Red and blue lights filtered through a darkened atmosphere at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh. Post-punk / electronica newcomers, Belako, headlined their first UK gig there on May 11th, bringing their pop inspired beats to Scotland's capital for the first time. We headed down early to catch the main support for the night, Old Town Rituals. The 100 person capacity building was surprisingly packed. However the Scottish quartet proved to be wholeheartedly worth the early start.
Hailing from sparse corners of the Highlands and Islands, Old Town Rituals use their varying musical backgrounds to create a sound that is mostly unheard of in Edinburgh. With brass and screamo outlining their musical history, Old Town Rituals smack of raw attitude, sporting a sound that is refreshing for a partly limp Edinburgh music scene.
It is the melodic climaxes peaking the majority of their songs, that make this unit so unique. Their rhythm section is wonderful, with Jamie Woods and Andrew Black bleeding pure energy. Newcomer Jamie McDonald impresses too. The addition of his guitar and keyboard brings an interesting depth to their already primal energy. This undeniable vigour is amplified via Laurie Wright’s soulful vocal delivery. It is a voice of silky depth, oozing a distinct rawness that is strangely surprising. Opening track, Dirty Old Ground is a band classic and a particular highlight in their set. Familiar faces in the crowd react instantly. It’s an auld rock song with a beautifully ballad-induced chorus. The melodic build of the track is echoed nicely by the addition of keyboard and an effective use of pedals to distort what otherwise could have been quite a generic rock riff. It is a rammy of a track with a vehement verve that will force your hips to roll.
All of their set tracks lie in the same vein. However, each boasts their own element of surprise, surpassing any chance of boredom. Whether it's the smooth rock of 'Untitled New Song' or the exciting mix of genres in 'Gold Digger/Untitled': Old Town Rituals have the crowd wrapped around their little fingers from start to finish. This band exude an undeniable passion in their work and - after playing an impressively refined set - left Sneaky Pete’s shaken to the core.
While Edinburgh-resident indie bands attempt to capture the creative crown with The 1975-esque riffs; Old Town Rituals use their classic rock influences to reclaim the crown from the head of the tyrant. “This is probably the biggest crowd we have ever played” the frontman states. These crowds are only going to continue growing, sir. Keep an eye (and an ear) out for Old Town Rituals. They are intelligent with their sound, they are refined in how they present it and they are definitely on to something truly special.