Scottish Fiction Showcase @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, 30 Jan
Mt Doubt impress in their headline slot tonight at Sneaky's alongside Wojtek the Bear and Mitchell Museum for a Scottish Fiction label showcase
It’s hard to think of a venue that exemplifies the purpose of Independent Venue Week more than Sneaky Pete’s. For years it’s been a staple for bands in Edinburgh (it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t played there), and their contribution to IVW proves just why. With a line-up tonight fittingly curated by DIY independent record label Scottish Fiction, and with one of Scottish Fiction’s most treasured artists headlining (and doing the door), it's clear from the get-go that we are in for a special night.
A new addition to Scottish Fiction, Mitchell Museum kick off proceedings. Having taken a six-year hiatus after their first album, and now working on their current project Skinny Fiction, the band exhibit a new direction with this set. While they've maintained the punchy lyrics of their first album, there’s a maturity in their stage presence that entices the audience to pay attention. The relentlessly tight drums, tempered by distorted basslines and synth build up to a raucous backdrop, while Cammy MacFarlane’s vocals (Tom DeLonge, anyone?) hang true in-between.
Next up are Wojtek the Bear, a band who are no strangers to this stage. Early on, during a brief issue with Tam Killean’s mic, the band jovially start emulating a covers band while the venue’s ever-adept soundman does his thing. Once the mic's fixed, the sudden release of Killean’s voice snaps Wojtek the Bear into the moment, and there’s a warmth between them and the crowd that wasn’t there before. It’s a welcome reminder of the value of those candid moments that just can’t be found in larger venues. After that, it's hard to find fault in their set. Paul Kirkwood stands confident centre-stage, with a smile that emanates sheer enjoyment; both the band and its individual members exude personality. The sincerity of their tracks – "this song is about a tradition in the West of Scotland of taking eccies and drinking wine" – have an air of lived wisdom that you can’t help but appreciate.
Whenever Mt Doubt are on stage, there’s a palpable sense that you’re watching something special. As the first chords of Teeming ring out, frontman Leo Bargery immediately establishes his presence. His evident depth of feeling, expressed with undeniable lyrical dexterity, is backed by a band that are evidently as attuned to these verses as he is. Mt Doubt’s live show takes a different tone to their records; it’s less refined and less produced, and at times more accusative in style, but is that bit more believable as a result.
The band finish with a completely acoustic version of Waiting Rooms, stepping in front of their mics and even closer to the audience. Stripped back of all pretense, the outright talent on the stage is clear. And it’s one of those great musical moments where you’re just glad that you were there.