On May 3rd, Bogbain Farm in Inverness became a home for the best in new Scottish talent. The relatively tiny site was host to three stages, a variety of bands, BrewDog beers, Thistly Cross ciders and twelve different gins (!). If you wanted to camp (who on Earth would really want to camp in Inverness at the beginning of May though?) then you could stay on the Friday, festival on the Saturday and leave on the Sunday, and make a whole weekend of it. We opted for the slightly warmer, drier and more comfortable option of a Travelodge down the road. Miraculously, most of Saturday was sunny with the rain holding off until late at night, making the site look beautiful amongst the picturesque setting of the Highlands.
We started our Brew at the Bog experience with a pint and Glasgow band Kill the Waves. They bring their own unique take on synth-pop, with the addition of violin and melodic harmonies. Debut single ‘Better Days’ is a dreamy mixture of violin, synth and singer Tim’s impressive vocals. This is dream pop at its best and Kill the Waves are proving themselves to be ‘ones to watch’. Next up was Skinny Dipper, the almost all-female band, again heralding from Glasgow. Describing themselves as ‘post indie girl-pop stringcore’, Skinny Dipper are probably our favourite discovery of the day and a band worth getting excited about. If there’s one thing that makes a band good, it’s strings and brass, if there’s one thing that makes a band excellent, it’s loads of strings and bass teamed with effortless brilliance and well structured pop songs. Skinny Dipper are excellent and as they finished, we sort of wished that we could stand and listen to their loveliness all day.
After sampling several of the different beers and ciders on offer, we were in desperate need of a food break. The promise of the ‘three bean burrito’ on Brew at the Bog’s facebook page left one member of our team disappointed for a while, but whilst their was no mexican to be found, the food did not disappoint. We went for wood-fired pizza, Indian and Carribeean street food, burgers and probably the best ice-cream ever. The right food is crucial for a festival, and that on offer at Brew at the Bog did not disappoint.
With full stomachs we wandered over to the main outdoor stage for Randolph’s Leap, the world’s happiest band. The quote ‘It’s impossible to be unhappy in a poncho’ should really read ‘It’s impossible to be unhappy when listening to Randolph’s Leap’. Their set is short but sweet, due to their usual drummer not being able to be there. Highlights of the set include new track ‘I Can’t Dance to This Music Anymore’ and personal favourite song ever ‘Crisps’. The sun was out, and the crowd ate up the folk/indie-pop that was on offer. Ross’ witty and sweet lyrics never fail to disappoint; ‘It soon became apparent as I played my saxophone, it was in the world’s best interests, to play my sax alone’ is genius. As the set unfortunately ended, it was obvious that the crowd definitely could still dance to this music.
Feeling warm and fuzzy with joy we wandered to the cosy Barn Stage for Lost Map head honcho The Pictish Trail. Playing a solo acoustic set, Lynch is marvelous. There’s is audience participation, excellent songs and we even have a little giggle at a member of RomanNose doing press ups to warm up for their set. Next it was time for Lost Map’s most recent signing, and the band Lynch spent his own set encouraging everyone to go and see, Tuff Love. They deliver a short set packed with fuzzy lo-fi punches. Having seen them multiple times before, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we could actually make out the vocals during the songs, something very exciting indeed. Tuff Love are set for huge things and their sun-soaked grunge pop mixed with soft harmonies is sure to be the soundtrack to the summer, and every one after that hopefully. Our afternoon is a bit of a Lost Map love-fest with Kid Canaveral being next on the bill. Their latest album ‘Now That You Are a Dancer’ has taken Kid Canaveral from strength to strength, and has cemented them as being one of the best bands in Scotland right now. Their set is full of their classic indie pop sound, with Skeletons being the only variation. This is no bad thing. Highlights include a very inebriated crowd singing along to ‘You Only Went Out to Get Drunk Last Night’.
After leaving Glasgow at 8 o’clock that morning, we found ourselves to tired to carry on into the early hours meaning we unfortunately missed Admiral Fallow, Miaoux Miaoux and headliners Stanley Odd. All in all Brew at the Bog is an excellent small festival. There are rumours of it expanding to a two-day event which would be great. If they make a few changes to the festival layout, such as not having the Gin Bar on the other side of the Barn Stage which when busy was a nightmare to get through, then Brew at the Bog would have been an even better experience. We would thoroughly recommend going to anyone with a love of great music and great beer and hope to go again next year.
Words: Rachel Earnshaw Photos: Kate Miller Video: Charles Lang