Jupiter Rising 2022 festival: The Report

Following a torrential downpour on Friday night, we dive into the action of Jupiter Rising's Saturday programme

Feature by Max Sefton | 02 Sep 2022

Jupiter Artland might be the most picturesque place that you could find yourself for a festival. Wandering down from the carpark, flags rustle in the breeze, tepees poke up from the grass and a giant swing set plays audio clips of childhood memories. Many of the crowd seem dressed up brighter than usual and it’s clear that more festivals need a herd of sheep chewing contentedly and overseeing the action.

Inside the Rainbow Tent, multitalented band leader Susan Bear shows off tracks from her new album Alter which came out in June on Lost Map. After years touring as part of groups like Pictish Trail, Tuff Love and more recently Sacred Paws and Poster Paints, Bear is both a skilled technician and a talented arranger, drawing lush harmonies from her backing group on tracks like Floating.

As kids run up and down the green slopes of Charles Jencks' Cells of Life landform, inside the Fountain of Life stage AMUNDA lets rip. The Bossy Love singer may have relocated to Copenhagen in the last few years but she’s back in Scotland for a Friday night DJ set at Jupiter and a Saturday afternoon solo performance that takes in R'n'B, hip-hop and slick electro.

Seeming totally nonplussed by performing on a stage designed in the shape of a giant vagina, with what appear to be pool noodles for pubes, she might only have a backing track for support but her personality fills the stage. She doesn’t have a lot of publicly released music in this guise yet but recent single Isn’t This What You Want? is a real bop.

Back in the Rainbow Tent, one of the festival’s guest curators has a chance to show off her own musical project. Tamara Schlesinger’s Hen Hoose production house describes itself as “uniting a rich and diverse array of wonderfully talented and award-winning female and non-binary Scottish artists, writers and producers collaborating on the creation of exciting new music across multiple genres” and for once the PR guff rather undersells the impact they have had.

There’s a real case to be made that they’re the most exciting force in Scottish music right now so it’s good to see so many of its most prominent talents in one place. Schlesinger’s own musical project MALKA has put out three records including 2020’s excellent I’m Not Your Soldier. Today she has both an impressive headpiece and a chilled audience in the palm of her hand. Wonder Why, a track with the chipper energy of Bow Wow Wow’s Go Wild In the Country, even has its own dance choreography, while on other tracks haunting repeated refrains bring to mind Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea-era PJ Harvey.

Josie Long performing at Jupiter Artland. She stands in the doorway of a tent, in front of a crowd assembled on the grass.
Image: Josie Long @ Jupiter Rising by Amelia Claudia

One of the real wonders of Jupiter Rising, however, is that the fun is more than just musical, so it’s only fair to get off the beaten track and see what you can find. If you poke your nose into the woods you might find an art group hard at work, a storytelling session or a gigantic cave made of amethyst. Across the festival grounds you can pause to appreciate the swans on the pond (perhaps the only festival residents to enjoy the sudden downpour on Friday night), venture out onto the sculpture trail to see I Lay Here for You, a giant Tracey Emin sculpture, and question what effect nightmare-fuel concrete statues of small girls crying would have on any unwitting soul stumbling upon them in the middle of the night.

Back at the heart of the festival the Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra (GABO) deliver a danceable Afrobeat hour, with their gritty-voiced singer lending his impressive lungs to the irresistible rhythms. Comedian Josie Long opens her show by warning children (and parents) “the chances of me saying the c-word is pretty high.”

Leaving the stage to bask in the sun, she gets through about 40% of her Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in her allotted hour. Tackling the Teletubby landscape of Jupiter Artland, turning 40, having a second kid and getting diagnosed with ADHD, she’s as energetic as ever, even if her political material seems to make her so angry she sometimes forgets where her gags are going.

Inside the Rainbow Tent, a small crowd take in Emma Pollock’s set. Armed with an enormous electro-acoustic guitar and backed by a cello player, she plays some new songs, written before the pandemic but still unreleased, including Black Magnetic, but anyone looking for her to play Delgados material is out of luck: “There’s a red line between that and my solo material” she declares.

Over in the Boob Bar – the decor of which is pretty much what you would imagine – everyone from five to 65 is enjoying a detour into the hard dance tunes of TAAHLIAH, part of Clyde Built Radio's takeover, before the Rainbow Tent welcomes one of the more intriguing and globetrotting acts of the day is ready to take the stage, South Africa’s Distruction Boyz.

The pair are stars of a dance music subgenre called gqom that takes in high energy house and pumping electro. There may be an upper limit to how many times you can tell people to put their hands in the air but these guys haven’t found it. Any sense of otherworldly transcendence is a little undercut by a man in a rather forlorn wizard costume but nevertheless, it’s an entertaining way to spend an hour.

A crowd dances in front of a lit-up stage, with trees and disco balls also visible.
Image: Shoot Your Shot @ Jupiter Rising by Tiu Makkonen

Finally, it’s time to venture into the forest once more, in search of the Late Night Stage, a mirrored DJ booth and a series of disco balls strategically placed to throw fractals of light across a forest clearing. While Friday night was curated by Auntie Flo with Huntley + Palmers' Andrew Thomson and Chilean-German techno producer Matias Aguayo all playing, tonight is curated by Bonzai Bonner under the banner of Shoot Your Shot, their queer-friendly Glasgow club series.

The bill takes in flips of Linkin Park and Black Eyed Peas sped up to 160bpm from Fran.K, TAAHLIAH’s effortlessly cool hyper-pop and hard dance, Spent’s jabbering-pixie rapping and finally Bonzai Bonner themselves dropping tracks into the night. There’s also the chance to see someone dressed as a daemon as Shrek666 performs a striptease to Ginuwine’s Pony, which is definitely more about the “strip” than the “tease”.

It's a curious end to a festival which started the day in a state of childlike innocence, but in the end it’s this laidback atmosphere, the cross-pollination of cultures and the championing of the full cornucopia of Scottish culture that makes Jupiter Rising such a blast.

Jupiter Rising returns in 2023 from 14-16 Jul; early bird tickets available now at jupiterartland.org