We had wondered in the lead up to the event whether a Stanley Odd gig might have been better in one of the larger tents rather than on the open air main stage. It’s far from unheard of for a main stage gig to be defined mostly by escaping sound and the dwarfing of the act by the sheer size of the stage, but credit to Electric Fields for their sound system and, even more so to Stanley Odd for working the stage and keeping the energy high throughout. They lost nothing to the stage and made it work for them.
The setlist from the hip hop group blended political word play and biting satire with catchy hooks, female vocals, original synth and bass loops that meant you’d have to have been the most stubborn of festival goer to stand yourself still.
We found the energy of the whole group on stage electric and incredibly affable. You could see how much the band were enjoying themselves on stage, none more so than Hook, bounding from one side of the stage to the next with a grin on his face, commanding the audience through vocal callbacks and hand waving along the way. One of the biggest cheers though came when Hook went superspeed on his rap rhymes, which was also probably the only time in the set that we couldn’t quite understand what he was actually saying.
There’s no doubt the Scottish hip hop and rap scene are booming right now. Just to use examples from Electric Fields, Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have grown into regular festival headliners with their experimental blend of widely-acclaimed hip hop and Loki the Scottish Rapper / Darren McGarvey, as well as winning the Orwell Prize for his book Poverty Safari, which was followed by an acclaimed live run at the Edinburgh Fringe, pulled such a crowd at the Neu! Reekie! tent that some people simply weren’t able to get in to see it.
It looks like Scottish hip hop is in a good place right now, and in this showcase from Stanley Odd, you’ve got a performance that proves it’s right at home on a festival main stage too. Stanley Odd and Hook were possibly one of the most comfortable in the open air that we saw all festival - and the audience enjoyed it just as much as the men and women on stage.