First hosted by Sir Walter Scott in 1822 the Peer’s Ball is an iconic event in history. Celebrating the King’s visit to Scotland and the first time that Scotland’s national dress was worn by the public it was possibly one of the first times Scotland was branded and displayed an identity. Fast forward to 2018 and we have The Alternative Peers Ball hosted by legendary BBC Radio Scotland presenter Vic Galloway. The modern spin on an old event is a showcase of Scottish musical and artistic talent. Having debuted last year with headliners Django Django this year saw Kilmarnock’s own Fatherson take the headline slot. Located in two rooms at the incredible Assembly Rooms on George Street the event included hip-hop, pop, alternative and rock music alongside live art from Too Much Fun Club as well as art from the talented Ursula Cheng. The main room also featured incredible lighting design from Projector Club. These incredible visuals added to the exceptional music throughout the night.
First to hit the stage was Zoe Graham a Glasgow born singer songwriter. Tasked with tackling a big stage without her band she set the night off to a flying start. Using her guitar, keyboard and a looper pedal she created beautifully layered songs that captivated the growing audience. Consisting of songs from her debut EP released earlier this year she displayed her poignant lyricism that is well beyond her years. Zoe returns to Edinburgh on the 17th of November for a slot at Bongo Club. If you like stunningly layered instrumentals and flawless vocals then head along. You won’t regret it.
The first act to hit the second stage was Best Girl Athlete; recently shortlisted for the SAY Award with her self-titled album. Having listened to the record and enjoyed it I was disappointed by her live performance. With little stage presence she attempted to engage the audience with some lack lustre participation. Her single In Your Head did however lift spirits and she was met with applause. Perhaps after such recent acclaim I had expected more from the Aberdeen born singer who I felt gave a quite average performance.
Another SAY Award shortlisted as well as SAMA nominated act hit the mainstage in the form of Kobi Onyame. Representing Scottish hip hop both within the context of the event but also internationally he has grown hugely in reputation with his latest album release ‘Gold’. Born in Ghana, raised in Norwich and London and based in Glasgow Kobi combines influences from Fela Kuti to American boom bap sound to create music that contains incredible beats, catchy hooks with considered and emotional lyricism. Kobi’s performance was one that elevated the atmosphere to party mode. Songs such as Wedadi and Democrazy had the crowd dancing and singing along. With plans to tour the UK extensively next year be sure to catch a live show that guarantees fun, emotion and dancing.
Having released their incredible third album ‘Could it be different?’ earlier this year The Spook School have gone from strength to strength. With two SXSW performances and a KEXP live session under their belt they brought their famous energy to a classy room with not only one but two chandeliers. Their post punk sound that deals with topics such as sexuality and identity is as infectious and the incredible that is their drummer Niall’s performance. Once again a SAY Award shortlisted act the band have established themselves as one of Scotland’s best exports. Memorable moments include their shameless promotion of Linda McCartney’s vegetarian sausages and an unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to get the guys from Projector Club to use the sleep visual of a DVD player as part of their work stating that they want the floating DVD symbol to knock against the walls of the room. A treat for the ears, eyes and funny bone.
Headlining the second stage were the up and coming group Bossy Love. Featured by BBC Introducing they have been busy with recent releases such Whiplash and No Control. Front woman Amandah is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, with her incredibly energetic stage presence and enchanting voice. The electronic beats provided John and others provided a perfect high energy end to the night for Assembly rooms second stage. Destined for big thing expect to be hearing Bossy Love on all major radio stations soon. You heard it here first.
The penultimate band to grace the main stage were rock band The Xcerts. Having played across the UK and Europe the band are clean rock favourites. I, however, found their performance to be cringe worthy. Punctuated by cliché moments the performance was once again a let-down considering my expectations. Undoubtedly, the band have established a sound and a fan base but I feel they lack any form of innovation and originality. Their performance seems to portray an ego beyond their ability which is disappointing to see. I expect to continue moderately enjoying their studio releases while disliking their stage presence and atmosphere.
Finishing the night off were headliners, Fatherson. Fresh from their sell out show of the Barrowlands the previous night, Alt Peers Ball was the end of their current tour stint. Having released their third album in September the band will be touring extensively in the New Year and most likely continue throughout next summer’s festival season. A band that has gone from strength to strength since their debut album ‘I am an Island’ in 2014 their performance has grown equally in scale. Lead singer, Ross Leighton provides unfaltering vocals while extreme levels of energy are supplied by bassist Marc Strain and drummer Greg Walkinshaw. Their latest album ‘Sum of all your Parts’ has been featured heavily on mainstream radio culminating in a Maida Vale live session with Annie Mac earlier this week. Fatherson are on a trajectory towards massive success and I always expect bigger and better things. A perfect end to an incredible event which I hope returns in years to come. Although not sold out this event is an incredible showcase of home grown talent in an amazing venue. I would recommend anyone interested in good music attends. It not only provides something for everyone but a relaxed atmosphere in incredible surroundings.