Dead Man Fall review also feat. Secret Animal Garden Party - C. T. Herron

It’s been a pretty disastrous festival season, most Scottish people and festival-goers don’t let a little thing like rain get in their way, but this season has been particularly challenging. An overly-pluvial summer has turned many events into mudbaths, deluvian conditions and poor ticket sales have even cause the cancellation of a few, including Clamjamfry, Y Not, the Argyle Gathering and Bellahouston’s Greenday/Rancid gig to name a few..

Dijancer has a point, maybe the festival gods were not appeased because of the lack of hundreds of people singing along to ‘Equinox’ by the talismanic Girobabies as they have done the past few years, and so they have scorned us with rain and wind. I did get a wee slice of utopia though, when I saw the broken Giros do a set at the Secret Animal Garden Party. A “secret” annual get together of the scene that has been going for four or five years now to celebrate Kyle’s birthday and Tam The Van’s contribution to the local music world.

I stayed up late drinking vodka and when I went to bed at 8am for a “couple of hour’s nap before the Party” I inevitably overslept and managed to arrive at about 3pm instead of 11am. Meaning I missed some performances I really wanted to see like Dopesick Fly, Solar Eye (Stanley Odd) and Dead Man Fall, who were playing a pre-gig acoustic set.

I did however get to see the brilliant Busker Rhymes, the very talented Rebecca’s Ruin, and the amazing Be Charlotte, as well as some acoustic Twistettes from Jo D’Arc. And ultimately, and much to my satisfaction and the satisfaction of many, a Girobabies set from Mark, with Jo (on guitar!) and the Busker Rhyme’s drummer in Gordy’s stead (after Gordy went AWOL). Afterwards there was some freestyle rapping from the likes of Jackal Trades, Rory O’B and Ian Diamond and the ever-ready and consistently pleasing DJing of The Wise Goldfish.

It was a fucking great day, even though I was four hours late and had to leave early, but I packed a lot of fun into those five hours I was there. I was drunk on a litre of vodka and fresh orange and was loathe to leave the Animal Party when the time came, but my despair was sated by the fact that I would be seeing Dead Man Fall at their gig at St.Luke’s where I was scheduled to be, in body, if not in mind…

…After a quick rendition of ‘Bill Hicks Fans’ from Mark we left in a taxi and arrived punk and disorderly at St.Luke’s. An old church renovated into a venue and drinking establishment, meaning tonight it’s where this religious drunk prays, where the church of alcoholics won’t break up the congregation, where we’ll be given air to breathe through carbonation, we’ll be at liquor church genuflecting on barstools, praying that the taps will keep the holy water flowing, key kicks of communions and a long night of confessions, coming home afternoon seems to raise a lot of questions, when you’re a sinner in Saint Luke’s and you’re getting funny looks…


Sorry about that tangent… As you can tell I was pretty drunk by the time Dead Man Fall took to the stage, adding a few pints and shots at the church bar to my skinful of vodka previously consumed. The notes in my notepad blur into a hieroglyphic sprawl and the room spins geocentrically, I slump against the wall and take stock of my physical ability to stand, which isn’t good…

…At times like this I have a strategy, I used it once before at my Raze The Stakes review. I microdose some LSD, just enough to get in tune with my spirit guide, a Navajo Native American who I have nick-named ‘Kemosabe’. Turns out he had attended the Secret Animal Garden Party too, in fact he had been there waaaay before I arrived, just as he had been at the DMF gig way before I arrived, he explained this as he peered at me from his black and white painted face. I just thrust my crumpled notepad at him, asked him to write some words for my review, and slumped further down the wall. The next morning, this is what was written in my notepad by him;

It had been an afternoon of secrets, animals (ok, one animal, but it was a dog on a trampoline!), secret animals, and a garden party up there with one of the best festival days of the summer.

Onward to St Luke’s – previous experiences have proved the bouncers to be rather robust in their attitude to hammered cunts but entry was safely negotiated. I’m partial to venues that used to be churches and with evening sun streaming through the full-height stained glass windows, I could hear James Brown shouting “I feel the jingle jangle of a thousand lost souls”.

I’d mention the support band if I could remember the support band, but I can’t, so apologies to whoever it was. That isn’t a statement of quality – we spent most of the time outside in the adequately-furnished smoking and drinking space. At this point we lost one of our party as a bouncer took umbrage at the herbiness of a certain individual’s cigarette. Thankfully the rest of us managed to escape their clutches and retreated to the relative safety of the venue.

All of a sudden, it’s busy in St Luke’s, not sure if that was a gradual build up or everyone just appeared, all day imbibing had made everything somewhat foggy. Gonzo reporter Chris Herron appears from the fog, the best plan clearly was to continue with the plan, so beverages were swiftly secured. Dead Man Fall had already played in the afternoon, but that was only four of them and this evening with brass and a light show being orchestrated by a certain Mr.W it was a completely different animal from the secret animal we saw earlier.

Big lights, big horns, big percussion. If you haven’t heard DMF, you really need to get on it. Their songs are catchy and driven by strong and clever use of percussion – you’ve got to admire a man playing a drum with a pair of maracas. Being one with a very short attention span, I very often find myself wandering off in the middle of a gig to lessen the blood levels in my alcohol stream or find some other intoxicants to amuse myself, but I found myself captivated and unwilling to miss a moment of what was transpiring. A strong set finishes with in my opinion their best two songs, ‘Calexico’ and ‘Bang Your Drum’. DMF are one of the few bands from Cumbernauld who can say Samuel L Jackson was in a video performing a cover of their song. DMF are deserving of a bigger stage, bigger sound system, bigger crowd… But to be honest if that was the case, I probably wouldn’t have appeared.

Thanks Kemosabe. I gathered my senses enough to catch most of Dead Man Fall’s biggest headline show to date, and I know the vibe was good, the music was tight and the light show was great. DMF have a sort of New Order/Joy Division vibe that I really dig. The guys put the show on themselves, so as independent as they come. I’m sure they were gratified by the turnout as they had this to say;

Thanks to everybody that came out to see us. We had doubts about putting on our own show but we’re glad we did. The support from everybody was a different class!
— Dead Man Fall

And I manage to stand up straight long enough to ask a girl all the way up from Ayrshire to see the show what she thought;

I like the drum and bass sound, [the singer] has a good vocal and they are very tight musically. The sound vibrates through your body and pulls you into it, you get lost in the beat of the drum and the strings of the bass, then the vocals swim around your head like a warm whirlpool, a musical high!
— Anonymous Girl from Ayrshire

Here are some interesting facts about DMF I lifted from Everything Flows, they have a very impressive resume I’m sure you’ll agree:

Formed in 2012 and by 2014 they became the first Scottish unsigned band to achieve No.1 position on the U.S iTunes chart. Due to appear on ‘The Late, Late Show’ in L.A but it fell through due to an unsuccessful U.S Visa application. But they went on to gain global notoriety after their third single ‘Bang Your Drum’ was used on the host’s final show. Which saw a plethora of A-list celebrities including Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew MConaughey and Desmond Tutu lip-syncing the song in an homage to the band’s original video. ‘Bang Your Drum’ went on to no.1 in both the American iTunes Rock Chart and the Amazon Download Chart, as well as reaching no.2 in Canada and number 24 in the UK Rock Chart. DMF have also played live sessions on BBC Radio Scotland and STV, and have sold out King Tut’s and played T in the Park.

Pretty fucking impressive I’m sure you’ll agree, and with new material I’m sure the band will have many more successes to come. They are to me, a heady concoction of indie, celtic, electronica, pop and rock, brilliantly meshed together in an audiosoup of soaring vocals, booming drums and tunes to galvanise even the stalest of crowds. It’s also good to see a homegrown Scottish band breaking the U.S slightly, which happens so rarely. They will hit you with unexpected trumpet solos, and amazing drum combinations, they will effortlessly dice and chop between genres, keeping you on your toes.

Like Kemosabe said, if you haven’t heard Dead Man Fall, you really need to get on it, and with that in mind, keep banging your drum, and I’ll seeya’ in the pogokring!!

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C. T. Herron