An Ayr Rise Festival 2018 Review…

words fae liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s not often mentioned but the state of music festivals in Scotland is rather depressing. Sure, TRNSMT is doing awfully gid for something that just began last year but when you look at some of the countries heavy hitters, you’ll come to the startling realisation that the days of Rockness and Wickerman Festival are far behind us with most being sadly cancelled. Hell, even TRNSMT itself is the continuation of an annual festival that sadly dipped in quality before reaching its anti-climatic end.

That being said, we’re beginning to see a rise (no pun intended) in smaller festivals that relish in giving smaller acts a chance to show off and bring their sound to an audience that may have previously passed them by. It makes total sense considering that the likes of Tenement Trail use established venues in order to host the acts, meaning the razzle-dazzle of your usual festival is left to the wayside in order for the music to be the real selling point and with tons on offer, and plenty to drink, it’s an ideal situation.

Ayr Rise definitely seems keen on bringing this to an area that, while rife with talent, often doesn’t generate a blip on the musical radar due to its location. Taking place in local nightclub Furys, a venue which is often the go-to for local gigs, it was an event that was not only important for those involved but one that would ultimately serve as a determining factor for whether or not something of this magnitude could work.


Things were off to a promising start with Molly Eliza taking to the stage. While she may have been filling in the slot left vacant by Atlas Run, it ultimately gave Ayr Rise some variety which benefited it greatly: she may reference the likes of Nina Nesbitt as an influence but you wouldn’t be mistaken for noticing hints of Sophie Allison or even a vocal resemblance to pop heavy hitter Lorde. Her music wasn’t only just pleasant to listen to but also offered some interesting insight lyrically, meaning she could end up joining the ranks of Young Fathers in politically aware Scottish music. Some songs may have been screaming for some backup, specifically some drums, but the minimal performance from Molly left a good taste in the mouth – keep this one on your radar.


Keeping the momentum going were Ayr-based rock outfit Anna Conda and right off the bat, we were hit with remnants of what could easily be mistaken as demos from the fictional Scott Pilgrim band Sex Bob Omb (a high bit of praise fae us). As the act continued on, the band’s influences became increasingly obvious (someone or all involved in the act definitely has a soft spot for The White Stripes as shown by their Fell In Love With A Girl cover) but it by no means detracted from the enjoyment Anna Conda provided: infectious harmonies rolling over some octane performing culminated in what was easily a hugely entertaining set from the boys who we’re sure we’ll see more of in the future.


A band still very much in their infancy, only emerging at the tail end of 2017, Honours. were up next. In terms of stage presence, it was a little lacking (which may be totally down to either nerves or the sheer variety of chords that they’ve bolstered in promotion) but there was definite moments that showed they’ve got the foundations laid to make some really interesting alt-rock.

27545489_381304295674464_7592854196806952831_n.jpgThere would be no prizes for guessing what acts have paved the way for the sound ZANG are going for but oh lordy, did they put on a show. Frontman Bunny Wood channelled that rock and roll frontman attitude both in his vocals, that were reminiscent of another funky, bluesy rock and roller Robert Plant, and the mannerisms he showed off on stage. The argument could be made that the band weren’t quite as varied as we would have liked them to be but for what they’re going for, and for how they managed to keep our attention, ZANG did exactly what they needed to do and then some.


Positioning themselves as an alt-rock riff machine, Zola didn’t disappoint with a rip-roaring good rock time. While the audience at Rise were rather timid (myself included), this didn’t stop the band from interacting with the crowd and trying to get everyone right into the gigging spirit. There were a fair few moments where I found myself reminded of Queens of the Stone Age, a comparison I may throw around a bit frequently but the layered performances and the synergy between and the vocals means I feel justified in that bit of acclaim. Showing off their latest single to finish things off, Zola are certainly going places and we’re looking forward to seeing how they evolve.

21949833_822681854604537_7924578189341822206_o.jpgOur last act of the night (family ting), The Mawb are an act we’ve discussed a fair bit over the past year and a bit but for good reasons. Front-man Ewan McCulloch was the head honcho of tonight’s operation so the fact he had the energy to balance both organisation and performing all on the same day has to be commended. On the related note of said performance, The Mawb were the best they have been yet and hit me with that familiar feeling of pride, not only for the fact they’re an Ayrshire based act doing it proud but for constantly shifting their sound.

Everyone in the act was on phenomenal form, Callum McIlwaine being the devilish chap on guitar we’re all used to and incorporated a wireless device so he could prance about the club while playing, picking up a pint in the process. The aforementioned Ewan continues to impress with those pipes of his and bassist Harry Mawb still radiates that effortlessly cool as a cucumber attitude about him without breaking a sweat. Drummer Paul Nally seems to have totally come out of his shell at this point and it definitely added it all, his commentary during the break between each track adding a certain charm to it and by the closing track, he was clobbering away at his set with the energy of a man who had just went through a botched exorcism. To put it simply, it was a bloody great end to our night.

So Ayr Rise was an overall success, showing that a local festival can definitely work when the right management and acts are brought in. If there’s any feedback we could give, it would be that next year’s event (which we hope is on the cards) tries to shake up the genres on offer: every festival has their strong point but we’d love to see some more bands that don’t fit into the alt-rock mould. From an optimistic perspective, money permitting, it would be exciting to see Ayr Rise branch out amongst some other venues in the town: West of the Moon may no longer be with us but places such as Soundmagic would serve as a nice alternative stage and Big Sparra Vinyl potentially acting as an acoustic one for some stripped back sessions. Of course, this is pure speculation but Ayr Rise, much like the acts playing it, is brimming with potential and we’re crossing our fingers that we get to see it return in 2019 and beyond.

Track Review: As The Cycle Continues by The Mawb

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

As we mentioned last time we caught this Ayrshire rock outfit, The Mawb are going through a transition of sorts at the moment: all it’ll take is a quick listen of new single As The Cycle Continues to make you question whether or not this was the same folk who brought you the piano romp Farewell.

Everything about this just feels unequivocally harsh though still bearing an abundance of appeal: the first few seconds of sole drumming is all the song really offers in terms of peace as for the rest of its duration, we’re graced with overpowering assortment of guitars that almost threaten to drown out the solid vocals during the chorus. Touching on topics such as materialism and superficiality, it’s worth venturing further to uncover something but if you’re here for the instrumentals then you won’t be left shortchanged, especially when an impressive guitar solo rears its head.

While there have been a lot of changes, The Mawb‘s mantra of not being your average rock band is still something they abide by and with tracks like this, they’re sure to stand out among the abundance of lad rock flooding the scene.

Gig Review: The Mawb, The Good Arms + Dead Coyotes @ King Tuts

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

Oh King Tuts, how I’ve missed you. Much like a busy father who doesn’t get to attend his son’s football games, I don’t get to see you as much as I’d like to but when we get the time to bond, usually every New Year’s Revolution, you never fail to make me proud.

Tonight’s proceedings weren’t any different and whilst mother nature wasn’t helping matters, meaning I had to leave prior to headlining act Voodoos, people were still coming in droves for tonight’s rock-fuelled venture.

The Dead Coyotes 

Just as their name implied, this Glasgow rock outfit were in their zone with some predatory build up before they pounced on the chorus, resulting in a wild intro track that made an immediate impression.

You could smell the influences off the band from a mile away but this wasn’t a detriment by any means: front-man Rory radiated a Josh Homme aura, solidified with that open silky shirt, pendant and a bucket load of showmanship that resulted in a quality set that I wasn’t quite expecting.

It’s a cliche to mention the trials and tribulations of opening for a gig but when you’ve got the bravado that The Dead Coyotes have, there’s no need to worry about not having a good fucking time.


The Good Arms

Much like the act prior, as well as the one succeeding them, The Good Arms are an act that are still in their youth: only starting off last year, the band has a debut EP under their belts as well as a previous appearance at the iconic Tuts venue so it’s no surprise that they accumulated quite the audience.

Thankfully, for both myself and those that had trekked through the snow, our enthusiasm was not misplaced as we were witnesses to a solid performance: cuts both old (if you can call them that) and new showed off a great deal of ferocity and chemistry amongst the tight rock unit. It’ll be exciting to see how they tweak their formula on future releases as the attitude on stage suggested they’re an act that are not willing to get complacent anytime soon.


The Mawb

To say that expectations were high for this Ayrshire groups Tuts comeback would be putting it lightly: having headlined this very venue less than a year ago, the band have undergone some serious changes that meant that despite losing a member and tracks in the process, they’re more than capable of adapting.

This brings us to The Mawb 2.0, a noticeably heavier band than what had come before which already gave them quite the edge. While it was never full on metal, it was hard not to be impressed by some of the guitar playing last night that gave it a different sort of flair to what we were used to – specifically Callum who was so confident on stage that he’s not against hopping off it to mingle and play amongst the crowd (even if he himself admits the smell he brought with him wasn’t as great as his riffing). 

The rest of The Mawb squad were on tight form as well; despite the fact we could hardly see his face behind his hair, Ewan was impressing everyone with his vocals that, while not wanting to repeat a comparison I’ve made in this very review, were very reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. Paul on drum duties was as cool as a cucumber, at one point flat out playing without one of his sticks as if it wasn’t an inconvenience, and the same can be said about bassist Harry, the only man that can get a small chant going for him without saying a word.

If it weren’t abundantly clear at this point, The Mawb were cracking. It would be easy for them to continue on with the same sound they were going with prior but, taking the chance to try something new and push themselves creatively, the band showed that they’re not afraid to take a chance and won over fans both old and new tonight.

The boys are back in town.



By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

The problem with many new bands who wear their influences on their sleeves, like it or not, is that you end up wanting to listen to the originals rather than them. It can be impossible to shake off a feeling of deja vu that makes anything the act plays fail in comparison. Just take a look at generic indie rock band #3745 and fight the urge to listen to whatever Britpop era act they’re trying to replicate.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Ayrshire act The Mawb. While the band is still very much in their youth as far as bands go, just a glance (well, more like a listen) at their debut single Farewell is enough to certify that the rock outfit have the musical know-how: in the first minute alone, we get some cheerful keyboards that would greatly accompany any Frank Turner before they’re followed up by a sinister-sounding classic rock motif. Managing to show off this amount of diversity in such a short amount of time is an achievement in of itself but the track doesn’t stop giving off a great impression.

Immediately after the aforementioned motif, we’re welcomed by our first taste of the vocals on display and boy, are they something. Consistently broody and emotive, the pipes on display, courtesy of Ewan McCulloch, are very reminiscent of Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age fame which can be considered a very good thing for anyone who is unaware. As the chorus picks up, everything in the band’s presence starts to kick it up another notch: the piano starts to blend it with all the other instruments while still packing a bunch whilst the vocals start to verge into territory Robert Plant has set up residence in. Taking all of this into consideration, you can tell that the band’s performance at King Tut’s on the 28th is gonna be a crowd-pleasing one to put it lightly.

With just a track under their belt, The Mawb seem to have got their careers off to the best start possible. Not being ashamed to wear their influences on their sleeves while further trying to innovate on top of them, the Ayrshire act manages to avoid falling into a niche and deliver a sound capable of getting everyone, young, old and in-between, tapping their foot along to. The Mawb aspire to be more than just an average rock band and they’re currently on the right track to stay true to their claim.


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