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Franklin Fest 2016 Opening Night, The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

  • Published in Live


In the vanguard of a truly international line-up with an audience to match (flying in the face of bizarre voting in some parts of the country) the second iteration of Edinburgh’s Franklin Fest kicked off tonight at the salubrious Voodoo Rooms (replete with surely one of the city’s few remaining sprung dancefloors).

First on stage was Sterling Roswell, shorn of the backing band he had when last seen by Musos’ Guide at Tilburg’s Paradox as part of the Incubate festival. Catching him a bit late on due to the pedestrian approach to the venue currently resembling something from the Crystal Maze he launched into a version of The Traits' ‘Nobody Loves The Hulk’ which was met with a decent amount of humour from the early crowd. There were only three more numbers to enjoy including ‘Ballad Of A Civil Servant’ which has now come out as a single since first being heard last September in Holland but this was a solid warm-up for what was to come.

The Reverse Cowgirls graced the Saturday afternoon part of last year’s fest but they’ve been promoted in the closed season & so had the benefit of being the meat in tonight’s sandwich. Starting off with the apt ‘Ride Into The Sun’ that sandwich was pretty close to being a cheese toasty given the oppressive heat in the cave-like performance space. The audience certainly though warmed up in terms of appreciation as the band were being roundly applauded by the end of their relaxed and well delivered set. Special mention needs to be made of their second guitarist’s double strap mishap. After a languid fiddle around with his pedals etc. during a bit of duelling from the other guitar & bass his big return was reduced to comedy as an attempt at some hands off feedback or something resulted in his instrument tumbling to the floor. It wouldn’t happen to Jeff Beck but he took it in his stride.

Rounding things off came the dapper Kid Congo with his Pink Monkey Birds, employing at times no less than a six string bass which in my experience you don’t see that often in garage-type bands. Touring in support of new album La Arana Es La Vida (our review here) they went down a storm with the room seemingly wobbling as well as bouncing, so involved were the bulk of the crowd. Tracks old and new (‘She’s Like Heroin’, ‘Magic Machine’, ‘Nine Mile Blubber Pile’) mingled quite happily in the set-list along with new flexi single ‘La Arana’.

A definite character & entertainer in his beige wallpaper-like suit and fur hat (doubly absurd in that oven of a room) the Kid was a lesson in sheer entertainment. With nowhere to go but into the crowd at the end of the main set the and were quickly back on stage delivering a four song encore including ‘Bruce Juice’ and a version of ‘Sexbeat’, probably the best received song of the night. A band that definitely need to be experienced live before you jump to any conclusions about them and a fine start to Franklin Fest 2016 (for which tickets are apparently still available via here).


Franklin Fest 2016 - Interview With Co-founder Angus McPake

Have you always wondered how all of those wonderful rock 'n' roll, garage and beat bands came to play in Edinburgh over the last few decades? Well, you can almost bet with certainty that this guy has had something to do with it. And, not only that, he's also a member of some of the best loved beat combos around. Think The Thanes, Les BOF!, Preston Pfanz and The Seaton Sands, The Sensation Seekers, and for the Franklin Fest 2016 - The Gastronauts and The Nettles... I caught up with musician, promoter, beat stalwart Angus McPake, on the eve of this year's Franklin Fest

Debbie: Could you tell us a wee bit about your involvement in promoting bands?

Both Cal (Calvin Burt - also co-founder of the Franklin R'n'R Club, drummer of The No-Things, Carbona Not Glue) and I have been promoting bands for 25 plus years. For me it was just a natural extension of being an active musician. By the early nineties I had been involved in not just putting on local bands but international artists including Nico, Nick Harvey, Sonic Youth and Primal Scream. Sadly I became disillusioned as this often resulted in little income and regularly having to deal with over-inflated egos - where's the fun in that? As I bowed out for a few years Cal had started being very active in promotion - firstly at Basin Street in Haymarket and later at The Cas Rock where he regularly had bands like Thee Headcoats and The Kaisers playing.  

Debbie: ...and how did the Franklin R'n'R Club evolve?
The Franklin R'n'R Club came about on my part by circumstances which could be seen as less than fortunate for Cal. He was running a bar called The Parlour on Duke St. and had been plagued with noise complaints and council interference when trying to have bands playing in his pub. To placate the neighbours Cal promoted one gig in the nearby cricket club, a night which I attended. As soon as I saw the venue I immediately knew we were on to a winner! I suggested we got together and started using the pavilion (ha!) to put on the sort of music we both like - namely R'n'R but probably more specifically the garage punk variety. The cricket club had a rather down at heel and kitsch feel (as well as a very reasonably priced bar) which I felt would suit the music perfectly. I dug out an old valve PA and some vintage microphones and we were off. Our philosophy was not to put on bands on a monthly basis just for the sake of it but only to put on bands we really liked (hence we have the odd gap during the year). In the last 3 or 4 years we have had the privilege to welcome a wonderful array of some of the best garage bands in the world including The Masonics, MFC Chicken, Les Grys-Grys, Muck & The Mires, The Wildebeests and many more. 

Debbie: Prior to the Franklin Fest 2015, had you organised these kind of events before?

To distract (our own) attention from a certain royal wedding in 2011 Tony 2-Eyes and myself had organised a small 2 day festival in Edinburgh called The Bottom Rung Festival. Headlined by Janie & The Ravemen and The Thanes (featuring a couple of members of the legendary Scottish 60s group The Poets) The whole weekend had gone without a hitch so in the back of my mind was the urge to do something similar again. The ever increasing popularity of the Franklin seemed an ideal platform to do just that. 
So here we are about to embark on the second Franklin Fest with some trepidation!

Debbie: How do you feel last year's event went down, and what can we expect this year?

Last years Franklin Fest was a brilliant weekend with an almost capacity attendance and amazing performances from all involved. 2015's festival mostly featured bands that had previously played at The Franklin - this year we are very excited to introduce some music which is not only going to be a first for most of the audience but also new to us. The Mindreaders are completely unknown quantity for starters - and with Sexton Ming at the helm anything could happen. The Embrooks too have only recently reformed and should be a real eye-opener for anyone who didn't see them 20 years ago. The Courettes, playing their first Scottish gig, have such a fine word of mouth reputation that I think we should be prepared to be utterly astounded. As an addition we are also having something I think was missing from last years event - an afterparty. As well as our resident jock Mr Tony 2-Eyes we are delighted to have Spencer Evoy, Carl Combover and Claire Hyslop behind the wheels of steel for your dancing pleasure until the small hours. A grand finale to what promises to be an superb weekend!

Muchos gratitude to Angus for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat. 

Franklin Fact - The Franklin takes its name from The Leith Franklin Academical Cricket Club which in turn takes its name from Benjamin Franklin. The club was stared in the 19th century by employees of a Leith printing firm. Benjamin Franklin was, amongst may other things, a pioneer of the printing press and they named their club in his honour.  

Here's the line-up:

Friday 24th at The Cricket Club from 7pm:

Les Grys-Grys, The Courettes,The Gastronauts,The Brutes

Saturday 25th at The Leith Depot from 1:30pm:

The No-Things, Fanny Pelmet & The Bastard Suits, The Fnords, Geek Maggot Bingo, The Nettles

Saturday 25th at The Cricket Club from 7pm:

Oh! Gunquit, The Embrooks, Thee Jezebels, The Mindreaders, The Sine Waves

It's not too late - Tickets are now available from tickets-scotland.com. There will be tickets available on the door for Friday and Saturday evenings for 20 per night, or £35 for a weekend wristband which will get you into both nights, Saturday afternoon and the after show party at Studio 24.

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