and sadly, due to her illness this was a weak main headliner for the festival.

Wickerman burning and fireworks – ok, everyone has seen fireworks, but these were actually pretty damn good. The wickerman burned at midnight and a god display afterwards.

Overall, a great event.

Words by Pierced Princess.

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All images by Still Burning.

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