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Mugstock

Mugdock Country Park (Saturday 29th July)

By • Aug 1st, 2017 • Category: Gig review

The moment I get on the ‘shuttle bus’ (it’s a people carrier), the rain starts. One of the best things to do when sampling any festival for the first time is to have a good wander round before it gets busy, getting to grips with the layout … making sure you know how long it might take, say, if you need to visit the portaloo just before your favourite band take to the stage. But when it’s pouring, staying cosy and dry inside a bar tent wins hands down.

The site is understandably quiet and, as it begins to busy up, my shelter becomes a lot of people’s first stop. That’s when I get my first real taste of the Mugstock vibe. I had my expectations that it’d be full of lovely families with young children, and it is that times a hundred. Strangers smiling and saying hello is not unusual in Glasgow, but this is close to a 100% hit rate. I can’t have been there more than half an hour when I’m first offered someone’s pizza.

ASBOC

A Sudden Burst Of Colour take to the Corrie Stage in less-than-favourable conditions, but a few people step out from the bar tent to take a closer look from under ponchos and umbrellas. Their post-rock is pleasing but the weather is a massive distraction. They give it a first top notch go, though, despite plenty excuse for dialing it in.

Mugdock Park doesn’t close for Mugstock, and is still accessible to whoever wishes to wander through. The festival essentially just takes over a few areas and fences them off, with wristband checks at various points. The biggest plus of this is access to the old Mugdock stables – a lovely set of buildings that house a couple of cafes and some proper toilets. It’s safe to say they are high on my agenda for the day, but I still need to explore the whole site.

The Chameleon Stage is quite something, though I’ve landed there between bands. There’s a huge, bright-coloured chameleon that appears to be climbing the structure and more importantly in these conditions, another bar tent with stools and a good view of the stage. For such a new festival, it’s really great to see thought put in to keeping the punters happy if it rains.

Down at the Butterfly Stage, I find Lisa Kowalski playing in front of another bright-coloured set piece – a butterfly, of course. The singer songwriter from Paisley is pleasingly pleasant, easy to like, and includes a cover of Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years in her set. Sure, it’s a busker staple, but she does it well.

Yip Man

I catch the tail end of a solo set from Courier’s Club on the Oxjam Stage. It’s a shame the stage isn’t featured in the programme, as the whiteboard billing lacks show times so I almost don’t know who I’m watching. I barely see enough to form an opinion but take mental note not to avoid them in future.

Moments like this remind me that festivals are designed for laid back people – like the mustachioed man who is wandering around barefoot. Me, I like schedules, shoes (or wellies!) and walls. I like proper plates and cutlery. I like going home to my bed. I like not spending all day encased in a bright yellow poncho … But, I promise, I’m still having fun.

On the Corrie Stage, I then catch James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band playing some jolly good Americana. Edwyn has the kind of voice and delivery that compels. The persona of a man with stories to tell, even if a rainy music festival isn’t the best place to get deep into the substance of things. The crowd grows as their set goes on, and it probably isn’t just because of sleepyheads finally emerging from their tents.

Back at the Chameleon Stage, I find FairFollies finishing soundcheck and starting their set. There’s something that doesn’t quite feel like it gels, in particular between the vocals and the music – but as a fairly new venture from experienced musicians, they may just need to find their groove.

I then decide it’s time to head indoors. The Stables Tearoom menu features macaroni cheese… and although everyone is raving about the stuff on offer by the Corrie Stage, I’m simply too taken by the idea of a plate and cutlery. It even comes with a very generous side salad. I watch the rain through the window while my clothes dried out and feel disproportionately pleased with myself.

A check of the schedule tells me my next must-see – Yip Man – are still quite a while off, so I have a cheeky wee empire biscuit too. Someone outside on the Oxjam Stage is covering George Ezra. One of the girls in the cafe incorrectly identifies it as a Mumford & Sons song. I let it slide.

Yip Man

Well-rested, I headed back to the Corrie Stage just in time for a thoroughly enjoyable set from Yip Man. Al Nero and his band are decked out in Yip Man merch, as were a few people in the crowd. Only he, though, was donning a cape. His smart indie power pop translated well and felt more fulfilling than a lot of the music on offer that day. I think even the toddler who fell face first into mud during the set approved. But then, he also lost his mind over an orange balloon.

Back out at the Oxjam Stage, there are too many people in the Well Happy Band for the whole lot to fit on stage. Spilling out onto the grass, the group wear their ethos on their sleeves, bursting with positivity. The cheery bunch get a decent-sized crowd dancing and seem notably popular among canines. Soon after, a band with a similar outlook called Spring Break provide a splash of technicolour to the Corrie Stage. These are the kinds of fun live bands you’ll get called a stick-in-the-mud for knocking … but you probably won’t rush home to put on your iPod either.

Before festival headliners and 90s indie-pop legends The Supernaturals take to the stage, two members of the Well Happy Band appear and encourage the crowd to do various feel-good exercises involving laughter. My memories of seeing The Singing Kettle at a slightly-too-old age are faint, but I think the way it made me feel was similar.

So anyway, a little over 20 years ago, aged 12-ish, I started listening to a band called The Supernaturals. Their first album was awesome and so was their second. They had this bunch of hits that I loved, but I was too wee to see them live before they split. A long, long, long time later, they got back together, but their gigs are very few and far between. I’m not big on reunions, but getting to finally see The Supernaturals feels like putting things right.

Supernaturals

Every band that reunites has to decide whether they’re doing it for the past or for the future. Despite the fact that The Supernaturals released a new album in 2015, only putting one song from it in the setlist suggests they’ve chosen the past. My inner pre-teen self is totally delighted as they run through all the classics – Lazy Lover, The Day Before Yesterday’s Man, Everest, I Wasn’t Built To Get Up … but it does feel a little defeatist. I’ve definitely never heard a band make that many jokes about getting old before. Maybe they just need a little more self-belief … and to lose the cowboy hats.

Some extra entertainment is offered by the children in the front row – a girl wearing a poo emoji mask with her dad behind desperately trying to get her acknowledged by the band; front man James McColl’s two sons who keep shouting ‘Dad!’ to try and get his attention between songs; and the young autograph-seeker who, upon working out the family connection, asks James’ sons for help.

After an hour of long overdue teenage glee, I bounce off cheerily to locate friends. We catch a bit of Half Formed Things – an Edinburgh trio who look the part and like to do noisy crescendos. The paths to the crescendos are not all as convincing as they need to be, but there’s clear potential.

Bombskare step out to possibly the biggest crowd of the day. Their ska tunes get people moving, but while most are doing that leg kick thing, I’m shuffling off to the Tempo Tea Bar. If I’m going to listen to ska, I deserve a compensatory treat.
And so the time comes to head for the ‘shuttle bus’ (people carrier) back to the city. Mugstock has been much more lovely than most festivals can manage on a rainy day, but man I’m looking forward to being back indoors.

So, in summary, what do you need to know?

Mugstock is lovely. Full of children, full of dogs, super friendly.
The Supernaturals’ late 90s hits are still excellent.
Buildings are the future.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

(See also Betty Mayonnaise’s top 5 acts from Mugstock 2017)

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