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Archive for November, 2002

I’ve just had my faith in unknown bands reaffirmed

Posted: November 27th, 2002, by Chris H

That’s better than what happens most Tuesdays….

I saw, for £3 at West 13th, Scatter a glasgow band who act like a collective and have a toy trumpet, double bass and electric mandolin. They sound like early Velvet Underground in a free jazz mood but not so free and hostile as to be molesting your ears. Atmospheric, moody and not like anything I’ve heard for a while. I’ll be hunting out their next gig and there aren’t many Glasgow bands I’d say that about.

I also saw Vialka (I think it’d be fair to call them Slovenia’s Finest) who I was even more impressed with. Having gone along purely on the basis that if someone’s come from the other side of Europe to play, it’d be rude for me to not wander down the hill to see them, I was pleased to find that they are Very Good Indeed. They look like The White Stripes, one bass one drumkit two uniforms, but they sound a bit like God Is My Co-Pilot, Kenny Process Team, Fighting Red Adair and a (tiny bit like a) minimalist Melt-Banana, i.e. spiky off-kilter indie punk or whatever it’d be called, fast and tight with added showmanship. They present the ‘Tonight We Show You Fuck’ Show with a lounge-y opening tape, amusing banter and a football rattle to help you know when to applaud (this wasn’t necessary as they went down a squall – good crowd tonight too).

They are playing Newcastle (Head of Steam), Leeds and London before going home. You Really Should See Them. [Even if the music wasn’t reason enough (it is), they finish the set in their underwear.]

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Sleazys, Glasgow

Posted: November 24th, 2002, by Marceline Smith

I was enticed out on Friday to see the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster but I was far more interested in the local support bands Torqamada and Fighting Red Adair. Anyway, I got there to find the bar packed with lots of trendy student types which always depresses me. It’s not that I like smaller gigs ‘cos I’m an elitist snob [well, okay, maybe a bit] but mostly because popular bands = loads of people in small space = me feeling claustrophobic and having the choice between squishing myself into the front of the moshpit or having a nice view of someone’s back for the whole gig. It was okay for Fighting Red Adair as people were still arriving and stuff so we stood near the front for moral support. Mind you FRA kind of do better when the audience is a bit unfriendly – gives them something to be offensive about and puts a bit of a hostile edge on their performance. FRA were good – they played a few new songs, a few old ones with an extra guitarist/keyboardist [the latter instrument adding an amusing new dinky facet to their sound] and were sounding rather impressive and powerful until Jim did the inevitable bass string breaking and it all faltered into heckling and frustration. If they were famous they’d be the kind of band that missed an important TV appearance because they were throwing stale doughnuts at eachother in the park down the road or something.

After this, things got very packed and I only got to watch the top of Torqamada’s heads. Which was a damn shame as from what I could see they had some pretty impressive make-up and outfits going on. Torqamada truly believe they are the reincarnation of an American 70s punk metal band and they do it with style and conviction. All makes for a hilariously enjoyable show. I’m not the biggest fan of squealy guitar solo metal but this was fun. Will be huge by this time next year if I’m not mistaken.

And then it was time for the final act. I’m not overly impressed with the 80s Matchbox Your Name Is Too Long – from what I’ve heard of their records they’re a damn sight better than a lot of the stuff the NME is hyping but they still have that ‘why?’ element. Why are they so popular? The songs aren’t that great, they’re not particularly attractive or exciting. I just don’t get it. So they come onstage and play a song that I recognise and it sounds pretty good. Then they play another song and it sounds pretty much the same. And then they play another song and it also sounds pretty much the same. And then I got bored and went home.

Here’s some news for you

Posted: November 20th, 2002, by Chris H

Michael Moore Personal Appearance at the Cameo Cinema

“We are delighted to announce that Michael Moore will make a personal appearance at the Cameo on Monday 25 November. After a Q&A session in Screen 1 before the 9pm performance of Bowling for Columbine, he will sign copies of his new book “Stupid White Men” in the Cameo Bar.”

(the Cameo’s in Edinburgh, by the way)

What a fun last three weeks!

Posted: November 20th, 2002, by John Coburn

So much to talk about…

October was probably the grimmest month of my largely uneventful year. Employment seeking had sapped all life and dignity out of me and replaced it with an overwhelming sense of despair. I had no money to buy records, watch bands or do anything else that required an exchange of currency for goods. And on top of this, a bugle (best described as a trumpet with no valves, for all those unfamiliar with military brass instruments) dropped onto my head from 6ft, seriously impairing my vision for 3 days.

But, christ on a bicycle, November has more than made up for it! Somebody gave me a job and I saw a load of great bands! I’ll start with my watching of Fugazi. Well, I’d heard so many conflicting reports about every show on this tour (read entries below, if you haven’t already). The main criticism seemed to be “the band weren’t really into it”. Well, the Leeds gig I saw was nothing short of life affirming. They played the right mix of songs, the right length of set (1 and and 3/4 hours), and Ian McKaye provided us with an entertaining selection of anecdoting and brief political commenting. But it was their absolute focus and fervent enthusiasm that made it all staggering to watch. They were completely and utterly into it. Watching Guy drop to the floor and flail his legs insanely, while McKaye barked every last gasp of breath from his lungs was staggering. And the quite beautiful and seamless transition from ‘Last Chance For a Slow Dance’ into ‘Sweet and Low’ and then into ‘Repeater’, was something I will always remember.

One week later, I found myself back in Newcastle marvelling at the sounds of Q And Not U and Red Monkey . Actually, my own musical ensemble opened the show with our brief debut performance. I think we all enjoyed and it did seem to go down quite well with the packed-out crowd. Even though, in a bizarre Laurel and Hardy moment, each of us managed to slip over on a rotten banana upon exiting the stage. Yes. A banana. On the floor. Anyway, Red Monkey were phenomenal as per usual, and remarkably tight despite the rumours they’d only practised once in 6 months, and I was really impressed with Q And Not U. Afterwards, every band celebrated the fine evening by attempting to drink some of my friend’s disgusting 98% imported Polish vodka (no, not 98% proof. This was actually 98% alcohol, like almost pure ethanol, vodka. NAILS. HARD AS). Upon mishearing that drinking enough of the stuff might cause blindness, Barry decided to test the theory by actually pouring it into his eye. Cue several minutes of pain. Two eye injury stories in one blog. Outstanding.

Next up, 9 X 9, a newly conceived nine-band half-dayer in Newcastle. All in all, an excellent mix of interesting rock music, extremely loud noise on computers, two-piece weirdy jazz bands and other eclectic wonders. My personal highlights were Brown Owl (clever quirk-rock from ex-Diesel Vs Steam, Dragon Rapide members), Cathode (purty electronica), Snail Racing (three bass guitars and drums, but with annoying three-way vocal action) and Futureheads (Yummy Fur meets Gang Of Four, with great four-way vocal action). Maybe band of the night though, was The Unit Ama. Totally unpredictable, post-rock style noise, complete with bonkers onstage moving about. They also played a blinder when supporting the mighty Econoline, who were without 75% of the band, a week later (by the way, nice meeting you, Ian!).

So yeah, one of the best November’s in a long time.

BMX Bandits & Cayto, West 13th, Glasgow

Posted: November 16th, 2002, by Marceline Smith

I got dragged out to West 13th last week by Will to see some band called Cayto. I got there a bit late and he casually mentions that the BMX Bandits are opening. Like, the real actual BMX Bandits, reformed after god knows how many years. Blimey, was I excited. I remember seeing the BMX Bandits in Aberdeen ages ago. I’ve even got the setlist somewhere. Everyones’ soundchecking and setting up went way way over time so the BMX Bandits did their first song as a soundcheck, happily concluding that this was the first time they’d ever been applauded for soundchecking. Ahhh. Duglas was his usual sparky/funny self, telling silly anecdotes between every song and generally acting like they were playing in front of ten thousand adoring fans. They played a couple of old songs and some new ones and it was all very jolly and adorable. Apparently they’ve got a new album out soon so I hope to see them play again soon. Their leisurely pace left little time for Cayto to squeeze in their set which didn’t work out too well for them. Neither did the 4cm of space they had to move about in. I’m still in two minds about Cayto. I like them when they’re loud and crazy, when they skip through genres six times in a song but when it gets a bit Epic Radiohead I’m not so keen. And covering a Kylie song is a major faux pas when you’re following the band that wrote ‘Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us’. But Cayto are still A Good Band with interesting intriguing ideas, they’ll just never be one of my favourite bands. After that the Cranebuilders played. They were nice unassuming, understated indie pop. Kind of like Smog playing a bunch of early Creation singles. Early Creation b-sides if I want to be mean. I enjoyed them but they could have played twice as many songs or half as many and I wouldn’t really have noticed. No stage presence. BMX Bandits stole the show really.

where have all the good bands gone?

Posted: November 13th, 2002, by Ollie

not a terribly original gripe, i know, but still one i can’t help but ponder after attending yet another turgidly mediocre gig last night. bright eyes to be precise. with them, or rather him, it can be put down to good old fashioned self-indulgence (so no surprises there) but i still can’t help but feel at least a little cheated. they played, apart from maybe two exceptions, all new songs, exerting as little effort as it was possible to without falling over. we stood and waited patiently while they started a song three times, each time ending when conor forgot the words 20 seconds in. we then stood and waited some more while they arsed around, probably deciding if the audience was worthy of hearing some more songs. i don’t want to go on about it too much, but it was just the latest in a series of disappointing gigs which make me question if any of it is really worth it anymore.

went to see fugazi a couple of weeks ago, after waiting to see them for a few years. they played some of my favourite songs, but the general lack of enthusiasm in the air meant it all felt a bit pointless. and pointless is a word that i could attach to almost every band i’ve seen this year. me and kim were talking last night about how you just never see amazing bands anymore. i’m sure it has more to do with me getting older and perhaps more pessimistic, but a few years ago i would go to gigs that would seriously enrich my very being, make me feel genuinely glad to be alive. now i go to gigs, and get conor oberst throwing his mic down in a huff because he’s so misunderstood or something. i know it’s lame to be bitching about this stuff, but it just seems unfair.

the only truly great band i think i’ve seen all year was arab on radar. finally, i get to see a band who plays with that same kind of unashamed wild-eyed fury that made gigs so great a few years ago. and now rather typically, it seems as if they’ve split up. i think i’m going to have to take up a new ‘hobby’. any suggestions?

in other news, when did london get so sketchy? i’ve never felt worried walking around london at night before, but last night we couldn’t walk ten paces without being accosted by some shady character. obviously it’s always been this way, but i guess i’ve always managed to avoid it before. crazy.

Econoline weekend

Posted: November 9th, 2002, by Marceline Smith

I had that Econoline band staying at my house the last couple of days and it’s been fun. Knackering as well though – I got home last night, ate my dinner and went straight to bed to sleep for 12 hours. I met 3/4 of them outside the old 13th Note cafe [the 13th NOT, harhar] and then we pointedly crossed the road to see what the new 13th Note cafe [aka Mono] was like. It’s hidden away in the corner of Kings Court beside the retro clothes shops and, as I say, spitting distance from the old Note. Shouting abuse distance as well I imagine. Anyway, it’s very nice inside. A wee bit new looking for a 13th Note venture but I’m sure it’ll get worn in soon enough. At least it was warm and welcoming on a typical Glasgow rainy day; the same friendly faces at the bar, coffee and Irn Bru readily available, Stephen Pastel sitting at the next table, everything how it should be. There’s no venue, sadly enough, but there will be a record shop [run by the aforementioned Stephen Pastel] and eventually a shop shop, one selling foodstuffs and organic things. So all very great and recommended next time you’re in Glasgow city centre.

Econoline were a bit worn out from their early morning flight so we traipsed back to my house where they put on the Sonic Youth video and promptly fell asleep. Ahhh. A few hours later we wandered over to West 13th where Ian Scanlon was found propping up the bar, having driven all the way from Nottingham that day. The first band on were most of Urusei Yatsura, now called Project A-KO. It was good to see them back on stage and with new tunes as catchy as the old ones but with less of the rayguns and glitter. I enjoyed it a lot. Then we had Zebedee Numchuck who seemed to have brought hordes of young people with them. The first time I heard of Zebedee Numchuck was when me and Chris met up with Wil Forbis and they were playing downstairs. We toyed with the idea of going to see them but trips down to listen at the door gave a unanimous decision that they sounded rubbish. Well, if they didn’t have such a stupidly memorable name I’d never have believed they were the same band. This was exhilerating hyper-fast hyper-loud guitar riffage and had everyone in the place happy to hear such mighty rock. Then Econoline went on to widespread inattention. They played well and people seemed to like it alright but no-one got over-excited or came over to the stage area to watch which was a bit of a shame. Good to hear the stuff off the new album though and I thought it sounded great.

Next day we wandered over to SubCity Radio at Glasgow University where Econoline were recording a session. They got all their gear set up and, in hilarious cliche situation, the first amplified guitar sounds brought a huffy old academic rushing in with the immortal words, “you’re not actually planning on playing music in the next half hour are you?”. Discovering that this was against the university regulations we were packed off to the pub for half an hour. Then it was back up for lots of level checking and curious students sticking their head round the door [amazingly, none of them did this during the recording] and then the actual recording. I found all this really interesting, having never been present at any recording situations before. They played a nice selection of tunes off the new album and all went well. Then I escorted them to the station and bid them farewell. You’ll be able to listen to the Econoline session online at the SubCity website soon so look out for that.


Posted: November 6th, 2002, by Chris H

Yesterday, a colleague at work showed off his 13 week old son. He was so happy, his partner and he recently got a mortgage on their first house.

Today, that colleague had a visit from his boss who is based in London. I met him coming down the stairs as I arrived. He’d been fired before he’d taken his coat off.

The boss called us around and said “as of this morning [x] has left [the company]. I can’t discuss it for reasons of confidentiality. Any other questions?” No-one dared ask questions. Not even “do you mean you fired him?”

Later the boss went round us all individually, “listening to our concerns” and chatting more generally like she hadn’t just travelled up for one day to fire a man I have a lot of respect for.

When she came to me I chatted about how I had been slightly deaf in one ear since I caught a cold last month, “oh, so it must sound like I’m throwing my voice,” she replied.

I hate myself for having kept my head down. Every few months they come up and fire someone, pour encourager les autres-style. The only defence I can think of is to leave before it’s my turn. Way to build a successful company you callous bastards.

Glasgow celebs continued

Posted: November 6th, 2002, by Marceline Smith

Will, you missed Mogwai, Empire-Builder, March of Dimes, The Boy Cartographer and probably some others I’ve forgotten. This is going to send our Google referring stats through the roof….heheheh….

Fugazi / Rock Mess Monsters

Posted: November 6th, 2002, by Will Cayto

No point telling you stunning Fugazi were, Marceline’s just done that and I heartily agree with everything she wrote [exept the bit aboot cameras, obviously. Evil things steal yr soul, ye know]. What was amusing was how many of the Scottish rock mafia were out in full at the gig to takes notes or something. Spotted were: Lapsus Linguae, Electric Tibet, Cayto, Small Enclosed Area, 1″ Volcano, Fighting Red Adair, Aereogramme, Biffy Clyro, Stapleton, and hunners more I probably missed.

Speaking of which, most of these fusty buggers have also been involved in the Rock Mess Monsters compilation. Thus there were launch gigs aplenty last week. I popped down to see Frightening Fred Astair in full Halloween regalia [a day early], and donned my own satanic visage for the Lapsus Linguae gig. Pish sound at both gigs, but lots of dressing up, beer and sillyness; which always equals: fun!