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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Noizy Indie Social Club festival of music - 22/09/12 (Cumbernauld)

A theatre is to my mind a magical place.
Its entrance should be a doorway that leads us to a world that equally entertains and educates, a safe haven where stories wild and wonderful are conjured from the air itself.
It should be the gateway to an alternate reality that resides on the other side of the looking glass, the landscape that lurks behind the furs in the wardrobe, or even a world that exists in a galaxy far away.
Anything, and everything that can be imagined, should find some sanctuary within its walls, and this yin and yang of reality and fantasy is well worn by the Cumbernauld Theatre.
A place that I had never been to until this day.
From the outside it's nothing more than a run of old working cottages, but once you enter its small doors it challenges your perceptions, and Tardis like, opens up to a vast space that accommodates a full seated theatre, a smaller studio, two bars and more.
There's no grand foyer, and no gilded pillars, but instead a fully functioning theatre that could lend itself to making any dream come true.
A truly wonderful space for the people of Cumbernauld.

On this day it wasn't to be hosting a theatre production, but instead the debut of the Noizy Indie Social Clubs - hopefully annual - music festival.

We had arrived keenly anticipating The OK Social Club and then The Holy Ghosts to ease us into the day, but unfortunately as we turned up a change in the line up meant that we had just missed The Holy Ghosts, who would be headlining a show in King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (Glasgow), in the evening.
Not an auspicious start for us as they're hovering at the top of my 'everyone must see this band' list, and whenever I'm asked who in Scotland has the ability to break out and garner a great deal of national praise it is these guys, along with a handful of other acts, that spring to my lips.
However another is The OK Social Club who could equally grab a share of national plaudits once their forthcoming album is released.
So the disappointment that I felt was quickly set aside as they powered through their set.
Imagine Julian Casablancas of the Strokes being dragged around the pubs and clubs of Scotland and then being forced to sit down and write some songs.
What he would come up with could possibly sound like The OK Social Club.
Not that they come across like a Strokes tribute act as the sound of the New York boys just adds a bit of flavour to the over all pot pourri of influences that range from rock and roll to traditional rhythm and blues with a nod to a bit of a punk attitude.
I've said similar after I had witnessed their live set for the first time, but the raw ingredients are there for all to see and it does no harm in highlighting them again.
The main thought that kept firing around inside my head was why was a band of this calibre playing so early in the day?

Hanney were next up, and were the first of the acts I was to see that I knew nothing about.
Turns out that they're dance rock hybrid pumping out beats and spitting out lyrics.
Not really my cup of tea, but there's no doubting the talent on display.
The experimentation that the Manchester bands had with dance beats threads its way through their sound. More Black Grape than Happy Mondays, and more Sonic Boom Six than Prodigy, but there's nothing wrong with that, and while I wouldn't run out to buy an album from them, neither would I necessarily feel the need to run to the hills when they play either.
If the personal tastes of anyone run towards this style of music then I'm sure Hanney will provide the soundtrack to a few good weekends.

Vagabond Poets were then to provide a sound that I could more naturally gravitate towards.
This very young band are playing catch up with bands like The Imagineers and the Holy Ghosts, and there not too far behind.
I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few releases by The Coral skulking about their record collections at home.
Regardless of their influences they have a pleasant take on the freakbeat/psych sound, and their mod fashion sense gives them a solid style.
The highlights for me were the original material they played, with the low points the covers.
Folsom Prison Blues is sort of done to death, and while the band were all together on The Gloria Jones/Soft Cell hit Tainted Love musically, the vocals didn't quite carry it.
Not that these two songs served to detract from the over all performance though.
The young men in the band are already displaying far more promise than many others of their age, and it wouldn't surprise me if the next year sees them attracting a great deal of attention.

Next Nanobots beamed onto the mains stage to bewilder, confuse and entertain as they do.
It's all Devo stranded on the Forbidden Planet after they took a wrong turn on the way home from a galactic hoe-down hosted by Ming the Merciless in the restaurant at the end of the universe.
They're the type of band whose fans wear tinfoil, and not just to stop the illuminati lizard men from reading their minds.
The type of band I love.
When you can get two talented people in a room who are also not shy in showing off their fun/unbalanced side, you can always guarantee that you will be entertained, and with the amount of sci-fi lunacy on show I doubt anyone left their performance without an opinion of it.

I should have seen The Puzzlers after that, as I had noted them down as not to be missed, but miss them I did, and instead it was Red Sands who we caught next.
Now I have no idea where or when, but I've seen them before.
It's an eclectic set that they work their way through with many aural turns, but unlike other bands who try to sample so many styles Red Sands maintain a solid thread through it all.
Whether it's psychedelic folk or jangly west coast freakbeat they've pretty much got it nailed down and the harmonies from the band manage to elevate their performance to the sublime.
A fantastic set with the band being well deserving of the turn out they got.

Yoshi, who were playing in the seated main auditorium, were the band that I should have liked, but couldn't.
The problem wasn't with the music, or the majority of the band.
The problem was that no matter how good they sounded they had a band member throw a spanner in the works at every turn due to being shitfaced.
There's nothing entertaining about watching someone forget the lyrics, slur nonsense into the mic and stumble on and off the stage randomly.
His antics only served to distract from the effort that the rest of the band were putting in.
It wasn't funny.
Maybe it's funny if you are in the band - as no one seemed to have an issue with it - but the reality check is that if people want to be entertained in this manner then they can sit at any taxi rank on the west coast of Scotland between midnight and three am any night playing a mix tape of The Beastie Boys and Junior Senior and get a better quality show.
A sad distraction that did the band no favours.

Unashamedly showering plaudits on The Starlets wouldn't really do them much justice.
No matter how long I waxed lyrically about their performance it still wouldn't convey who good they are.
They are the band who provided the first 'you really had to be there' moments.
The cinematic pop that is their stock in trade is a very attractive proposition.
If Scott Walker hadn't gone off the rails then I suspect that he would have washed up on the shore that The Starlets have encamped on.
Wonderful stuff, and so good I bought their whole back catalogue.

The River 68's, who I have been gagging to see since first hearing them, were going to have tough act to follow.
There's no points where the bands overlap musically, but more so I thought on an entertaining level they could have fallen short.
Needless to say I was wrong. The River 68's were everything I expected, and more.
This is the band who are the rockers of this generation.
If the Faces had a party with The Black Crowes then I I'd bet that the bootleg tapes of their drunken session together would sound like The River 68's.
Now this is a band whose singer has some pipes on him.
Southern soul with some rocknroll ramalama only rarely sounds this good.
Big stages better beckon for them, or I'll eat the singers hat, and that was a big hat.

I had high hopes for The Merrylees who were headlining the studio stage, but while I was suitably impressed with their first song I was less so with the second and by the third I had decided it was going to be a set of diminishing returns.
For all the hype that has surrounded them it seemed to me that they only really had one string to their bow and I would have preferred more shading to what they were doing.
I left thinking that my opinion was one that would go against the tide of popular opinion, but while waiting to see The Imagineers I overheard one person say that they sounded as if they only had one song and were just changing the lyrics on it, and I ashamed to say I felt glad that this persons view was met with agreement as it supported my own.
While I'm sure others would disagree the slot would have been better filled by either The Holy Ghosts, The OK Social Club or even local young guns Vagabond Poets.

Finishing the night was of course The Imagineers, a band whose popularity is ascending rapidly, and deservedly so.
With US television appearances tucked under the belts and a global audience waiting for the debut it would be easy to let it all overwhelm them, but there's no sign of them failing to take it all in their stride, or let their feet leave the ground.
Infectiously foot stompingly good they powered through a short set that touched on the songs featured on their debut ep and the more recent double a sided single while providing us all with a sneak preview of some unreleased tracks that did the job in ensuring us that everything is still on track for them.
If you could take a snapshot of any second of their performance it would be heavy with the promise of success.
For many this is the band who could finally put Scotland on the musical map with their talent not being constrained by our nations borders.
It's all in the laps of the Gods, but with luck all the pieces will fall into place for them and they will reap the rewards of all the hard work they have been putting in.
If they do I doubt anyone could lay claim that their success would be ill deserved.

A big thank you has to go out to Brian Deanie for being the person who had the dream and welcomed everyone to the reality of it, and the Cumbernauld Theatre for hosting it with a smile. It would be fair to say that the bar staff, security and everyone involved from the theatre were a credit to Cumbernauld.
Thanks to Jim McKellen of the Puzzlers for his company on the day, and everyone involved with the Noizy Indie Social Club, because in all of my years of participating in live music as a spectator I don't think I have ever attended such a well run all-dayer.
Outstanding. Simply outstanding.

Here's to next year.   


  1. Yoshi actually made the day for me dude. I found the steamboat pretty funny

  2. I liked them as a band, but found him to be a heavy distraction.