Live at the Witch Trials, The White Hart, Dumfries


(review & pix by MWJ)

A long, long haul uphill to Dumfries, although not a bad as trips to London and indeed nothing in comparison to Psydoll’s trip from Japan for a few dates in such renowned stop as Carlisle, here and Aberdeen.

The rain started hammering down to welcome us on the approach to Dumfries, we lurked in the van for a bit whilst trying to attract the attention of people inside the venue. Psydoll’s rockstar style fashionably late appearance gave us the chance to savour the generous local kebabs, and add them to the national good kebab guide that Steve is composing (contributions welcome).

Quite a smart little upstairs venue, freshly painted purple walls, only Tennants in tap at the bar though, best avoided. Psydoll’s sound check was a bit of an awkward affair, not just the language barrier ("errr, concerning DAT") but also as the girl fronting the band sounded so delicate that you’d wonder that she’d manage to convince anyone to do something, but they got to reasonable satisfaction in the end. There was a slow drift of people in to the venue that continued virtually throughout the night but still didn’t get busy, maybe the weather was too much, maybe the door price.

Anyway, having played to no-one Skinflick can always say they have played to less and so kicked off another mixed up set of industrial mayhem with the usual intensity. There’s still all the numbers from the "two ton loser" CD that seems ages old now but still good, there’s also a fair portion of the upcoming "halo of flies" mini-lp that sound even stronger. Even more of a bonus there’s an airing of a new as yet untitled composition from what’ll probably be a double CD album if/when they can persuade their label to get on with releasing stuff. It starts with a stabbing, tumbling intro, before the electronics and vocals rise to drag it into a rumbling swagger, winding up with a repeated "you’re going down" line that evokes the usual wry melancholy enjoyment.

Psydoll’s intro sounds a bit chaotic with apparently random electronic drumming on top of the thundering techno backing track. It soon settles into a more effective pattern though and there’s much to enjoy. Good variety in the song structures that breaks from the beats and staccato vocal at times to give gentle atmospherics and that fragile voice space. They are striking in their appearance, the sort of manga stylee future look, but also the vocalist is almost theatrical with her gestures as she sings, like she is holding out or offering her message to us, quite hypnotising. The percussionist thumps away dramatically at the back, and the guitarist proves to be quite adept in creating different layers to the songs. Their driving electronics called to mind some of the Digital Hardcore output, like Hanin Elias/Atari Teenage Riot. Impressed also that the "toy" keyboard carried by the vocalist actually adds something unusual but seemingly appropriate. They are well received by all those there, and while their quest to get noticed/signed over here (and a few of their songs definitely merited that) may take them to better places than here, they also seem happy with that.

There’s an excellent atmosphere all round at this venue, good tunes throughout the night from Matt also. Psydoll are wonderfully friendly and are keen to have us stay on with them (although that does give us time to admire/wonder at the girl singer’s filed fangs, but alas it’s the return to Wales. Well, soon anyway as the van is kaput and we rely on other local goodwill and jump-leads to get us our way sometime later.


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