An Ayr Rise Festival 2018 Review…

words fae liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s not often mentioned but the state of music festivals in Scotland is rather depressing. Sure, TRNSMT is doing awfully gid for something that just began last year but when you look at some of the countries heavy hitters, you’ll come to the startling realisation that the days of Rockness and Wickerman Festival are far behind us with most being sadly cancelled. Hell, even TRNSMT itself is the continuation of an annual festival that sadly dipped in quality before reaching its anti-climatic end.

That being said, we’re beginning to see a rise (no pun intended) in smaller festivals that relish in giving smaller acts a chance to show off and bring their sound to an audience that may have previously passed them by. It makes total sense considering that the likes of Tenement Trail use established venues in order to host the acts, meaning the razzle-dazzle of your usual festival is left to the wayside in order for the music to be the real selling point and with tons on offer, and plenty to drink, it’s an ideal situation.

Ayr Rise definitely seems keen on bringing this to an area that, while rife with talent, often doesn’t generate a blip on the musical radar due to its location. Taking place in local nightclub Furys, a venue which is often the go-to for local gigs, it was an event that was not only important for those involved but one that would ultimately serve as a determining factor for whether or not something of this magnitude could work.

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Things were off to a promising start with Molly Eliza taking to the stage. While she may have been filling in the slot left vacant by Atlas Run, it ultimately gave Ayr Rise some variety which benefited it greatly: she may reference the likes of Nina Nesbitt as an influence but you wouldn’t be mistaken for noticing hints of Sophie Allison or even a vocal resemblance to pop heavy hitter Lorde. Her music wasn’t only just pleasant to listen to but also offered some interesting insight lyrically, meaning she could end up joining the ranks of Young Fathers in politically aware Scottish music. Some songs may have been screaming for some backup, specifically some drums, but the minimal performance from Molly left a good taste in the mouth – keep this one on your radar.

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Keeping the momentum going were Ayr-based rock outfit Anna Conda and right off the bat, we were hit with remnants of what could easily be mistaken as demos from the fictional Scott Pilgrim band Sex Bob Omb (a high bit of praise fae us). As the act continued on, the band’s influences became increasingly obvious (someone or all involved in the act definitely has a soft spot for The White Stripes as shown by their Fell In Love With A Girl cover) but it by no means detracted from the enjoyment Anna Conda provided: infectious harmonies rolling over some octane performing culminated in what was easily a hugely entertaining set from the boys who we’re sure we’ll see more of in the future.

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A band still very much in their infancy, only emerging at the tail end of 2017, Honours. were up next. In terms of stage presence, it was a little lacking (which may be totally down to either nerves or the sheer variety of chords that they’ve bolstered in promotion) but there was definite moments that showed they’ve got the foundations laid to make some really interesting alt-rock.

27545489_381304295674464_7592854196806952831_n.jpgThere would be no prizes for guessing what acts have paved the way for the sound ZANG are going for but oh lordy, did they put on a show. Frontman Bunny Wood channelled that rock and roll frontman attitude both in his vocals, that were reminiscent of another funky, bluesy rock and roller Robert Plant, and the mannerisms he showed off on stage. The argument could be made that the band weren’t quite as varied as we would have liked them to be but for what they’re going for, and for how they managed to keep our attention, ZANG did exactly what they needed to do and then some.

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Positioning themselves as an alt-rock riff machine, Zola didn’t disappoint with a rip-roaring good rock time. While the audience at Rise were rather timid (myself included), this didn’t stop the band from interacting with the crowd and trying to get everyone right into the gigging spirit. There were a fair few moments where I found myself reminded of Queens of the Stone Age, a comparison I may throw around a bit frequently but the layered performances and the synergy between and the vocals means I feel justified in that bit of acclaim. Showing off their latest single to finish things off, Zola are certainly going places and we’re looking forward to seeing how they evolve.

21949833_822681854604537_7924578189341822206_o.jpgOur last act of the night (family ting), The Mawb are an act we’ve discussed a fair bit over the past year and a bit but for good reasons. Front-man Ewan McCulloch was the head honcho of tonight’s operation so the fact he had the energy to balance both organisation and performing all on the same day has to be commended. On the related note of said performance, The Mawb were the best they have been yet and hit me with that familiar feeling of pride, not only for the fact they’re an Ayrshire based act doing it proud but for constantly shifting their sound.

Everyone in the act was on phenomenal form, Callum McIlwaine being the devilish chap on guitar we’re all used to and incorporated a wireless device so he could prance about the club while playing, picking up a pint in the process. The aforementioned Ewan continues to impress with those pipes of his and bassist Harry Mawb still radiates that effortlessly cool as a cucumber attitude about him without breaking a sweat. Drummer Paul Nally seems to have totally come out of his shell at this point and it definitely added it all, his commentary during the break between each track adding a certain charm to it and by the closing track, he was clobbering away at his set with the energy of a man who had just went through a botched exorcism. To put it simply, it was a bloody great end to our night.

So Ayr Rise was an overall success, showing that a local festival can definitely work when the right management and acts are brought in. If there’s any feedback we could give, it would be that next year’s event (which we hope is on the cards) tries to shake up the genres on offer: every festival has their strong point but we’d love to see some more bands that don’t fit into the alt-rock mould. From an optimistic perspective, money permitting, it would be exciting to see Ayr Rise branch out amongst some other venues in the town: West of the Moon may no longer be with us but places such as Soundmagic would serve as a nice alternative stage and Big Sparra Vinyl potentially acting as an acoustic one for some stripped back sessions. Of course, this is pure speculation but Ayr Rise, much like the acts playing it, is brimming with potential and we’re crossing our fingers that we get to see it return in 2019 and beyond.

The Best Gigs of 2017

It’s finally here: no, not Christmas, list season BAYBEE! A culmination of all the good, and bad, that the year has had to offer, we’re kicking things off with some positive content about the live shows that the team loved every second of.

Before we get into each team member’s choice, let’s have a glance at some of the honourable mentions that deserve a shoutout…

The Vegan Leather @ TRNSMT

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At a festival with some of the biggest names in music, it goes to show how utterly impressive this Paisley art-rock outfit were at the debut entry of TRNSMT. “Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem” is the only way we managed to describe their sound yet that still doesn’t do The Vegan Leather justice: if you’re lucky enough to have New Years free from work then be sure to boogie on down to see this foursome kill it at King Tuts.

FULL REVIEW HERE

SWAY @ Tenement Trail

Photo Courtesy of Cameron Brisbane | Twitter | Facebook
Photo Courtesy of Cameron Brisbane | Site |Facebook | Twitter

If our accolade of “Best Band At Tenement Trail 2017“, a prestigious award depending on who you ask, wasn’t enough to do SWAY‘s performance at Nice N Sleazy justice then let this be your final telling off. Presenting a beautiful blend of indie rock finesse with shoegaze and pop influences, the Paisley act put on an amazing show featuring great tunes, inflatable footballs and a bloody nose (#PrayForDanDrennan).

FULL REVIEW HERE

Wolf Alice @ Barrowlands

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Photo courtesy of Jose Ramon Caamaño | Facebook | Flickr |

Hot off the back of providing one of the best sophomore releases of the decade, lovely London lot Wolf Alice treated their Glasgow fans to not one but two shows at the iconic Barrowlands venue. Playing a healthy dose of the old and the new, along with some golden oldies like Blush, the indie rock outfit show that they deserve every morsel of hype they’ve accumulated over the past few years.

And now, onto the team’s top picks…

Isabella McHardy (@isabellamchardy)Strange Bones @ TRNSMT

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I hadn’t heard of them before but a friend suggested we go see Strange Bones – it was by far my favourite performance of the festival and ultimately the entire year. They played the tiny Jack Daniel’s Jack Rocks tent on the Sunday and it was perfect. They played with such an infectious energy, I couldn’t stop smiling the whole set.

The entire tent was jumping up and down and yelling even if they didn’t know the words. They were probably one of the heaviest bands at the festival but they still managed to pull in such an enthusiastic crowd. The band were crowd surfing and running into the audience throughout the show but no one got tired of it. It was the first gig I had been to in a while where I felt completely ecstatic. After their set, I couldn’t wait to get home so I could go through their discography.

Disappointingly, their EP’s don’t live up to how they perform live, but I would still go see them again just for the atmosphere and the ‘Theresa is a Terrorist’ t-shirts.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Callum Thornhill (@calthornhill) – Sorority Noise, Turnover & Citizen @ Camden Underworld

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They say good things come in threes. Wise men. Amigos. So on and so forth. For this ridiculously intimate show; it was American emo icons that arrived as a magnificent trio. Heading to Camden’s Underworld via stunning performances at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival came Citizen and Turnover; ‘supported’ by Sorority Noise.

What made this an incredible line-up was the enthusiasm shared by bands towards other bands, fans to bands and even bands to fans. Splitting the set times evenly, no band took the limelight, however, Sorority Noise were first up to get things going. With third LP, You’re Not as _____ as You Think released earlier this year, it was the first time many fans had heard tracks such as Car and No Halo; Cameron Boucher even recited Manchester Orchestra’s I Can Feel a Hot One ahead of No Halo. These new, heartfelt ballads combined with golden older tracks, e.g Nolsey and Using, made Sorority Noise the perfect opener.

Turnover were next up and thankfully, and I am sure fellow fans will agree, they decided to play a set full of classics rather than cramming their set full of Good Nature tracks. Peripheral Vision dominated the setlist with the crowd singing along to everything from Cutting My Fingers Off to the iconic Dizzy on the Comedown. A mellow atmosphere greeted the Virginia outfit, who took it in their stride to engage in a chilled out yet passionate vibe.

‘Headlining’ for the evening were Ohio/Michigan alt-rockers Citizen. Brutally belting out The Summer instantly showed what was about to unfold. The highlight of the set was How Does it Feel? purely because the dark, moody atmosphere perfectly complemented the pitch black surrounding of the Underworld. Giving Yellow Love and Cement air-time before The Night I Drove Alone closed their slot, Citizen gave a stunning performance to cap off an amazing night of bands from across the pond.

To conclude, good things do come in threes, and this line-up does nothing but emphasise that fact.

Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow

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In a year where I finally saw some of my all-time favourite bands (Radiohead, The Libertines) as well as seeing some old friends again (Wolf Alice, Basement), every gig stuck out in my mind but none more so than the Gorillaz‘s massive show at the Hydro.

Having been desperate to see them for years, it was such a joy to hear some of my favourite songs sung back by thousands of people in unison. Damon Albarn was in top form, a massive smile barely leaving his face except when he was stood at the edge of the stage trying to look menacing during Clint Eastwood. It’s commendable a man of his talent and success is still so humbled by fans singing his lyrics and his constant gratitude to his many guests and backing band members made for a wholesome sight. 

Speaking of his guests, they only added to the spectacle, from De La Soul to the show-stealing Vince Staples, each guest injected even more energy to the atmosphere and by midway through the set, the entire crowd was bouncing,

A truly mesmerising gig that had me smiling for the rest of the night after, Damon Albarn and his friends deserve the crown of best live show of the year.

Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182) – Childish Gambino @ Radio City Music Hall

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Photo Courtesy of Bradley Robinson

Seeing Childish Gambino co-headline an event at Radio City Music Hall with Dave Chappelle was truly something special but after his announcement earlier this summer that he would be retiring after his next album, it truly made the concert something to be cherished forever.

Being a massive Donald Glover fan, I had never seen him perform live as Childish Gambino except for a small radio show festival performance where he only did his biggest hits before exiting. Gambino at Radio City Music Hall exceeded my expectations from the multi-talented performer. He performed the majority of his new album Awaken My Love with the help of a full band, backup singers, and an incredible display of lights and visuals.

Hearing AML live without the vocal effects made for an entirely new experience of the album. The album sounded fresher, more exciting and more fun live. Gambino’s performance was incredible, filled with passionate shrieks reminiscent of Prince in his prime. He showcased his dancing skills throughout the set and was all over the stage, even moonwalking at one point.

Gambino’s decision to perform most of AML with exception to 3005, Sweatpants and Sober really showed how much Gambino has matured in recent memory and how he is beginning to grow out of most of his discography. This could be a partial reason for his decision to retire the Childish Gambino moniker and will almost surely affect his future touring schedule. One thing is for sure, if Gambino stops by your area, be sure not to miss out.

Andrew Barr (@weeandreww) – Frank Ocean @ Parklife

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Photos Courtesy of Parklife

Here lies the critical irony; my favourite show of the year, Frank Ocean’s surreal headline slot at Parklife festival could scarcely be considered a performance, serving as more of a glimpse into the elusive star’s psyche.

When Ocean stuttered onto the stage 40 minutes late and restarted opener Solo 3 times, it looked like his long-awaited live return could end in spectacular failure, however, Ocean managed to claw it back in a way only he could. His confidence and stage presence grew throughout the set dominated by Blonde and Endless material, and by the time he walked offstage during the Korean verse on the alt version of closer Nikes, it was clear; this wasn’t a show for everyone, but one that the many diehard Ocean fans will never forget.

Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr) – Run The Jewels & Danny Brown @ O2 Academy

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Photo Courtesy of Ryan Johnston | Facebook | Site

 

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that this gig was a highly anticipated one for myself: Run The Jewels and Danny Brown are both Album Of The Year winners, in our 2014 and 2016 lists respectively, so the prospect of seeing both acts in the one night was too good to pass up.

It was no disappointment (I mean, it’s on this list, isn’t it?) as the Detroit king of rap Danny got things underway, storming through his impressive discography with some running man dancing and what can only be described as an intimate strip show for the thousands in attendance. Tracks from his magnum opus Atrocity Exhibition got just the reaction he must have expected, provoking a wave of moshing and rapping from the enthusiastic crowd.

Not to be outdone, RTJ made their way to the stage (albeit a bit late) and from start to finish, they undoubtedly affirmed why they were a force to be reckoned with. Not only that but there was a great deal of duality on show: Killer Mike is an absolute monster when he’s on the mic but the amount of compassion and love shown between songs, from a speech about mental health to a big fuck you to groping at gigs, the man is like Sully if he had an abundance of sick bars. Don’t worry El, I haven’t forgotten about you; RTJ is a two man show after all and if it weren’t for the bounciness, crassness and sheer bragadociousness of El-P then it just wouldn’t be the same.

Danny even showed up for his verse on Hey Kids, wearing only his underwear as the O2 Academy witnessed not only Mike giving the audience a glimpse of his ass, but two of the best acts on the fucking planet: and the crowd goes…

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow

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Photos Courtesy of Getty Images

 

While I was ever so slightly underwhelmed by Damon Albarn and his band of merry primates’ latest effort Humanz (DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE GORILLAZ?) I still jumped at the chance to see them live at The Hydro when the gig was announced earlier and the year. And I’ll tell you something, I’m bloody glad I did.

Gorillaz live are a different beast entirely from Gorillaz on record. There’s something of a more immediate urgency about them in a live setting, particularly in the vocals of head gorilla Damon “I Love Witches” Albarn. I’ve never seen Blur live in person, but I’ve seen my fair share of their sets from the comfort of my own computer chair and Albarn seems to turn everything up to 11 when he’s performing under the Gorillaz banner. Gone is the subdued, mild-mannered, middle-class Englishman that belts out Tender with a quiet confidence, instead he’s replaced by a grown man doing his best impression of an actual Gorilla. To put it bluntly, when Damon Albarn is in Gorillaz mode, he is a fucking nutter. He jumps around the stage with a reckless abandon, screaming in innocent concert goers in the front row like a man possessed by a pure primal force. It’s a joy to watch.

As are the rest of his band, I was blown away by how flipping CHUNKY everything sounded in a live setting. The bass was lovely and sludgy, both drummers played flawlessly and the keys were whimsical one moment and downright demonic the next. Then came the guests: Bootie Brown, Zebra Katz, Vince Staples, DE LA BLOODY SOUL were all there in the flesh and it was chuffing magnificent.

I’d wanted to see Gorillaz in some capacity for over a decade, and holy fuck me did they deliver. This ranks as not only one of my gigs of the year but genuinely one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. So thank you, Damon and company, you bunch of fucking lunatics. We wouldn’t have you any other way.

Rory McArthur (@rorymeep) – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Albert Hall, Manchester

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If you know me, this choice won’t come as a surprise; I may or may not have a little bit of a thing for this band. This was my fourth time seeing King Gizzard, but this was the first time it properly hit me how unfathomably incredible they are live. From the tried and trusted old favourites to the, at that point in the year at least, new microtonal tracks, everything went down an absolute storm with a suitably energetic crowd. The electricity inside the Albert Hall that evening was honestly breathtaking. I don’t think there’s another rock band in the world right now that can put on a show quite like Gizz. If they’d have decided to play all night long, I wouldn’t have minded one bit. 

Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon) – Protomartyr & Oh Boland @ CCA, Glasgow

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Protomartyr’s third visit to Glasgow in as many years takes place at Sauchiehall Street’s pre-eminent creative hub, the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Incidentally, this occasion marks their first time playing above ground in the city; apt, considering their meteoric rise from the underground to the forefront of contemporary post-punk, a sort of symbolism that isn’t lost on despair extraordinaire Joe Casey.

Joking that it’s a sign they’re finally moving up in the world, his self-depreciating humour is disingenuous to their cerebral yet deeply enjoyable brand of music. Turning up on stage without further ado, the band launch straight into lead single My Children. Casey’s appearance, grey-suited and formal, carries as little extravagance as his vocal delivery: barking and authoritative, the right level of Angry Da but never unintentionally bombastic. 

Audience interaction is sporadic and generally kept to a minimum, save for a few amusing exchanges; however,  such was the level of quality and electrifying atmosphere that the crowd quickly began dancing of their own volition. In contrast to the chaos of Casey’s performance, Greg Ahee’s guitar work is a controlled explosion of riffs and inventive, often unexpected chord changes complemented by a captivating dynamic between himself, bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard, whose stellar percussion work underpins every track, relentlessly propelling forward. While leaning fairly heavily on their latest material, Protomartyr nevertheless treated veteran fans to plenty of classics including two tracks from their oft-overlooked debut. 

Support act Oh Boland, covering the spot regrettably vacated by Sauna Youth, proved a worthy opener, commendably navigating one or two technical glitches to produce exactly the kind of high-octane introduction needed to prepare everyone for what lay ahead.

Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc) – The LaFontaines & The Dykeenies @ Barrowlands

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Having a gig at The Barrowlands is a massive achievement for any band. Tonight, The LaFontaines were ready to unleash their chaotic, charisma filled live show to the sold-out Glasgow crowd. The buzz in the buildup to the performance was surreal, with fans everywhere eager to see the fonts once again.

The band tasked with getting the crowd ready? The recently reformed The Dykeenies. The band played a good 50 odd minute set, with highlights being Waiting for Go and Sounds Of The City. The fans were ready and The Dykeenies job was done with success and the fonts took to the stage.

Opening up with Slow Elvis and going straight into Junior Dragon, the atmosphere was something else. The bands unique sound works beautifully live and the feeling in the crowd was magical. New songs Common Problem and Hang Fire went down great with the crowd, proving the band are not just a one album wonder and that their second full length is doing wonders.

If anything, this gig proved that The LaFontaines are going to get even bigger than what they already are. If they keep up the work rate and live shows they have going, it’s a bright future for the band that are already seen as Scottish heavyweights.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Tilly O’Connor (@tilly_oconnor) – Gorillaz @ Hydro, Glasgow

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Photo Courtesy of Aidan | Source

With the Autumnal gig season drawing do a close, I saw Gorillaz at the Hydro in Glasgow. As someone who normally consumes live music in dive bars, the stadium’s sheer size was daunting, even if it’s sticky floor felt like home. The crowd was full of groups of families with grownup-kids near my age. My parents got me into Gorillaz young and I credit them with playing a part in shaping my current tastes in music, visual arts and even politics. The group has always been all-encompassing, and their 29th November gig was no different.

The band rattled the room with M1 A1. This was followed by Albarn, mic in hand, asking the 13,000 strong crowd if we were the last living souls. These songs from the band’s earlier work set the tone for the rest of the show, as it would feature hits peppered with memorable album tracks. A high point for me was Dirty Harry. The live performers were accompanied by a disjointed choir of cartoon South Park-esque kids singing the chilling chorus to the delight and discomfort of all watching. The band’s alter egos played a huge part in the engulfing feeling of the show. Carrying out heists and racing games, 2-D, Murdoch, Noodle and Russell Hobs reached deeper into our collective consciousness, pulling out gleefull pockets of nostalgia, providing the perfect backdrop for the night’s music.

Along with visuals, the main band were accompanied by a vast amount of guest performers, most notably the hip-hop trio De La Soul who feature on one of the bands most famous songs – Feel Good Inc.

Hong Kong was the first encore song, and it provided the most haunting musical moment of the night. The song which plays heavily on imagery surrounding neon lights and electricity was spontaneously met with thousands upon thousands of glowing phone lights, bringing the previously black room to an eery yellow which shined down Damon Albarn’s face. Singing to us, an army of smartphone welding fans, with a wry smile “All the people in a dream, Wait for the machine” he brought the night towards its end. This scene felt stunningly fitting for a band who have continuously captured the zeitgeist. From their self-titled debut in 2001 to this year’s Humanz, the group have always painted a vivid picture of the world in the 21st century.

Will Sexton (@willshesleeps) – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ O2 Academy, Bristol

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Photos Courtesy of Ashlea Bea | Twitter

Now I know what you might be thinking, “ooh pick the latest gig you went too” but people who are thinking that obviously have never seen Frank Carter live. The stage presence of this man is electric all in itself and arriving on stage with an absolute roar of noise and appreciation is so magical every single time. Frank has had a bit of a tough year but you wouldn’t have ever guessed, coming back from tonsillitis and taking a small break to help recover from the incredible work he has done over the last three years which was very well respected amongst the fans.

He came back with a total bang and every song from Primary Explosive right to I Hate You were electric. Filled with moshing and inspirational speeches about girls feeling safe at gigs, mental health and just straight up appreciation of us, it was a magical night!

Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo) – The Mountain Goats @ The Art School, Glasgow

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The Mountain Goats were awaited by the crowd with bated breath and I’d be lying if I said I was not amongst their number, in terms of the mob or the state of breath. North Carolina based folk rockers The Mountain Goats – consisting of the ever-present singer-songwriter John Darnielle and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – ascend to the stage accompanied by cries of devotion from the loving Glasgow crowd. Opening with Have to Explode, the cheers and whooping give way to absolute silence. When the song ends so does the hush, the hanging silence expelled with thankful applause.

Honestly, for me the gig was a beautiful exhibition of long-crafted skill and art, showing how well playing to the crowd can be done. The innate crowd interaction from John Darnielle who was loving the little stand-up bits, made the night all the more special. If you have not seen The Mountain Goats live, I can recommend nothing more, and if you have never heard them, I would start now; on The Sunset TreeTallahassee, or Beat the Champ.

FULL REVIEW HERE

List Season Continues…

10 WORST SONGS OF 2017 – 11TH DECEMBER

50 BEST TRACKS OF 2017 – 15TH DECEMBER

10 WORST ALBUMS OF 2017 – 18TH DECEMBER 

25 BEST ALBUMS OF 2017 – 22ND DECEMBER

 

Top 6 Acts of TRNSMT

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

Now that the dust has settled, the rain soaked clothes dried and the hangovers somewhat cured, it’s time to have a look at TRNSMT. A festival that seemingly came out of nowhere with the feat of filling in the shoes of T In The Park, the odds seemed against the Glasgow based event yet it managed to leave everyone in attendance more than pleased. Glasgow Green was the perfect location for a festival like this, not too out of the way and full of beautiful scenery – unlike it’s predecessor, stages weren’t miles apart yet the sound was never compromised by the distance.

Were there mistakes? Of course – sound at certain stages seemed to flicker in quality repeatedly, the Saturday was weak with some misplaced acts and things like food and drink were ridiculously priced. Despite that though, the atmosphere was incredible and was worth every penny. Then there’s the acts who made it all worth the sore feet and being hit by multiple cups of questionable fluids: some are big and some may not have been on your radar prior but regardless, these are the artists that don’t so much need your attention but demand it.

6. The Vistas

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A band that we’ve covered extensively since they first came onto the scene with their hot indie rock single Sign LanguageVistas were oddly low on the King Tuts bill considering the success and crowd they have accumulated. Starting off with the aforementioned breakout track, the Edinburgh pop-rock outfit had the crowd chanting and moshing along to their catchy infusion of noughties indie and their own wee touches. Teasing a new track due to drop in August, Vistas made sure not to waste a single second when it came to their set, playing some classic tunes (yes, a band this new have somehow managed to make a classic tune) at breakneck speed.

With the sun shining down, the band were the perfect way to start the day and with the reaction they got from the audience, I won’t be surprised to see this band become a regular sight at festivals all over the UK.

5. The 1975

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If you had asked me a few years back if I would seriously enjoy a 1975 gig then I would have laughed in your face (then swiftly apologised ofc). Now that the actual scenario has occurred, and now that you’ve seen its placement on this list, I have to admit how shocked I was by the sheer quality of this set. A lot of fans, mainly Twin die hards, complained that they were on before Biffy instead of Twin Atlantic though when you put down the facts (The 1975 are a bigger act, more critically acclaimed and put on a real visual spectacle in their shows) then you can’t really complain.

The 1975 for sure justified their position on the line-up, frontman Matty Healy, love him or hate him, showing why so many people tend to call him one of the best showmen around at the moment. From the clunky, oddly nice dancing to how well his vocals translate from LP to the stage, it was an easy to love gig – even if half the crowd in front of you had their phones up. This in addition to the visuals going on stage as well as the chat between the band and the audience, even a wee cringe line about a ‘ballroom dancing pit’, made the whole performance feel so wrong yet so right. The music itself may range from bland to amazing and back again all too frequently but with the show the boys put on, their place on this list is undeniable.

4. Stormzy

If we’re being transparent, we tried our best not to go anywhere near the main stage today: a bunch of samey, indie rock bands that seem to do more harm than good to the genre they claim to care about so much. Stormzy was on our must see list though and boy, he somehow still blew our expectations out of the park.

The energy of a cheetah and with the same instinct, he put on the show of a lifetime and managed to convert the sceptics in the crowd. There was no moment to catch your breath bar Cigarettes and Cush and even then, most of the crowd were singing along in typical festival fashion. Even when he covered Ed Sheeran, something that on paper should have made us wince in pain, the lord of the mic still made a positive mark – it almost begs the question of whether or not Stormzy can do any wrong. As he closes the set with the classic Shut Up, the flood of charisma and gratitude radiating from the man is undeniable. Now that Grime has solidified itself in the public sphere, it’s safe to say that Stormzy will be at the top of his game for the foreseeable future.

3. The Vegan Leather

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Who would have honestly thought that one of the most exciting sets of the entire day would have came from a wee glitzy group from Paisley? Well, those who were aware of The Vegan Leather before today certainly did and even their expectations were blown out of the water. With frontman Gian-Luca walking out in a wee, glimmering disco jacket wielding his guitar and a silver looking (fake) peacock, the feeling of the band’s performance was firmly set.

Tracks like Shake It, while still in their infancy, still got a reaction from the crowd with a lot of people near the front dancing and chanting along: when you have Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem as the closest to a description of your band’s sound, who can really blame them? Out of the lot though, This House gathered the biggest reaction out of the band’s setlist, even literally bringing the audience to their knees just for that eruptious climax of both the song and the band’s set. If The Vegan Leather weren’t on anyone’s radar before this gig, then they for sure as hell are firmly placed at the top now.

2. Biffy Clyro

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor

Did you really not expect to see this band land highly on this list? We could talk all day about the quality of the band’s music, recent LPs compared to the original trilogy and what not, but when it comes to the live shows there’s one thing that everyone can admit – Biffy Clyro try to make every gig their best.

Sunday night was no different and you really couldn’t pick a better band to end your festival with – from the pyros to confetti to fucking fireworks, the band didn’t hold back when it came to the miscellaneous splendour that they have a knack for. Of course,the real attraction is the band themselves and it’s hard to think of a time that Simon Neil acted more giddy: “Thanks for not kicking me out of Scotland for wearing sequinned trousers” the front-man quips at one point, managing to keep that down to earth appeal that you wouldn’t expect from a band who have “achieved so much more than you possibly thought they could”. The setlist was exactly what you expect from a festival but there was some gems here and there: All The Way Down has only been played once since 2014 so it was a total shock to see it played last night and There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake has a similar track record, unsurprisingly making them the highlights of the night.

“This might sound like I’m blowing smoke on your balls, but tonight has been our favourite ever show in Scotland” says Neil towards the end of the set. He may very well be doing so but from last night’s performance, the smiles on their faces and the sweat dripping down, if they’re lying they deserve a bloody Oscar for it.

1. Radiohead

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Here it was, the main event of Friday night. Radiohead‘s reputation precedes them though that changes from person to person: some will naively tell you that they’re a bunch of moaners, others will tell you they’re the best band of all time – funnily enough, both statements aren’t exclusive from the either. As the band began things with a curveball, Let Down starting off the night’s proceedings instead of the tour’s old faithful DayDreaming intro, the way tonight’s performance was gonna go was set.

There were too many highlights to count: Thom Yorke’s infectious da dancing to Myxomatosis had mulitple folk in the audience trying to replicate it, there was the sing-song loveliness of the band’s not so deep cuts like No Surprises and Paranoid Android, beautiful moments where the two infused like during Bodysnatchers that probably had the biggest reaction from the audience even though it’s not one of the best known tracks from the group. Repeatedly thanking the audience throughout the set, Yorke and co’s appreciation for both everyone in attendance and the fans who have got them there was honest and heartwarming.

It seems a bit obvious to have a headliner as one of the top acts of the weekend but if you were there, or caught coverage of TRNSMT, then you know that there really wasn’t anything like this all weekend. “This is what you get, when you mess with us” Yorke sings gracefully on closing track Karma Police: if this is the result then everyone should fuck with Radiohead more often.


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Festival Review: TRNSMT Day 2

Day 2 baby! If we’re being totally transparent, today is by far the weakest of the weekend but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything worth seeing. Let’s have a look and see how Saturday of TRNSMT treats us.

Vistas

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A band that we’ve covered extensively since they first came onto the scene with their hot indie rock single Sign Language, Vistas were oddly low on the King Tuts bill considering the success and crowd they have accumulated. Starting off with the aforementioned breakout track, the Edinburgh pop-rock outfit had the crowd chanting and moshing along to their catchy infusion of noughties indie and their own wee touches. With the sun shining down, the band were the perfect way to start the day and with the reaction they got from the audience, I won’t be surprised to see this band become a regular sight at festivals all over the UK

8/10

Yonaka

Source: Charlotte Maishman

Going on from a band that had been on our radar for a while to one that have only just recently made a blip, Yonaka are a sweet wee alt rock four piece that made a good impression on their King Tuts stage appearance. With front-woman Theresa Jarvis jumping around, dancing and pretty much rapping at one point, there was a fuck ton of Anthony Kiedis charm radiating off the band – an interesting act with a fuck ton of potential. If you didn’t know then you know now.

7.5/10

Stormzy

Source: Ryan Johnston

If we’re being transparent, we tried our best not to go anywhere near the main stage today: a bunch of samey, indie rock bands that seem to do more harm than good to the genre they claim to care about so much. Stormzy was on our must see list though and boy, he somehow still blew our expectations out of the park. The energy of a cheetah and with the same instinct, he put on the show of a lifetime and managed to convert the sceptics in the crowd. There was no moment to catch your breath bar Cigarettes and Cush and even then, most of the crowd were singing along in typical festival fashion. Expect to see him make an appearance on our Best of TRNSMT list.

9/10

The Van T’s

After the classic festival trope of losing and then searching for your friends for nearly an hour, we made our way back over to the King Tut’s stage for what would sadly be the last gig of the day for myself (stupid cold). Thankfully, The Van T’s did enough to leave everything on a high note with their sugary surf-rock/pop musings doing enough to keep the sun out and the good times flowing. While they might not have done enough to change the minds of sceptics, they more than certainly affirmed their reputation in the minds of many as one of the strongest up and coming acts Scotland has to offer.

7.5/10

The LaFontaines

 

With nearly a decade’s worth of experience, the LaFontaines had a setlist to suit most people. Fast, dancy songs like Pon De Fonts and King to slower songs such as castles, the set was sublime start to finish. Showcasing new material, the band are certain to do exceedingly well in the future. – Gregor Farquharson (@Gregoratlantic)

8/10


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FESTIVAL REVIEW: TRNSMT Day 1

By Liam Menzies(@blnkclyr)

It’s finally arrived: after months of waiting and distortion fuelled trailers, TRNSMT has made its debut. Facing the feat of having to fill in the shoes of Scotland’s quintessential festival T In The Park, this weekend will be facing a lot of scrutiny both in its layout in addition to the music.

Friday was very much the “appeal to the auld yins” day though that didn’t mean it was gonna alienate anyone that was young by any means. In fact, it was arguably the strongest day out of the entire weekend and for good reason too: let’s dive in.

The Vegan Leather

19905019_1053017811499277_8538661191816263813_nWho would have honestly thought that one of the most exciting sets of the entire day would have came from a wee glitzy group from Paisley? Well, those who were aware of The Vegan Leather before today certainly did and even their expectations were blown out of the water. With frontman Gian-Luca walking out in a wee, glimmering disco jacket wielding his guitar and a silver looking (fake) peacock, the feeling of the band’s performance was firmly set.

Tracks like Shake It, while still in their infancy, still got a reaction from the crowd with a lot of people near the front dancing and chanting along: when you have Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem as the closest to a description of your band’s sound, who can really blame them? Out of the lot though, This House gathered the biggest reaction out of the band’s setlist, even literally bringing the audience to their knees just for that eruptious climax of both the song and the band’s set. If The Vegan Leather weren’t on anyone’s radar before this gig, then they for sure as hell are firmly placed at the top now.

9/10

Everything Everything


One of the first bands to play the TRNSMT main stage, Everything Everything had a lot of pressure on them to deliver the goods – they brought them first class by art-pop drone, attaching a big hug and some weird line about a fat child in a push chair along with it. The set’s highlights were undoubtedly the moments where the band played anything off Get To Heaven, an album which converted so many and affirmed the love of fans prior: Jonathan Higgs’ vocals are pushed to their very limits and just when you think they’re about to break, they metamorphose into these grandiose displays of sheer beauty. Some new stuff was shown off that’s set to appear on the band’s upcoming LP A Fever Dream on August 18th and from what we saw, we have more than enough reason to get excited with some dance elements surely being implemented into their latest song’s DNA. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until then to get a better feel of where Everything Everything are going but from this set alone, they’re already at the peak of Kilimanjaro in terms of quality.

8.5/10

Rag N’ Bone Man

The man’s voice has a likeable quality to it akin to leather or caramel. Spent most of my time at the main stage melting over it. Matched with a decent set. – Fraser Nunn (@badknitbearD)

7/10

Belle And Sebastian

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It wouldn’t be a Scottish music festival without having, you know, a Scottish band playing on its first day on the main stage. Question is, who on earth do you get to play before fucking Radiohead? The question was answered by a melodic and resounding “us” by Belle and Sebastian, one act that have managed to make it both here and over the pond though it was clear tonight that they haven’t lost their love of both Scotland and their roots.

Their was the back and forth patter between the crowd and frontman Stuart Murdoch who told stories of him walking through Glasgow Green after being at the old 13th Note and getting on the ferry to Dunoon to give some story to the tracks they were about to play. Oh boy, the tracks: not wanting to take from one album too much, Belle and Sebastian gave a diverse setlist with some unappreciated gems as well as some fan favourites, The Boy With The Arab Strap and Stars Of Track and Field getting an overwhelmingly positive reception by the audience. Even those who may have been in the crowd just to get a bit closer to Thom Yorke and co. were surprised by just how good the act were: hell, even fans like ourselves couldn’t believe the showmanship displayed by a band over two decades into their lifespan.

9/10

Radiohead

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Here it was, the main event. Radiohead‘s reputation precedes them though that changes from person to person: some will naively tell you that they’re a bunch of moaners, others will tell you they’re the best band of all time – funnily enough, both statements aren’t exclusive from the either. As the band began things with a curveball, Let Down starting off the night’s proceedings instead of the tour’s old faithful DayDreaming intro, the way tonight’s performance was gonna go was set.

There were too many highlights to count: Thom Yorke’s infectious da dancing to Myxomatosis had mulitple folk in the audience trying to replicate it, there was the sing-song loveliness of the band’s not so deep cuts like No Surprises and Paranoid Android, beautiful moments where the two infused like during Bodysnatchers that probably had the biggest reaction from the audience even though it’s not one of the best known tracks from the group. Repeatedly thanking the audience throughout the set, Yorke and co’s appreciation for both everyone in attendance and the fans who have got them there was honest and heartwarming.

“This is what you get, when you mess with us” Yorke sings gracefully on closing track Karma Police: if this is the result then everyone should fuck with Radiohead more often.

10/10


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TRNSMT Just Announced Their Lineup And The Internet Is Happy

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

 

In stark contrast to the sub-par reception to the Reading and Leeds announcement, the reveal of the very first TRNSMT festival line-up has been received with sheer positivity. With the festival being hyped up as a replacement to T In The Park, more on that later, TRNSMT have one-upped the long lasting Scottish festival with three stellar headliners.

T In The Park’s organisers confirmed in November that the festival would be ‘taking a break’ in 2017 after a series of problems in recent years on site at Strathallan Castle and while TRNSMT is set to fill in the gap, DF Concerts boss Geoff Ellis insisted that TRNSMT should not be viewed as a “replacement” for T. Ellis hopes that eventually TRNSMT could exist side by side with T and make Scotland a real festival force and with the acts announced for the 7th-9th July, there’s a real chance of that happening.

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Friday will be fronted by musical pioneers Radiohead who have long been rumoured to be making an appearance and will not only be doing so but bringing along homegrown critical gems Belle and Sebastian in addition to London Grammar (meh) and Rag N’ Bone Man, packing in more diversity in just one day than R+L managed over two. The following day will see Kasabian, previously announced as a UK festival exclusive for R+L, lead Saturday night’s events with a whole host of acts such as Catfish & The Bottlemen and Circa Waves serving that niche indie rock/mod crowd that T In The Park slowly but surely started to pander to in its final years.

It wouldn’t be a proper Scottish festival without a native headliner and who else but Biffy Clyro would be chosen to take on the challenge having played out a stunning show at Bellahouston Park last summer. Not only that but The 1975 and Twin Atlantic will be preceding the bearded rockers, making sure that festival goers will be getting more bang for their buck considering many would pay upwards of £30 to see each act separately.

Not only will there be heavy-hitters but Glasgow will be staying true to its roots by displaying up and coming acts. “Something that we’re going to be doing at TRNSMT as well is the King Tut’s stage, which is going to be an emerging artists’ stage. To me that’s important because the King Tut’s venue has played an important role in the music scene in Glasgow and in Scotland,” Ellis said.

The reactions have been enthusiastic to say the least, as shown by twitter users here:

https://twitter.com/bbloodorange/status/826527713141858305

 

 

https://twitter.com/ellliot_wood/status/826517969081622528

With many seeing TRNSMT as a must go festival along with Parklife, Glasgow could be well on its way to cementing itself as not only a haven for gigs but festivals as well.


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