Date: 30th April - 1st May Day 1 If you associate the Hinterland experience just with being in Glasgow, then it started for us the moment we stepped into the taxi at the airport. It felt like the bad elements of home had tagged along with us as we noticed grey skies, a tiresome queue on the motorway and Ian Wright on the radio sniggering at a caller who “ain’t buyin’ for a second that Man U are one of the best teams in Europe”. Then, what we approached and entered was what can only be described as an ancient, weathered, beaten San Francisco. The roads were steep, being driven up and down them was like riding a rollercoaster, and on their corners a Ladbrokes and a chip shop could mostly be found. What dominated the scene the most were the grand buildings, Victorian in appearance, which make Glasgow look so antique. On the eve of the festival we had been invited to the bar/restaurant, Mono, to check out Jenny Soep’s solo show, ‘Sketching the Scene’. Soep is known for drawing bands live at gigs with whatever water based media she has at hand, and having heard that she had captured the likes of Björk, Arcade Fire and Jeffrey Lewis, this show sounded promising and worth searching past all the derelict buildings on King Street, wondering if we were too late and that Mono had miraculously closed down. Upon discovering the exhibition I wondered what the curator was considering when using such an awkward space and whether or not they knew that there would be diners blocking the views of most of the work on display. The work itself, which we viewed while sidestepping through the narrow walkway between the wall and the dining area, had a very primitive and rushed appearance, which is what you could expect from someone if they’re supposedly drawing while being bumped and knocked around, and having beer spilt on themselves while trying to stand up. This was a thought that kept playing through my head as I viewed Soep’s work and that kept me from disliking it, as well as ignoring Aaron’s outrage at the absurd prices that the drawings were going for. What stood out the most for us was the drawing of Edwyn Collins’ come back gig, where one of his backing musicians was drawn as both a figure and a silhouette. As I studied this I was annoyed that other people standing around, blocking the space were forcing me to stand awkwardly close to it, but then I realized that standing in this cramped environment was very fitting for the Jenny Soep experience; why not view her work in the conditions of a gig? MP3: Discussion summary of Day 1 Day 2 MP3: Discussion summary of Day 2, Part 1 We began the first evening of the music side of the Hinterland festival by making our way to Stereo on Renfield Lane. This was an exciting venue to walk into; it has the front of a clean, average, modern bar, but as you walk down its rectangular staircase things become more bare and seedy, leading to the underground attraction. It was a shame that this couldn’t follow through with the band, because after ten minutes of waiting, Three Trapped Tigers cancelled their set. You will understand my disappoint when you listen to this track: MP3: Three Trapped tigers - 1 It was then on to the Classic Grand, a classic classy upstairs club on Jamaica Street, to see Orphans and Vandals. It was still early in the evening and already I was ready to crash just from listening to this band. It didn’t matter because I could have sat down and listened to their lulling, endearing sound all night. They achieved in playing ‘Mysterious Skin’ with the same ambience and that the Velvet Underground achieved with ‘Heroin’, and I was just about ready to OD by the time they had ended. Originally I had planned after this gig to rush next door to see the hip-hop act, Dante Fried Chicken, at the Sub Club for a free meal, as they were giving away ‘home cooked soul food’, but what with the sudden health freak, ‘everyone’s gonna get flu’, situation I thought it would be better to avoid food of which I didn’t know the provenance. So it was straight on to Hinterland’s mother venue, The Arches, on Argyle Street. This place had the look of a 90s underground rave club, being under the old brick structure of a bridge, and one of the bands to grace this venue was Foxface. The male singer had a voice to rival Malcolm Middleton’s and the band had a brilliant pace in their set, constantly switching between guitar, banjo and accordion, going from rockabilly, to Celtic folk, to combinations. What came after Foxface was a legendary group, who have stretched all the way back to the 80s with an ever changing lineup, and who I have struggled ever since I first discovered them to understand how they have earned their cult fame. The place really began to fill up in anticipation of The Fall and when they finally stepped onto the stage they proceeded to play a noise that stung the eardrums. There was one person missing whom most of the audience was peering over the stage to grab glimpses of, and when Mark E Smith finally made an appearance people finally erupted. What followed however, was quite an anticlimax; still recovering from a broken hip, Smith was clearly struggling to perform, as he kept clambering to the back of the stage to sit behind the amplifiers and whenever he put the microphone to his mouth he would produce an unrelenting drone that held back the band’s true capabilities. Fortunately the rest of the band was a brilliant unit that managed to keep the set together whenever Smith, who practically is The Fall, would falter. Needless to say, this can’t have affected the spirit of Mark E Smith, who famously gives a toss about nothing, and it’s that attitude that has retained The Fall’s popularity. The last act of the evening was The Invisible, who I could plunk into the same league as Hot Chip, Takka Takka, or Bloc Party, but the major difference is that this band has soul. The Admiral on Waterloo Street, in which they played, gathered a small crowd of adoring punters, who cheered at every funky bass line, tempestuous synth and smooth vocal that The Invisible fired at them. The room was filled with ongoing trance; everyone was caught up in the same groove that the band kept up towards the end. MP3: Discussion summary of Day 2, Part 2 Day 3 The final night of Hinterland kicked off with a drink at the Arches, followed by a trip to see Zoey Van Goey at Glasgow School of Art. Whoever the students were at this college were blessed with an SU bar that doubled as a magnificent gig venue, it was this hall that would dominate most of the night. Zoey Van Goey were a bit too modest for their own good. They wouldn’t give up the banter between songs about how they had broken certain instruments during sound check and how you would think that this was their first gig, but they make these mistakes all the time. This hardly mattered though, once they were actually playing all amateur appearances and mistakes faded away. The lead singer, Kim Moore mastered a viola that looked like its size could over power her, while she sang with a beautiful Glaswegian voice. Their greatest moment was when they played ‘Sweethearts in Disguise’, one of the most uplifting songs played throughout the festival. Following Zoey Van Goey were a band of much recent acclaim, Phantom. The act that screamed great retro elements like vaudeville and surf rock put on a major theatrical show. Behind them was a large screen that showed eerie black and white films of Blossfeldt-style plants growing at a fast pace, followed by old human anatomy diagrams. As their set began the bassist played the smooth, fuzzy opening to ‘We Float’, that was the cue for lead singer, Elsie Martins, to walk on stage in her beaming red outfit, with her snow white skin, vintage hair style and Rickenbacker guitar, which made her stand out as the commander of the room. Phantom proceeded to play a mysterious show full of echoing sounds that took the audience on a psychedelic journey. The bar that carried the greatest party atmosphere and the unique set of the whole festival was the spectacularly named, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, on St. Vincent Street. The set was played by the unique band of the whole festival, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard. No room had been this packed and no one had moved so much when a band had taken to the stage. They opened with a jam that went straight into their most rocking song, ‘Slogans’. What made this set so special was that Jeffrey used his great skill of story telling, which makes him a special performer; half way through he gave the audience a history lesson, in limerick form, about how punk came to be in New York, mentioning the names of the important bands of that city, including Thugz, the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls, while bursting into 30 second covers of their songs. The rest of the set kept the folk/punk spirit as Jeffrey played songs like ‘Banned From the Roxy’, ‘They Always Knew’, and finished on ‘Roll Bus Roll’. Just as an extra gem for the audience he revealed a new film he was working on in the form of one of his comic books, a hilarious spoof of the film noir detective genre. The band to end the show with an explosive impact could only be This Will Destroy You. It was puzzling to imagine if they would be any good live when hearing their studio recordings, due to its slow pace and extended, dragged out durations. I was expecting to sit down with my feet up and have a trippy experience, but was pleasantly surprised by how energizing they were. As they played ‘Freedom Blade’ and ‘Threads’ there were large chunks of the audience all moving in unison, and as each song developed and became more climactic the musicians, particularly the bassist became more passionate, practically assaulting their instruments. They were focusing on themselves, never once looking at the audience, showing intense concentration, and it was as though we were looking in on their session, rather than having them play for us. It was a powerful experience to watch This Will Destroy You at work and they were extremely humble when they gave their thanks at the end of the show. MP3: Discussion summary of Day 3 I have never been to a bar crawl style festival before so it is difficult to compare the Hinterland experience with much else, but this year it showed off some artists with extraordinary talents. The greatest appeal of it all is walking from one strange building to the next, wondering how your next discovery will affect you, which Hinterland provided with great promise.