Weird Decibels live at North Star 27th May 2016

Credits

The Crowd: Thank you for attending a local gig and supporting the artists. Thank you for staying right to the end.

The Sonic Blues, Rabid Dog: Thank you for playing along side us

Rory (Eindp Photography): For taking photographs for this and many, many local gigs

Juls Sampson (photography and pictures used for this blog): Our friend has shot many pics over the years

Kevin Byrne: for keeping an eye on the desk as we played

North Star staff: for keeping us fed and watered with a smile and allowing us to use the venue.

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Setlist

  1. It’s who you know
  2. Speak
  3. I hear the city
  4. Forward
  5. Curtain hits the cast
  6. Quoted
  7. Molly lips
  8. Miss a
  9. The dancer
  10. Once more with feeling
  11. Joker
  12. Wait (request)
  13. Deliverance
  14. Medicine
  15. Kill it
  16. Industry
  17. Whole lotta rosie (request)

 

A couple of days before we were due to play, Clubby vocalist with Rabid Dog, texted to say that the North Star soundman couldn’t make the gig due to work commitments.

These things can’t be avoided but I was frustrated as I wanted to record the show. This would put a different spin on things. There were options, to use the house PA but I didn’t know its layout. To be honest it’s a vocal pa and it wouldn’t have been hard to use. Our pa had more versatility to send feeds to the multitrack so I opted for that.

 

It had (shamefully) been a couple of years since I operated it so that added to the stress. I had to relearn the desk within a couple of days. A few turbulent hours pushing buttons and moving faders I had managed to get to grips with the machine.

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Looking back I understand now that doing the sound, recording the gig and playing at the same show is perhaps a step too far. This aside it was a great night.

 

Once I unloaded the vast amount of gear (probably too much) into the buzzing North Star I got to work setting up the sound, the time was half 6. Unbelievably it was now 8 o’clock and The Sonic Blues were due on in 30 minutes.

 

I ditched all ideas of checking mic placements for the recording. It was more important to get a decent live sound. That went fairly well, and for the recording I literally flung mics in front of the amps and the drum kit.

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The Sonic Blues were up first and played another great set of bluesy rock songs and covers. Greg (guitars vocals) Allan (Bass) and Douglas (drums) are a sound bunch of lads and they are very keen. Their performance went well with the crowd and they set up the night in fine fashion

 

Clubby and the gang stepped up next; their ultra loyal fanbase was pleased to see them back on stage for the first time in a while. Andy had a cracking guitar sound, he has two amps hooked up and a wave of chords hit the eager audience. Andy on bass and Alan on the drums provide a solid backbone for Clubby to sing their set of punk covers. They played very well.

 

The gremlins came to visit us, it’s been a while, you can go many gigs without incident before the little creatures visit. Usually in the form of technical glitches and set up problems.

 

Just as we were getting ready to go on stage the power cut to both the PA and the desk. Scratching my head I looked back to the plug at the rear of the venue. Two chaps had seated themselves the unit in front of the socket and had unwittingly cut the power to the show. (not your fault gents)

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Once I got the PA back on and the desk reloaded we were ready to play, only Stu couldn’t get the guitar amp on. (using someone else amp is fine but every guitarist will tell you having your own backline has its advantages). Once that problem was fixed we were ready.

 

We launched into the first song and the first time I went to hit a chord the lights were right in my eye. Whoops! A bum note right at the first song ain’t good.

 

To nail the opening track is essential; if you miss it it can unsettle you for the rest of the set. To a certain extent it did; although I have to concede I had been concentrating all night on the sound and with this loss of focus came a pretty standard performance from myself. So i’m a bit gutted about that. Stu, Greg and Derek all played well and helped keep the gig on track
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Things did improve. As the night wore on we regained our composure (and confidence) and belted out tunes from both the decibels albums. I was too eager to play Quoted and nearly skipped Curtain hits the Cast! Quoted was manic as usual, Wait was requested and that gelled well with Deliverance and by the time we hit Industry I was scraping the guitar off a nearby pillar without much regard for my instrument.

 

As we reached the end of the night we reached our zenith and I was pleased it had ended on a high. If we can’t nail the songs we give it all to the performance and personally it was the most exhausting I have delivered for a long time. Our friends requested While Lotta Rosie, who could we be to resist! A little rusty would be an understatement but we had a whole lotta fun playing it!

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So as our song Quoted and the politicians it depicts often say lessons have been learned. If i’m playing, I just want to play. I’ve I’m doing the sound, i just want to do the sound. This was the first time I had manned a desk at a gig and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience perhaps this could be an avenue for the future.

 

All round it was a great hot loud sweaty night, with a little rawness and a whole lot of heart which is what music at its purest form should be.

 

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Shuffle Down 2016

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the impressive Dobbie hall

Shuffle Down hits its stride.

A one point during this years Shuffle Down I soaked in the atmosphere I found myself  genuinely impressed by what the festival organisers Laura and Rikki Tonner have achieved.

Now in its second year Shuffle Down is the Falkirk areas yearly fundraising music festival held in the elegant surroundings of the Dobbie hall. Laura, Rikki, their friends and family bring together the artists, sound crew, stalls, food and beer; much of which is produced in the local area. This year Strathcarron hospice was chosen to receive the funds raised.

Shuffle down first caught my eye when they booked the band Broken Records for last years headline act. This was when I believed that the festival meant business.

The first year was good, a strong line up and a good crowd. These were the first tentative steps of running a music festival. This year it felt like Shuffle Down had hit its stride.

The sound was improved, there is no doubt it’s a challenging room, it’s a large space with a high ceiling. The sound guys did a sterling job.

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the crowds gather early on.

The vibe was good, the hall was bustling with a mixture of people intently watching the bands and others having a catch up with old friends.

The stalls were varied and my wife and I spent more than we planned to. John Grieve should get a mention for his artwork. I bought two of his sketches, one for my son and one for the studio but my son has claimed them both… Later Noise Noise Noise would set up a stall for the night time punters eager for merch.

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merch stalls for the bands. I was treated to two Yossarian cds!

Beer was flowing and the staff were happy to pour it. Tryst Brewery had set up a craft ale stall separately from the main bar which was an inspired idea as this helped reduce the waiting times for thirsty music lovers.

 

I didn’t know many of the bands in the line-up this year but this is part of Shuffle Downs appeal, you’re guaranteed to discover a band you’ll enjoy. Yossarian, from London, were superb. They started playing as I made my way to the bar, I was stopped in my tracks.

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Yossarian played a blinder

Their guitar driven tunes that build to a grandiose conclusion and singer Ash Spencers baritone immediately had me drawing comparisons with Matt Berninger of National fame (which is a noted comparison in their Bandcamp page). After their set Kirsty and I headed out for some food, the May breeze thankfully didn’t take the edge off my tasty chilli dog.

Satisfied we headed back into the festivities. The second stage is run by Gavin Brown and his crew. I caught a one man multi instrumental electronica sensation that is Paddy Steer. We waited a while for him to set up and that was part of the curiosity, there was a mixture of live drums, synths, keys and costumes.

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Paddy Steer, simply brilliant

When he started his beats he had the modest crowd engaged within the first loops. Behind him, as he amazingly played several instruments at once, a video stream was projected onto the wall, one scene had bananas on the moon, yes it was mad.

About half way through his set he asked the now swelling crowd, ‘Do you want more chaos?’ he didn’t wait for the answer as he reached for a mask. On his head he put a white robotic dome with glowing eyes that stared around the room as the artist inside continued to offer a varied melee of electronica. His music has a hint of Grateful Dead’s spontaneity. A superb live show and one of the nights highlights.

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Esperanza. Superb to watch live

Back down stairs there was a buzz in the air for Glaswegian ska rockers Esperanza. The numerous band members confidently strode onto the stage and launched into 50 minutes of infectious music. My wife and I were dancing about at the back of the hall with the rest of the crowd, it was a fantastic part of the night.

The Treetop Flyers finished the festival and their set was watched by a slightly smaller but enthusiastic crowd. I enjoyed their music on Spotify and they came across well live. By this time the craft ale was taking effect and my hazy head needed to get home.

We grabbed the last train on the Falkirk line both happy at what was a very enjoyable day of music surrounded by friends.

Rikki and Laura should take pride in what they have achieved. It’s hard enough to organise a successful gig in Falkirk let alone run a festival. This town has often had an apathy towards live music; you can’t really say that Falkirk has vibrant scene but Shuffle Down is certainly helping to address this.

So hopefully once all lights have dimmed and the amps are turned down; they’ll have a chance to appreciate that not only have they raised money for charity, but they have also brought many people together to celebrate the great things that our local area can create.