HELD on a farm in Dumfries and Galloway, and named in tribute to the cult horror film shot in the area, the Wickerman Festival is now in its 12th year and in exceptionally good health.
Throughout the bill the 2013 event is more diverse and surprising than ever. Crowd-pleasing names like KT Tunstall and Amy Macdonald interspersed with authority-flouting (read: potentially curfew-breaking) rockers Primal Scream, Kevin Rowland’s immensely charming Dexy’s reunion (sans Midnight Runners) and the mighty, summer-defining sound of Nile Rodgers’s Chic.
And there are plentiful delights to be found further down the bill at a festival which has always seemed to appreciate the benefits of building a rich and diverse weekend on a budget by giving exposure to some of the finest and fastest-rising local artists of the moment.
Those who saw their set in the BBC Introducing tent at T in the Park will know why there is currently a lot of buzz around Glasgow’s Roman Nose. Three freaks in customised biker-chic denim vests and Mexican wrestling masks, GP, Bullet Beard and Youngcheteen (no, not their real names) make what they call “deathstep” or “black electro” – a bass-heavy and thrillingly garish combination of atonal synthesiser noise and live drums, which sounds utterly of its time when experienced live.
Also falling into the “wonderful” bracket are female duo Honeyblood, comprising Edinburgh’s Stina Tweeddale (ex of Boycotts) on guitar and New Zealander Rah Morriss on drums. Raw and noisy, and with an unfinished quality on record which perfectly suits the music, they fuse bubblegum Riot Grrrl attitude with a mature sound more in keeping with a group like the Breeders.
Elsewhere on the bill, Casual Sex and Hector Bizerk, both recently profiled in these pages, are also worth keeping an ear out for. There are also two more “formed from the ashes of…” bands seriously deserving of attention. First, racket-creating softcore punk outfit Alarm Bells, whose core membership of John Baillie Jr, David Roy and Ryan McGinnis was formerly at the heart of the much-missed Dananananaykroyd; second, the Book Group (formerly Bad Books) are a new name with a creditable history on Edinburgh’s indie-pop scene, namely the fact that the two-thirds of Come On Gang! who didn’t move to London are among their number.
Add to all of the above the dramatic, ritualistic burning of a giant wicker sculpture (a nod to the film) on the Saturday night, and it’s hard to quibble with the festival’s motto: “Wickerman – it’s better than it needs to be.”
• The Wickerman Festival is at East Kirkcarswell, near Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway on 26 and 27 July.