Jupiter Rising, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh *****
In any year, under any circumstances, the 2021 version of Jupiter Rising would have been an exceptional boutique festival. After an 18-month drought where getting together in a field with other people is concerned, it felt like an oasis, like a little slice of relaxed musical and artistic heaven in the countryside where Edinburgh bleeds into West Lothian.
Between Friday and Sunday – across two nights of camping, two evenings of live music and woodland clubbing, and a full day of creative family activities and walks in the grounds of contemporary art park Jupiter Artland – an array of some of the best bands and DJs in Scotland performed in either a small marquee tent, an open-sided canvas structure which made the grassy slopes of Charles Jencks’ spectacular Cells of Life land installation its auditorium, a compact but airy bar tent, or a late-night clubbing glade.
Friday’s schedule included live sets from Callum Easter and Romeo Taylor, and a welcome DJ return from Glasgow’s Optimo. On the sunny Saturday afternoon, while families lounged in the pools of Cells of Life and children used the side of the sculpted land formations as makeshift slides, Apostille (aka Night School label boss Michael Kasparis, sporting an impressively moustachioed, leather-trousered Ron Jeremy look) delivered a cathartic set of shouted disco anthems, while billmates including Rachel Aggs and Free Love danced in the front row.
Under the second tent, Josie Long gave a relaxed, post-Edinburgh Fringe comedy set in which she discussed her own current pregnancy and her move to Scotland, and Alabaster dePlume’s band played an inventively fried blend of free jazz and psychedelic chamber pop.
Nightshift played a murky, downbeat fusion of post-punk and lo-fi 1980s indie, Guttersnipe’s fusion of thundering drums and angular, art-rock electronica was ear-lacerating, and Pictish Trail’s joyful indie space-pop was as expansive and attention-grabbing as his beard. It all felt airy, safe and joyously normal.
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