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via Hidden Door Blog

For the music lovers of Edinburgh, it can be frustrating to find out that the live music scene is dying. Some of Edinburgh’s most creative and bravest minds are coming together to put an end to the malaise. The Hidden Door festival is a brilliant concept. In 2017, they took the abandoned Old Leith Theatre and turned it into the main festival venue. This year, right across, they discovered the abandoned Former State Cinema. The festival aims to provide a mainstream platform to audiences who are looking to establish themselves in the music industry. Local artists from Edinburgh are obviously favoured.

The Launch Party, which was hosted at the Liquid Rooms, featured three acts. Four acts were initially intended, but due to the weather conditions, Pronto Mama, weren’t able to come and perform. The show carried on with the other three scheduled performers, Midi Paul, Reverse Engineer and Ela Orleans. Midi Paul was the opener, walking onto the stage with his bass guitar, hooked up to the various gadgets on the DJ table. He started off with a synthy post-disco groove. He simultaneously played the bass, while adding instrumental layers with midi launch pad in front of him. Midi Paul’s artistic diversity was really on display, blending elements of electronic, progressive rock and dub into his set. While the music was mixed well and Paul is obviously talented, the set up limited the experience of the performance a bit. The long table that stretched from one end of the stage to the other felt like a barrier that led to somewhat of a restrained performance. At times, it felt like the audience checked out of the music, focusing more on their conversations than the music.

Reverse engineering was up next, offering a mix of proto-jungle, proto-techno and house. His music emits the nostalgia of a music scene from the 70s or the 80s. The energy slow seeps into the crowd, as people begin to dance. The Reverse Engineer has a very meticulous approach to his sets, incrementally adding a new sound into the fold as the mix goes on. It’s easy to tell that The Reverse Engineer is excited to be here, getting jiggy to his music, behind the table. Again the table, really feels like a barrier to enjoying this launch party more. Scenes for genres such as house and electric usually have a very intimate setting, at the end of the day DJ’s are really just normal people like us. Considering that this is not a big arena, the confrontational nature of the setting is a bit of limitation when it comes to enjoying the concert more.

Ela Orleans is the closer. To see the talented Polish artist, based in Glasgow is an exciting prospect. Orleans joins the stage and begins to set up, asking the audience to quiet down. They oblige. The barrier-like set up of the tables suits her personality best, as you get the sense that she is more of an introverted type who conveys the intimacy of her music through the sounds she uses. Ela Orleans is like a more refined blend of the first two performances at the launch. She provides some very swingy beats, which slowly transform into beautifully harmonized tunes. A lot of personality is felt with the quirky sounds that she adds into each song. Orleans’ vocals give off an eerie-sort of vibe, they seem to have an important role in the overall experience of her music. At times the music can get irritating as it’s impossible to really hear Orleans’ vocals properly. While you get a basic sense of the pitch and the tone, it feels like you’re not truly experiencing true extent of Orleans’ talent.

The Hidden Door Festival is obviously a huge deal. It should be a mandatory event for every resident in Edinburgh, if such a law existed. While you get a bit of a taste of what to expect through the visuals and the musical performances, the launch wasn’t without its dull moments. It’s perfectly fine for music to be a conversational lubricant, but at times it felt like people were more interested in their conversations than the music. That might speak to the people in attendance or the fact that there weren’t any performers who could really get the crowd up and dancing. After all, the launch is for a festival, the performers are obviously talented, but it was hard to truly get a festive sense from the event.