TOO many music events in recent years have visibly lacked women in their line-ups but Wide Days – the industry conference that took place in Edinburgh last weekend – led by example.
The gauntlet was thrown down by the very first unaccompanied note sung by Be Charlotte at the start of the six-act Scottish showcase on Friday evening. Teenage Dundonian Charlotte Brimner now performs in a trio with live drums and keyboards, and the result is 21st-century pop that’s sensationally fresh. Her tunes are immense, her short raps verbally smart, her stage presence commanding, her shows a spectacle, her vocals richly soulful, with a Scottish accent.
In terms of attention-grabbing performance, Be Charlotte was only outdone by Elle Exxe, whose weird and wonderfully twisted dirty pop goes from Tina Turner through Transvision Vamp to Janelle Monae and beyond. It’s a consciously theatrical, radical makeover from her days releasing material as Linda Harrison, but a sure move in a star-making direction.
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Sandwiched between these two, Best Girl Athlete were bound to come across as more subdued.
Playing as a seven-piece band fronted by Aberdeen teenager Katie Buchan (with dad Charley on lead guitar), there’s a lush quality to their songs, with Leave It All Behind again proving the standout. The pace picked up later as The Van T’s laid down a statement of a set, Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson’s literally twin-vocal harmonies at the forefront of their increasingly tight and confident surf-punk sound.
And did the boys answer back? They certainly did. In the live arena Glasgow four-piece Tongues surpass anything they’ve released on record to date, their sub bass quaking the foundations of the building, their destined-for-greatness electro-pop-like Hot Chip reimagined as a 1970s rock band.
The showcase sessions ended with black metal quartet Scumpulse, a genre wildcard for sure, but one whose music is as technically complex as jazz, with more time-shifting movements than a classical symphony.
Adrenalin shot up the fretboard and out through the roof, rounding out another bold success for Wide Days, the country’s most unconventional convention.