June 3, 2016
Thursday night is TYCI night. It was the first Edinburgh event ever to be hosted by the usually Glasgow-based collective, who were founded by Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry in 2012. The collective champions new work by female musicians and artists, and prioritise creativity and participation – they have an amazing zine, an amazing podcast and run amazing club nights. As a one-time survivor of a lethally sweaty TYCI DJ set, I can only strongly urge you to make a beeline if you spot them behind the decks. Big fans of big beats and even bigger attitudes, their curation for Hidden Door 2016 showed no exceptions.
WOLF is Kim Moore, a Glasgow based musician who transforms the violin into a weapon of ear-drum destruction. Moore takes to the stage without ceremony, but quickly sets about looping strings and vocals into a rolling sea of total noise – it’s challenging, but totally amazing. Sweeping, intense atmospherics fill the length of the Long Room as Moore leaps from pedals to buttons, and back to her violin bow. She plays us a new tune, explaining that she only finished the night before – it’s called Acid Tongues (I think) and it sounds every inch as accomplished, with an eerie, electronic psychedelia.
In contrast to the on-stage drama, out in the courtyard there’s a heated round of keepy-uppys taking place, merrily conducted by a tiny man in a bowler hat. Random punters are persuaded to serenade the game with some spectacularly erratic drumming, and Bowie’s Let’s Dance rounds the whole caper off with style. Bonkers.
Next up on the Long Room’s stage is HQFU. Producer Sarah J Stanley has a shiny string of glowing tubes along the desk, but that’s about the only touch of lightness in this belting set. With dark electronica that roams from techno to house via a relentless rave beat, HQFU lays out the nearest Hidden Door 2016 will likely get to a night of EDM bangers. It might still be warm and sunny outside, but on the dance floor the audience soak up Good Reason as if it were 5am in a Berlin club. Stanley’s voice is gorgeous, too, and provides just enough melancholy lightness to balance out those hefty beats.
After a quick half-time break for a tasty gyoza treat, dance-pop team Nimmo are due on the main stage. The five-piece London/Brighton band don’t waste a single second in charming their crowd, and soon the room’s bouncing in time with their razor sharp drumming and even sharper front-duo of Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett. In between cutting serious shapes, the two harmonise smooth, soulful voices with all the skill of the best clubland classics. After a few tracks of stylish, heartfelt, ‘90s indebted dance, it doesn’t take long for the band to realise that they’ve captured a rapturous audience. Nimmo are the happiest band on the planet, and it’s getting physical. Sarah Nimmo sets up at the front of the stage for Dilute This, and invites the crowd to get down; they need no persuading. Stunned and beaming, she whips up an ecstatic response for UnYoung, before throwing everything at a rendition of new single My Only Friend. Nimmo (the band) hug in celebration of having totally fucking nailed it, and Hidden Door 2016’s obviously fallen head over heels.
Our evening’s headliner Rosie Lowe battles a slightly late-running slot with grace, admitting that she’s holding back on the stage chat in favour of cramming in as many numbers as possible. Her loungey slow jams borrow from soul, pop and r’n’b, and remind us a tiny bit of ‘90s legend Gabrielle – but with added synths, and a definite dose of edge. She floats through tracks from her 2016 album Control with ease; her band is super tight, and her voice is flawless. Who’s That Girl? builds to a quietly dramatic climax, Woman has a confessional warmth and Lowe’s 2015 single Worry Bout Us has suitably slick, nostalgic finger clicks over a taut, garage beat. The show’s in a very different gear to the party-starters which came before it, but Lowe and band take their time, sparkling under rainbow lights. Flying close to the curfew, she bounces back on stage for a loudly requested “one last tune,” and then the Long Room empties onto the cobbles with just enough time for one last pint. Take a bow, TYCI.