April 30, 2009
You’re used to my reviews by now, you’ve accepted the way I like to splice them with abstract observations. And here’s some inspired from Hinterland:
(1) Never mind stupid-on-purpose becoming the new smart, why doesn’t precocious-in-hindsight eventually find the musically retarded?
(2) Do I have ADHD or is everyone else not moving for a reason (this isn’t a new abstraction, merely the recollection/grandiose coming together of an old one)?
Glasgow is a strikingly independent city. Those I encountered were interesting, interested and constantly striving. Maybe it’s a magnetism thing, but it’s pretty unusual (self-obsession: check). So it’s only fitting that it has its own festival, Hinterland’s mostly locally-formed line-up aptly tailored to the brief. The most salient observation from the two-day festival are the amount of venues on around one-fifth capacity; only The Fall at The Arches 1 and Jeffrey Lewis at King Tut’s are full (albeit bursting), even Metronomy at the fairly small Arches 2 could do with around another 50 audience members. It’s completely unjustified – there’s around 100 noteworthy acts on the bill, but maybe it’s only novel for me because I’m not a local? Just a sidenote, really.
The Thursday bill is kicked off for me by Trailer Trash Tracys [sic] who offer an entirely indistinguishable set. Led by Suzanne Aztoria, the trio writhe around affably but fail to get past their amass of white noise. Glittery-sounding and a tad too stark, it’s difficult to distinguish where one track ends and the next starts. The next catch is 85 Bears, a London-based trio who are almost brilliant. The sound sounds far greater than that of a three-piece, crashing and peaking and slumbering over and over; there’s truly intricate interplay at the heart of their sound, and their post-rock is truly one to latch onto.
Wolverhampton’s The Lines are our next choice, sadly straddling unengagedly between jangle pop, stadium landfill and the worst of britpop (Cast – yes, really). But it’s all compensated for by new-form Metronomy; Gabriel Stebbing has sadly departed the line-up, but Joseph Mount and Oscar Cash have gained a new bassist and a drummer. The sound is less clinky and far heavier as a result, with even ‘Heartbreaker’ sounding a tad industrial. Mount is self-assured as ever, and Cash’s dancing suggests he’s on a ‘dance or die‘ brief. The new additions change the sound of Nights Out entirely, bringing it altogether closer to that of the first album, sounding strangely more like The Qemists than Devo all of a sudden. Which is great, in case you’re wondering. It’s puzzling that the crowd have the ability to be so stagnant while we follow Mr. Cash on his implicit mission to rid the world of apathy, but so much for harping on that…
Hinterland’s biggest name, The Fall, play to a full 1,500 people in a labyrinthine sub-railway station venue, Mark E. Smith out of his wheelchair and throwing as many strops as ever. Throwing his mic into the kit, hiding behind the amp, stumbling off stage for a song and ranting “I’m 50, what are you?” to the crowd at one point, he’s as entertaining as ever, at one point even turning attempted murderer by turning the sound up to eardrum-splattering levels. Among the temporary constructs/band-members is Smith’s wife, Elena Poulou, giving a fantastic take on screaming, stabbing keyboarding. If every other Fall show’s a bad ‘un, this one’s, well, an intermediatory?
End. Of. Thursday.