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Gig Diary Shuffle Down 2017 20th May

Credits

The Crowd

Sweet P Photography 

What Eddie Sees Photography including featured image.

Gregor Boyd Photography

Afterglow events

Ben White sound

words Pabs

 

I don’t get gig nerves as much as I used to. Of course I still get jitters these days, usually just before we go on stage, when I’d be wondering if I’d forget the first line or drop the first chord. However I don’t get the crippling nerves I used to feel when we first stepped onto the Martell stage back in 96.

Shuffle Down (20th May 2017) was different, I’d been thinking about this gig for the last year.

 

Let me take you back. Shuffle Down 2016 was well in the the swing and I was tapping my feet, enjoying the bands, the craic and the ale. Rikki Tonner, one of the event organisers, is someone I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of years. I believe we share a passion for the Falkirk scene (he’s more pro-active than I am!) so he came over for a chat.

Towards the end of our blether he hinted that Weird Decibels would play Shuffle Down next year. I’m not sure if he was just being nice, but he said it and it got me thinking. A rock band on Shuffle Down? Would it work?

Rikki stayed true to his word, a few months later we got the invite and then the nerves started to gnaw at the back of my mind. Then came the doubts. Would we be on first? Would their be a crowd? Or would there be a vast empty space as people went out for burgers and fresh air as we played.

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we’re on the bill! A great line up. Artwork Afterglow Events

Fast forward a turbulent year of Brexit and Trump. Now it was the morning of May the 20th 2017, I hadn’t got much sleep the night before but I was full of energy pacing around an empty house. Kirsty had taken our boy out to to stay at her mums for the night so I had silence for company. The nerves really started to kick in. I opened the guitar case and the old golden Yamaha was resting in its cradle. I picked it up and started strumming some of the songs. I forgot the words to Speak…Now I was really nervous.

I packed my pedals and our merch into my rucksack and put the guitar in the case and grabbed a bite to eat. As I picked at my sandwich I wondered what lay ahead. I checked the train times. It was time to leave.

I booted up Spotify and played some Soundgarden; the amazing Superunknown blasted my ears as I walked to the station; I spared a thought for the late Chris Cornell. Gradually Soundgarden’s music lifted my spirits.  Now i was getting excited.

On the train I sat down and checked out the instructions for arriving at the venue. The whole set up provided by Afterglow was very professional. We’d be on at five and I had a hunch that this time might work out well for us. The beer would be flowing and maybe we’d get a few people listening.

The Dobbie hall was just short walk from the station (I love those gigs where it’s you, a guitar and a rucksack) I entered the main door there was a busy but calm atmosphere in the venue. The sound crew had already started work on a drum sound and I took a moment to admire the stage on which we would play. It’s easily the grandest stage our modest band has played on for a view years.

I got a warm welcome from an understandably distracted Rikki who pointed me in the direction of backstage where I gratefully laid down my guitar which had now grown heavy. I had a wee peak from the side of the stage, it was a fine size of floor space, very pleasing to the eye of a musician.

Half an hour passed and my phone buzzed, Greg and Stu were stuck in the car awaiting for the rain to stop, it was heavy, bouncing of the pavement as the dark clouds above us emptied. Finally Stu hauled his large guitar pedal case which I rather stupidly offered to carry backstage. It’s a heavy burden of effects!

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The mega case of effects. Pic Sweet P Photography

We had a look at the other room backstage which had a small selection of beers and food, this is a lot more hospitality than many bands are used to! Derek arrived and this was the first time he had attended Shuffle Down and he seemed to be impressed with the set up.

With the soundchecks done we took our place in the audience. I was now observing how many people were walking through the door, looking behind me every couple of minutes like a paranoid spy from a 70’s Bond film (all that was missing was the newspaper and a dodgy pair of sunglasses). At 2 when the doors opened there was a small crowd, my fears of an empty floor for our gig were not easing.

The first acts played, you can read about Shuffle Down 2017 here. More people started to filter in and fill the hall. Now I was starting to feel that there would be a decent crowd. However I was fretting that our music would not sit well among the acts of this years lineup.

Have Mercy Las Vegas we so different to us and the crowd loved them, my anxiety grew. Now I just wanted a beer…Pronto Mama walked on with keys and brass and I thought the worst. Would these guys play music so different to us? However there set was great full of surprising guitar driven indie rock which I felt would ease the listeners into our music.

Now I was starting to get excited. Their set flew past and as I walked towards backstage I heard the crowd cheer their last song, it was quite a noise so I turned around and saw quite a mass of people. I was praying they would stay.

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Stu settles quickly and nails the gig. Pic Gregor Boyd

There was a nervous excitement from Stu, he suffers terrible pre gig nerves and he really felt this one. Greg just seems to stroll up and take everything in his stride. Derek is often the most composed. Quietly adjusting the cymbals and snare before settling into his stool prepared to beat the hell out of the kit.

I had to hold to my nerves, I was playing in front of a neutral audience, our friends and of course our peers of the Falkirk scene. We had won best rock act of Falkirk 2016 at the AMIF awards and I didn’t want to let anyone down. (thanks for voting!)

So I didn’t look out to the crowd as I plugged in my leads. Then I strummed the guitar…nothing…I walked over to the Marshall stack…turned up the volume…nothing. Then a slight adjustment and just a faint whimper of distorted guitar could be heard. Time was passing. I took a breath and had a look at the setting of the Marshall amp head. There were presets and I started to select the various settings, one of which said ‘classic’ voila. Sound.

I quickly got a level then scattered the setlists at the four positions of the band, Stu was ready, Greg, kitted out with his Weird Decibels denim waistcoat was ready. Derek was poised. I got a level with Stu and then looked to the crowd. They had stayed.

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Big stage to fill time to run around! Pic What Eddie sees

Ben White was on the sound desk and he picked up our prompt and dropped the background music. Derek started the beat of Speak. I picked the notes…the correct ones. The band blasted into the intro then I stepped up to the mic and sang the first line. Then I relaxed

Setlist

  1. Speak
  2. Once More With Feeling
  3. Ms Asphyxia
  4. Wonder
  5. Kill it Kill it
  6. Who You Know
  7. Medicine
  8. I Hear the City

The stage was superb, I had room to run around like it was our first gig. Stu and Greg looked like they were have the time of their lives. Derek, as usual, keeping it all knitted together. The nerves were now evaporated. It set up the rest of the show.

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THAT waistcoat! Pic What Eddie Sees

When we finished Speak the response was superb and that energised us further, it gave us confidence. The sound was fine for us on stage but I believe that it was well received in the audience.

Our half hour slot felt like five minutes. We extended I Hear the City and I tried to get the audience to clap along, we extended the solos and build up to a finale. The song finished and I knew then we had played one of our best gigs in our two decades together..

The stage, the audience, the setting, it was all superb. 22 years in and we often wondered if we’d ever play shows like this again. I guess we’ve been rewarded for sticking together through the highs and the lows and while we’ve never made any sort of impression on Scotland’s scene we can look back on days like this and take a bit of pride from it. We made some new friends and reunited with some old. There has been some great photos of us on stage having a bawl.

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Derek keeps it all together. Pic What Eddie Sees

 

So if you are a young local act, don’t get too obsessed with breaking through, just know that if you stick to what you believe in then there will be good times ahead. You cannot beat the high of achieving something with your best mates. Backstage after the gig was testament to that, bands often feel a closeness that you cannot explain to those who don’t play.

So a huge thanks to Afterglow, Rikki, Laura and the team for having us, indeed for taking a risk. We feel it paid off and we hope you did to. It was an absolute pleasure to play.

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Thank you Shuffle Down! Pic What Eddie Sees
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17 reasons why you should’ve visited shuffle down 2017

All the information about the festival is on this fine website

Back in 2015  I was flicking through the Falkirk Herald when I stumbled across an article about a new local music festival called Shuffle Down. I was aware of this event however they had added the band Broken Records to the lieup. At this point I decided to delve further. Now intrigued, I bought my tickets and was pleasantly surprised at how good the festival was and how good the artists were.

Shuffle Down grew in confidence in 2016; once again back in the impressive Dobbie hall it had a more diverse line up and once again I had a great day with my wife and my mates

Now approaching its third year Shuffle Down is back on May the 20th and we’re playing! So below are 17 reasons why Shuffle Down should take a place in your 2017 musical festival calendar. Please note these are not in numerical order.

 

  1. It one of Falkirk’s best music festivals. The Falkirk scene is continuing to grow again which is fantastic news for local artists like us, Shuffle down started in 2015, created by Rikki and Laura Tonner with help from their friends including Gavin Brown . There are many great acts playing in a cracking venue and the vibe is brilliant.
  2. It marks the start of the summer. 20th May? Its that time between the end of spring and the start of summer. Shuffle Down is a great day to celebrate the sunny weather we get from May to September (well it seemed that way in the 80’s when I was a kid). If it rains falls head back into the halls and watch the bands!
  3. You’ll discover new acts. I have discovered a few great acts in the last two Shuffles including Iona Marshall, Yossarian, Paddy Steer and Dextro. There are moments when you are enjoying your beer chatting away in company when an artist plays a song that makes you stop, listen and discover which is a hundred times better than letting Spotify (et al) do it for you…

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    Paddy Steer you had to see him to believe it.
  4. It has a personal touch. Organisers Rikki and Laura plus family and friends put this together; the hall has always been decorated to give the festival a personal feel plus on stage there is a lamp. A little lamp that illuminates the corner which can be seen at many local gigs. A quirky touch that adds personality to an event that is a million miles away from the corporate festivals that clog the calendar.

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    From the classic surrounds of the hall to the decor the venue has always looked grand for Shuffle Down
  5. The craft stalls are a haven of gems. In the past couple Shuffle Down fests I’ve been drawn (pun intended) to the artwork of John Grieve. However there are many stalls populated by local people keen to display their talents. IMG_20150529_154054407_HDR
  6. The atmosphere is fantastic. From chilled out to pulsating to bouncing Shuffle Down has had it all. The crowd is friendly and there is a generally good atmosphere around the venue. 
  7. Dobbie hall is grand. This hall is a hidden gem in our area, I’ve been here a few times for various events and the decor is beautiful. From the carvings around the main stage to the high ceilings and decoration this is a hall the people of Larbert are proud of. Its here on the map
  8. It’s easy to get to. Just 5 mins from Larbert train station (hit link map link above), within minutes walk of buses, a ten minute drive from Falkirk, Stenhouse taxi rank just up the road. It couldn’t be easier to get to. Leave the car at home and enjoy yourself! 
  9. The food stalls are ace and local. Local butcher R Browns and Sons are just one of the vendors who provide much needed scran to soak up the local craft ales.
  10. Craft ales are yep…local. Tryst Brewery set up stall last year and are returning with a few kegs this year. What better to enjoy local acts while sipping a fine ale from a brewery just a few yards down the road.
  11. The line up is increasingly diverse. 2015 Shuffle Down took its first steps, in 2016 it found its stride with a more diverse lineup from the mad Paddy Steer, the indie tunes of Yossarian and the jumping ska of Esperanza. 2017 promises more with soul pop from Pronto Mama, American country from Have Mercy Las Vegas acoustic loops from Adam Stafford and a bit of rock from ourselves. 17835062_1395119577198251_8993517791303915887_o
  12. You meet old friends. It’s a great day out for friends and family, we go to Shuffle Down as a group and have a great day out however being at a local music festival it’s amazing how many old friends I bumped into the past two years. 
  13. Its great for local bands. The first Shuffle down helped raise much needed awareness of the local scene I couldn’t believe how many great artists were on my doorstep (I had lost touch over the years). Looking back at the past lineups I discovered I had missed even more acts that have played locally recently. There are even more local acts this year including to fine acts in Ghost Writer and Robbie Lesiuk to name just two.
  14. The festival contributes to charity. MND Scotland and Strathcarron Hospice have benefited from money raised by Shuffle down. This year the charity will be Kidney Kids Scotland
  15. £19 gets you a day of live music. For just nineteen pounds you will get you a full day of live music on two stages; can’t think of better value than that.
  16. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the country to see a decent music festival. Whether its Glasgow or Edinburgh or even to the middle of a muddy field travelling to a music festival eventually means you have to return, often with a monster hangover. With a local music festival you might still have the hangover but at least you can rest your head on your own pillow.
  17. Weird Decibels are playing! Come on give me this one! You are visiting our website aren’t you? We are delighted to be playing Shuffle Down 2017 and we’ll put everything into this. See you there!!

Pabs

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.