As Ross Clarke, lead singer of headliners Three Blind Wolves, howled out the line “everything has changed” during encore closer ‘Sex is for Losers’ in Venue 2 last night, it was hard not to think he was really on to something. The crowd, (typically) reserved at first and unwilling to be coaxed forward en masse, had certainly come alive through the night; Clarke was singing these words off-stage looking on, as dozens of dancing, sweaty fans stormed the stage.
This was a gig unlike any other seen in St Andrews for a while, livelier even than some of the top sets at the Eye O’ The Dug festival in April; noisier than Venue 2 can probably handle, and with more dancing than a couple of student journalists could manage. Music is Love’s first event of the semester brought energy to the mid-week Freshers lull, and electricity to a growing list of successful, exciting gigs. For a few hours, thankfully, it felt like live music in St Andrews and the Union had changed.
Working with promoters Instinctive Raccoon, MiL had secured two bright talents from Glasgow’s thriving indie-folk scene, though to pigeon-hole either Washington Irving or Three Blind Wolves as such would be a misrepresentation. The former took to the stage a little after 9pm to a few woops but more than a little trepidation from a still sitting crowd; what followed was a surprisingly raucous set from a band whose sound seems to be adding a heavier element without losing the sharp harmonies and lyricism which made debut EP Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home a folky charmer.
The band played a number of new tracks in this vein, and one instrumental which lead singer Joe Black explained was rooted in heartbreak brought an edgier, aggressive tone to the set. Perhaps their best known track, ‘Sisi’, allowed the audience to find their voice, and even started a few people jiving at the front. It was a strong set well received by an increasingly at-ease crowd; the only real disappointment being that the band had forgotten to bring some CDs to sell afterwards.
Three Blind Wolves, milling around the bar all evening and in the front row watching Washington Irving, seemed eager to get going. Not waiting for an introduction, they segued straight from tune-up to funky opener ‘Black Bowl Park’, and unleashed their energy immediately. They too squeezed in some new tracks from their upcoming debut album, but they were at their fun, fantastic best while playing through their first EP, The Sound of the Storm. Clarke fronts a band of eclectic tastes, ranging from bluesy guitar work to thundering drum-beats, while his own vocals will suddenly soar, even in to falsetto. Dancing erupted through ‘Echo on the Night-Train’ and when they reached ‘Hotel’ at the end of their set, the room was bouncing; the band’s energy and playfulness engendering the same on the floor.
As the roaring cheers and claps gave way to an inevitable and well-earned round of ‘one-more-tune’, there was palpable excitement, quite incredible to behold in a cramped and sweaty Venue 2. Taking to the stage again, Clarke voiced what the crowd was thinking: this had been fantastic; and he wanted to come back. Music is Love has made the perfect announcement of their intentions for the year, and are following this up with more collaboration later in the month, as record label Matchless Minds bring The Man Whom and others to the Barron Theatre. This night should convince any doubters or freshers that they are the heart of live music in St Andrews.