May 1, 2009
It’s Day Two of Hinterland, the Whole Foods Market to the Camden Crawl’s Sam Smith ethos, and we’ve fallen in love with Glasgow entirely by this point. But no time for rose-tinted glasses, just a simple fact that we fail to see any acts short of at least noteworthy tonight. At all.
The first is Miss The Occupier, an unsigned trio purporting to love riot grrl and Sonic Youth but actually sounding a little more like Gang Of Four. Fronted by the sublime Roz Davies, it’s a fair enough observation that they wear their influences on their metaphorical bearskins, but they do it with panache. Maybe a tad unmemorable in the long run, but snappy and enjoyable for the moment all the same.
Two Door Cinema Club combine the one syllable, one note mentality of Vampire Weekend with the propensity for stadium-fill of Editors into something more interesting than most of the post-Foals club. Lacking the time to decide whether they fall on the wrong side of the Wombats/Envy and Other Sins divide (killable/laudible, in that order), they do the trick nicely for a cheery early Friday evening.
Something a little more challenging is occurring down the road at the beautiful Classic Grand, by the name of Juno !. Easily dismissed on first glance as duff, unfilleted post-nu-rave cod, it turns out that the seven-piece (I think) are to my ears what Art Brut are to my heart. With glowsticks wrapped around their glasses, they’re all simply adorable. The two frontmen jump around in a joyous frenzy, and the rest of the band play plinky, disco-led funpop including ‘Party Music’ and successfully bring the fun back in. And it’s a bonus that Bis’ Manda Rin appears for a song, a bit of a “wow, my gosh I’m in Glasgow and it’s buzzing and I bloody love it” moment to be quite honest. What a sap.
To continue on that affably foppish note, Sheffield duo Slow Club are back at The Arches ahead of the release of their debut album Yeah, So? They manage to pull in a decent-sized crowd with their cutesy tête-a-têtes, but any more self-depreciation and they’ll get a bit too cute. ‘Me and You’ et al are performed straight-up with panache, wry glee and a hint of disbelief. At one point, they come out into the crowd and play unplugged, which causes us to temporarily believe we’re in the middle of a Dickensian scene. Nice, but could do with being a smidgeon less ambrosial.
Good Shoes are one of our favoured incarnations of ‘London indie’, the jangliness of ‘All In My Head’ and ‘Morden’ making us go all woozy, but after seeing so many bands already over the course of the two days, the past tense just isn’t enough. Their set takes on new one/old one form, but we only last four tracks after realising that whilst Think Before You Speak IS a great album, Good Shoes aren’t necessarily going to hold up in the long term.
Instead, we head over to a bit of Ming Ming and The Ching Ching‘s set – and their music is quite the racket. With one of the worst band names we’ve ever heard, we figure it worthwhile if purely for the spectacle. But as it turns out, they’ve got the straight-upness of mclusky, the stomp of The Sonics and the jauntiness of Au Pairs. Surprise of the night.
Leeds’ iliKETRAiNS are a small flight of stairs away, with baritone-led, epic pomp threatening to disintegrate the walls at more than one point. Dressed in a uniform suggesting they’ve just ushered a whole town’s population onto a steam engine, their material is dramatic beyond comprehension, performed as if a soundtrack. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic night and we’re struggling to keep up with our wishlist.
And so onto Jeffrey Lewis and The Junkyard‘s lightning-fast brain at a packed, buzzing King Tut’s. Coming across part-devastating lothario, part-professor of the world, ‘The History of Punk On The Lower East Side’ is something else live. It’s a lecture interspersed with short samples of genres; it’s pin-sharp, incomparable. The nasal anarchism is transcendental, speeding through the concept of communism and the meaning of love just for fun. It’s strange that this guy hasn’t completely taken over the world.
And taking the intellectualism down to the disco is former Metronomy man Gabriel Stebbing‘s new project, Your Twenties. ‘Caught Wheel’ proves Stebbing’s roots, the keyboard lines similarly GHB-laden, but the rest is altogether more California-birthed dream-poppy. Very fun and dance-encouraging, we’re wanting to see these pretty boys some time again very soon.
We Were Promised Jetpacks close proceedings to an excitable audience; wordlessly, their gratitude is jumping off their sleeves. While great right now, it’s perfectly rational to predict that a couple more albums down the line, ‘Jetpacks will have mastered the art of variation. For now, however, they are simply incredible live – far more extrovert than when we saw them play The Borderline in London a few months ago. ‘Quiet Little Voices’, their most straight up (and well-known) moment, is thrown away confidently early on, with later gems such as ‘It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning’ and ‘This Is My House, This Is My Home’ so full of crescendos that the band-members’ string-bothering hands must be threatening separation. And what a great name.
Thank you Hinterland – you’ve given us such joy. Here’s hoping that more people catch on next year…