Thursday 31 May 2007

The Swedish Polarbears - Nice n Sleazy

There was this girl outside Sleazy's, I think she is my ex-wife's neighbour. Late last night after the Plimptons show I was trying to explain to the ex-wife my fears that maybe going to 14 gigs a month isn't healthy, the sign of a diseased mind.

I could actually see 4 or 5 decent mainsteam acts for the amount I spend on nameless crap local bands, English twee and Swedish Kids with Handbags.

Tonight's mob, The Swedish Polarbears, I might have seen in Liverpool at the IPO Festival if I'd been paying enough attention.

On the right is they have an indie rock android in a red t-shirt on rhythm guitar andd I think they may be a Teenage Fanclub tribute act.

For the fifteen people here tonight I might continue to development my theory about live music. I'm not a music journo, I a chap who goes to too many gigs and they're all so flawed. Tonight and last night oh so empty, Sunday night such poor sound, the noisy blandness of all of Saturday's bands, Friday was the best, but even they were a handful of quality and well-loved bands who'll never bother the pop charts and will be lucky if record sales get into four figures for all the thousands of pounds they've poured into their band over the years.

Everyone who's doing this, the bands on stage and waiting in the wings, the promoters and bookers stood bearded on the door, the venues, the photographers, the fanzine writers, the bloggers, we do it all for so little reward. Heck some of us don't even enjoy it. If this blog gets more than a 100 hits in a day I cream myself. If the band breaks even on hiring the venue, its a success, regardless of the bus fare, van hire or plane ticket.

There's got to be a way to make this better, more rewarding, more lucrative.

On stage the Polarbears sound great, perfect harmonies, soaring lead guitar, crashing drums and cartoon character looks.

But none of it matters.

Ooh, punkiness, they sound like Ash now, or maybe Weezer or Lit, I wish it were fourteen years ago now.

And songs called "Norman Blake" win over the crowd, but for the ten paying punters, kts hardly worth it, the band are great, I sob, but this is so wrong by no fault of their own. Is it my fault for not bringing anyone else along? Robbie got me to come, the Swedish Polarbears had emailed him to come. God knows about the guy from Jeremy Beadle's Big hand sat on his own opposite. But it was down to me to bring someone else, to keep the chain going. I should have pleasd with the ex-wife a bit more.

After they shuffle off stage, me and Robbie head upstairs, I can't face seeing Skeleton Bob again, my heart is so far out of it.


Tuesday 29 May 2007

The Plimptons - QMU

Aw man, we're in the pub down the way from the QMU, after the Plimptons have been thrown out for public nudity.

I was going to start off this review expressing my concerns about how many gigs I go to, maybe too many, but that's going to have to wait until another day.

Before the Plimps went on, some time after the soundcheck, one of the band told me Martin kept getting his cock out, and they hoped he wouldn't do it on stage.

So the place is empty, one of the largest venues of their career, the place is empty except for the other bands and their entourages.

It started so well, huge stage, all the band in their element, then Martin starts taking his shoes off, guitars strap failing as he struggles with the laces. That should have been a clear flag to informed observers.

Sometime during 'Nazi Army' Paul stands atop a speaker stack, waves his arms about in the new-rave style, and leaps off in iconic fashion, returning to his keyboard in time for the Nazi solo.

Martin had shed his trousers and t-shirt leaving just his boxer shorts by the set's halfway point.

And some time before Realm O'Majik he lost his boxers too, concealing his shlong with his guitar. Rowan, our urstwhile drummer, had been summoned to the microphone for an unspecified reason, but took the opportunity to chuck some detritus off stage. It must have been then that the idea hit her, in the pre-amble to Realm, she starts throwing all the clothing she can find off the stage.Plimp Rockin' the QMU 11
Adam had removed some clothes too, slower than Martin, taunting the audience with hoisting and lowering his usual high-mast trousers.

Now, for Realm O'Majik, Adam usually plays guitar and Martin frolicks about in the audience, so now naked, with clothes spread to the winds he alternately uses a beer bottle and microphone to hide his shlong.

Oh the howls of terror from the crowd and the gradual exceptance of the nekkid chap horsing aroundon all fours and eventual embracing of him.

His girlfriend must be so proud.

Early on in the set Paul had been having problems with the sound from his keyboard, the extensive checking of cables and connections had little help, thus freeing him from his shackles to leap around the stage and making some of the songs a little shakey.

So when during Realm O' the microphone cut out, Martin forraged for a different mic to carry on and when that failed, he forraged for another and another.

By the fifth mic fail they knew the venue management had their hand in , this neatly won over the audience in revolt.

Alas, The Mighty Plimps were denied the opportunity to play their usual set closer hoe-down, Banjology.

Martin escorted out by the manager woman, the rest of the band and entourage followed, thus taking half the audience from the other bands.

Sorry, I'm sure your sets were great.




Monday 28 May 2007

Mia Beane and The Asthmatic Scene, Bela - Cottiers

Weather's shite out, the place is packed, its noisy, somewhere at the back some bleached blonde women shreak and cackle to themselves, but at the front, on stage, a lone chap plays semi-acoustic.

Maybe these women have come here for some valid cultural reason, maybe they're sheltering from the rain. So then is it really necessary for them to take photies of each other gurning for the camera? Having the time of their lives perhaps? Apparently so.

The chap on stage, Bela, from Iceland, is rather good, doing that thing with his guitar, playing both low notes and high notes, at the same time. High dynamic range stuff always impresses me, regardless of the media.

In this environment though, I doubt the lyrics matter much. I'm crouched on the corner of the bar, face in a West End Festival brochure, surrounded by faintly familiar looking people, who I'm sure are in bands.

Ah, bands, next up are Mia Beane and the Asthmatic Scene. I recognise the girl, rather wholesome looking, dark eyes, pale skin, dark hair, flowery dress with a large pink bow.

The music sounds a little like the start of Housemartins songs, I'm thinking Happy Hour. Funny that what the Housemartins managed as a four-piece, these guys do with seven folk.

And people in the crowd, dancing, its a good effort, but their pleading with friends to join them distracts from the music.

Alas, also I'm strangely distracted by this really cute girl, looking to burst into a smile, her eyes vanish into wee horizontal lines when her friend says something funny, and she has these little comma shaped dimples. Maybe I could ask her if she likes flying kites or something. Oop, she glances this way. Maybe its best if I just scribble in my notebook instead.

Sunday 27 May 2007

The Owsley Sunshine, The Plimptons, Paisley Riot - The Cavern Bar - International Pop Overthrow

I popped into the Cavern half an hour ago, its free entry to the International Pop Overthrow festival now, back when I first came four years ago it was like a fiver, but now, free, lending it not the air of a ground-breaking cultural gathering, but a cramped pub with live music somewhere near the back.

The weather's great so I wander the streets trying to find Probe Records. Elsewhere the Plimptons and their entourage hurtle towards the city by train.

I'm having a cappucino in noshncoffee, foregoing my usual stack of burgers at BurgerKing and usual attempts to get school friends, now resident in Liverpool, to come out for a drink.

Two or so hours later, back at the Cavern, I've located one Plimpton and half of the Owsley Umbrella are here. Onstage are a mod/Merseybeat/pop band who sadly can now only be reviewed with a view through the stag night folk in red polo shirts who invaded their stage and outnumbered the rest of the crowd. Maybe "Kev's Stag Night" is a secret Scouse code name for the local learning disability centre. Is it really necessary to play air guitar on an inflatible sheep?

On the other stage, in the back room are a nameless band, the singer looks like a young Elvis Costello, Paul Plimpton says they sound a little like SilverSun, but Busted might be closer to the mark.

The crowd begins to thin by the time "The Owsley Sunshine" hit the stage, but McGazz, formerly of My Legendary Girlfriend, has joined us to watch the bands.

There seems to be only two member of The Owsleys here, Nick and Stephan, but they're doing a good approximation of Joe Kane's Mighty 'Sunch.

I'm struck by treasonous thoughts and concerns about the band being so interchanagble. Stipped down at the Cavern today, they sounds good, fewer instruments to get lost in the noise.

The rest of The Plimptons arrive with seconds to spare.

The hit the stage on fire. Perfectly in tune and stuff, and absolutely unbiased, I have to say it was their best ever Liverpool gig. A couple of new songs, starting off with the the album closer, "Impulse Records", arguably their most accessible song, mainly cos it sounds like Pulp.

I think they got the balance right between playing and between song banter, but maybe the commercial break in the middle could have been framed better. They have to sell albums to pay the bus fare, its no cheap.

Very concerned about Paisley Riot who were on next, the sound guy said he was going to turn the guitars down so they didn't drown the vocals and the band say NO.


Noisy and melodic. Some of their tunes rocked generic, but with no hook, nothing to cling onto. Despite the enthusiasm with which they introduce the songs I couldn't find any pulse.

In the back room is some Edinburgh band, possibly called The Snakes, they dressed like late '90s nu-metal, but sounded like I'm guessing Maroon 5 sound like if I'd ever listened to them.

Outside in the street, there's a drunk teenager called Kelly crying, and my BurgerKing has run out of Whoppers, this is how the universe ends.

Back at the batcave, in the other room, Blackout are on stage, they appear to be a trio of eleven or twelve year olds, lack of tits doesn't rule out the possibility that they're all girls. They rock quite a bit. Messy drums, could be a Ramones tribute act with a few modern influences thrown in, like the Pixies maybe.

Crikey, they're from Los Angeles, California, do their parents know where they are?

Ooh, Justin Timberlake is in the audience here. How many EyeSpy points do I get for him?

Hmph, I've lost the Plimptons, they're not quite where I left then sat next to the main stage, but there is a large heap of their detritus, obscene sketches of each other and rejected setlists. All their gear is gone too. They're not in any of the dressing rooms, maybe they followed me outside and are even now lost in this town's maze-like streets.

Frantic minutes pass and I find them onstage in the Cavern Pub on the other side of the street, halfway throughtheir set. This time they're in costume, Martin in girlfriend's dress and wig, Adam drinking spilled beer of the floor.

This time round they're even closer to the audience than they were earlier, and the crowd are terrified. Some people are dancing, and joining in with the choruses of the songs, but all the stops when Martin leaps forward and starts hurtling around on all fours licking people's faces and throwing CDs around.

I think they won over a few people, or at least left people scarred. We sold four CDs, which just about covers my petrol money.

Next on stage at the Cavern Pub were the band me and Paul saw earlier with Kev's Stag night, alas we have to leave. Its a long drive back to Glasgow.

So, over 150 bands playing over seven days, on four different stages, and I missed most of them. It was free though, so hey ho.



Stars Of Aviation, With The Owls, Pocketbooks, Pete Green, Maia Hirasawa - Buffalo Bar

The reason given for me being at this gig tonight is "I was just passing and it looked interesting," followed by "oh, I'm not staying," and if pushed, some quote from xkcd about having adventures for the sake of it rather than same old same old.

Drive 400 miles for some gig, some bands I've never heard of? you bet.

This adventure in London is less alcohol fuelled than the last time and more measured. I'm on my way to Liverpool see, for Saturady night's Plimptons gig, part of the International Pop Overthrow Festival.

And that, your honour, is why I'm standing in a quiet corner of the bar in the Buffalo Bar in Highbury for something to do with Fortuna Pop.

Crikey, as the place fills up there's a chap here who looks just like MJ Hibbett, truly there's no escape from LNFG. Seconds after being spotted he come over and says hello, jolly nice chap. Hmm, more people saying hi, this is awkward, taking about twenty seconds too long to recognise people off of the internet in real life.

First on stage is a troubador called Pete Green, was the guy in Fleetwood Mac also the same name? Its not the same chap. Rather jolly songs, Similar to Hibbett I reckon, but seen through a different looking glass. Songs like "I haven't got a MySpace, cos MySpace fucking sucks" and "Share your kit" about snotty hipster bands with all the gear and no idea. Jolly stuff.

Pocketbooks are on next, oop, the guitarist noodles the lead line from Fleetwood Mac's The Chain, Maybe it was that Pete Green. Please imagine I came up with a snide comment about the band. They were really good, a fourpiece, two keyboards, glokenspiel, guiatar, drums, bass, instrument swapping. Belle and Seb-esque boy/girl harmonies, really tight drumming, almost drum machine-ish. The girl had the neatest bob hair I've seen since Bis.

An acquaintance, Paul points out people in the crowd, someone from the Duloks, Maia from Hello Saferide, various promoters I ought to know and folk from Amelia Fletcher bands, she ought to do something about bank charges.

The first two acts were promoting new singles released on Atomic Beat Records, Paul bought them on seven inch and seemed jolly impressed.

On stage next are a dapper two piece, called The Owls, swapping guitar and bass between each other.

A wee bit dour, and rather jarring dischordant guitar.

When the Pocketbooks were on the crowd seemed restless between songs, but with the owls they did even get that courtesy.

A girl walks by who bares a striking resemblance to Natasha Smith from school, or more honestly, Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction.

So, looking at posters advertising other gigs here... bands I've never heard of sponsored by corporate entities such as Diesel, LaCoste and Cafe2U. Crikey.

Aw man, now there's hundreds of people on stage. The Stars of Aviation, sound like Aberfeldy, all of them seemed to be armed with egg-shakers and I'm convincedt the singing chap is called Eliot, but Paul assures me he simply cannot be, much like the end of American Psycho.

They spent a good ten minutes trying to get the audience to sing along to some song in French, that wasn't singing, that was just a load of drunk peopleshouting.

"A bit too... something" says Paul, maybe too twee indie. Some of the songs were nice and jaunty, but well, others were slow and sleepy and too easy listening.

Oop, as a secret bonus, that Maia girl, from Sweden, is going to play a set with her band and I snap my own photies. I love her dimples and her theatricalness and enthusiasm and the pleading in her voice with these really personal sounding songs about friends and MySpace. And the way she stomps, rocks and reels.

There's to be DJs and music and dancing, so I leave.

An hour later, I feel regret, after the bands I could have chatted merrily from people from way back when, firming up viewer/creator relationships, offering my services as nationwide music distributor and Ivan Lendil Music head honcho. Shit, just engaging would do. Instead I bungled a hug and noddled farewell awkwardly before barging and my way out in terror.

400 miles, I have complete control over my actions, its my feelings that require more work.



Monday 21 May 2007

Ally Kerr, Chris Leonard, Roy Moller, The State Broadcasters - Cottiers

The Cottiers again, for Viva Melodia, Glasgow's premier free Sunday night gig, and on stage starting the evening's procedings are Ally Kerr and Chris Leonard, and they sound great. The crowd seem pretty appreciative too and its early doors.

The weather's fine outside, seems a shame to waste it by only sitting outdoors between bands.

Aw man, this is the fifth time I've been to one of these nights here, well, the fifth review and all this time I've gotten the name wrong, calling it Viva Melodica instead of Viva Melodia. Luckily with the power of the internet I can go back and correct all the typos, no one will ever know.

The first time I saw Roy Moller, at Bar Baccus, I was't so impressed, the folk I'd gone there with had a better idea of who he was than I, which put me off, but tonight at Viva Melodia, maybe I'm just more forgiving of the poor acoustics in the room than usual, but he's actually really good.

Sounds kind of like '50s rock n roll or doo wop, with a country lilt. Some of the songs have really nice grooves. Up on stage we have a bass player with country patches on his shirt, Roy singing with acoustic guitar and harmonica, and a chap sat down at the side playing lead. There's a fourth chap who come up from the audience for every other song to lend backing vocals or melodica.

Headlining tonight are The State Broadcasters, they have cello, harp, keyboard, guitar and a glokenspiel and they sound like some mythril waterfall, maybe a little bit like Aberfeldy but without the cliche. It started out a bit rough though, sound problems with the keyboard, but they rose above it, kind of like a swimmer emerging, I think it was part of the act.

My appreciation of the band is briefly interrupted by the arrival of a former student's union barmaid who I really fancied about five years ago.

and then Grrr, friends of bands who talk loudly during other band's quiet numbers, yes Roy's friends, I mean you.

Other reviews

Friday 18 May 2007

Commander Keen, Dumb Instrument and Mouse Eat Mouse @ The 13th Note, Is This Music? Night

Commander Keen, eh? 4 syllables and a smattering of alliteration. Afraid that's all I can tell you about them though, as I stayed upstairs attempting to formulate a plan for world domination during their set. Sorry!

Really glad I made it down in time to see Dumb Instrument, as they were AMAZING. A stripped-down trio with piano and no drums would not normally be my cup of chai. These guys did not attempt the boring balladry initial impressions might have suggested, instead making an interesting bass-driven jazz noise with some truly beautiful singing from their hirsute frontman. This on its own would have been pretty unusual within the confines of the 13th Note, but their lyrics were absolutely stunning too. Like a more playful and poetic Aidan Moffat, Tom Murray's words seemed to be describing the most tortured depths of his own soul, I noticed him wiping tears away at the end of a few songs. They were given added poignance by the casual sprinkling of Glasgow vernacular to describe the tragedy of roadside flower tributes or the demise of friends...indeed, their album on Hackpen Records is entitled 'Songs Ya Bass', which is neddy shorthand for 'Songs for Illegitimate Children' in case you didn't know.

So aye, Dumb Instrument. Check them out, I'll definitely go and see them next time they come to Glasgow.

That was the surprise of the night; the genius that is Mouse Eat Mouse was already well known in the Smith household, their debut album 'Mair Licht' having been on constant rotation since its release a few months back. For the uninitiated, MEM are that rare thing - a truly original band who make terrific music. I have tried to describe them to folk before and it's pretty difficult. The best thing to do is just go and see them next time they play, I promise you wil not regret it.

As the band take to the stage you can tell right away that they are going to do something a bit different. The lank-haired drummer with specs pushed down to the end of his nose, a flowery Frances de la Tour lookalike on cello, a dapper cravat-wearing saxophonist, the manic hoarse man of the Apocalypse C D shade fronting the outfit, a shy-looking guitarist (when did you last see one of those?) and lynchpin Johnny Mouse on bass stage-right.

MEM overcome the sound problems that dog their first 2 songs to play an absolute stormer. C D's lyrics are auld Scots poetry, tackling fairly Socialist themes with a wry sense of humour which allays any accusations of pompousness. His delivery is awesome, and the band pound away with an energy I have not heard from them before. The new material sounded great too, and I can't wait for their next release. The first time i ever saw Mouse Eat Mouse play was back in 1997 - it is criminal that a band this good are still languishing in relative obscurity while dross like The Fratellis gets so much success. 'Hush Nou' is worth a million la-la-la choruses.

But then who ever said that life was meant to be fair?

As we stumble outside into the rain, I am still buzzing. Both of us feel that we were witness to something special last night. It's nights like these that make living in Glasgow worthwhile. The music is out there - all you have to do it look for it.

Other reviews

Monday 14 May 2007

The Scuffers - Cottiers

I maintain graphs of my car's fuel consumption, and economy, how sometimes, if I drive for long distances at 50mph I can get 70 miles per gallon, if I'm not in a hurry. But if I drive quicker, the fuel efficiency drops, and so it was I'm hurtling along at 80mph in my wee car, getting about 25 miles per gallon, heading to Viva Melodia at the Cottiers to catch the Scuffers.

Alas, I missed Ally Kerr and Simone White who'd come over from the USA, gah, going by her myspace page, sounds like I missed a treat.

So the Scuffers, there's six of them on stage, slide guitar, moandolin, banjo, guitar, bass, drums, singer and singing girl. And its great, this ain't no banjology, this is bluegrass country. With such a rich texture to their sound, lots of different instruments poking through, they're like a breath of fresh air compared to most of the bands I end up going to see.

It kind of takes you some place else, I'm not really one for international travel, but I think I'm in Reno and the Bandit just drove past. Here, have a listen to their myspace page and go catch them at the Classic Grande

Saturday 12 May 2007

Sounds of Sweden, The Meritocracy, The Mexicos - RAFA

Tonight is The Sounds of Sweden 1st Birthday show, featuring The Mexicos and 'special guests', rumoured to be The Suburban Kids with Biblical Names. Dear God, not again. I love them dearly, but three times a week would kill me.

Yes, it really has been a year since Stacy and Richard started this, a whole year since we were crouched in the popular corner of the room watching Elias perform his jolly skiffle cover of Wonderwall, almost preempting it by hollering for a cover. How much has changed since then? My heart's a little blacker. My ebb now fathoms lower. The wounds are a little fresher. Thanks.

The RAFA has been decked out with party balloons, the free CD has four or five sweeties stuffed into it and some folk are wearing party hats. Familiar faces all around, so I'm squeezed into a dark corner to scribble alone. Gosh, there's the Mighty Ob' girls, small nods of recognition, has a been so long since I tried hassling them to do a video webcast thing and failed.

So onstage, the special guests are a motley crew consisting of Ally Cook and SOS Richard from Dot To Dot, that stubbly guy who plays with them sometimes, SOS Stacy and the girl from the bar t'other night. Rumour has it they're called the Merritocracy, but that could have just been a pun name they made up for the Stephen Merrit tribute night the other month, I'll stick with it, that's what they get for not being clear about their name.

They bumble through three Swedish covers:- Jens Lekman, and two other's that I didn't write down, the apologise for the standard, having spent hours and hours rehearsing at the last minute. It was competant and recognisable, and would have gone down okay no matter what they did, it just wasn't very imaginative. I've knocked out a few Swedish covers myself lately, Herman Dune, ABBA, Jens, Cardigans, Roxette, Broder Daniel, Hello Saferide, and I'm not even playing live.

Ally Cook stood centre stage, like a troubador. Is he trying to set himself up as Glasgow's answer to Jens?

They shuffle off, Stacy spins some more tunes, a few people dance, a few more faces turn up and The Mexicos hit the stage.

Did I mention the cake? There are lots of wee cup cakes knocking about, thick with frosting and some with little Swedish flags. And sweets, sweets everywhere.

I'd been listening to The Mexicos on Myspace all day, and their brand of glittery vocoda covers is great, slowed down a pace from iamchemist's version and slightly cheesier. Robbie says a poor man's Superstar, but well, Superstar hardly ever played covers. Playing covers is an art, you gotta have ahook and they chaps have it.

On their blog they have a really neat cover of Sweet Child of Mine, alas they didn't play it tonight, but they did segue B&S's Sleep the Clock Around into one of their tune which was neat.

They were enjoyable, but didn't really get the dancefloor pumping.

Unlike the Plimptons who are playing a free gig at The Box on Sauchiehall Street, perfect pre-Winchester entertainment for all the family.




The Moth and the Mirror, The Sorren Maclean Band, Miyagi, Miss The Occupier, The Cider Spiders, The Cuts - King Tuts

Clair didn't think much of the first band, we only caught the last song, sounded like torturing an exgirlfriend as an opera.

It was only as they finished that I recognised the singer girl, Stacy, as being Willie Campbell's cello player from a few weeks back.

Next band, look like some chaps from McFly with their dad on double bass. The singer chap's playing an acoustic guitar, but its sounds electric, what's the deal with that?

Crikey, its good stuff. Alan says Franz Ferdinand / Four Hero. I would say blistering beats with rather neat 'woo woot' and 'du du duh du' bits.

They kind of slowed a little towards the end, shame really, I liked them. Ooh, it was the guy's dad.

Three of four years ago flatmate Alan took me to see a mate's band, Miyagi and I bumped into a friend from univeristy who I was rather fond of. Alas, she's not here tonight. Miyagi looking rather dapper on stage, suits, shirts with pointy collars and ties.

A bit blues, a bit ska, neat sax, rather jolly harmonies and everyone in the band gets a shot at singing. They all looked like they were rather enjoying themselves.

Miss The Occupier next, familiar faces, Magnus on guitar, looking rather dapper himself, black shirt / suit, Emiliy the strange cravat. Its the first time I've seen this mob.

Somewhere on the continuum of cabaret, art-rock and riot grrl. They stake their territory well. Nice shouty bits from the girl with red hair and a bass guitar, and when she sings, she sings sweetly.

Big clunky and arty.

The penultimate band of the night are The Cider Spiders. One chap in a paper boiler suit, two half naked chaps and a bass player who looks like he's wandered in with the wrong band.

They rock a phat one, gonzo rockabily blues. Mad snake beast dancing and fast shouty howled lyrics.

Looks like they've bused in coach loads of their fans. The inbetween song chant, mid-song cheers and spontaneous synchronised clapping. God knows if it'll win over the judges.

For tonight has been a T-Break heat, after thousands of demos have been whittled down at the Tennents Brewery to forty acts, it comes to this battle of the bands-style affair. Who will the judges pick? and how can they from any kind of diverse field. Will sheer will power from the fans do it? I'll have to check online later.

I'm quite jaundiced by the who thing myself, The Plimptons have failed to get through to the heats for three years now, what kind of travesty of pop picking is that? Like come on. They're playing at The Box on Sauchiehall Street tonight, and this one's free. They're bound to put all the TBreak massive to shame.

The last band of the night, called "The Cuts" started off sounding a little like The Strokes, I left after 30 seconds.

Names of all the folk onstage, as requested, are as follows

The Moth and the Mirror
Stacey Sievwright
Gordon Skene
Kevin McCarvel
Murdo McKenzie
Iain Sandilands
Miss the Occupier
Roz Davies
Magnus Hughson
(and some temporary replacement drummer who's name I missed and can't find any record of)
The Sorren MacLean Band
Sorren MacLean
John Barlow
Gordon Maclean
Ally McNaught
Yoann Buisson
Alex Ross
Euan Bruce
Andy Duncan
Cider Spiders
The Cuts
Neil Walker
Kieran Docherty
James Roberston
David Bonnersize

Other reviews

Thursday 10 May 2007

Frightened Rabbit, Suburban Kids with Biblical Names - Nice n Sleazy

My first dampner of the night was from a queue malfunction at the bar, I was there first, the girl who came to the bar after me was served first. I think I vaguely know her. Still, I only wanted an orange juice, and I'm here for the music, not to start a fight.

First up were Frightened Rabbit from Glasgow, I've seen the name in listings fliers and magaziness. They started off sounding a little uncertain of themselves.

Guitary and a little whiney. The drummer plays harmonica, whilst drumming, which is quite an achievement. Sings harmonies in some of the songs too.

How come they just turned into Simon and Garfunkle? They had two electric guitars, a fancy drummer and no bass guitar, I look down, scribble notes for a few seconds, and suddenly they're on acoustic guitar and bass and sound like The Boxer.

Of my colleagues for the night: Robbie couldn't decide if it was really good or horrible. Caroline grimmaced "kind of shit", Colin thought they were quite good, but annoyed that they played for so long. Its a good point, many of us have other places to go later this evening.

Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol is here, and Billy from Drive Carefully with his attractice female companion, in the distance I think I can spot Stacy from Sounds of Sweden.

I hope SKWBN start with Rent a Wreck.

Alas no. Glasgow is more relaxed than London, only one support act tonight, giving out heros plenty of time on stage.

I'd explained to Billy my theories about the Suburban Kids's formula for beats hooks, grooves and grinding into your head, and even on a second retrospective, it holds out. But tghis time, doesn't grate as much. The sound's better here, clearer and cover's more ground.

They had more success night with the Fender Stratocaster, new from New York, it worked a treat for several songs, before conking out mid song. They handled it well and good-humouredly, we don't care.

Rent a Wreck came about three songs from the end. Kind of an extended version, with band member introductions and Peter guitarist takes to the Rabbits's drumkit for a blistering drum thing. Rather jolly stuff the crowd certainly loved it.

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Whip, Cage The Elephant, Seeing Scarlet, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Water Rats

Nine quid on the door, I thought it was seven
- Its seven in advance,
But I'm pretty early, the first person here
- Not early enough

So what horrendous chain of events leads me to being at The Water Rats, London, paying £9 to see a band who'll be playing Glasgow in two days, for maybe £4?

It long and complicated and there's no one answer. It was the first event listed onLast.Fm, in London that looked any good.

I feel like 12 years ago in Manchester, the Boardwalk, too young, miles away from home. The smell of smoke. The same leather jacket.

I couldn't sleep and I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

Frankly I'm impressed and somewhat puzzled, I haven't slept in 37 hours, usually I fall asleep when driving in the day time, but not today, not even drifting off eyes a flickering. I admit I did start off quite drunk, boozing all day with Robbie and Colin, and then the Hermit Crabs.

Sitting here writing, I'm becoming overcome with the inevitable exhaustion. My legs feel like jelly and I'm thinking though treacle.

If only I'd paid my rent and had my passport with me. I'd be in France by now. Somewhere in the back of my mind was a plan to pick up a car charger for my mobile phone. Instead, its switched off, saving batteries for when I really need it.

There was a crash on the M25, six folk in a bus killed. When I left the flat there were just the initial reports of the horror, the horror, The, the police were speaking to the driver of the lorry that everything crashed into. I wonder what the lastest is now.

Crikey I got to this gig early, its not even half seven.

Wonders who the support bands are. There was a girl with hair and make up who looked musicish, and a gentleman in a hat.

Five paying punters now, two girls look nervous, echos of Manchester '95.

Time passes


Actually, I'm not sure if time is passing at all, there's nothing to show for it.

It is '95

I'm all sticky, sweaty and smelly from hours of sunshine and wandering and driving, and the Redex stuff I put in my car with the petrol, it melts my hands.

These cigarette butts smell unfamiliar, whatever happened to sick slut?

So we're in London's famous King's Cross area. I spent the night in a McDonalds just round the corner from here during my last poorly conceived adventure to London. Their slinging out time is 4am, giving you time to wander to Victoria station to kip on the benches when it opens at 5am.

More punters are turning up at The Water Rats, all of them looking as lost as I. It can't be everyone's first time here, can it?

Its getting dark out, my exhaustion is making me cold, and the disco lights keep making me look up, checking if anyone's walked in. London has a population of 300 million, I'm bound to see more than one person I know.

Deprived of my phone I don't know what time it is.

The place is about to reach its seating limit and its getting too dark to write.

The first band have been asked to the stage.

Slow, sad and methodical, Whip from Portland Oregon. Guitars, casios, glokenspiel and banjos. I was already feeling in the mood for Chris Isaac, so they were like that and if Tom Snowball joined Martin Stephenson and the Daintees.

There are seven people watchingthe band, and fifty folk through at the bar in the other room, yaking loudly, missing out on the music. Philistines!!

I have little but contempt for those punters, for I am a bitter man.

Actually on my way out I noticed they have a camera hooke dup tot he stage and a large video screen so those contemptuous punters could watch away. Still a bunch of cunts.

Next, a bunch of hairy lads of various heights.

Oh why do the hair bear bunch spend so much time dicking about before they begin, could they no have come prepared? Damn you Baden-Powell.

Possibly a Kid Rock tribute act. Neat lead guitar from the hairy guitarist.

Hmm, they smashed up the stage a wee bit, makes me wonder if I got the right venue for the SubUrban Kids. Whoever put the bill together clearly had no idea what any of the bands sound like. Maybe that's the London way of doing these things.

Next up, a bunch of accountants, sings like Placebo. We killed Britpop for a reason.

The again, going by the mongs dancing aling in the audience, we might as well not have bothered.

Bonus points for an alien invasion halfway through, but I'm sure The Plimps or The Loves did it first.

Crikey, there's a gentleman here who looks just like Robbie. He kept on glancing at me at the bar and now he's stood nearby.

So the Suburban Kids turn up, on stage, the crowd is replaced by folk who'd been hiding in fear of the other bands all night and they get off to a great start of gentle bopping. The tall chap plays a mean lute.

Alas, an original '50s Fender Stratocaster they had along didn't work when plugged in, and kind of caught them off guard.

Their songs are great, they get rid of the lyrics at the start, then over-power you with the beat and the melody, grinding the hook into your head, like a crampon when rock climbing.

- They guys are fuckin' ace
- Have you seen them before?
A couple of times
- Are you Swedish?
Nope, I'm Glaswegian.

The problem is, is that just about all their songs follow the same formula, and once they get into the melody grinding, they go on for about two minutes too long. And cos of this, they ran out of time.

No Rent a Wreck, their bestest tune in my opinion. I felt cheated. This song has the formula backwards with the melody and hook at the start and the lyrics in the middle.

Luckily, they're playing again, the next night at White Heat, which you can go to. "I have other commitments" says Jonah, "What? Science class?"



Endrick Brothers, The Hermit Crabs - Cottiers

1 guitar & 2 singers, the guitar was a little quiet, but the "woo, woot" bits were nice.

Apparently Martini is good for attracting fruit flies, and leaving out jars of jam is useful for attracting wasps. I think I may have misheard, but its also good for Paulo Nutini.

Sounded like Teenage Fanclub, but out of tune, kind of weirdly American, Maybe they were Irish.

Like most of the audience, we weren't really listening.

I guess this is like my twenty-sixth Hermit Crabs review, second time here in the Cottiers. Already, for the first song, there are people up dancing at the front. The sound is atrocious, obviously the dancers are plants. The guitar is a wee bit out of tune and bottom heavy, drowning out the texture of everything else.

This time I'm sure its not because of where I'm sitting, the sound is just pants, they've sounded better before, at the Oran Mor and the 13th Note, probly the RAFA too.

It'd be neat if it was a Twin Peaks Angela Badalamenti, dub number, fading in and out of reality, where the vocals are sometimes there and sometimes in the Black Lodge, but here, tonight, it sounds badly mixed.

Sometimes I can hear it, behind what they're actually playing, I can hear the great twee hope, trying to escape, maybe other people can hear it too. That's what the sound is, great unfulfilled potential. There people who clap after each song, they too can hear the hope and pray one day it'll reach the surface.

Whoever these people are, taking photies with their camera phones, they're taking photies of each other taking photies, rather than of the band, some kind of Von Neuman's catastrophe, self-referential thing. Will the photies ever end up onlin, on Flickr, as much as this review will end up online.

Thursday 3 May 2007

Vom, Blue Shift, Tetsuo, Naomi Elizabeth - 13th Note

"Pish," says Alan, "Late startin' pish"

Could they no have tuned their instruments before they hit the stage? Could they no have one it half an hour ago instead of sitting upstairs drinking pints?

Vom on stage, Hank Marvin's grop tightens on the handlebars as his meteorite slowly homes in on the building, "Herman Munster must die!"

"Mince" Alan says "non-rhythmical mince, mutton dressed as shite."

I thought iw was great, some overwealming onslaught of noise.

Next is some intense looking girl with a violin. Now I'm not 100% sure what such things are supposed to sound like, but sawing through a bit of wood springs to mind. Some kind of musical instrument abuse I guess.

She really didn't like her music teacher at school, and still has issues.

"I dunno what it is, but its got a good beat" says Alan, "Do you ever feel like you've aged 40 years?" Luckily she was only on for about five minutes.

We'd been talking about DareDevil comics for twenty minutes before I noticed that Paul the sound guys looks like The Green Arrow.

Tetsuo, ah, nothing beats a guy howling into a microphone, rolling on the floor, doubled over with his arse in the air, whilst over on stage the rest of the band, including another violinist, nervously make noise and look bemused.

Kind of like a TMX Elmo.

They sounded "Like a body hammer" - Alan. Better violin that the first lass, mind.

Naomi, from LA, on tour, on her way to Europe. Squelchy bass backing track turned up loud. When her vocals kick in, I gotta say, my first thought was, is she doing this for a bet?

Three songs in and either standards have slipped in LA or something's been lost in translation. Rather smart sparkly gold doily dress.

Clearly Naomi, on stage, can hear things that no one else can. The wee dances she does are cutesy and the ears poking out her pixie hair thing is funny, but the way she says "Yay" when people are politely clapping after songs, and the mini review introductions to each song "This is a different song", and "This one rock out". Grate.

In a parallel universe she could be a poor shadow of a mid-nineties Bjork. Not here tonight in Glasgow.