Abbie and I were delayed in getting through to Dundee for various transportation reasons and had to get the train, meaning that my packhorse abilities were once again required. Even then, though, I forgot stuff. I always forget stuff. Of course, there had been innumerable phone calls between the various members of the collective with all the drama that one would usually expect, and we eventually made it through, albeit later than we should have been. After quickly touching base with everyone, we pikied a lift from Jonny Domino up to our hotel to check-in before heading back. The stage was arriving as we returned and we fired on with getting everything sorted. By around 6pm, the doors were opened and we still hadn't done a proper soundcheck so we opted to keep the "venue" part of Kage closed until around half 6, during which Joey T did double-duty; performing soundcheck and having our only two song band practice before we opened the venue. When we did, a healthy amount of bodies poured upstairs while I nipped down for a cigarette before nipping into the band room to get changed. The rest of the guys jumped on stage and fired up as I slipped into my beautiful tangerine morphsuit. Let me by the first to tell you that it's hotter than the bowels of hell in a morphsuit, and somewhat claustrophobic also. I had written my cheque by this time anyways so it was all hanging out there for everyone to see. In for a paddle, in for a swim as they say. The set went by in a bit of a blur for me and 23 minutes or so later, we were gone.
The rest of my night, after getting dried off and changed, didn't get any less peculiar from then on in. I was running around trying to take care of bands, answer questions and all the things that (I think) I'm supposed to do, as well as trying to watch some bands. It's always bittersweet when you put a bill together that you're proud of and excited about but you don't get much of a chance to stand and watch them. Can't win 'em all I guess. The Day I Snapped were on when I got back upstairs and I think I caught about half of their set. I'm glad I did as I've known of these guys for ages and saw them supporting Against Me! years ago and we've always planned to do something, but nothing has happened until now. They've got a new record out now too. Our adopted wee brothers Maxwell's Dead were up next and were clearly mad stoked to be there. Their enthusiasm is probably the thing I love most about them and they were having a brilliant time. I suspect that Newccy Broon was also a wee bit steaming too.
Watching Mikey Erg! play in Kage was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. I spent most of the set standing at the side with Abbie and Jamie and I just couldn't really get my head around it. Kage was pretty heaving by this point and I started to daydream a little bit during Mikey's set, thinking back to the first BYAF in Mucky's, which started life in my imagination as a Joey T gig then grew arms and legs into being an all dayer. It seems now, four years later, that the head and shoulders of BYAF seem to have come to life also. Just surreal, surreal thoughts going round my head. It was great to see Mikey having such a good time on stage and I loved seeing him as I missed him in Gainesville. It blows my mind that I can think "aw, it's awrite, I can skip them in America 'cos we're putting them on in Dundee" and it actually happens. Moich. I've never had that thought before.
Next up were The Upstarts and it was amazing to see them play together again after so many years away. The Try Hards used to play with them all the time about 6 years ago and it's remarkable to think both how much and how little things have changed since then. I guess you could call it nostalgia, but I tend to shy away from that as much as I can, but it's important to look back at where you've been as sometimes it can show you where you still need to go. It was crazy. The whole evening seemed pretty crazy and surreal to me. The Slow Death were up next and I didn't see that much of their set unfortunately as I was trying to resolve a rather unsavoury situation that had developed. They were awesome what I did see of them though. I'll not go into any details about the beef other than to say that it was regrettable all round and not of my orchestration! Hopefully everyone has calmed down a little now and can reflect and move on. It's never good having the constabulary appear at a punk show, whatever way you splice it.
The Arteries absolutely killed it and showed exactly why they're one of the most highly-regarded punk bands in the country. By this point everyone had consumed the odd Red Stripengoo or two and was feeling pretty upbeat. Baz fired up the Entropy DJ set and I set about trying to enjoy myself. At some point thereafter, Abbie and I jumped in a taxi to take us to our hotel and I never saw my iphone ever again.
Saturday morning and I'm feeling a little rough. I'm also grumpy about my lost phone and have to get to Groucho's to try and play the in-store. We arrived late but thankfully Quinney was holding the fort and Billy Liar was playing. That instantly made me feel a little warmer inside. Andy Chainsaw played then I played a couple of quiet numbers to ease weary heads then was joined by Raphaell Lehmann of The Stay Gones to play "I Won't Forget You", a sad song of mine. That was a nice moment to share with friends in one of my favourite shops in the world.
We then headed to Kage to quickly get everything sorted for Third Floor Incident. As Uniforms were second on, I didn't catch much of TFI but they are solid dudes and a solid band. Our set was next and I think it's safe to say that we were all feeling a little less than our best. Our plan to get passed this seemed to be to play everything so much faster than we usually do. It works for us anyways, it would appear. We always seem to crack ourselves up on stage, just a quick glance or a ridiculous facial expression can have us (well, usually me and Jamie) in hysterics and this set was no exception, especially after Jonny whipped his shirt off. Matt Camino would certainly not approve. After feeling like my head was going to explode for 25 minutes, we came off and I went outside to die for a little bit before getting back on the horse and watching Clocked Out. Clocked Out are fucking amazing and people really need to listen to what this band has to say. Go check them out at http://clockedout.tumblr.com/
Glasgow pop-punk legends Beauty School Dropout were up next and were playing their first Dundee show in well over 10 years. I remember years ago getting my hands on one of Jacko's "Punk In Scotland" compilation CDs and falling in love with this band. I saw them in the old Westie at some point around the turn of the century and have loved them ever since so there was no way I wasn't going to watch their set. Again, perhaps I was flirting with nostalgia but the 18 year old in me would've been mad stoked.
I have to take a moment to say how fucking hard the members of the Make-That-A-Take collective worked all weekend. Everybody got stuck right in and we worked, on the whole, together as a team throughout the weekend and I definitely couldn't have done it without them. I feel there are exciting things afoot for a bunch of cowpunks; sometimes I find it hard to believe that what started as a drunken conversation at a house party gig has grown into what it has done. What that is, I'm not so sure!
Filthpact brought the rukus next and absolutely annihilated the place. Abbie was a little freaked out by Dave rolling his eyes back in his head but I explained that that's just the mind-warping power of blackened crust metal. I think she was a fan. The madness didn't stop there with Sunset Squad and Drive By Audio bringing the brutality. DBA in particular were insane. I think that it was probably also the first instance of planking on top of a human pyramid, although you really can't be sure. I can't over-state how fucking bonkers DBA are. They may not be to everyone's taste although I unashamedly and unapologetically call myself a fan. Sometimes it's healthy just to rock the fuck out.
We were initially going to have a half hour break but that was scrapped as we were beginning to run a little behind time as The Living Daylights got set up. The Daylights are undeniably one of the hardest working punk bands in the UK and it shows in the tightness of their playing and harmonies. Their latest record "What Keeps You Breathing" is one of the best punk records of the year and puts a lot of more popular American punk rock to shame. Sometimes people bitch about their homegrown scenes but just take a look at bands like the Daylights and see what you are missing. They played a blinding set and are some of the nicest "band dudes" I've ever met so, if you haven't done so yet, please check them out and give them your support. You can download their album for sweet fuck all from http://thelivingdaylightsuk.tumblr.com/ although chuck them some pennies and/or buy some merch when you see them live if you dig what they do.
Next up was a triple bill of Scottish hardcore. First up were Grader, arguably Scotland's bleakest hardcore band. While their TDON-influenced sound might not be to everyone's taste, there is absolutely no doubting how much they mean it and they bashed headlong through their set without let-up. There was some a little bit of beef when some folk got a little to into it at the front and some people perhaps let the standards of their behaviour slip a little, but I'm not one to judge on that front. That aside, Grader ripped and showed why they are one of the most intense bands doing the rounds just now. "Intense" is probably a good word to describe Departures too. I love their "When Losing Everything..." record and it's definitely my favourite Scottish hardcore record of the year. It was also years since I've seen them and I was mad stoked on them. Departures have a long historic connection to the Tayside scene and to have them play when they are undoubtedly well on their way to "bigger and better things" was a triumph of both unity and togetherness.
That left the almighty Kaddish to round out the trinity of SHXC and fuck me, did they do so. It's no secret that Kaddish are one of my all-time favourite bands and I just stand like a star-struck fanboy every time I watch them play. I'm more than comfortable with that. Abbie pointed out the similarities between watching Kaddish and the Mogwai show we went to at Perth Theatre earlier this year; people just stand in hushed, jaw-dropped awe.
Antillectual are one of the nicest, most articulate punk bands I've ever met. They built their current UK/EU tour around coming to play BYAF. That is fucking cool. They played an awesome set of intelligent and anthemic Propagandhi-influenced skate-core that definitely won the increasingly noisy and drunken audience over, paving the way for Bangers. I don't think there is a punk rock fan in the country who doesn't love Bangers and, even though they had been hanging around the venue for as long as we had having come up to party the night before, they pulled one of the best sets of the weekend out of the bag. This was the third or fourth time that I've seen them this year so sang along (and aloud) for pretty much the entire set. I also started the stagediving at some point, which no doubt stoked Kenny and Ope. That said, judging by the spectrum between damaged tile work and grins-on-faces, I'd say that they didn't mind too much. That and the fact they punted over 1000 tins of Red Stripe. We should get those guys to sponsor BYAF next year!
Having Leatherface headline the Saturday night of BYAF was a dream come true for me. I've loved Leatherface for years and had never seen them play so to see them do so headlining in Kage was yet another surreal experience. When we had our first BYAF sometime in the late spring/early summer, when we were throwing out ideas of who we wanted to ask to play and I blurted out "fuck it, let's ask Leatherface to do it", I didn't think for a second that it'd actually happen and then, there in that moment, they were onstage. I could have burst out crying, I was that stoked. I got involved in the crowd for some of the set and also watched some of it from the side of the stage with Abbie and the MTAT collective. It was almost something like experiencing a moment of pride, stokedness or accomplishment. Without sounding too dramatic, it's safe to say that, in common parlance, I was fucking stoked. After they finished, packed up and everyone grabbed a beer, it was down to the vans for merch buying, banter and loads of punk rock love. Abbie and I both cut big cuddles from Frankie Stubbs and he told us that he'd had an amazing time. Hopefully we'll have them back up here some day. I'd just like to say to Frankie and Leatherface, thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart.
Day three rolled around and I think it's safe to say that everyone at Fest was beginning to feel the excess of the previous two days. As always, Abbie and I were running a little late and got picked up by Luke. We arrived at Dexter's just as The Barents Sea were getting started. I grabbed a healing pint of Guinness and watched them. It was touch and go for a while as to whether or not The Barents Sea would make it to BYAF but I am so fucking glad that they did and they kicked off the Sunday with one of the best sets I've ever seen them play, despite Grant claiming that they were ropey! My pal Ewan Grant and his Algernon Doll project was up next and was utterly spellbinding. It's difficult music to describe but I'd maybe call it introspective looped acoustic lo-fi alt-folk pop or something along those lines. Words aren't always necessary to describe sounds and I just melted into it. Some of Ewan's banter was fucking exquisite also!
We ran an acoustic stage at BYAF for the first time this year and the first act to grace it was the one and only Andy Chainsaw; a more fitting candidate no-one could have picked. I played at both Andy and Sam's Gainesville and Scotland weddings and to see Andy playing our fest brought a little lump to my throat. We've been through the wars together over the years but I am proud to call Andy my friend and my bro. He was great and cheered me up no end. Punk rock soul warriors The Stay Gones were up next with their bruised blues-influenced punk rock that feels like a warm blanket being thrown over your shoulders. Raph and Michael are two of UK punks unsung heroes that do so much selfless work for the scene that absolutely deserves to be recognised. Those boys and girl sure know their way around a hook too.
Davey Nolan was next up on the acoustic stage and was a revelation. Chris T-T called him "the John Martyn of punk rock" and truer words have never been spoken. I've known Davey for a long, long time and to see him playing "Second Summer of Love" brought the hairs on the back of my neck to attention. I'd call his set "triumphant" and would heartily recommend everyone check him out. Go to http://www.facebook.com/DavidNolanMusic to do so.
Wecamefromwolves were up next. They seem to be a somewhat controversial band within our local music community. I've known all of the guys in the band for years and whatever side of the fence you land on, there's no denying that they believe in what they do. I've spoken to all members of the band personally about the "issues" that seem to exist and I'm not going to get into that stuff here, but they were undeniably tight and rocking. I love that fact that all four members sing, it brings a different flavour to what you may expect from their recorded output. They gave it everything they had, were tight and rocked. Sometimes that's all you need, politics notwithstanding.
Dave Hughes played his 200th show on the acoustic stage next. I've known Dave for a long time also and while we may not always see eye to eye, I've got a great deal of respect for him and he and his wife Lisa-Marie are two of the nicest people you could hope to meet. I am also very jealous that he persued a career and possesses a doctorate in physics, whereas I did not. He played a great set of old and new songs and got everyone on side. It was great to finally have Dave on the BYAF bill after all of these years.
Fat Goth stepped up to replace Pensioner at the last minute and rocked it like the seasoned demons that they. Having collectively played in bands such as Laeto, Pensioner and Spyamp for years, they were always going to be a beast and they did not disappoint with a sound that I could call brutally cynical stoner-punk rock, but I won't. Some may chose to call it "metal in denial". I think it's safe to say that Fat Goth were one of the more pleasant surprises of the weekend and are thoroughly nice chaps to boot. I'm sure we'll be doing more with them in the not-too distant future.
Long-time cowpunk sympathiser/sufferer Kevin Thomson was up next. For those that don't know, Kev is an exceptional singer/songwriter with a style that fits somewhere in between Chuck Ragan/Dallas Green/Dave Hause. He has an emotional and songwriter maturity far beyond his years and he has been with us, drank with us and fought with us since we started the MTAT collective in my dad's spare bedroom all of those years ago. Kev treated us to some older songs, some newer songs and a brand-spanking new one for which he had the lyrics perched atop a barstool. He's heading over to Canada soon so hopefully he packs his trusty acoustic and goes over there to takeover the open mic scene. Maybe he'll hook up with our boy John Lindsay and do some recordings. Kev man, you have far too much talent not to see this through!
If people weren't already in an altered state of mind by this point in time, they certainly were when Esperi took the stage armed with guitar, drums, bass and an array of children's toys and percussive instruments, all played by one man in possession of more creativity than I have ever seen a single person exhibit. One fester turned to me and said "this isn't music, it's magic" and a more apt description I am struggling to find. Chris absolutely blew everybody's minds and looking around the room to see the jaws of punks hanging open in awe of the unfolding musical storytelling happening in front of them was both heartening and highly amusing. Chris is a genius and with any justice will be huge one day. Do yourself a favour and let a little magic into your life, it'll make it just that little more of a happy place to be.
Our boys 15 Minutes were up next playing their first public show since the inaugural BYAF. I say "public" as they treated us to a set of mostly covers at the aforementioned wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Chainsaw. Gain, who had been a paragon of virtue, impeccable host of Leatherface and workhorse all weekend, appeared to go between zero and burst in the space of half an hour and was utterly hilarious as the boys went through their set. Particularly memorable was "Remember"; Barry had given his inspiring call-to-arms of an introduction and was just about to kick in when Gain had a mind blank. We all laughed and hollered at him (with me shouting out the wrong chords!) before they blasted back into it. It may not sound like much written down but it was undoubtedly one of the personal highlights of the whole weekend for me. As I said earlier, we started this whole thing when we were still putting on shows in a flat or a house armed with acoustics and booze. This brought me right back to one of those long nights. We share these moments together and it makes us who we are. They finished up with "Your Still All That Matters To Me", closing with the lines "Be with me, walk with me, stay this young and fucked up with me...forever". I couldn't stay in my seat and jumped up along with Andy Chainsaw to sing the final refrain with them. This was another moment during which I could have quite easily burst into tears. You can find the video here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsEB1wSz5GM
Bonehouse immediately hit the main stage next and showed exactly why they are one of the best Scottish bands to emerge this year. Owen seemed to think that they were stinking but then those boys are always their own worst critics and I certainly enjoyed them. The crowd gathered at the front of the stage seemed to agree with me too. Sean got a lot of stick for his moustache, but the lad needs something to make him appear booze-legal. Dave still needs to sing with the mic closer to his mouth though! If you haven't checked out their demo yet, go to http://www.bonehouseuk.bandcamp.com and do so.
John Harcus was next up on the acoustic stage, a last minute "surprise" addition to the bill allowing him to complete his hat-trick of BYAF sets having played with Joey T and Wecamefromwolves previously. John's songs are somewhat bleak but are beautifully crafted and passionately delivered. He's been playing in bands for as long as I can remember and it heartens me to see him playing by himself. He's made loads of great recordings this year, as he always does, and I think I love his acoustic stuff the most of anything he's ever done.
Our boys Shields Up absolutely destroyed the main stage at Dexter's. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times; Shields are pretty much the finest hardcore punk rock band in the UK. Everything about them is present and correct; they've got the songs, the passion, the drive and they just absolutely destroy it every single time. To know that these guys are my friends brings me immense pride and I can see them going on to bigger things in 2012. They deserve it as much as anyone and have the mentality to deal with anything that the future throws at them. I was down the front screaming along and they even inspired a little bit of Sunday evening chaos as Martin got the stagediving on!
Words almost fail me when talking about ONSIND; the are quite simply one of the most important bands in the DIY punk scene right now, absolutely essential listening. Sometimes making a noise is about more than just volume and as a two-piece acoustic pop-punk band, ONSIND's voice is being heard a lot louder than most others. A simplistic reading of their lyrics would paint them as a pro-feminist and animal rights band, which is undoubtedly true, but there is so much more to them than that. The bleed humanity, fight injustice and are truly revolutionary in a way that so many punk bands aren't. I don't want to descend into some kind of hyperbolic hero-worshipping rant, as that is exactly the kind of thing that ONSIND fight against, but I will say this; very few punk acts can make you look at things from a fresh and challenging perspective quite like ONSIND. If you haven't done so already, I urge you to please check them out. Bandcamp is probably the best place to do so as it has all of their recordings in the one place; http://onsind.bandcamp.com/
I then took to the acoustic stage for my fourth set of the weekend in order to say thank you to everyone for the overwhelming support we had received over the course of the weekend. What transpired was nothing short of overwhelming in itself. I kicked off by playing "Schoolboy Errors" then played "Wasted Getaway", a song that I wrote over ten years ago and barely play these days. I was touched when loads of people remembered it and sang along with me. Then I closed out with "Talk About The Weather" with what seemed like everyone in the place singing along. It absolutely blew my mind. As is customary when I play one of Gain's guitars, I broke a string just before the chorus and had to wing it the rest of the way through the song, eventually just pretty much sacking the guitar all together and singing along with everyone in full voice. It was an absolutely incredible moment, the likes of which are few and far between. You can find a video of the whole beautiful shambles here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo1YRFlLEUw
My boy Billy Liar was up next, playing his last Dundee show of what has been an absolutely incredible year. I haven't seen as much of Billy as I would have liked but that's because he's been pretty much constantly on tour and I'm pretty much constantly busy too; he's been all around Europe and the UK several times and has played massive festivals like Wickerman, Strummerville and Rebellion for the second time. I was outside for the start of his set with Papa Vest and came in to stand with Abbie, have a cuddle and watch Billy's set. I feel very big brotherly towards Billy and it was at this point that I knew my adrenaline from a weekend packed full of it was beginning to wear off. I could have wept there and then. Even though Billy experienced some guitar problems and string breakages (hardly surprising, have you seen how fast that boy plays???), I still thought he played an amazing set. I could tell he was a little disappointed in himself, but there was absolutely no reason to be.
Chris T-T was up next. He's out on tour with Franz Nicolay right now and they are on the road for well over a month. I'd never seen Chris perform before and he claims to have had an off-night, but I certainly enjoyed him. To my mind, he plays a distinctly English type of acoustic folk that may not have resonated too strongly with a crowd of weary punks who've been fed a steady weekend diet of brutal hardcore and punk rock, but I think he transcended these divides and won the crowd over. He definitely provided one of the more surreal moments of what had already been an incredibly surreal weekend by ditching his guitar on stage, hopping off it and walking around the venue quietly singing a traditional English folk song. It may not have been what we were expecting, but it was certainly striking. I was having camera issues during Chris's set and didn't catch the whole thing, but I definitely feel that he made an impression and gained some new followers.
Then it was Franz Nicolay to bring the curtain down on what was undoubtedly one of the busiest and most manic weekends of my entire live, Gainesville Fest included. In Gainesville we were just a bunch of roaster Scottish punks abroad to play a show and have a good time, whereas at BYAF we were the engineers of the festival. I'm not comparing BYAF to Fest, but there are commonalities between the two and, as such, my respect for Var, Tony and everyone at No Idea has absolutely skyrocketed. We only had 3 days and one venue a day to worry about, let alone multiple venues. To the people that have asked if we'd try and do something similar, I say this; one step at a time!
Franz had come up to Dundee the day before to watch Leatherface and seeing him meet Frankie Stubbs for the first time would have brought a tear to a glass eye. It'd be remiss of me to go into greater detail, but believe me when I say that both were very happy to make each other's acquaintance. Franz is a natural born performer and I could easily have watched and listened to him play all night. I knew that we were running past our self-imposed curfew but by this point we really weren't concerned. To say that it was a pleasure and a privilege to host Franz and watch his performance would be a considerable understatement and there are no words that could truly do justice to how I felt when standing with Abbie and Jamie watching the end of his set. Come the final chord, my mind was blown. I thanked Franz and we shared a massive cuddle and complimentary congratulations before I went and spoke to the remaining Festers to thank them for coming and supporting what was a massively big deal to our collective. Then Abbie and I went back to our hotel and couldn't sleep. Four days later and I still can't fully articulate my feelings about it.
None of this would have been possible without the help and support of so many people. The Make-That-A-Take collective; Jamie, Jonny, Gain, Barry, Quinney; Abbie, Bonnie, Joanne, Gemma, Pamela, Eilidh; Kenny Gray, Dave Crowe and all the staff at Kage, Brian Fury and the staff at Upstarts Music Studios; Dexter's Bar and staff; Dave and all the sound engineers across the weekend; all of the incredible bands for giving up their time and making space in their schedules to come and support Safe-Tay and our cause; everyone who brought food to feed the bands, provided places to sleep and shower; Dundee Backpackers Hostel; Papa Vest for all his driving around; everyone who came to BYAF and continue to support our community, everyone who travelled from far and wide and everyone who came and had one of the wildest weekends of their/our lives. There are undoubtedly people that I have forgotten and for that I sincerely apologise. Everything that everyone has done truly means to world to me.
As for monies raised, we don't yet have the exact figure as we still have some monies to collect. However, we will be keeping the Book Yer Ane Fest V - The Comp Parts I/II up for download from the MTAT bandcamp page until the end of the month. Each part only costs a pound and will serve as a poignant reminder of an amazing weekend. Also, any donations made to the MTAT collective through our bandcamp (in exchange for music, obviously!) between now and the end of the year will be donated to Safe-Tay. Please check out their website at http://www.safe-tay.co.uk/
You can keep up to date with all the latest developments from the MTAT collective at http://www.makethatatake.co.uk
You can also check out a shit-tonne of videos from BYAF on Cowpunk TV here; http://www.youtube.com/user/DrDeeker?feature=guide
The MTAT bandcamp page can be found at http://makethatatakerecords.bandcamp.com/
All monies donated between now and the end of the year will go towards Safe-Tay.
Thank you all for everything.