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Wednesday 11 August 2010

Seditionaries - 13th Note (7/8/10)

Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete/Honey/Betatone Distractions/Tragic City Thieves - 13th Note (7/8/10)

It's an eclectic offer from Seditionaries Promotions tonight. Four bands that don't appear to have a common thread to connect them at all.
It's maybe not some peoples bag, but it's never been an issue for me because as they say variety is of course the spice of life.
Unfortunately for the promoter proceedings aren't running too smoothly though.
The sound guy has been allegedly drinking all afternoon and as he became more belligerent they had to eject him from the venue.
Escorted clean through the bar shouting obscenities and thrown out the door by all accounts.
Another guy is drafted in at short notice, but no one is getting a sound check and the bands aren't even sure what the running order is until the last kick.
I'm not sure what else is going on behind the scenes, but the impression I'm getting is that everything is a little haphazard.
A promoters nightmare.
The band that I was here to see, Tragic City Thieves, appear to have drawn the short straw and are saddled with the opening slot.
A position on the bill that they ill deserve considering how many people that they have attracted to the show.
Regardless of this they're professional enough to leave the egos at the door and once again roar into battle.
To say it is just more of the same debauched rock and roll doesn't really do them any sort of justice.
I'm at the stage that I have seen them so often that I'm running out of hyperbolic phrases to best describe them, but that's a failing on my part as this band are still firing on all cylinders and familiarity is definitely not breeding contempt.
I've yet to see anyone else on the west coast that can match them to be honest.
There are a few bands that are snapping at their heels, but these guys aren't slowing down to let anyone draw level.
It's becoming obvious that the passion that they are putting into their gigs is starting to bear fruit, when I have a quick scan about the crowd familiar faces are starting to appear.
Random returns who have no personal connection with the guys in the band. A groundswell of real fans who are enthusiastically showing their appreciation.
Once the set is finished there are a few people approaching them to get photographs taken and such, and this in itself is an indication that bigger and better things may just be around the corner for them.
Unfortunately looking back in hindsight the promoter may think that using them as the opening act might just have been a mistake, because as Betatone Distractions take to the small stage with their array of equipment the majority of the crowd who were there to see the Thieves have relocated to the upstairs bar.
It's a shame as they are damn good.
A bit of Placebo on the vocals, Some exploration of the Pixies aural landscape in the music and it all works.
The amount of effects pedals and other electronic things with knobs and levers is a bit off putting though, as is the continuous fiddling with them between songs.
It gets in the way of the flow of the set, and while it's admirable that they can replicate a studio sound so well in a live environment it does detract from the visual element of live music.
It's something that they will have to consider if they want to move forward.
Possibly strip some of it back a bit.
The material also lends itself to a bigger venue. A small club is limiting and can't really hold it all in.
Within a larger venue the material would soar unhindered and take on a whole new and more grandiose persona that could sound pretty ******' fantastic.
A band that I'll keep an eye on.
Strangely to me a band playing their d├ębut gig was next. What happened to paying your dues?
How they could secure the slot below the headliners is beyond me, but there they are.
The guitarist was the only thing that separated them from being a Stone Roses tribute band who are concentrating on the rockier material of the second album.
With a bland name like Honey it is easy to forget and I'd suggest that people do just that.
The police could have set up a cordon and told people to move along as there was nothing interesting to see and no one would complain.
So that left Louise McVey & Cracks in the Concrete to close the evening.
There seems to be loads of them and they're not sure if they are the Velvet Underground or Arcade Fire. They're neither. On paper the concept looks good and the studio tracks that I quickly listened to earlier in the evening sound fine, but live it's a bit of a blandfest.
It's a bit of a topsy turvy evening. They could have flipped the running order around and it would have made more sense, but as it is I seen one great band, one good band and two who struggle to get off the starting blocks.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

The Shambolic Rock'n'Roll Wrestling Sex Party

featuring The Bucky Rage/Filthy Little Secret/The Decoy - 13th Note - 6/8/10
Bit rough and ready, unedited and rambling, but here it is.

Tonight The Decoys are opening the Shambolic Rock'n'Roll Wrestling Sex Party and I'm struggling to understand what's shambolic about them, where the rock'n'roll is, what they hell they have to do with wrestling and more importantly how their set could serve as a catalyst to a sex party.
Now if the evening was billed as a cheese and wine night for baked student musos who want to cling onto their virginity then The Decoys would have fitted it perfectly.
I wouldn't have attended, but it would have been more apt.
Basically their inclusion on the bill is like trying to squeeze a very square peg into a round hole.
It was never going to work.
Even if you used a whole family sized tub of KY Jelly* to lubricate the hole they still couldn't have been forced into it.
While their level of musicianship was impressive it couldn't be described as entertaining.
At best it was bland and at worst self indulgent bollocks.
So thank you to the gods of rawk and roll that Filthy Little Secret were there to save the day.
Sweat and passion were spent in equal measure in a set that threatened to spontaneously combust anyone who got too close.
Howling guitars, throbbing bass lines, thunderous drumming and sleazy yelps are all drawn together and spat out with the sort of disregard for the audiences sensibilities that all good punk rock bands should have.
While they would collectively deny that they are a punk band they are frankly delusional on the matter.
They are one of four bands who are currently playing in the Glasgow area who are charging the paddles and sending a current through the atrophied heart of the local punk scene.
That the majority of punks haven't picked up on this is more about their reluctance to move from a secure comfort zone than a reflection on what the band are churning out on the stage.
Give it a couple of months and what is right under their noses may well serve to give them the kick up the arse that they need and they may even manage to turn up at a gig to play catch up.
If not then it's their loss.
In the interim alcohol had been consumed, dancing had been partaken of and good times have been had by all that were there.
Exhilarating stuff indeed.
The headliners of the night, The Bucky Rage, are another of the four bands who are in a position to shake thing up a bit.
The shambolic and wrestling title of the evening is obviously a reference to them, but while some would take the shambolic tag as a criticism it is actually a huge part of their charm.
Donning Mexican wrestling masks backstage - to protect the identity of the guilty I presume – they take to the stage and plunder and bastardize sixties garage tunes at breakneck speed.
Not really covers as such, but a drunken homage to a scene whose influence can still be heard all these years later.
There are snatches of songs I think I know but they are fleeting and quickly lose ground to a harder and far more bludgeoning sound.
Raw is the main descriptive term that springs to mind. Raw with a capital R.
The small area set aside for the bands obviously isn't enough to contain the them and it isn't long before their guitarist is on the dance floor thrashing about a bit.
He's a large guy and the crowd naturally makes some space for him, but as he returns to the stage they don't have time to reclaim it as the bassist is tagged and immediately jumps in to fill the spot he vacated.
A little later when he returns to the stage the bassist is caught in a headlock by the guy on keyboards and thrown about a bit, but he isn't letting the small matter of a throttling bother him and barely misses a beat.
In fact I'm not sure what would slow them down.
Not even the appearance of another wrestler, aka Jim Spence of The Brutes/The Jackhammers, can hold them back.
He attacks a few members of the band, but they shrug him off and continue the set relentlessly.
As expected something that is driven at so hard can't go on for long though and it is all over as quickly as it began.
All in it was a bit of a hit and run experience, but if given the choice I'd rather have 15 minutes of The Bucky Rage than 2 hours of a more successful and established bands.

*Is there such a thing, and if so why?

Sunday 8 August 2010

Tragic City Thieves

Finally the best band to come out of Scotland in many years have managed to finish their debut.
It's up on itunes just now and will be out on CD within the next week (or so).
If shambolic rock and roll played with a tonne of attitude and a punk rock heart is the sort of thing that gets your blood pumping in excitement then these guys will give you a coronary.

I've already punted a very short review up on itunes, but it honestly doesn't do them justice.

"Last of the Gutter Heroes.
It has taken a long time, but finally here is a band who are willing to step up and take rock and roll back from the angst ridden emo kids and socially dysfunctional heavy metal hordes.
A band who have all the glittery debauched talent of the New York Dolls coupled with the gutter sleaze attitude of Turbonegro.
Yes. They're that good.
This debut release is just like a lady of the night from the Tragic City. It's dirty, it's in your face and it promises to fulfil all your wildest fantasies for less than ten quid.
It's the best £7.99 that I have ever spent without breaking the law."

Monday 2 August 2010

(Don't ask) JLS - Glasgow SECC

There have been certain times in the past when I have delved into the populist bollocks that some call mainstream music to accommodate my kids wanting to see a band, but never like this.
In Demand live is a total immersion experience.
All the latest and greatest (sic) acts in the UK being trundled on and off a stage for a crowd of ten thousand to scream and blow whistles at.

Lets do that Scooby Doo thing where everything warps into the past now.
It all started when my daughter asked for tickets as her favourites JLS were playing, and in a rather cavalier manner I said sure and procured a couple.
The day they arrived I'll admit to having a bit of a sinking feeling about it all.
When I found it it was a six hour extravaganza the first thought that sprung to mind was "by fuck this is above and beyond the call of duty as a parent. What have I done?"
Dante had nine circles of hell to work through, but I had eighteen of the latest pop pickers to endure.
Personally I think that wipes the floor clean with anything Dante had to put up with.
Fast forward to the day now.
Alanna woke up pretty excited and I slipped a mask on and smiled a lot.
Once we got to Glasgow we ran around a few shops and then went for the underground out to the SECC and this was when the reality kicked in.
I was in a sea of kids.
It seemed like millions of them.
If there was a stampede I would have been trampled to death under a wave of high tops and Primarks latest dayglo range.
Yep. I was terrified.
More scary was the amount of middle aged women dragging screaming kids along.
Kids that obviously had no interest in going.
Without exception they were done up to the nines in fashions that are normally seen on hormonal teenagers. You really have to question their motives, and at the same time their sanity.
I said this once before about a McFly show, but do these women honestly think they are going to bag themselves a teenage pop star who is riding high in the charts?
It's sheer lunacy, but if there was ever a day for suspending reality then this would appear to be it.
Packed like sardines in the prepubescent express we rolled along to the SECC and then spilled out onto the platform in a gaggle.
There is no other words to describe it. I was surfing on a gaggle.
Then the nightmare really began in earnest.
Hats off to the SECC who manage to take a somewhat problematic task and make it ten times worse.
They have ten thousand people attending an event, and seem to consider it fine to only have two doors open to the hall, and no signs to tell anyone where to go.
I asked three security people where I should line up and got conflicting answers from them all.
I even asked why there were only two doors open and a cheeky cow snapped that that's all they ever open.
This was a blatant bare faced lie that an SECC virgin would swallow, but as a veteran gig goer I knew it to be untrue.
I could have challenged her on it, but if I did I have no doubt that security would have escorted us out.
So instead I wrote her number down, but I'm still in two minds whether to complain, as from experience I'm aware that the SECC don't really give a toss and there's probably a shredding machine lying in wait under their bottomless complaints box.

When we finally took out seats at the very back they weren't too bad as we had a clear view of the stage and Alanna would have an unobstructed view of it all.
Once the show began a pattern emerged rather quickly.
Some Scottish DJ would come on and ramble away uncomfortably about his friends backstage who were going to wow us all and then ask everyone to make some noise.
Then he would introduce another local DJ who was eager to get out in public and show people that he didn't just have the face for radio, and was in fact willing to publicly humiliate himself for anything up to and including 15 seconds of fame.
He would then say about how pleased he was to be there and that they were just backstage talking to their friends and everyone should make some more noise, and then, but only then, the act would come on.

It's a long drawn out process and without it a six hour show could probably be crammed into a couple of hours.

First band of the afternoon to try desperately to entertain us was a combo called Beatbullyz.
They're a rap duo who I've never heard of and have no inclination to find out any more about.
The sort of rap band who have a silent c tagged on before the leading r.
They reminded me of those inner city documentaries where they take a trip to the heavily subsidized studio where a couple of local lads show off their rapping skills and claim their dream is to make it big and get out of da hood.
That's right. They were that bad.
They only had ten minutes though so they managed to finish about two minutes before I started contemplating ritual suicide.

Then after zoning out while the local DJs asked everyone to make some noise again and again and again, a woman called Carrie Mac came on.
She's a singer/songwriter from Edinburgh and was pretty good even though she was at odds with everyone else playing.
She plays sort of ballsy, if somewhat lightweight, rock chick stuff.
A bit like the Wilson sisters from Heart, or then again maybe not.
That actually makes her sound better than she was.
Bit of a surprise though.

MAKE SOME NOISE GLASGOW. Yeah, that's right the radio djs are back before introducing some kid called Fugative.
Obviously a dyslexic runaway.
This was one of the acts my daughter wanted to see and what a disappointment he was for her.
He looked like one of the hoodies that Cameron wants us all to hug, but we wouldn't because fuck knows where the wee bastard has been.
He shouted a lot in the mic and I suppose some people would call it rap, but it really isn't.
Easy E had Aids. This lad gets thousands of screaming girls.
There's no justice.
I haven't a clue at all about what he was saying except when he urged everyone to buy his new single on i-tunes.
This was something he did rather frequently.
As he was on for ten minutes about seven of them must have been taken up with aggressive self promotion.
I kept waiting for a hook to materialize from the side of the stage and yank him off, but no such luck.
A complete and utter fanny.
The DJs that came on after him and at least had the honesty to look sheepish when they said "wasn't Fugative great?"
No he fuckin' wasn't.
He aspired to be shite and didn't even manage that.

It was the turn of Eliza Doolitle next and by Christ can she sing.
Nice fat double bass sound, bit of calypso and summer sun with zero miming or backing tracks.
She skipped about seemingly a tad oblivious to the crowd and made a solid impression on me.
I don't know who booked her, but at least someone seems to actually have a bit of musical appreciation.

Then just as I started to think that things might pick up the radio (Make some noise) DJs ruined it all and introduced someone called Example.
He's Calvin Harris for the kiddies.
I barely fell asleep.
It only got worse when Diana Vickers, the x factor girl who does the impression of her out of the Cranberries, followed him.
She was simply awful.
Am I the only one that thinks her parents must have been hippies who smoked a bit too much and brain damaged the poor girl.
She doesn't appear to be on this planet half the time and then when she is feels the need to torture us with some seriously off key warbling.
Truly horrendous.

By now the radio DJs are really earning their money.
Well that's if they are being paid to lie through their teeth, because everything is fantastic according to them.
A young guy called Professor Green takes to the stage and rattles through some Eminems sound-alike rapping and he aint half bad to be honest.
He's got a single out just now that features Lilly Allen, but by the end of his set I'll not hold it against him.
Alanna enjoyed him and is keen to go and see him again, but I'm not so sure.
I reckon a Prof Green gig in Glasgow would attract a rather rough element and she would be out of her depth at it.

I though that the next band, The Hoosiers, would have offered me some welcome respite from the proceedings as I find them bouncingly inoffensive, but while they were good they mainly played material from their forthcoming, as yet to be released album, and that left the vast majority of the crowd wondering who the fuck they were.
They did play Mr A.

The Wanted seemed to be a major draw going by the home made banners proclaiming that a lot of seven year old wants to marry them.
They're a boy band in the worst sense of the word.
Miming, lip syncing, whatever you want to call it, while weaving in and out of each other in a poorly choreographed way.
Utter bollocks. They will be huge.

Big surprise time.
Alesha Dixon can sing.
Who would have thought it? I didn't, but she can. She can dance to.
In fact she can even do them both at the same time.
That puts her streets ahead of her peers in my opinion.
In fact it's a bit of a shame that while crap like Girls Aloud and their ilk fill stadiums in the UK basically miming to the same sort of thing Alesha Dixon hasn't got that level of fame.
Now I'm not saying I'm a fan.
All I am saying is that if you have one person that can do it for real, and another group who can't, then you would think that the plaudits and fame would go to the genuine article.
So it's a shame that it doesn't.
The real big shock of the evening was next.
Its Basshunter.
He of celeb big brother slayed the place.
The guy is genuinely pretty funny and enthusiastic.
You can see he just thinks its all a piss laugh and I found myself smiling away at his performance.
He knows it's cheesy and he doesn't care.

It was a shame when he retired from the stage and left it to yet another reality talent show contestant.
Alexandra Burke.
What can I say?
She was like a watered down Alesha Dixon.
They do about the same thing although this woman wants to be Beyonce a bit too much.
Not too bad, but relies a fair bit on the backing tracks.
Okay. She was shite. Total utter shite with a big capital SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHut the fuck up.

Who is Alex Gardner?
He appears to have supported everyone everyone who is anyone even though I have never heard of him.
Strangely enough I think for one moment I fitted right into the crowd, because no one else seemed to know who he was either.
Bland as fuck he is to.
I wouldn't even know where to start with him. White boy soul on a downer maybe.

Then things went from bad to worse when the Saturdays came on.
The crowd went mental and that just goes to show that you can actually fool all of the people all of the time.
They can't sing, they can't dance and they can't even walk from the back of the stage to the front in a straight line.
They are a talent free zone.
Jesus. They can't even mime.
If Doctor Frankenstein made Girls Aloud and Pussycat Dolls, then it was Igor who  managed to make The Saturdays out of the aborted shit that was left over in a bucket by the door.

Tinchy Stryder was supposed to follow them, but for some reason that no one told us it was McFly instead.
Now I've seen them with the kids about three times I think.
Each time they impressed as they can actually play.
Something has went wrong though.
Seriously wrong.
To hang onto some popularity they've decided that they should emulate the bands who are at the top of the charts so we get some abortion of a song called Party Girl, and then a medley of their hits with the small amount of balls that they had removed.
In hindsight they will come to realize that this moment was the first nail in the coffin of their career.
If they thought they were slipping before then they just set course for obscurity at warp factor six.

I think it was The Script next.
By this point I was feeling like someone had just set off a cattle prod on the side of my head and I was a bit disorientated so maybe it wasn't.
As a band they are exceptionally good at what they do, but it does nothing for me.
I seen them supporting the Zutons once and I didn't really get them then, and even though they are a different band now, I still don't.

Tinchy Stryder is crap.
That's a fact that you can take to the bank. That's all I'm going to say about him.

After him we got a Karaoke winner.
An eleven year old boy who sang "Don't stop believeing".
He was crap to.
While everyone swooned at his confidence he fumbled the words, sang badly, tried to body pop, rolled his belly and played air guitar.
Open up Bedlam again.
We are officially paying to see people make an arse of themselves.
Does it matter that he is eleven?
Am I being cruel?
His dream is probably to be on x-factor or Britians got talent.
He could win it as he is every chancer on every episode rolled into one.
What a lot of pish. His parents will be suitably proud of him though.
Fast forward a decade and he will be sitting on a pish stained couch with a bottle of Buckfast in his hand slurring that he once played in front of ten thousand people in the SECC and he could have been a contender.

JLS who were the main draw of the whole event were to finish the show and when they were introduced the place went nuts.
A bit like Beatlemania.
My girl was so exited that she started to cry.
This made it all worthwhile.
Not that I like to see her cry, but because right then she was lost in the moment.
All the crap from recent months that we have had to deal with vanished. Even if it was just for half an hour.
In that time she was swept away with the performance.
They were good to. I can't fault them really.
They are the singing and dancing phenomenon that they are touted as. Pretty much faultless in the execution of what they do, and it is all live.
I really do have to take my hat off to them.

So at the end of the day I have to ask myself was it worth it and simply because of that last half hour I have to say yes.
As a parent I couldn't put a price of hat JLS gave my daughter, and I'm not sure that at this moment in time anyone else could have given her that respite from life that she needed.
I guess I'll be in their debt for a long time now and if she wants to go and see them again then I'll move heaven and earth to make it happen.
What a day though.
Just be thankful that I lived through it and arrived here safe and sound to forewarn everyone else about what they can expect from In Demand.