FESTIVAL REVIEW | MONTROSE MUSIC FEST | 24.05.24-26.05.24

What an almighty come back as music fans decend on the Angus town in support of Montrose Music Fest 2024.

A local Angus town’s music festival was saved by a hard working committee to keep live music alive at the May bank holiday weekend. The event saw over 56 acts across 16 venues throughout the weekend with music Friday-Sunday, showcasing acts from across Scotland.

If you are an avid reader of the Discovery Music Scotland blog you’ll have seen that I spent time chatting to some of the independent artists and a member of the committee prior to the festival to get insight into their hopes for the weekend and learn a bit more about what festiver goers may see within their sets.

I spent the Sunday up in Montrose, unfortunatly the beautiful weather from Saturday did not stick around for the day, however it did not seem to put people off coming out in force to show their support. There was a real buzz around the town and it was wonderful to witness, as in previous years under various committees a festival in Montrose has prooved a popular weekend.

Fish & The Kelpies

Fish and & The Kelpies kicked off the Sunday in serious style at a very busy Northern Vaults. The band performed as a three piece semi-acoustic outfit with two guitars and a banjo with all three members involved in creating some wonderful vocals throughout. Fish & The Kelpies are not boxed into one specific genre and it was refreshing to watch the set unfold. A little bit of bluegrass, a bit of country and even some reggae for good measure, their songs are anything but predictable whether that is song style or narrating the background to the songwriting I couldn’t help but want to know more.

A very well curated set list of obscure yet wonderful covers such as Moby’s Natural Blues , Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill and Daniel Johnston Walking the cow; sharing some music triva about Daniel and Kurt Cobain being friends as Cobain was spotted wearing band merch! We were teased about an album being in the works with songs such as 30 years and The Sheriffs kettle and promised land that also appeared in the set.

My favourite song of the afternoon however was Al’s waltz. A real emotional instrumental dedicated to a dear friend as we were reminded to “check in on your friends and family”.

The trio have crafted something unique, thinking completely out the box and playing around with genres. Fish & The Kelpies had some good chemistry and compliment each other well. I’m sad it’s taken me this long to see them.

At the end of their set I overheard a festival goer say You guys were my favourite band of the weekend! and I’m unsure you can really top that. I look forward to hearing the album when they get round to finishing it off.

Fish & The Kelpies – The promised land. Northern Vaults.

Slow For A Poet (Rhuari Campbell)

For fans of Frightened Rabbit who enjoy vigorous acoustic guitar-driven narrative style. Rhuari is an entertaining and enjoyable folk storytelller. His songs potray humour even in darkness and his personlity shines through his songs.

Original track sweet music really is my favourite song to hear live. It depictis the struggles of wishing to persue folk music full time however continues to need to ‘work for the man’. Lyrically the song is clever and the sentiment behind the song is one in which many musicians will find relatable.

Oh oh sweet music, don’t you ever turn your back on me.

For a solo artist Rhuari has a lot of energy and is quick whitted, keeping everyone involved in the show. As he announces to the bar that he was going to sing the Scottish national anthem as he begins to belt out Dougie Maclean’s Caledonia, changing up the lyrics ever so slightly to show support to audience members which I thought was a genuinely lovely personal touch. He filled the dance floor with festival goers as there is echoes of But let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all the time, Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home filling the Lochside bar. As we wiped our tears from our eyes from Caledonia we are only wiping away tears again, this time of laughter as Rhuari tells us that the next song is incredibly important and a message that should not be ignored as he takes a big inhale and starts to sing You cannae shove your Granny aff the bus!

Rhuari belted out his tunes at the Lochside Bar on Sunday evening, on the festival wind down, it was a chilled family friendly atmosphere as he was joined on stage by the cutest little dude playing ukulele who was besotted by Rhuari and copied everything he did. Smashing out some super cute rock star moves gaining extra points on stage presence. You can check out Rhuari’s latest album Slow For A Poet here.

Stay For Tomorrow

Well… young four piece Dunfermline Alt rockers Stay For Tomorrow certainly made their mark for their debut in Montrose and smashed their extended festival set at the Star Hotel.

A late start due to some issues with set up and sound which the band handled professionally in a pub full of people eagerly awaiting a good time on a Sunday evening.

The dance floor never emptied and the venue was busy with rock fans with perfected head banging and air guitar moves! Everyone appeared super up for having a good time as there was a lot of energy and good atmosphere.

Front man/lead vocalist Joe Macfarlane kicked off with the band’s original track prison living which set the tone for the night. A fun guitar heavy rock track, with a catchy chorus. The band had the crowd from the opening, Joe had such great engagement from the audience and oozes a confidence making him an absolute joy to watch on stage.

Prior to the festival I had caught up with bassiest Gabriel Almazan to chat about their set, when speaking about the set list “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.” Stay For Tomorrow perfected this balance throughout the night which was reflected in their choice of covers, dirty little secret and in the shadows gave a fantastic opportunity for the band and audience to really connect with a sing along.

During Rumours lead guitarist Nic Holson went wandering through the venue with his wireless system for a very exciting guitar solo, interacting with the crowd at the back and adding a sprinkle more showmanship on top of an already energetic and fun set.

There was chants of *Mon the Biff * as drummer Sean Priestley hit the opening few bars of The Captain, which seemed to be a hit with Biffy Clyro fans amongst the crowd as there was a chorus of ‘woo oh oh’ around the Star Hotel. Gabriel and Sean are a tight section and are the driving force for the rock and tempo of the band, they are all very much in sync and this did not go unnoticed.

Stay For Tomorrow showed why they deserved to be playing at the festival. They have a strong identity within their original tunes and choose some creative covers to mix things up throughout their set. A crowd pleaser for music lovers who enjoy something heavier.

If this is what they are capable of now I look forward to watching the band grow and perfect their craft as they have an exceptionally strong base.

Their latest single Crushing Down has just been released so you should definitely give it a listen and support a live show again soon.

📸 Catriona Innes. The Montrose Music Fest Committee with MC Scott Forbes.

Montrose Music Fest committee pulled together and with short notice pulled of an exceptional weekend!

I heard Saturday was a huge success and from what I saw around the town on Sunday it appeared very well supported and enjoyed by all. The committee should be incredibly proud of their efforts and I hope there is more to come from them next year.

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About Bonnie Ross 53 Articles
I'm a musician who's always had a passion for discovering new music. I now write about it...