With a name like No Dancing, you’d be forgiven for expecting an audience of beard stroking jazzbos listening to earnest bands playing complex, moody chord sequences. However, Glasgow’s newest live music night aims to defy expectations by lining up a diverse range of exciting acts from across Scotland.
First up are PAWS, from way up north in the Highlands. And you can tell there isn’t much to do in their home town of Tain but hit the rehearsal space because they deliver their Strokesy- guitar rock in a very tight manner. Wearing the uniform that Strokesy-guitar rock bands do [hi-tops, check; skinny jeans, check; checked shirt, check], it’s at first hard to see what separates them from the droves of other similar bands out there. But as their high energy, full sounding set develops, they become way more interesting, climbing about the stage [even underneath it at one point],playing music where it seems the actual song itself is gets drunk in the middle. Coupled with the fact they look like they are having so much fun you want to join them, the crowd find themselves disagreeing with a main lyrical chant of “When I go home/ please take me home”. We just want them to stay.
After the animal delights of PAWS, RM Hubbert hits the stage, and he proves to be one of the most charming acts in Glasgow. Playing the acoustic guitar in a unique style, he taps rhythms on the body of the guitar and plays the melodies and bass lines all at once, all by himself. These instrumental soundscapes conjure up images of forest walks in Spain in the early morning; the mist and heat rising from the mountain side. With his DIY ethic [one song is about his group of bohemian skater friends with whom he built and lived in a skatepark with in a rundown church in Anniesland], and with his warm personality, and immense music talent, RM Hubbert is an inspiration to us all. Brilliant.
Following an act as good as RM Hubbert, it would be very easy for Deathpodal to kill the night. And although they don’t manage to completely slay the mood at No Dancing, they don’t slay at all as they should. Noiz sequences that seem too un-architected, attempts to be heavy that turn out airy, and occasionally out of tune vocals: could this just to be down to the immense hangover they mentioned after the first song? Despite this, a good point becomes apparent. The heavy metal groove sections they have in every song are awesome. Like glaciers moshing. It’s their bassist that’s the key here, holding everything together with tight Rage-like grooves. He also proves that the 5 string bass guitar is not a totally gay instrument, but actually can be the saviour of a 5 piece band. A string for every member maybe?
But who actually needs a band obscuring your talent these days anyway? Not the final act of the night, Adam Stafford. Strolling on stage with only a microphone, his repeated rhythmic vocal phrases of “doom doom doomdoom” at first seem bemusing and ridiculous. Until his quirky sung loops build up into the most lush and gorgeous pop songs you’ve heard since Gwen Stefani cooed ‘Cool’. By the middle of every song everyone is forgetting this guy made it all in front of them with just his voice. Perfect Roland 808 drum sounds pound, synth melodies bound, MJ “Aooows!” squeal. And then Mr Stafford ends every song the way he started, resetting his looper pedal to his initial vocal sequence. As if to remind you that yes, it was all just his voice all along, and yes, he has massive skillz [sic]. The use of his voice is unmatchable (even when he tells the crowd to “shut it”!). He ends on a rather haunting number that sounds like the soundtrack to a thousand lost souls in the pyramids of Egypt. Not what everyone expected.
But that is what No Dancing is about. Defying your expectations. With a pretty static crowd, No Dancing may have lived up to its name physically; but mentally, it left everyone with their imagination leaping and pirouetting all over the place.