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Connect Music Festival 2023: boygenius first Scottish show is a total triumph

todayAugust 28, 2023 7

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Earlier this year during a trip to Nashville I was talked out of buying a pair of cowboy boots.

“You’ll never get away with wearing them back in Scotland,” I was told.

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Phoebe Bridgers, left, Julien Baker, centre, and Lucy Dacus, right. Better known as boygenius

Well. Someone should have let the lasses at Connect know, though admittedly this year’s festival fashion choice probably looked better on them than me. 

Still, I’ll get over it.

Honest. 

Edinburgh’s Connect is often dismissed as a festival for an older crowd, but Sunday headliners boygenius, a US alt-rock supergroup of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, made sure it wasn’t just a day for middle aged white men – which even in 2023 is depressingly common.

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Bridgers is without doubt the big draw, her solo career making waves and appearances with the Killers, Taylor Swift and the National only serving to boost her profile.

And early birds were treated to a brief appearance on the mainstage alongside opening act, US singer songwriter Christian Lee-Hutson, echoing a show in Norway earlier this month. 

The Lightning Seeds, pictured at Glastonbury, provided a rapid run through of their 90s hits

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The Lightning Seeds, pictured at Glastonbury, provided a rapid run through of their 90s hitsCredit: Getty

Like many of us, the Lightning Seeds seem resigned to their best days being behind them, but once the first chords chime they offer a polished run through of their hits – the soundtrack to a thousand football highlights shows. 

Connect is always good for a surprise. The Gardener’s Cottage provides a backdrop for an unexpected acoustic set for Arab Strap who return to help bring things to a thunderous finale much later.

Public Service Broadcasting are a curiosity. A chaotic collage of live band and sampling project that provides a perfect backdrop for a midafternoon livener.

boygenius might have (temporarily) lowered the demographic, but it’s impossible to escape the fact that this is a *bit* more grown up than your average festival. Away from the three musical stages, a special spot for secret sets, and comedy stage, you can find a range of massages, well being exercises, a sauna and even cold water therapy. 

Something for everyone. 

Apparently.

Now in its second year in its current incarnation, the site sits adjacent to Edinburgh Airport’s runway – proving a welcome distraction during some of the more mundane mainstage moments. 

Raye’s set being a notable example. 

The black sheep of Sunday’s line-up sounds like a cabaret Amy Winehouse.

Second hand soul pushing a set packed with lofty ambition but let down by any notable tunes.

Saying that, there’s a sizable crowd who seem to be enjoying it. Although if history has taught us anything, it’s that large crowds perhaps not the barometer of what is acceptable.

A shake-up in the schedule has resulted in boygenius taking to the stage for their first Scottish show as second on the bill but that has done little to put off the crowd.

The set opens with Without You Without Them performed backstage before the trio take to the stage, suited and booted. 

Any misgivings about how the album, which is peppered with melancholy moments of alt folk, would translate in the open air are kicked into the long grass immediately with the gutteral punch of $20 confirming that this is very much not their first rodeo.

There is, for the first few songs, no conversation – instead the band focusing on giving the crowd what they’re here for. For this is little doubt that boygenius are the reason we’re here. 

With just one EP and a one LP to their name, the set serves as a complete run through of their repertoire ranging from the raucous $20 to the sedate, stripped back Ketchum ID.

Ripping through Not Strong Enough it becomes clear boygenius would be comfortable topping any bill, anywhere. 

The band are tight, and it’s clear they’re having fun despite this being the penultimate show of their European tour. As things come to a close Bridgers and Lucy Dacus run along the front row high fiving fans before racing back to the stage and planting a kiss on Julien Baker before the trio collapse in a heap. 

boygenius’ enjoyment is as infectious as their songs. If you’re unfamiliar – now is the time to change that. 

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After such a storming set Loyle Carner’s blissed out hip hop couldn’t really touch the sides.

As for Connect, here’s to next year – as they say, the third time’s a charm.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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