FESTIVAL PREVIEW | MONTROSE MUSIC FEST | 24th – 26th OF MAY

Town’s music festival lives to entertain another year thanks to local residents.

Montrose Music Festival has been the highlight of the town each May since 2008. It has evolved and executed in many forms over the years. Montrose Fest (as it is known for 2024) has been saved by local residents. A new voluntary committee has been developed to save the day and keep a festival running in the town. During the weekend of May 24th – May 26th the town of Montrose will see 56 acts across 16 venues.

As much as the festival is a great opportunity to meet with friends, have a dance to your favourite songs being performed by bands (and enjoy the sunshine as it is usually a BEAUTIFUL weekend) it is often not acknowledged that their is some incredible independent artists playing at the festival which some people may miss.

I took the time to catch up with a member of the committee and several of the bands playing the festival to put a spot light on the wide talent being represented over the weekend. Hoping to encourage festival goers to step away from the norm and go explore a little bit more of what the festival has to offer.

Matt Innes (Comittee Member)

You’ve taken over the management of montrose music festival to save the weekend in the town, what made you want to get involved? When the previous committee (Mo Live) announced in early 2024 that they’d no longer be able to continue organising the festival weekend, they reached out for new volunteers to take over. As someone who’s played the festival many times and attended it almost every year, I knew it would be a shame for it not to go ahead. Before long, we had 9 willing volunteers up for the task.

The festival weekend has taken many forms over the past 15 years or so, what changes or additions have you tried to make? We’ve tried to keep the system quite venue driven, with many venues finding and booking some of their acts that they’d like to have on the weekend, with the committee then supplementing them with applicant bands to choose from. We’re also trying to introduce some new bands who have never featured in the festival programme before to freshen up the lineup alongside the local festival favourites.

I see there are going to be a few bands playing original material, a great opportunity for up and coming bands and artist to showcase their work over a weekend usually busy with covers/tribute bands, was there a lot of interest in this area during applications? We had a great range of applications from all different genres with a wide range of cover bands and original artists. I found it very refreshing seeing how many original artists were applying and enjoyed listening to their music. It’s great that we’ve got some venues that encourage these original artists as it’s often seen as the safe option for venues to only book cover bands. We’re hoping to have even more original artists for next year’s festival.

Good to see the street festival back, this was always a highlight back in the day. Good atmosphere and family friendly fun. What made this an important element for this year’s festival? We took a brave decision (at such short notice) to try and revive a High Street event to make it more accessible to families with children. We could only afford to have the ball house car park area this year as the cost of closing off the entire street would be too expensive this year. The event was always a popular feature of the festival weekend and judging by the feedback on the announcement of its return, people are delighted to see it back. It’s important to us that on the Saturday, there is an opportunity for all generations to enjoy the festival atmosphere.

Around 7 – Forfar

Lachlan and Ryan from Forfar’s own punk rock band Around 7 gave me their time to catch up ahead of Montrose Fest. We had a brief chat about their search for a new drummer as earlier in the day they had announced beloved drummer and friend ‘Chebs’ leaving the drum stool for university studies. On talking about life beyond the band; We’d love to open our own venue in Edinburgh or Glasgow. Promote music that way… We would like to take a shot of it ourselves to see what an actual band could do with it. That’s my long term goal. (Ryan)

Have you ever played Montrose Music Festival before? The band reflected on playing at the festival in previous years as they have played multiple times since 2013. “Played on the high street twice and at the black abbot previously. Outdoor stage was really cool, there was a massive power outage for the band before our se one year and we got asked if we had acoustics with us, um no. (laughs) we can’t sing that loud! It was packed and good fun!”

If you were trying to get people to come to your gig and had to pick 3 artists that suggested if you like them you’d like Around 7 who would they be? Biffy F***king Clyro, Green Day. I don’t know, we are that wonderful genre between everything, we aren’t pop punk we aren’t hard rock, we aren’t alt rock. So say Sum 41. Scottish Pop Punk!

You can see Around 7 doing a double set at Utopia - Saturday 7:30pm-10pm.

Slow For A Poet (Rhuari Campbell) – Dundee

You aren’t a stranger to playing in Montrose, if anything what makes it different during music festival weekend? I love playing in Montrose during the festival. The town has a really special love for live music, and I know there will always be people at these gigs. The whole town is buzzing during that weekend, and I can’t wait to come along.

After launching your album last October, do you have a favourite track to play live? My favourite song from that album is probably Ghosts of the Multi. It doesn’t appear to be other people’s favourite but I love it.

If you are sticking around for the weekend, is there anyone in particular you are looking forward to seeing? I’m really pleased to be playing on the same day and in the same venue as two of my favourite live bands. The Arcades and The Mad Ferret Band.

You can see Rhuari on Sunday at The Lochside Bar 7pm-9pm

Fish & The Kelpies (Michael/Fish)

How best would you describe your band to others? Fish & the Kelpies hail from the Kinkardineshire coast. Fish, Cas, Matt & Patti combine acoustic & electric guitar, bazooki, bass, percussion & vocal harmony culminating in an organic folk/rock sound. The original material will drag ye’ fae yer cups for a sing and a dance!

If you had to pick three artists which inspire your band, who would they be and why? The Staves’ are a great British vocal harmony group. ‘Old Crow Medicine Show’ are bluegrass at its best. ‘King Creosote’ are
homegrown Scottish talent.

Your band are regulars at the festival, what is your favourite thing about the weekend? The weekend really champions local musical talent! I see musicians play at Montrose that I’ve been watching develop for about 20 years. There’s also the chance to see young fresh faced talent that are just starting out!

Fish and the Kelpies will be live on Sunday at The Northern Vaults 12:30-2:30pm.

Stay For Tomorrow – Dunfermline

I set up a Zoom call with bassiest Gabe to talk all things Montrose Music Fest and get to know a bit more about the band.

Tell me a bit about the band Formed in 2018 and based out of Dunfermline. I didn’t join the band until September 2023 after moving to Scotland. This is my first festival with the band.

Would it be first time playing in Angus? “For the band no, they have played in Kirriemuir for Bonfest in 2022 but this is my first time in Angus. I am excited.”

How do you feel about doing original material in a festival heavily populate by covers bands? With my experience of playing with original bands in the past, like there needs to be a well balanced mix of covers and originals or you’ll lose the crowd a bit. Even if they like your music, especially in a festival setting because you can only take so much in. Break it up with cover songs, I think that works best.. that’s what we are going to be doing interspersing original songs with cover songs.

How would you sum your band up in one sentence? We are a really fun eclectic mix of styles that is still uniquely one band sound. Real fun, lots of different elements but any time you hear us on Spotify, you will always know it is Stay For Tomorrow despite the changes you will hear song to song. We have a signature sound.

Catch Stay For Tomorrow Live on Sunday at Star Bar 6pm-7:30pm

Find all information and updates about the festival at Montrose Music Fest

About Bonnie Ross 41 Articles
I'm a musician who's always had a passion for discovering new music. I now write about it...