The Twilight Sad, Adam Stafford and The Foundling Wheel, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, 2 July 2009.


If there was one problem about this show for me then it was simply the sound quality on offer at the Bongo Club. It’s a venue I’ve always liked. I saw Micah P Hinson there, which was great (it was Tom I promise!). I saw Gimme Shelter there with Frightened Rabbit putting on a blistering headline show. I’ve seen Broken Records there a couple of times too. And I’ve always been impressed by what I’ve seen and heard in that venue. I like the atmosphere in there. However, last night was a different story altogether I’m afraid. For some reason both The Foundling Wheel and Adam Stafford suffered, through no fault of their own, because of the sound on offer.

The Foundling Wheel is simply one man with a bass guitar and shit load of pedals and samplers and other electronic gadgets. Ted Koterwas makes more noise on his own than many 6 or 7 piece bands could dream of making. His music is abrasive, confrontational and saturated in noise. Programmed beats rain down at you as Ted drives home pedal driven melodies with his bass and vocals. There is no doubt that he divides audiences –you either love it or hate it. There is no middle ground with The Foundling Wheel. Me personally, I love it. But last night left me longing for a smaller venue where the abrasive nature of the music could drill through me, the vibrations shuddering from my feet up and leaving me shell shocked. That’s what I remember from my last experience. However, whilst the tunes are still top dollar, being able to turn to my friend and ask if he wants a pint without raising my voice leaves me feeling that the Bongo Club missed the point. Hopefully next time I catch Ted it will be in more suitable surroundings for his brilliant electronic madness.

Adam Stafford is better known as lead singer of Y’all Is Fantasy Island one of Scotland’s most diverse and interesting acts. Tonight he is flying solo with only a nylon string acoustic guitar, a loop pedal and a book for company. Once again the brilliance of his performance is over shadowed slightly by the complete failure of the sound. Adam batters the acoustic guitar to within an inch of its life and the set up and sound just don’t seem to be able to cope with it. A set of brilliant YIFI songs is slightly overshadowed by this, though the racket this creates seems to please Adam himself. A genius accappela cover of a Daniel Johnston song finishes the set in some style.

And so to the Twilight Sad. Their debut album ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’ is one of my favourite Scottish records ever. However, on the 3 previous occasions I have seen them live, the intricacies of that album have been lost in wall of noise, guitars and feedback ruining my experience and disappointing my anticipation. I have actually left their live shows twice in the past because it was just the same level from start to finish with the same guitar sound all the way through. I was always disappointed that the subtleties of their genius album were lost in a live setting. I thought that they perhaps needed additional musicians for live sets? So it was a pleasant surprise to see a 5th member in the band as they took to the stage last night. And personally, despite sound issues once more, this was a much more enjoyable and much more intricate performance than any I had seen previously. Many people disagree with me. Many love the full scale bombardment that the Twilight Sad throw at you. I just don’t get it. Not given the beautiful subtle instrumentation that exists on record and makes that record so sublime. But the set is thin on the ground with first album tracks as the band focus mainly on new material from their forthcoming second album. If tonight’s set is anything to go buy I cannot wait for album number 2 to drop. There is no real change in direction but rather than making me want to shout for older songs, the new songs sound fresh, exciting and like they should propel the Twilight Sad beyond their contemporaries and to another level. Lets hope so. This band are as exciting and innovative as any I can think of right now and now I can even enjoy going to see them live! Their new album ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ is apparently to be released on 22 September by Fat Cat Records. I for one cannot wait.

So yeah, a top night of drinking, laughing with friends, meeting lots of new people all very lovely and enjoying some top top music by 3 of our most innovative and diverse artists. Can’t complain really.