Aka the night of the living ponchos, or 100 different words for rain. The Scottish summer (driving rain throughout, and some really big drops, watered down the beer) conspired to put somewhat of a dampener on proceedings. It did require a sustained level of “don’t give a f@@k-ness” to survive and enjoy this one, but the billing was so good that BM for one was well up for this.
7 bands, 5 of which are reviewed here, manfully and womanfully played on and fair play to Regular Music, Stow College and compere Jim Gellatly for carrying on no matter what (in a pair of big shorts that certainly outdo Bridget Jones’ big pants and could probably house an entire family of refugees, or Brexiters for that matter). At one point it looked as if a mini-tidal wave from the flooding uncovered front bit of the stage was going to stream over the wee barriers of cabling that protected the bands from the onstage water and that some sandbags would be required, but the Dijon 5’s approach (just paddling in it) risked electrocution and wet breeks but several members did so anyway (see below).
The size of the crowd was reflective of the weather too, with there still being tickets available at the gates despite the bargain £15 for 7 bands. And it was a rather sorry site to see small bunches of ponchoed-up punters huddled up on the seats like the aftermath of some unfortunate seafaring incident (the ponchos were free and even the most hipster of the crowd realised they did have a use, in fact several uses, the photographers at the front were using them as makeshift camera-protectors).
First band BM saw then was The Sunshine Social, previous BM interviewees. The Glasgow based six-piece appeared to be unflustered by the bluster(ing) wind and rain, thanking the crowd for “getting the memo asking the audience to come dressed as ready-cooked meals” and repeatedly requesting that “someone put a last 50p in the parking meter” for a Toyota Yaris whose ticket was running out, “will give my beer off the rider as obviously I am driving…” Choice cuts from the recently released debut album and even a new song were played, highlight for BM probably still ‘Men at Work’ with its couthy lyrics about how underwear used to be (as a vintage collector, subject close to BM’s heart and other parts of the anatomy) – nice set, guys, hopefully destined for bigger things…
Next up, Pronto Mama, another Glasgow-based 6 piece (although hard to tell with guitar tech lurking at the back, one good element of the EH Sessions is that current students have roles doing band tech stuff, sound, lighting and photography, bit of a risky gig today given the pelting rain) – this lot came highly recommended from other Mayonnaise family members who had seen them live at the West End Fest all-dayer, and they did not disappoint. BM hopes they will not be offended when I say that they do not look like a natural gang, like they should maybe be bullying each other or something. With two vocalists, a twin brass/keyboards section and a drummer whose ginger afro could compete with Emma Pollok’s current drummer in the Scottish drummer ginger afro championships (yet to be organised but if there is enough demand BM would be happy to judge it), this band are quiet, loud but also orchestrated and nuanced – despite the rain there were whoops and cheers as they played, and there were some glorious moments of losing it in the rain. During this set BM took the ultimate touch-screen challenge, yes at the swimming pool the touch screen just gave up… And of course, just what BM was thinking in this sea of disposable plastic, some guy finally got it and shouted “Poncho Mama” – priceless.
Be Charlotte was next – rocking up today in bold bare legs (did I say that none of the bands gave a Trump about the weather, which made this event so special, and by the way it was still cats, dogs, and possibly also that escaped Rhea still at large near Patna, do not approach any birds from Patna is the official advice….of the feathered or lipsticked kind, oh dear, digging a hole now…). This girl (backed with keyboards/seriously funky bass and solid drums) is a real star in the making, a combination of ridiculously catchy tunes and solo singing, also a bloomin’ good rap/rant at one point, paid tribute to Electric Honey as the guys who put out her first single ‘Too Late’. She stood on a box to make her points and reminded BM a bit of Sinead O’Connor, quite high praise in these parts. ‘Machines that Breathe’ was also extraordinary, in the rain, and more rain – amazing.
The Yellow Movement had been evident in the somewhat depleted crowd from the start and Col Mustard and the Dijon Five did their best to party in the rain, probably their worst gig scenario for a while, but still managed to get a conga going, moved the audience (literally) during “Cross the Road” and proved a very versatile combo with a Utah Saints cover (much appreciated by BM). On this occasion the Col’s vocals reminded BM somewhat of Jimmy Cauty of the JAMMS, no bad thing at all, especially on the essential 1987 platter WTF is Going On, which (for those not around at the time) combined Sam Fox’s ‘Touch Me’ with a few other classic tracks, and somehow managed to evade legal action from PWL (they were not quite so lucky with ABBA but we don’t talk about the that, the smell of smokin’ vinyl in the morning at the ferry, nah BM was not there, but readers, I… sh… shudder at the memory…)
So a triumph in the rain, still more rain, for the Dijons, and last to come, headliners Hector Bizerk.
Widely trailed as the Bizerk Swansong, this may not in fact be the case, another gig down Ayr way and another “last” gig announced from the stage tonight, in October, venue tbc, mean it ain’t over til it is… However things end, HB have proved, along with others, that you can be Scottish and rap, and nae cringe factor. Backed by a crackling live band, chief HB instigator Louie spat and strutted his way through some of their greatest, several albums of great material to choose from, with the crowd willing him on. He is so fast on the mike that for many of us the actual words are lost live but repeated listening to the tracks render this as the absolute cutting edge of social commentary and then some – ‘We Made A Porno’ was belligerent and sad, ‘Christopher Columbus’ was angry and bitter, ‘Hector Bizerk’ was a statement of intent, which to a good degree this band has delivered on. You can do this, against the odds, against record company whores and cnuts, and still live to tell the story. There were chants, there was vindication, and whatever happen next Louie, Audrey and the other guys can stand proud of their achievements, and impact on the Scottish music scene – so slightly damply, we salute you, and Electric Honey, and Regular – bold and audacious moves do pay off, and let us all do it again next year, ponchos or bust…