Book Yer Ane Fest is a three day DIY punk rock festival that takes place in Dundee every year, put on by the fine folk at Make-That-A-Take Records to raise money and awareness for Safe-Tay. Safe-Tay is a volunteer run water safety and drowning prevention organisation dedicated to promoting water safety. Book Yer Ane is a festival I have been aware of for a few years now and this year, after a little persuasion from Avon, I decided to make the long journey north. To do this I decided that, rather than get a train or fly, I would get the Megabus from London to Dundee, a journey that should take eleven hours. This didn't go so well - after leaving my home in Colchester at 5.30am I eventually arrived in Dundee at 11pm, due to part of the M6 being closed (according to a crazy lady on the bus, this was the bus drivers fault). Because of this massive delay I ended up missing the entire first day of the festival and so I missed seeing Tragical History Tour, Veto, Lachance, Get It Together, The Exhausts, Maxwell's Dead, Uniforms (last ever show), PMX and MakeWar. I can't believe the bus driver closed that road, did he not know the fun I was missing out on?!
After hearing reports and seeing photos of the great times that were had on the first night of the festival, I was up and ready to catch up with the punk rock fun with a hardcore bunch at a place named Cerberus Bar. I squeezed my way into the tiny, packed bar and took a spot near the back for Hardcore Boys - a cover band of the queercore act Limp Wrist. I had never heard of Limp Wrist before so I didn't really have any idea what was happening but I was amused by their cover of the Britney Spears classic Toxic. Next up were a NOFX cover band brilliantly named NAEFX. This already made my mega long journey the day before well worth it. This was a fantastic start to the day, singing along to some of my favourite songs before I'd even had any lunch!
After a little explore of the area I made my way to Buskers, which was being used as the home base for the festival this year. Buskers is a 400+ capacity venue that was converted from a church and it instantly reminded me of Colchester Arts Centre back home. As soon as I walked through the doors, after collecting my wristband for the weekend I knew I was going to enjoy Buskers as a venue - it is a nice square room with a nice sized stage at a decent height. There is also an upstairs area that looks down on the main room so people can look down on the stage without getting squashed or having an obstructed view.
The first band playing the Buskers stage was a young band from Perth called Josef Lawrence and The Hypocrites. This young four-piece are part of a local DIY rock school and put on a really polished and confident performance, even throwing in a cover of the Gnarwolves song Limerence. Following them was a band going by the name of Cold Years, who I really liked. They’re normally a five-piece band but were playing as a four-piece. I was seriously impressed with their soulful punk rock 'n' roll music, that reminded me of early (good) Gaslight Anthem. The frontman’s vocals really stood out to me, keeping my attention for the duration of the set. Cold Years were one of my first finds of the festival.
BYAF also had an acoustic stage downstairs at The Vestry next door to Buskers. The Vestry is a nicely sized bar with plenty of tables to sit at with a small stage in the corner of the room, perfect for the acoustic punk rockers taking to the stage on Saturday. After Cold Years I made my way downstairs to catch the first act, Benny Monteux from Edinburgh. Sadly at that time of the day the crowd was a little small but I really enjoyed his folk tinged pop punk songs.
Welsh three piece Question The Mark were a band I was really looking forward to checking out at Book Yer Ane Fest as they are a band I've been listening to for a number of years but have never had the opportunity to see live. Their gravel-voiced sing-along punk rock always grabs my attention when it comes on my stereo and it really did when I got to hear it played live as well. Despite the frontman being quite unwell they played a great set, including two of my favourite songs - Bottoms Up! and W.t.H.i.H.N?. Excellent, excellent, excellent! Following Question The Mark were Manchester's Dead Neck; a band who seem to forever be on tour. This three-piece specialises in technical hardcore and skate punk music. This was my second time seeing them after catching them at the Manchester Punk Festival back in April and again I was really impressed by them. They were one of a number of bands that proved musicianship is not just three chords as fast as you can and that there is some really complicated stuff happening in the songs. The highlight of the set for me was the track Oriental, I.
After a quick lunch/dinner break I caught the end of Shatterhand’s set upstairs at Buskers. This was my first time listening to the long running Scottish four-piece and I wish that I had heard them sooner. Combining punk and oi with a dose of rock music they play a wonderfully fun style of music. Not taking themselves too seriously on stage, they were adored by the crowd that had gathered to see them and they gained a new fan in me. After this I made my way back to The Vestry to check out Will Wood. Will Wood is an acoustic, folk and punk performer all the way from Auckland in New Zealand and was my number one find of the whole festival. Armed with his self-made brass guitar he blew me away. He was absolutely amazing! How someone can be this talented and so under the radar is beyond me and it’s an absolute shame. His songs were full of stories and anecdotes of life on the road as a travelling musician. I only intended to watch a little of Will Wood's set before Good Grief came on upstairs but I was absolutely captivated by his performance. When I did make my way back upstairs Good Grief had already begun their set. This three-piece indie pop punk band from Liverpool were a complete change of direction from Will Wood - this was a fast paced and energetic set designed to get the crowd dancing.
Broken Stories from Perthshire were the next act in The Vestry. This duo featuring Kevin on vocals and acoustic guitar and Gillian on violin had a decent sized crowd gathered to see them so I struggled to get a decent view but I really enjoyed what I heard; heartfelt acoustic folk punk from a super talented duo. Aberdeen's Cavalcades were on next in Buskers. This young, emo band were incredibly slick on stage and definitely caught your attention. The band’s singer especially stood out, constantly pacing back and forth across the stage whilst portraying a moody persona throughout. After catching up with Avon and being introduced to Pete, the drummer from Rational Anthem, and then Paper Rifles (more on him later) we went to see The Kimberly Steaks. Gosh I've been wanting to see the Glasgow three-piece for a long time. I had to miss their London show earlier this year as I had to go to a wedding (I was only a little bitter about this). Without a doubt it was well worth the wait as from start to finish they were fantastic. Playing fun and fast pop punk, the Dundee crowd lapped it up with even the sound tech guy getting involved and doing the first stage dive/crowd surf of the day. The Kimberly Steaks played a selection of songs from their entire catalogue, highlights for me being the songs from this year's Chemical Imbalance EP, before finishing their set with a Jawbreaker cover.
This year I've had the pleasure of discovering a lot of new acts that I'd never listened to before. Number one of all those acts is without a doubt Paper Rifles. Earlier this year I reviewed both of his EPs, Politics and Songs For Ophelia, both of which are excellent and you must listen to them. Because of this we have exchanged messages and he also did a top ten influences list for me. Finally we got to meet face to face and it turns out he is the nicest man as well as being a really talented songwriter and musician. I made sure I was right at the front for his set, which he opened with a song he dedicated to me. That was super nice of him. I love hearing him through my speakers but live was just something else. Each song was played and sung brilliantly, hearing them live added yet another element to some already fantastic songs. He was clearly having the time of his life playing them as well which is something I always love to see.
After the Paper Rifles set I went back up to Buskers to see The Spook School. I was quite impressed with their set supporting RVIVR in London back in October so was looking forward to seeing them on home soil. The four-piece from Edinburgh have had quite a year after the release of their album Try To Be Helpful, which opened them up to a whole new fan base. The indie/pop punk band clearly have a lot of fun performing together and put out a strong message about breaking down gender roles. The Spook School are one of the most important bands in the scene. Burn Masculinity in particular was a highlight of their set. Next up were what I considered to be the first of three headliners on the night - Rational Anthem all the way from America. This three-piece pop punk band were another big draw for the festival, and I heard from Avon that they are absolute sweethearts as well. They play fast and brash sing-along pop punk music. Before the set I'd bought their discography from Bandcamp and had really been enjoying it. Live however they took it to a new level, really impressing me with the energy they play with. Guitarist and singer Noelle really stood out with some great guitar solos as well as having an excellent voice and a lot of charisma on stage. Avon also tells me that she gives the best hugs!
Up next were, in my opinion, Scotland's best band - the mighty Murderburgers. Fresh from a stint in the States recording a brand new album with Red and Yellow from Masked Intruder followed by a US tour this felt like a bit of a homecoming for Fraser. This time joined by Noelle and Pete from Rational Anthem to complete yet another Murderburgers line up, this was the best I've ever seen them play. They drew the biggest crowd of the night and bodies at the front of the crowd soon began to pile on top of each other as the punks got more and more excited during their set. Plenty of crowd surfing was happening, at times with multiple people being held in the sky. Highlights of the set were the songs All My Best Friends Are Dying and Sorry In Advance as well as a Teenage Bottlerocket cover in tribute to Brandon Carlisle, the drummer of Teenage Bottlerocket who sadly passed away last month. (Editor’s note – Fraser is putting on a tribute and fundraiser in January with Rusty from the Lemonaids, if you can go, you should. Details here)
Last up were Great Cynics, a band that I absolutely love. By the time Giles, Iona and Bob took to the stage the Book Yer Ane Fest party was in full swing and everyone in the room was ready to continue the fun. As I waited for the set to begin I was joined by Jon aka Paper Rifles who said he'd never seen them before; I assured him that they are very good. Great Cynics’ brand of indie punk rock music is infectious and pretty impossible not to have a sing and a dance to and you'll definitely having a big smile on your face for the duration of the set. Giles and Iona were full of smiles and onstage banter throughout, mainly making fun of Giles homemade guitar strap breaking. My throat was becoming very sore with shouting along to songs from all three of Great Cynics albums and I felt this really was the best way to close the day. Midway through the set balloons and some inflatables (including a beach ball and a can of Irn Bru) began to appear and were thrown around the crowd. At one point I was hit in the face with the Irn Bru can before instantly having the beach ball bounce off my head but I'm sure this wasn't a case of discrimination due to my Englishness and merely accidental good fun! This was my fourth time seeing Great Cynics, I always have a fantastic time but this was perhaps the most fun I've had during one of their sets.
The night finished with an after party and an Operation Ivy cover set. This was my first experience of a Book Yer Ane Fest and it was absolutely fantastic, I'd already forgotten about my nightmare journey to Scotland the day before. I went back to my hotel, which was up the steepest hill in history, with a smile on my face looking forward to another day of punk rock.