Ah, Jocktoberfest. For those of you who don’t know, Jocktoberfest is a two-day celebration of local beer and great music – or as I see it – an excuse to get pished in the wild. It’s a festival loosely styled on the German tradition of Ocktoberfest (with more hay and less lederhosen) held on an old farm just outside Inverness – the famous Black Isle Brewery itself. Yer man here was foolishly trusted with a pint and a pen, so here lies my review of the whole shindig. Well, the memorable bits of the shindig – I did say there was beer.
Now, full disclosure, I’ve been to Jocktoberfest in previous years. Granted, this was before I realised I could put words in order and publish them on the internet so I could bask in my own literary prowess, but those are stories for another day. I knew it was going to be a weekend full of booze and bands, and I knew I had a tent to kip in, that was all I needed. After a short and swift journey, I arrived at the site, ready to take on the weekend. Well, I would have been, had I realised I was two hours early for the arena opening. “Not to worry, I’ll get my tent up” I thought to myself, “that shouldn’t be too hard.” Fucking BOLLOCKS TO THAT. All the old Gods and the new had decided it was time to blow a bastard of a hoolie and simultaneously pish it down, leaving me scrambling for sheets of ‘waterproof’ fabric and bendy sticks whilst miserably cold and moist. It worked in my favour though, I passed those two hours.
The arena was easy to find as ever – go straight ahead at the Haggis Emporium – not what my hangover would need in the morning, but never mind – and through the gates. After a glorious four minutes in a portaloo I’ll never get back, I wandered over to the Dutch Barn (also known as the main stage) and settled in for an evening of tunes and tribulations.
First up we had Keir Gibson, a delight of a young man. I have various notes comparing him to Ed Sheeran, Connor Oberst, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and a ‘somehow less-depressed’ Passenger. Ultimately, he was good, eh? He looked a bit nervous up there alone, but in fairness he was opening a music festival, I’d have shit myself silly in his position. Playing songs from his new EP, his voice was heavy and emotional whilst his guitar was twangy and melodic. Even this miserable old bastard’s heart was touched by his music – something that hasn’t happened since the Max Headroom incident scared it right out of my chest, taking any semblance of joy with it and leaving behind an empty, gaping void yearning for the mechanical giggling to stop. Ahem. Moving on.
Following my emotional reawakening were local band Table for Four, giving it big licks to the sounds of Britney Spears. I didn’t think metal and 2007’s biggest mistake was a combination that could ever work together, but like sausages and jam, they did (just). Noticing that there were four of them but no table, the band cracked out a rather crude number called “The Blowjob Song”.
At least, I think it was called that. If it wasn’t it should have been. The lyrics were something along the lines of liking a girl but she’s busy “sucking on his dick”. I was left with questions. Was this misogynistic despite a female singer? How would I feel about it if the singer was male? Why aren’t I at the bar? With that, I went to the bar. It was the only logical next step.
Despite my emotional anguish, I did enjoy Table for Four. They were just the right amount of polished and energetic, without being irritating or wanky. Had I taken more notes I’m sure I’d have something more insightful to say here but true to form, I disappoint. Come on, it wouldn’t be a Chips & Gravy special if I said anything useful.
Thankfully, there was some more music to be greedily lapped up by my thirsty ears; a cover band named Guilty Pleasures. The clue is in the name; they performed covers of every cheesy pop song you can think of from the last few decades. Donning stripes and sparkles even I was jealous of, the singer belted out updated versions of old favourites; Michael Jackson, Bananarama and even Lionel Ritchie. I remember thinking initially that Guilty Pleasures would have been more suited to a wedding or pub performance, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The audience were cutting shapes and taking names and the band were clearly having the time of their lives. As someone who contemplates a skinny dip off the Kessock Bridge when cheesy pop surfaces, I did not expect to enjoy this band. I was pleasantly surprised, and that surprised me.
I’d look this smug if I was this good, too.
A couple of pints later and it was time to get in about Tweed – a local Ceilidh band who were noticeably devoid of any tweed attire. Not that this deterred me, I was already keen for a ceilidh, but nothing gets me in the mood like an accordion playing the Tetris song. I couldn’t believe my luck when they belted that one out. “These are my people,” I thought. As I was stumbling through my own drunken version of the Gay Gordons, the band called out the group of wee roasters ruining everyone’s fun in the middle of the crowd. In my experience, audience bad behaviour generally goes unnoticed or unannounced by folks on the stage but not this time. Tweed politely asked them to calm down, stating that they’d “rather have a happy dancefloor than six happy punters”. Nice one. The group of ‘lads lads lads lads’ were told in no uncertain terms to go away, and joy once again descended on the audience. The atmosphere was electric as the band flawlessly performed a Scottish folk version of A Ha’s Take On Me, followed by Runrig’s Loch Lomond. With not a dry eye in the house, the crowd begged for one more tune. The evil stage managers were not originally keen for this, but the audience very much were. After some time of booing and audible disdain, Tweed were granted ‘wan mare choon’ and normal service was resumed. Pints were had, dancing was judged, and it was time for a short and damp trundle off to bed for me.
Don’t let this photo fool you; the drummer was more than just an arm.
You’ll be glad to know I stayed for Saturday too, and I have some more words and that coming for you in the next few days. I know you can barely contain your excitement but do try, there’s only so much wild-eyed adoration I can take.Follow us on social media