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And the wee boy says “I can see Triptych’s arse”

Posted: April 28th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

I”m baffled by the praise lavished on pish-merchants Tenants and their soon-to-be-forgotten Triptych festival recently. Lots of ill-advised adjectives like “innovative” and “avantgarde”. One Stockhausen gig doesn’t make for an avant garde festival, and all that’s innovative about Tenant’s music sponsorship is their opportunism.

From a corporate eyeball whore point-of-view, they were there first. Other overpriced pint-size poisoners are still playing catch-up in Glasgow. Fair play for that.

Musically, though, they were always second, never innovating. As soon as any independent promoters demonstrated a musical appetite, there’d be Tenants the next year with a less adventurous music bill and much increased ticket price.

Case 1: Planet Pop in August in Edinburgh. After years of the Edinburgh Festival as a musical desert, Planet Pop brought a full bill of indie goodness to scuzzy venues like the Cas Rock and some legendary gigs were had. The Fall in a bar the size of your living room. Sleater-Kinney and Prolapse: were they on the same bill? I can’t remember, but I know they were the best show I’d seen up to that time.

Then what? Tenants think “ooh we’ll have some of that” and bring us T on the Fringe. More mainstream acts, with a nod towards “indie” tastes and a trebling of ticket prices. Cue lots of publicity claiming that there had been no music before Tenants and PlanetPop is written out of music history.

Case 2: Le Weekend in Stirling launches with a proper avant-garde line-up, in the 2nd half of April. That’ll never work. Oh, it did? Here comes Triptych. Less of the avant-garde though, let’s go for hipster. What are young “creatives” listening to? Ticket prices leap again. Beer company praised for innovation and bringing music to cities that never had it so good. Like, er Glasgow. Stuart B of Mogwai takes the piss out of Tenants onstage at STAR, finds himself the subject of a peeved letter from a Tenant PR hack for his ingratitude. (As we know, no-one knew who Mogwai were before Tenants gave them a gig).

It goes on. T-Break. Tenants invents the battle of the bands. Like  X-Factor, but your prize is to be bottled off of a foot-high stage in a derelict army base at the arse-end of Scotland. In front of your schoolmates.

T in the Park! Tenants invents the music festival. Let’s take 50,000 Scots out of their cities to get shit-faced, bleary-eyed and aggresive in the countryside. Take our Buckfast away at the gate, make us drink Tenants at ¬£3 a pint. Like Glasgow Green without the fresh air and sense of space.

It’s all about market segmentation and demographics. T in the Park is your buy-it-by-the-crate lager and Triptych was their attempt to launch an upmarket “aspirational” brand. They actually did use Triptych to launch a new beer but I’m buggered if I can remember what it was called. Epic Fail.

…and coincidentally, the next year, Triptych is canned. Funny that.

Stan Tontas

Stan lives in Glasgow.

6 Responses to And the wee boy says “I can see Triptych’s arse”

  1. Marceline

    Triptych is not being canned, it’s being replaced with something EVEN BETTER called the Tennents Mutual, presumably because Triptych didn’t have Tennents in the name.

    coming up next: how Le Weekend, Subcurrent, Instal and the one at the DCA all turned into exactly the same event.

  2. Stewart

    To be fair to Triptych, it was curated by different people to other Tennents sponsored events and was a much more interesting proposition. As good as Planet Pop etc were, they didn’t have the funds or contacts to bring over the likes of Stockhausen, Terry Riley, Sun Ra Arkestra, Grace Jones etc. I’ve never heard anyone refer to Triptych as “avant garde”, but it did do a good job of bringing cult and alt acts to larger audiences and winning them over. Granted its shows could be quite pricey, but that’s a general trend.
    Now Keenan is no longer involved with Le Weekend, it’s quite a different event to the Barry Esson fests – more electronics and more of a bridge to left field pop via the Pastels, Bill Wells etc. Just think how difficult it was to see experimental music before Le Weekend and Instal. The more of it the better. And being subsidised, they’re cheap as chips.

  3. Marceline

    Wow, that’s excellent news about Le Weekend. It’s the removal of electronic music that has made me less and less keen to go.

  4. Stan Tontas

    Cos I’m a pedant who was too lazy to search last night:
    * http://www.skinnymag.co.uk/content/view/6881/ (except they don’t allow deep-linking and think that they are “Scotland’s cutting-edge culture magazine”, so not a reliable source)
    * http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20030504/ai_n12581986 and the Sunday Herald.

    Not an avant garde festival but one that could be marketed as such to people who found a trip to the Tramway a bit edgy and ethnic. :)

  5. Stewart

    There’s maybe not any pure electronics/IDM (which can be a bit dull to watch) but there is more electro-acoustic/sound processing type stuff. Even when Keenan was co-curating, Jackie Shearer always gave that kind of stuff a decent representation. It’s always been a bit different to Instal etc.

  6. Stan Tontas

    More evidence of how insecure Tenants are:
    Don’t like being called “cooking lager”.