diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

LIGHTNING BOLT – Glasgow’s Grand Old Oprey, 15-05-06

Posted: May 14th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

I’m just home from this gig. My ears aren’t ringing as much as I’d anticipated, but man, my face is sore from grinning.

I nearly saw Lightning Bolt at ATP 2004. Something was clearly happening behind that whipped-up throng. Something loud and interesting, but something I was a bit disconnected with, partly because of the crowd, partly because I was a bit noised out by that point. I still bought a copy of their album “Wonderful Rainbow” at the merchandise stand, though. As I did so, a bystander looked at me, his eyes burning with a kind of religious mania. “Track three, man,” he said, indicating my new purchase. “The only song you’ll ever need.”

That track, “Dracula Mountain”, is pretty ace. A rich, thick slab of grotesquely melodic noise and hyperkinetic drumming. I continued to listen to other songs, and other albums, however, only revisiting that CD occasionally, remembering, for a while, how good it is, and putting it away again until my ears had cooled.

I did, however, continue to wonder what I was missing behind that wall of heads, so when I heard that they were playing Glasgow I was keen to see them. And even more so when I found out that they were playing at the Grand Old Oprey, a venue more used to Tuesday-night line-dancing classes and pretend shootouts between Govan cowboys, than extreme noise bands. Realising that if we stayed downstairs we were likely to have similar difficulty in actually seeing the band, we headed up to the balcony and secured a good spot.

First, though, Gay Against You, two young lads wearing their PE gear who scream about unicorns and the pains of being lactose intolerant to the sound of cheap Casio beats turned up to deafening and distorted volume. What could turn into a lot of awful, pretentious performance-art nonsense is saved by being tremendous fun, handing out cakes to the audience, and being carried around on the backs of (rightfully) enthusiastic fans.

Of course, they play on the floor surrounded by the crowd, as Lightning Bolt eschew stages and the Oprey’s is curtained off, leaving the bands to perform under the twin confederate flags mounted above it. This is good for Gay Against You. They like a bit of audience participation, and this particular audience, while a little bemused, are generally game for a laugh. After their set I descended to floor level to buy a cheap CD and a round of drinks, and noticed an unusually smiley atmosphere about the crowd.

This good mood carries through to Lightning Bolt’s set, but the uneducated observer might have seen the pushing, elbowing mass that formed as soon as the first distorted bass chord was struck as an angry mob. Not a bit of it, of course. Where the support act still had room to move, the space around Lightning Bolt contracts whippet-fast. The lone bouncer, looking, in his nice smart coat and tie, more like a school headmaster, tries gamely to keep order, but surrenders about ten minutes in. Inter-song requests by the band themselves to give them some breathing room have a bit more power, but as soon as they start playing, the crowd moves in again, particles excited by the energy of the Lightning Bolt, subservient to physics more than anything else. The hardest of the hard-core invite physical injury in addition to hearing loss by placing their hands over Brian Chippendale’s cymbals, drawn like moths to the flame because while Lightning Bolt hurt it’s only because life hurts too and reminds you that you’re still breathing and…

Oh, I’m overanalysing.

All you need to know is that Lightning Bolt are fucking awesome, man!

And they are the only band you’ll ever need.

Lightning Bolt
Gay Against You

Alex McChesney

Alex was brought up by a family of stupid looking monkeys after being lost in the deep jungles of Paisley. Teaching him all their secret conga skills (as well as how to throw barrels at plumbers), Alex was able to leave for the bright lights of Glasgow where adventure struck him and he needed all his conga skills to save the world and earn the hand of a lovely Texan princess. He now keeps a low profile alphabeticising his record collection and making sock monkeys in the likenesses of his long lost family.


Comments are closed.