Scotland and culture have always gone together like coffee and cigarettes, a timeless partnership unshaken by fads and generational divides. From the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival through to Buzzcut and the Highland Games, there genuinely is something for absolutely anyone with even an ounce of cultural inclination in their bones.
A big part of Scotland’s culture has always rested in its music scene. Every Scottish millennial remembers at least one year where they donned their Hunter wellies, denim short shorts and comically oversized travelling rucksack (82% of which was filled with Tennent’s, might I add) and made the short trip to either T in the Park or RockNess for a weekend of vomiting outside tents and staying up well past their bedtime. This debauchery was a rite of passage, where would our adolescence have been without it?
In 2013 RockNess, the cool kid’s equivalent of T in the Park, closed its doors due to competition from events such as the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. It was replaced in 2015 by Groove Loch Ness, headlined by Groove Armada with just one stage, a pleasant one day ‘back-to-basics’ concept which realistically could never serve as a replacement for Scotland’s festival treasure that was RockNess. Although T in the Park is still ‘going strong’, there is definitely an argument to be had over whether or not the festival may have run its course.
The festival has always attracted a young crowd and almost every year there are reports of deaths. This year was no exception, with the death of a 29 year old father and two 17 year olds, all linked to the consumption of drugs. Now the festival will be required to attain a new licence from Perth and Kinross Council if it wishes to continue at Strathallan Castle next year, no mean feat for a festival which over recent years has earned itself quite the negative reputation, following 17 deaths at the festival in 2013 which were all linked to the distribution of fake ecstasy pills, calling the diligence of the festival’s organisers in to question. Although Scotland has many excellent smaller festivals, from Eden to Belladrum, it seems apparent to me that we are desperately in need of a new Marky Mark to our Funky Bunch.
Cue Electric Fields festival. Established in 2014 with a line-up composed of every up-and-coming Scottish act imaginable, from Fatherson to Miaoux Miaoux to Prides, and a little stage for all of your musical inclinations, the festival was embraced in a massive cultural bear-hug from critics nation-wide. Now entering its third year, Electric Fields has evolved well past what could had been expected of it. Although a lot has stayed the same; the location is still the ever picturesque Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway and the stages are still limited to four varying in size and musical vibe; it will now be playing host to such household names as Primal Scream and The Twilight Sad (big up the Scottish talent yo!).
On top of massive musical growth, the festival has also expanded its previously criticised food and drink facilities, incorporating its own Real Ale Festival – music to anyone’s blooming ears – and upping its food vendors from a pitiful three in 2014 to a magnificent 11 in 2016. Following criticism in 2014 that the festival didn’t quite cater for families or children, organisers have made a conscious effort to better this, with dedicated family camping areas and a notoriously compact site area, meaning no more leaving your tent 47 minutes before your favourite act starts their set. Even for those amongst us without little rugrats to escort to music festivals, you have to appreciate a festival which hears critics and responds accordingly.
Electric Fields is growing at an alarming rate, and yet it still maintains the homespun, grass roots USP that made it a hit back in 2014. It’s not easy for festivals to remain true to their humble beginnings and still move with the times, but here is proof that it is possible. Electric Fields has well and truly established itself as one to watch, and could mark the beginning of a new era for Scottish music festivals; an era in which millennials and families can come together to enjoy an eclectic mix of local and big name acts in a safe environment where organisers champion growth and humility.
Electric Fields will be held at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway on Friday 26th & Saturday 27th August 2016.