2006 may be the Chinese year of the dog but here in Scotland the beginning of festival season belongs to the roar of the tiger
From scalding lobster tans to the miscreant fangs of the midge, the advent of summer always provides a few certainties. To the discerning music fan the glimmering rays of the sun guarantees one thing: ebulliently staggering through a quagmire of buckie and burgers to catch the heroic indie darlings of today.
Once again, festival time is upon us and as usual there's a regimented feel of familiarity to the line-ups. But amidst this cosy corporate environment the escalating growl of Tigerfest can be heard as it bears its teeth to the banality of the festival mainstream.
The offspring of Edinburgh's alternative promoters Baby Tiger, Tigerfest is a month long celebration of Scotland's rich spider's web of sound. It weaves the nation's most celebrated artists with the aspirations of a blossoming underground, creating a tapestry of music that is the antithesis of its homogenously safe rivals.
Bursting into life in 2004, Tigerfest has been instrumental in creating a united front for music in Scotland. The festival's organiser and promoter Neil Colquhoun says; "We encourage artists to work together, creating a more pan-Scottish scene rather than one restricted to home-towns."
Martin Henry, vocalist of elegiac quartet De Rosa, agrees saying, "[Tigerfest] tries to build a musical community, allowing people to share their different experiences as musicians." It is this collective spirit that has led to an array of acts converging to produce one of Scotland's most eclectic festivals.
Spread between both Edinburgh and Dunfermline and with a kaleidoscopic bill, incorporating incessant disco-punk, crunching blues and post-folk neo pop, Tigerfest offers an exquisite ensemble of musical genres. Unlike many festivals that rely on hit-or-miss selection policies the line-up is carefully cherry-picked by organisers who want to help establish smaller artists. Neil says, "It's all about the local bands really. If we can help break them through to a wider audience then that's a great achievement."
Such unfaltering belief in the grassroots of Scotland's sonic landscape is what makes Tigerfest such an exciting proposition for up and coming bands. It offers them an opportunity to share a stage with established acts whilst developing strong bonds with artists of a similar stature. Martin says, "[Tigerfest] encourages bands from Scotland to play together and reinforces the community aspect of making music."
Combining esteemed artists like Aberfeldy and Ballboy with the shimmering promise of The Rushes, How To Swim and De Rosa, to name a few, Tigerfest is a breathing embodiment of the potential for Scotland's music scene.
Confident in the success of this years event, Neil is already planning for the future, saying, "We'd love to open up a new 200 capacity venue in Edinburgh and we have plans for a summer weekend festival but for right now we'll see how Tigerfest goes."
With such driven ambition ingrained in the depth of quality offered at Tigerfest there's no better place to see the nation's ardent young musicians earn their stripes. 2006 may be the Chinese year of the dog but here in Scotland the beginning of festival season belongs to the roar of the tiger.
Tigerfest is on now and runs until April 28 (see listings for details).
De Rosa play the Swamp Bar @ Caledonian Backpackers May 26.