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SHIFT 2: 65daysofstatic / Sound Development Agency / Drat / The Marcia Blaine School for Girls / Salon Boris / Nucleotides / The Kitchen Cynics
Castlegate, Aberdeen
And they say that good bands never come to Aberdeen. Ignore them - if anything, Aberdeen never comes to anything good.
For today to be possible, Drakes Productions, Interesting Music Promotions and Peacock Visual Arts came together to ensure that the impending logistical nightmare did a U-turn. This event was well managed, professional, and had a very exciting, eclectic line up. It’s great to see that Aberdeen can pull this off: it’s unlikely that you would see such a festival in “hotspots” like Glasgow and Edinburgh. The event was also supported by Aberdeen City Centre Partnership and Aberdeen City Council, with funding from the Scottish Executive’s City Growth Fund as part of the Energising Aberdeen initiative.
As with the initial SHIFT, the event coincided with the clocks changing.
To open the event we were treated to quirky and unique local singer songwriter, Alan Davidson under the moniker “The Kitchen Cynics”. Alan has a tremendous talent for song writing, and is arguably, Aberdeen’s best kept secret. The audience were taken on a 30 minute journey of wonderful, toe-tapping lo-fi folk gems executed with the charm and charisma that can only come from someone who genuinely has a passion for the music they write. Alan was an absolute joy to watch.
Do yourselves a favour and check out any of his extensive back catalogue. 8/10
Oh dear, 5 guys dressed in tacky uniforms and a brain (!?) have begun playing very clichéd surf rock scales to a bemused audience. Luckily though, that only lasted for 5 mins and after that we hear the real Nucleotides. I found it quite difficult to put my finger on who this bunch reminded me of. This band had some awesome songs laden with awkward rhythms, clinical pauses and great hooks. The keys, synth, sampling also added some great depth and atmosphere to the sound. The Nucleotides have a very full sound and one of the tightest backlines I have heard in a long time. The brain had some rather humorous banter along the lines of “We are the Nucleotides, you are not”.
I wanted to hate them but the fact is it is very difficult. 8/10.
Salon Boris looked the part and from what I had heard about them, I was definitely going to enjoy this. Perhaps it’s just me but these guys looked bored, I mean they looked booorrreeeddd. It didn’t start off on the best of feet, the set was baffled with sound difficulties and they appeared to lose any kind of coherence they may have had. The songs comprised of fat synth, guitar, lazy vocals and deep beats that were quite hypnotic. I felt there was no hook and it was a very lacklustre performance, maybe down to the venue? To sum it up; sleazy lo-fi electro pop, no doubt about it, I heard Human League, The Fall and the usual suspects.
Try harder next time, guys. 5/10
3 young chaps and their toys were next to the stage, The Marcia Blaine School for Girls were setting up their gear for what seemed like an eternity, but the wait was definitely worth it.
TMBSFGs created a very intense atmosphere inside the tent, the music itself making hairs stand on end. The music varied from ambient electro, post-rock, to dreary lounge. The loops were hypnotising, the swirling effects were sharp and the melodies were layered perfectly. The talent with this act lies within the way they create a wonderful song texture that dictates the tempo and mood of the songs.
Absolutely superb. 9/10
Why on earth are Drat not dominating our radio and TV sets? This band are simply sublime, every single song played tonight is an anthem of epic proportions. Lo-fi indie pop at its very best, Drat drip with enough melancholy, melody and harmony to make even the most miserable Aberdonian smile. Drat execute their songs with charm, precision and conviction, leaving current media angels Snow Patrol looking rather lost and tuneless. They depart on their final number, a superb cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star”. It was manipulated, twisted and slow, one of the set highlights.
Can this day get any better than this? 9/10
Sound Development Agency is another one of the bands who make the crossover between dance, funk and rock music. Like most in this genre (The Music et al) they get it spectacularly wrong. Chunky drums, “funky” bass and clichéd guitar scales were the script of the day.
I should have gone to the local takeaway for my dinner. 3/10
65daysofstatic are a band who have graced my stereo very much recently, so I was very excited to see that their first ever Scottish gig. 65days… are truly amazing, epic yet chaotic instrumental music laden with driving guitars, keys, synths and loops. I don’t think I have ever seen a band that has moved me this much. Set highlights included the wonderful “Retreat!Retreat!” and the piano driven “I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood”. 65days literally swamped the audience with sonic explosions that rocked the foundations of the tent, is it post-rock? Who cares?
All hail 65daysofstatic! The most exciting live band of 2004/2005.
Not a miserable Aberdeonian in site. Truly life affirming. 10/10

(Stuart Maxwell)