A Scottish music gem, The Harbour Arts Centre is a brilliant venue; a small theatre- the HAC (as it’s otherwise known) is an intimate, dark, snug – warm and welcoming on a cold, wet Friday in February. Despite the weather, a full crowd gathered and comfortably seated to watch the Freckfest presented show featuring headliners Glasgow-based Dogtooth and support act, Ayrshire’s The Underscene.
These feisty young Kilmarnock indie-rockers are Lochlan Miller (Rhythm guitar/ lead vocals), Ryan Dixon (lead guitarist), Murray Dixon (bassist/vocals) and Paul Kelly (drums). With a confident lead, The Underscene belted out Oasis/Artic Monkey/ Cat Fish and the Bottlemen-esq influenced mixed set of covers and original tracks….‘Dictate’, ‘The Express’, ‘Conjecture’, but, for me, it was original track ‘Back to the Wall’ that stood out; its fast, punk tempo deserves nothing less than a pit packed full of hardcore sweaty kids- tonight wasn’t that night- but it’s on the cards for The Underscene. With more self-assurance, this band have potential.
Interestingly, the band also decided to include a cover by legendary Kilmarnock heroes, The Cider Spiders- from the album ‘The Manhunt of Archie Thompson’ (2018) the track Russian Roulette. A great cover, well done.
The Underscene are sharp – they look and sound the part- with more experience they will find their own sound and style; hopefully, 2019 will hear more original tracks from The Underscene.
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Their first gig of 2019, yet clocking up well over 300 gigs to date, Dogtooth are, despite their youthful years, practically old-timers in the Scottish music scene. Formed in 2013, when as the story goes, a chance meeting between John Hewitson (lead vocalist and guitarist) and Craig Morrison (bassist) at the Millport Scooter Rally brought two talented music-loving young teenagers together, and later joined by drummer Robert Lang to complete the Dogtooth line-up.
Their determination and experience was on a high note at the HAC; their boldness and confidence strong- Dogtooth have come a long way since forming as 10, 11 and 13 year olds. Although still not old enough to get into over-21 venues, you can clearly see that Dogtooth’s maturity is fast developing.
Roots in Mod, Punk and Brit-Rock/Indie genres, Dogtooth are forming their own unique groove. This band have bags of rhythm, dirty bass lines, grinding guitar hooks and ridiculously catchy melodies. Their 3-piece set up has a great dynamic with Lang banging out loud and fast, whilst slamming out snarling backing vocals- perfectly complimenting Hewitson’s passionate vocals and brooding demeanour, and Morrison’s ‘way too cool for school’ style.
Morrison, dressed monochrome from top to toe- black boots and washed-out black drain pipe jeans- with a black and white striped baggy jumper and long silver chain, oozes classic style. Morrison is captivating with his long, slicked back hair and pensive stare – the boy has a distinctive flare. I caught Morrison relaxing just enough to forget his seriousness and crack a few smiles (I counted at least 4 smiles!). I really liked that- after all, this band are young lads -it would be nice to see them have more fun whilst performing.
Yet, that intensity is exactly what gives Dogtooth their edge; their set covered tracks…‘Rebel’ (2016) – with anthemic vocals “why (won’t you wake up, why won’t you wake up) Why…(won’t you wake up, why won’t you wake up)…Why!..”… cue guitar rip up! I defy you not to sing along to that incredibly catchy chorus …‘You Could Be Mine’ (2017) – brilliant atmospheric backing vocals from drummer Lang….Epic guitar noise in the upbeat ‘Breakthrough’ (2017)……” Oasis influenced track ‘Hey You’ (2018) – strong vocals, bouncy rhythm… Ambitious guitar noise from track ‘Pass Her Bye’ (2018)….. A fantastic set of original tracks from three lads who quite clearly live and breathe rock music.
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