Sunday, September 03, 2006

Also-rans From the Radio Competition,

I apologise to 6music listeners, and especially those who tried and failed to win tickets to the Indian Summer music festival in Victoria Park, Glasgow, during Rob Hughes’ show. They lost out to me, a weakling who lacked the stamina to endure both days of the festival.

I had a fine time at Indian Summer Saturday. It was a smaller festival, much nicer than T in the Park and the line-up was a bit different from the major identikit festivals that have taken place this summer. The festival was touted as being more sophisticated; aside from music on three stages, the proles could also play bowls or croquet and eat healthy food; they didn’t sell chips - only potato wedges, a circumstance that my assistant musicologist sulked over.

Upon entering the park, we thought we were faced with watching 1990s on the Main Stage out in the rain until The Royal We came on stage in the ABC Tent (for newer bands). The official programme had the times listed wrongly, and we didn’t have to watch 1990s, but we did for a while with a just a handful of other people and one of them from Franz Ferdinand. They sounded very much like Franz Ferdinand; they were alright and better than Razorlight. I don’t see much of a future for bog-standard 3 or 4 piece guitar/bass/drums/vocals approach.

We left 1990s at the time which The Royal We were supposed to be starting, only to find that they’d been on for 15 minutes. This was disappointing; I was looking forward to seeing The Royal We on the strength of their songs after they were praised by Bricolage on Marc Riley’s 6music show. For the remainder of their set, they were a real treat. They’re a 6-piece; 3 boys and 3 girls including a bespectacled keyboardist/guitarist, a bassist who wears a pair of boxing gloves around his shoulders, a mean lead singer and an all-important violinist (there are some photos here). A cloaked Steve Pacamac watched from the side of the stage, and if he does his job properly (for once), The Royal We will fill the “new favourite band” feature on his 6music show in the near future.

Next on the Main Stage were Scissors for Lefty, their set consisted of boring guitars, drums and pointless electronic noodling. Someone will like them, I think Steve Pacamac does. Their stuff seemed rather tired and unoriginal.

For electronic noodling done properly, we needn’t have looked further than the Flying Matchstick Men who came on to play the ABC Stage halfway through the hollow set on the Main Stage. Graham, Mark and Gavin mess about with gadgets and a laptop whilst Mark plays drums. Lead singer Graham is full of energy - 10 out of 10 for his “we’re Hot Chip, we’ve just decided not to play Over and Over today” quip - and their overall technical wizardry meant no one missed the guitars.

Ben Kweller was the man who first brought the Main Stage to life. In his woolly cardigan, he rocked on the guitar and he rocked on the piano. Despite having nearly a wholly new backing band, Ben played an impressive collection of new and old songs to a really knowledgeable crowd. I’ve liked Ben Kweller’s solo work for a while, I have a couple of his albums but my recollection of the songs wasn’t a patch on some of the people’s that enjoyed a belter of a set.

We caught snippets of The Voom Blooms and Mother and the Addicts in the ABC Tent either side of Guillemots on the Main Stage. I’m not so sure about whether I like Guillemots so much these days. Some of their racket is quite difficult to handle all of the time.

I was really looking forward to hearing Lupen Crook. He played to a tiny pocketful of people, with his backing band, the Murderbirds, a drummer and a fellow who played an assortment of guitar, keyboard and fork and knife on hubcap. The unenlightened were all watching Hot Chip. They were brilliant and were exactly what I expected being a proud owner of the immense Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping album which is an angry collection of songs about nasty relationships, death, rape and skeletons.

I like Over and Over as much as the next person but Hot Chip on the Main Stage were boring musically and visually.

After a boring vacuum in the programme, we headed to the ABC Tent to see Pigeon Detectives. They’re a five-piece rock’n’roll outfit. They were quite good but I don’t know if there’s anything that sets them apart from everyone else. There’s not much more of music left to be explored with just guitars and drums.

We departed for the Main Stage to see The Fall. The band came on and was playing for a few minutes before the nonchalant Marc E. Smith finally ambled onto stage to join them. I know very little about The Fall but I went over with an open mind. The band seemed pretty good but I didn’t see the point of Mark E. Smith turning up. I didn’t have a clue what he was singing, shouting or saying at any stage; it was just some sort of lazy, nondescript drawl. I suppose he remains untouchable. Towards the ends of the songs, when his parts were over, he strolled around the stage as if he was inspecting the work of his band and wondering who to sack next.

We wandered away to the ABC Tent in search of something better. Jack Lukeman was playing. It was a painful experience; we tried to like him twice. I think Jack L has written his own Wikipedia entry.

We finally made it to the end of the day – the headline slot: Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They were amazing. Karen O, resplendent in a silver space suit, is brilliant and I’d say a certainty to become the next President of the USA.

I'm not very good at reviewing artists, unlike the fellow who was watching the Flying Matchstick Men next to me - he had a notepad and pen, he ran away when he saw that I was reading what he had written. My highlights were The Royal We, Flying Matchstick Men, Ben Kweller, Lupen Crook and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. People can ask questions of me, I might be able to answer but on the whole, if I say something is great, I should be trusted.


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