Book Yer Ane Fest VIII; A Retrospective
Writing the post-BYAF blog is always daunting for me, so much so that I pretty much skipped out on writing about last year’s entirely. I guess that had more to do with my own circumstances than anything else, though, as has been discussed in detail elsewhere. This time last year was a pretty dark time for me personally, but ultimately a time that led me into the light, so to speak. Without dwelling too much, it’s safe to say that I’m in a far better place this year. I don’t think that I’m alone in saying that BYAF VIII was pretty special and it may well have been the smoothest running fest that we’ve ever done. It’s humbling that so many people can come together and get behind the loose objectives that we all share and there’s no way that things would have ran so smoothly without the support and co-operation of everyone involved.
To everyone involved, I personally and we as a collective offer our deepest thanks. I certainly can’t do it alone and debts of gratitude go out to everyone. Apologies if I miss anyone; the MTAT crew (Abbie, Barry, Jamie, Jonny, Kenny), all the BYAF volunteers who got on board with sound, feeding and accommodating bands (Gav, Sean, Laura, Ross, Russell, Gerold, Gemma, Gaz, Neil and Joanne), Fiona and all the staff at Kage, Audrey, Dave and all the staff at Cerberus Bar, Boab at Punk Rock Rammy, Tristan and Harris at Dundee Music Studios, the staff at Rainbow Music, Mitch and crew from Audiowave Dundee, Team Beard Records, Round Dog Records, all the crew at Shadow Sound Central in Glasgow, Kev and the Anti-Manifesto troops in Edinburgh, Black Lake Records, Alshy for being a top geezer, Mighty Vision Entertainment, Dave Hughes, everyone who donated tombola prizes including Kenneth and the good people of Highland Fling Bungee, Grant George at Badlands Barbers, all of the bands and labels who donated prizes, all of the bands who came and nailed it and every single person that came through the door to support what we do and, more importantly, to support the ongoing work of Safe-Tay and Tayside Mountain Rescue.
For the month of December, all donations for digital downloads from the MTAT Bandcamp page will be added to our total for donation to Safe-Tay. The Legendary BYAF Tombola was a roaring success over the weekend. Huge thanks to Abbie and her crew (Cheryl, Fraser and Barry) for taking care of everything at the tombola table and everyone who took a punt at playing as it made an incredible £444.50 over the weekend. We will have the final figure to share at the end of the month once all digital downloads are taken into account. You can find over 60 releases, most of which are available for free/pay-what-you-want download, on our bandcamp page here.
I’m always interested in hearing about the experiences of other people at BYAF, as I am usually running around like a headless chicken over the course of the weekend. It’s both a blessing and a curse; all of these friends from all over the place assembled in one place for such a short period of time that it’s rare I get a chance to have more than a five minute chat with most people. To this end, I am seeking to put together a BYAF zine of sorts featuring stories from those who have attended BYAF, not only this year but from all the fests that we’ve run since we started in the back room of Mucky Mulligan’s back in 2008. If this is something that you’d be interested in contributing towards and being a part of, please get in touch by emailing me here. With a bit of luck, I’ll manage to throw something together by the time Book Yer Ane Fest IX rolls around (running from Friday 27th through Sunday 29th November 2015, in fact). I realise I failed to make good on my promise of a zine this time around, but believe me when I say that it’s going to happen this time, dammit!
While BYAF is pretty much a year-round job, I guess my weekend started on the Wednesday night on my way back from teaching a class in Blairgowrie when I got a heads up from a pal (cheers Pete) about potential problems with the pre-BYAF show the following evening. Cue some manic texting and a couple of phone calls with Alshy and we were all set with a new venue. Massive props and shout outs to the troops at Shadow Central in Glasgow for sorting us out with both a venue and a backline at the very last minute and to all of the troops for making it out despite the changes. Alshy and I headed down to Glasgow together on the Thursday afternoon and met Freddy Fudd Pucker, his crew of New Zealanders and the dudes from Austeros for the first time whilst hooking up with our old muckers in Mug, Sink Alaska and The Kimberly Steaks. The show itself was rare; all of the bands killed it, the space for the show was a great one, there was a veritable corridor of merch, we covered costs and everyone seemed to have a great time. After that, it was in the motor and up the road for the back of midnight. Solid job all round and a great way to kick off what was already shaping up to be a wild weekend.
First thing on Friday morning saw me cooking the biggest pots of rice my kitchen has ever seen, drinking coffee like it’s going out of fashion (nothing new there) and ringing round everyone making sure all was in hand. We try to take each BYAF as a learning experience and things were fixing up pretty smoothly. The crew met up at Kage around half 2/3 and we got everything loaded in before I left Boab in general charge of sound and setting up while I scooted up the road to meet Russell and get set-up for the pre-show at Cerberus. I’d like to thank Russell and Dave Hughes for the PA and for volunteering to help with sound over the course of the weekend, your contributions are much appreciated gents. I opened the show playing acoustic THT shit and I can barely even remember what I played. I do remember playing the blues at one point and pissing myself laughing. I guess I must’ve entertained myself at least. Gav and Sean then took to the floor of an increasingly busier boozer and played a quick set of beautiful stripped-down Terrafraid material before Maxwell’s Dead absolutely tore the place apart with a suitably raucous set of rowdy ska-punk stompers that very much set the tone for the evening. Then it was a quick bolt down to Kage to catch Lachance open up proceedings.
I was running around like an idiot at this point, so I didn’t really get a chance to watch any full sets as such for the first half of Friday night but I did manage to catch at least a few songs of every band; The Lemonaids absolutely nailed it and it was the first of drummer Ross’s three sets of the night, seeing as he was drumming for both The Kimberly Steaks and The Murderburgers. Hats off to that man for sure! Austeros were spectacular and definitely made some new friends with their sparkling pop-punk goodness. Speaking of the Steaks, the two shows at BYAF were the first times that I’ve seen the band with the new line-up and they were absolutely incredible both times. I’ve been friends with Grieg for a long time now and it makes my bosom swell with pride to see how far the band has come and how Grieg himself has grown as a songwriter. I’ve said it before that “To Live and Die in West Central Scotland” is one of the records of the year and I’ll reiterate here that it is, to my mind, one of the truly great Scottish punk records; an absolute pop-punk masterpiece. The fact that they wrapped up with a cover of “Going To Pasalaqua” was just the frosted icing on the bittersweet pop-punk cake.
The Murderburgers then rammied things up another notch and the usual BYAF Boiga chaos ensued. For a band that has spent the vast majority of the year on tour, the boys looked remarkably fresh and ready for a rammy at what was their first Scottish show after tearing it up around the USA. Jonny and I had to do a little of ye olde security at the front to make sure that people didn’t fall teeth-first into the monitors but, as always, the crowd capers were all in the best possible spirits and nobody was hurt. I think the mayhem was respectful over the course of the weekend, but I’m undeniably pro-mayhem so I may not be the best person to ask as far as these things go! Judging by the smiles strapped to awbody’s coupons though, all was good. Lipstick Homicide then stepped up and absolutely destroyed it, ripping through a half-hour of fizzy and gobby pop-punk bangers that reminded me why I got involved in this punk rock caper in the first place; short, sharp bursts of energy and attitude wrapped up in a sugary pop-punk coating. They were fucking brilliant and a more than fitting end to a wonderful first night of BYAF. After sorting out the last of the “business”, we slinked off home to try and get some rest before the madness resumed the next day. As usual, it was 3am bed, 8am rise!
Saturday started with the usual coffee and rallying of the troops before I spent a quiet minute being stoked that I didn’t have a hangover on the Saturday of BYAF for the first time ever. Neil from Bicycle Thieves gave me the heads up that he was running late so Turtle Lamone opened things up in Cerberus with some of his piano punk rock wonderment before Gone Wishing treated us to his first set of the day before hitting a bolt to Glasgow to play later on that evening. The assembled hardcore crew were then treated to something very rare and really rather special indeed; a secret acoustic set from Joe McMahon of Smoke Or Fire. As I have written about previously, Joe and I have been in each other’s orbits for some time and it was really rather surreal to have him sitting playing in the boozer where we throw our last minute shows.
Once Joe wrapped, it was a quick tidy up of the gear before heading down to Kage just in time to catch A Victory At Sea kicking up a storm upstairs in the main room. The acoustic stage was running one behind all day as we felt it important than Neil being able to perform after coming all the way from Wales to play, but I don’t think that anyone minded too much. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend too much time downstairs during the Saturday but from all accounts it was truly intimate and memorable the whole way through. That’s one of the very few downsides of being involved in putting on a festival of any kind; you can never really catch all of the acts that you want to, despite having the very best of intentions. Luckily, and more importantly, we managed to stagger things so that clashes wouldn’t happen (on the whole) and that no attendees would have to miss out on any acts. I do hope that everyone managed to catch all of the artists that they wished to over the course of the weekend. That said, I managed to miss my pals in Terrafraid almost entirely as I was running around, I think I caught them playing one song. Fair play, that song is a banger; “always does what everyone does, what everyone does, it’s all the same”.
Random observation from Saturday afternoon; Joe McMahon somehow managed to sleep through the entirety of the In Tongues set in the main room, quite the achievement. In Tongues were fucking incredible, not to mention one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in Kage, truly tremendous stuff indeed.
Our boys in Sink Alaska were up next on the main stage and were a man down from pre-BYAF as guitarist Richie was unwell and deemed sidelined but Alshy, Brad and Sneddy put in a very admiral effort in his absence and ripped through 20 minutes of razor-sharp melodic punk zingers that could peel the enamel from your teeth. Get It Together then took up the baton and ran with it in the way that only they can; Mark a ball of frenetic nervous energy while Craig shreds the skin from your face with his riffage. Unfortunately we didn’t have the “Rebuild, Recover” 7″s ready in time for BYAF (and still don’t, but that’s another story) but their set was triumphant and celebratory nonetheless, with Mark handing out vocal duties to rest his heavily-infected chest. I’m pretty sure that me and Ade got involved in some sort of hardcore version of “Cuddyback Fights” at some point too; not overly dignified but undeniably guid craic. Uniforms played next and, again, it was pretty much a blur for me. We had some technical gremlins messing with us to begin with but that was quickly sorted and I think we hit our stride. BYAF is always a pretty emotional show for us and it was also our first Dundee show since Chic joined the band so we were super pumped. I probably talked a little more shit than usual but what can ye do? Thanks to everyone who checked us out and sang along with us, it truly was something pretty damn special and it means a lot to us.
It was a quick smoke and a quick change for me before getting stage-side for Guerrilla Monsoon. It was great to finally meet those dudes in person as I’ve built up a good relationship with Mark online over the course of the year and they are just a bloody tremendous band. If you haven’t checked them out yet, I’d strongly encourage you to do so; they blend an American emo/punk energy with distinct modesty and a bucketful of indie/punk bangers. Fucking great band and one of the hardest grafting yet ungrizzled bunch of dudes that I’ve ever met who deserve everything that is coming their way. Almost the exact same thing could be said of Algernon Doll, who were at their pulverising and chaotic best. They’re currently in the States recording their new record with Steve Albini and I have absolutely no doubt that it’ll be their best and most fully realised piece of work to date. Ewan is good friend of mine and it has been a pleasure to watch him evolve from shy acoustic multi-instrumentalist to full-on tattooed rock beast. Real as fuck.
It was great to finally get the dudes from Leagues Apart up for BYAF as it is something that we’ve talked about doing for a while. These dudes are a super talented band and know exactly how to bring the rukus, although I’m pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t more of a rukus in response to James balming everyone up. The dudes were playing only their second show with their new bassist Hub (of Pure Graft) and they rattled through a the pick of the bunch from their banging “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men” LP that came out earlier this year. They may have a reputation to uphold but these roasters have got some absolute crackers up their sleeves when they get to it. Standing at the side of the stage watching them, it was impossible for me not to have a massive smile strapped to my face at the sheer sight of everyone being pumped. Talking of being pumped, being invited onstage to sing “Dead Leg” with Bear Trade during their following set was one of the highlights of my year, if not my life. It’s no secret how much I love that band and their incredible “Blood and Sand” LP has been my most listened-to record of the year. It’s safe to say that they absolutely killed it and peeled out the choice cuts from the LP and dropped in a cheeky Replacements cover for good measure. There was a little bit of confusion towards the end as we’d run a little over time, but when they kicked into “Bastards of Young” as the last song of the evening, sheer joyous bedlam ensued. It sounds cliche and cheesy, but it was fucking incredible; one of those moments that makes all the shit that comes with it worthwhile. Life affirming stuff indeed.
Sunday started with a queue outside Cerberus and some sore heads before Shitgripper played our first show in Dundee and cracked some skulls open with some instrumental doom loud enough to rival the church bells before Ewan played a secret Algernon Doll acoustic set that included a delightful Fugazi cover. Lancashire punks Dead Neck than absolutely slayed it with their 1000mph skate punk, NOFX and Propagandhi covers and the most ridiculous version of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” that you’re ever likely to hear. Maxwell’s Dead then opened proceedings at Kage with a last minute set of stormers and “nah-nah-nahs” before Robot Doctors slammed it with their high-energy indie rock and enviable high-jumps for such a delicate hour.
Our pals Question The Mark then nailed it and it was great to see them playing with our friend Rich of Team Beard on the bass for the first time. He played with such style and slipped into the pocket so tightly that you’d think that he’d been in the band from the very beginning before reunited Perthshire indie/emo legends Venetian Love Triangle played their first show in Dundee since supporting a little-known Biffy Clyro back in ’03. It was great to hear some of those old songs again, bringing me back to my youth and young manhood as Stef and his bands were always a great inspiration to me as a kid. I remember seeing Tenesee Kait playing Ramones covers at Blair Live in the Wellmeadow when I was around 15 and it clearly left an indelible effect on me. Italian punks Low Derive then took to the floor and entirely blew the place away with their thoughtful European take on midwestern punk rock; such a tight band with intricacy and harmonies all over the place. I was very grateful to be able to catch their full set at post-BYAF the next night. Another truly great band of truly good dudes who I very much look forward to seeing again.
Random memory; “Your voice is part of the space you take up” – Andy Chainsaw. Wise words, my friend!
By this time of the weekend my memory was beginning to haze over a little, something in which I’m sure I wasn’t alone. I think that perhaps the atmosphere in the air at the acoustic stage whilst Billy Liar was performing best exemplified that of the weekend; excitement, humour, togetherness, positivity and everything that is good in punk. Billy is one of my bestest pals and his set was, to me at least, hilarious and I think he spent more time talking shit and going nuts than he did playing songs. Either way, it was another one of those special moments. Talking of which, the Broken Stories set was one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching sets that I’ve ever borne witness to. We were obviously all very excited that the set was doubling as the launch show for the “It’ll Be Alright” 10″ EP but I shall forever hold in my heart the feeling of complete awe and utter respect with tears rolling down my face whilst Kevin and Gillian performed “Playing On Repeat” from the EP. For Morgan Nicol, Jordan Cameron and all who’ve gone too soon, may you find peace. I had to go outside for a little while once they’d finished then helped Chris T-T and The Hoodrats load in. I caught a little bit of Bonehouse’s set beforehand and they were tremendous as always, delivering buckets of blood, sweat and tears as ever. My only regret is not getting to see more.
Our friends in Carson Wells had pulled an incredible shift in driving from London where they’d played at About Time 3 the previous day and destroyed it once more. I could labour on at length about the impeccably high standard of bands across the weekend but Carson Wells are very near the pinnacle of Ecossemo greatness. Truly a spectacular band, I have every confidence that their new LP will blow minds the world over once it is unleashed next year. Don’t sleep on these boys. I finally managed to pick up a copy of their split 7″ with Human Hands too, after many months of meaning to. The mighty Kaddish were up next and were at their mesmeric best, mixing in tracks from the “Thick Letters To Friends” LP with some classics and a couple of tasty tracks from their forthcoming full-length. Browsing facebook the next day, I saw a friend post that “seeing Kaddish at BYAF was the best twelve pound I’ve ever spent”, pretty much the perfect summation of things. By this point, my brain is mush, Fat Goth are on the floor decimating Kage and rattling the remaining skulls while shredding the roof tiles off the place. Then it was over.
To offset the imminent post-fest blues, I got dressed and headed along to Kage to load out the PA loading out all the backline from both Kage and Cerberus then returning them to their rightful homes (DM Studios and our spare room, respectively). A quick shower later and Russell was texting me from outside and we were off to the post-BYAF show in Edinburgh as hosted by our esteemed colleagues of Anti-Manifesto. Unfortunately we missed Dead Neck but arrived just in time to see Paper Rifles charm us with his impassioned Wildhearts-esque acoustic set before Question The Mark smashed it through the walls one more time. I bore witness to my third Joe McMahon set of the weekend and sat quietly before Low Derive rounded out the wildest yet smoothest-running weekend of my life with some rowdy punk rock bangers. Then it was back in the motor, up the road and back to DD1.
To all involved in a truly momentous weekend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Ye are deece.
See ye at Book Yer Ane Fest IX.