Family members are clearly a prerequisite amongst tonight’s bands, as New York’s Felice Brothers make their long awaited pilgrimage to Aberdeen. Supporting them is local act Best Girl Athlete (aka Katie Buchan), performing alongside her father CS Buchan and pianist Chemical Callum. At just sixteen years old, Katie is at the age where most of her peers would probably rather not be seen in public with their fathers, so it’s a rare and beautiful thing to see this relationship work so well on stage. Her songs, much like herself, are effortlessly charming and drift somewhere between girlhood and womanhood. She sounds a bit like a young Regina Spektor, and is also probably one of the only people in the world who can make a Fila zip-up/Doc Martens combo look pretty darn cool.
During the break the place fills up with a hefty cross section of folk, a testament to the main act’s vast appeal. Middle aged couples mingle amongst hipsters; offshore workers knock back drink alongside musicians. The Felice Brothers (made up of a mixture of actual brothers and pals) take to the stage to howls of joy, opening with a reworked version of the stunning Murder by Mistletoe. It’s a chilly Christmas song of sorts, played on what might be Aberdeen’s hottest night of the year. It doesn’t matter though – the band play an unashamedly refreshing style of Americana, which finds itself right at home in this working class city.
Of course Whisky in my Whisky goes down a treat up these ways, and if the tightly packed audience weren’t up and dancing already, they are now. The band, who cut their teeth playing in the New York Subway, pepper classics from their back catalogue including Take This Bread and Love Me Tenderly alongside tracks from their 2014 release Favorite Waitress. It’s just the right mix of danceable tunes and slightly less cheery numbers, both of which the band easily jump between.
Vocals are shared between band/family members, but the real delight is guitarist Ian Felice, whose beautifully broken and honest voice is a pleasure to behold. One of the many strengths of his tunes is the character-driven storytelling – bruised tales of women, drink and heartache – best heard in Ballad of Lou the Welterweight.
It’s obvious the band are going save Frankie’s Gun for the encore, and when they appear back on stage Greg Farley has swapped his fiddle for the washboard: they’re clearly in business now. The mic is passed amongst band members for a booze-laden finish that would be right at home in the valleys of New York state.