Gig review

Mugstock 2018

This was Mugstock no 4, a small music festival with a capacity of a bit over a thousand people, run with the permission of the country park by a committee helped out by professional administration, sound crew and quite a few volunteers (like BM, looking stylish rocking the high-viz and walkie-talkie look), who get to see the festival for free outside of their booked shifts, usually about 11-12 hours over the weekend, leaving plenty of time to see bands and chill out…

It combines a very family friendly vibe with a bit of potential for hedonism and festival madness, attracting regulars and visitors of all ages and stages… It really is one of the friendliest events BM has had the pleasure of attending, with security dealing quickly with any real streamers and complete strangers helping each other out, no really!

The bill this year looked pretty good, a variety of local talent (quite heavy on Yellow Movement-related bands) but some more exotic elements as well, with bands from Italy and South Africa. There are multiple stages so there is something for everyone.

After a prolonged period of baking weather the festival was hit by rain, some real pulsing deluges on Friday night plus some very heavy showers on Saturday – oh well, at least the ground was pretty dry so real flooding was averted.

BM saw a lot of bands, helped to park Scottish CND’s bus (the irrepressible David Blair had arranged with the organisers to bring 70 or so people, including an invited guest in the form of a Hiroshima blast survivor, from the Scottish CND Conference to make Scotland’s largest human peace sign and watch the Dijon Five). The speech he made, in Japanese but through a good translator, was very moving and poignant, before the Dijon party started in earnest…

Ultras played the Chameleon stage (second in capacity to the main Dragon stage) around 8pm. We got a good selection from their first, self-titled album, plus some new “work in progress” songs. BM is a very big Ultras fan and to hear some of the older songs like ‘Royal Names’ was a real thrill.
The seriously talented Gav Mitchell’s tales of a West Lothian childhood are dark, blackly funny at times and demand a wider audience. And the guitar solos really rocked as well, with thrumming bass and crashing drums, as the sky darkened… “and we all know that knowledge is the key to holding on..” Fantastic!

MC Solareye came on the same Chameleon stage just as the weather got really rough with sheets of rain and a bit of lightning even. Solareye and his beats man Harvey Kartel were in fine form, fortified possibly by their Buckfast rider, and tore through some highlights from recent album “All These People Are Me” including ‘Shutter Island’ (“about Airdrie”) and ‘The Ill Somniliquist’, the tracks a mixture of bravado and vulnerability, streams of pop culture references and social commentary
with Kartel’s ill beats giving atmospheric and varied landscapes of instrumentation. Solareye is good, very good, and getting better. His “other” band Stanley Odd are also on the festival trail this summer and playing Electric Fields in a few weeks.

Have to say that about halfway through the set BM tottered off to see how Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five were doing – in the rain, on the main stage. Given they have played 3 of the 4 Mugstocks to date it is fair to say a lot of the audience was there specifically to see them.
And it was an effortlessly storming set, despite the rain, with the highlights been an impassioned ‘These Are Not the Drugs’ and a raucous ‘Gay Icon’ – there were kids on the stage dancing, most of the audience was dancing and the vibe was as usual friendly, slightly mental and very inclusive – they brought the funk, and again there were shades of SAHB, Parliament/Funkadelic and The Average White Band.
With a full summer of festivals the Dijon Five’s profile is still rising fast – they will be playing a free gig at George Square on Saturday August 4th as part of the Glasgow 2018 entertainment programme…

Kid Canaveral put in a frenetic, emotional and frequently hilarious performance on the main (Dragon) stage, cheered on and heckled by their biggest fan “John” (and here was BM thinking she was KC’s biggest fan…). Currently with two very capable subs (on bass and keyboards) due to parental leave the band were in fine fettle, with the twin guitar attack of David and Kate cutting through the at times driving rain.
We got a good selection from all three of their albums – best moments were probably the rollocking ‘First We Take Dumbarton’, the jerky but beautiful Kate-led ‘Callous Parting Gift’ with its extraordinary middle eight and the older songs like ‘Low Winter Sun” and “Good Morning’, ending with its accusatory reprise “Do you know something that I don’t know?”, cuckolded, maybe…? An altogether splendid set and a real highlight of the weekend.

Foxtrap played a superb early evening set on Sunday. Formerly The Baltic States, from Liverpool (and the Isle of Man!) this three piece played the festival last year and this time were on the main stage. They played a stunning set of familiar and new material.
Lead singer Helen’s vocals soared and swooped while the keyboards and drums did their thing, sounding like The Pet Shop Boys vs Fever Ray with a good dosage of Factory Floor as well. The effects box was used live during two songs, giving them a heightened unpredictability. Highlights for BM were ‘Boxes’, ‘Kontrol’ and recent single ‘Release’. This lot are a class act, and the somewhat sparse crowd, braving another day of on/off rain, appreciated them.

Honourable mentions across the weekend go to Mount Doubt (BM missed due to work shifts) 100 Fables (the couple of songs BM saw sounded like Blondie vs Vukovi, very confident and ones to watch) Feet of Clay, whose ‘Born Slippy’ cover almost took the roof off the Butterfly Stage tent, Girobabies, who had to cut their set short due to the weather but not before they played set highlight (IMHO) ‘Potions’, and The Hollows, who put in an excellent late night set at the Butterfly Stage tent – there is definitely some alchemy going on in their potent mix of styles…

All in all a great festival…and BM looks forward to Mugstock 5…