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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ghost Mice, Billy Liar, Winona Forever, Nyla. - Plan B Books (Glasgow) 25/06/13

There's a first time for everything people say.
That's one of those redundant sort of comments though.
Of course there has to be a first time.
You can't just leap frog the first time and go straight into the second unless you want to mess around with time paradoxes, and that usually ends up messy so please don't.
I remember once skipping forward in time a matter of mere hours and I missed out on enjoying a vindaloo, but managed to live through an extraordinary long toilet break.
All the sweat and none of the taste bud fun.
That's not true though.
I made it up to poorly illustrate a point while attempting to be funny.
Let everything that you have read so far be a warning to you that trying to be clever and funny often doesn't work.
Unless you are drunk, and then being clever and funny comes naturally to us all.

Anyway, on the subject of first times, and not second times, Plan B Books – a small comic/book shop that also sells coffee – hosted their first ever gig last night.
I think in the cold light of day they can now chalk it up as a resounding success.

Reminiscent of how I presume the original anti-folk scene evolved in New York it was a basement gig that refused to engage with things like a PA, lighting and a barrier between the artists and the performers, and instead it focussed on the artists playing in a true acoustic manner and creating a communal vibe.

First to perform was one of the staff of Plan B Books called Nyla.
She looked like a comic book character brought to life to an extent.
The archetypal slacker heroine.
I have no idea if how she carries herself - from her performance, including how she engages with an audience, to how she dresses - is a result of working in the book shop and over time she has morphed into someone that fits the surroundings, or instead it's that she gravitated towards employment there because it was a calling.
It's a chicken and egg conundrum.
As expected she has a shy, but cute, delivery that makes people laugh and warm to her, and she also has some disarmingly quirky lyrics that were equally expected.
For moments it felt as if I had walked into the filming of a scene from a certain type of hollywood movie.
Maybe 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
That's not a criticism though.
It all just seemed very casually evocative of something that is rooted in a perception of American youth culture rather than a reality.
All things considered it is probably something that shouldn't work, but does.
For those who prefer to escape the harshness of the world by being embraced by an alternative provided by a graphic novel then Nyla is here to blur the edges between fact and fiction for you.

The name Winona Forever on a poster would lead you to believe that they are a band, but they are actually just a he.
In a short set he managed to sing in the wrong key, start a song again, change his mind about what he was wanting to play, and generally sounded like he was sitting in a corner of a bedroom on his own trying to wrap his head around a song he was learning.
Yet all of that, and more, made it a rather compelling and entertaining performance.
One of those moments that if captured wouldn't make much sense in hindsight, but makes complete sense in the moment.
I suppose there's some worth in that, but it's not something that can be quantified, and why the hell should it.
There's certainly an 'it is what it is, so take it or leave it' attitude to the songs and interaction, but it never comes across as arrogantly bullish.
Thoroughly enjoyable.

I would love to tell you about Olive Anne, but I was upstairs at that point looking at the graphic novels.

As I have previously described Billy Liar as unmissable I was however back downstairs to catch him raise the bar.
Billy is now at the point when all that is good about him has been refined.
If a year ago was the prototype then here in the present is the finished product, and all the songs need is to find the appreciative audience that they deserves.
Lyrically there's some brutal honesty laid bare. So much of it that there is no gaps to slip in any hiding meanings.
No one has to read between the likes of what is being spat out, and no one leaves the show wondering how to interpret what they have seen.
'If I could stick my pen in my heart, And spill it all over the stage' may be a Stones lyric, but it may also be the motto that Billy is living by.
He's a force of nature, and by the end of this year with a few more releases under his belt, and some dates in the US logged it is entirely possible that he will not be playing basements, unless of course he wants to.

Ghost Mice keep it simple to an extent.
There's no intent to reinvent the wheel and why should there be as the wheel is entirely functional, as are Ghost Mice.
At their core they are a punk band who want to push their stories out there wrapped in a folk overcoat.
Everything is pretty much short and sharp, has a point, and ultimately it grabs you.
All the songs are road tested to destruction and tight, but tight in that effortless way that gives the impression that it's all just second nature.
The mandolin, guitar and violin set up is in itself compact and offers a solid backbone to the tales that are recounted by Chris Clavin.
It's an organic relationship between the words and the music that works extraordinarily well.
I should throw in the word impressive here as it's probably overdue a mention.
Yeah. Impressive.
They are.
Ghost Mice are impressive.
In addition to how good they were the whole setting had lent itself to building up to their performance, and similar to the environment itself I think much of the young audience were newly being introduced to an artist performing right there in the flesh without any of the usual trappings of a gig.
Most people currently have an idea in their heads about how a performance should be framed and Ghost Mice partially turn that on its head.
Here in the UK we often put a barrier up.
Clearly define ourselves as an audience with a role to play while the artists have theirs to play to.
Yet sometimes there's something a bit more communal about it all and this is exactly what Ghost Mice are bringing to the table.
I sincerely hope it acts as a catalyst and now an alternative has been provided to those who were there.

Respect to Punk Rock Rammy and Plan B Books for pulling the night off in style.

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