Monthly Archives: June 2010

Shaky the Festival Grinch


Connect campsite

Glastonbury time, then. So that’s beautifully patterned tent, check. Wellies, check. On-trend festival wardrobe, check. List of bands to see, erm…

It’s impossible to pick up a magazine during summer that doesn’t contain pages of festival fashion. Suggestions of products to help get through the festival feeling relatively un-tramp-like, fair enough, but having the right hot pants and fringed waistcoats and make up and ditsy print dresses? You’re going to be in a field. For days. And will probably resort to pissing behind a bush at some stage. Does it really matter if you’re wearing last year’s jeans?

And, erm, aren’t festivals meant to be for music fans? Blame the recession if you will, or the increasing numbers of huge omnipresent crossover albums, but somewhere, festivals became something everyone just did in summer regardless of caring about music, an alternative to having a holiday abroad (although they often end up costing more). More and more, they’re about looking good and being able to say you were there. There seems to be a real desire to be part of something, so you can say you were there for that magic festival moment, but it’s oddly lacking in sincerity.

TV coverage certainly doesn’t help, with shot upon shot of grinning festival-goers bounding along in front of the main stage in idyllic sunshine. Festivals are never that much fun in real life (the ‘Happy Campers this way!’ sign at Connect 2007 having ‘LIES!’ scrawled over it in mud by the end of the weekend springs to mind), and no one ever looks that good after even one night in a field. Still, watching the highlights on TV and suffering from a bit of unjustified festival envy is still infinitely better than having to be there. Everyone will be back on tour in the autumn, and you can have a shower afterwards (and even before, if you’re so inclined).

Rant over. Festival Grinch out.


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Recommended: Over The Wall

Rightly or wrongly, Scottish bands tend to fall into three categories: dour, twee and novelty. Recent Scottish success stories haven’t exactly done much to dispel this either: the vowel mangling Glasvegas, the Fratellis’ bouncy moronic chanting,  Amy McDonald’s hiccuping semi-folk and whatever the hell Paulo Nutini is trying to do.

So it’s nice when a hotly tipped Glasgow band turns out to be as refreshing and original as Over The Wall. The duo (ok, one of them is English, but they’re based in Glasgow) are thoroughly a product of their environment yet somehow sound a world away: conjuring something as real and as heartbreaking as Gimme Five while avoiding the grim parochial fug which chokes so much of Scotland’s exports is a rare skill indeed, and one they should be treasured for.

At their recent gig at Oran Mor, supported by the quite wonderful Gdansk, they closed with Thurso (a song there just aren’t enough superlatives to describe) which prompted one of those truly beautiful live music moments, the whole room singing together, dancing to the sound of a strangely euphoric heartbreak.

Over The Wall’s debut album will be out later this year, but in the meantime, there’s plenty to get aquainted with on their MySpace.

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A bit of self-promotion

Excuse me while I go first person for a post.

On Tuesday night, I reached a bit of a writing milestone. I’ve been working on a novel (or an attempt at one) for about a year now, and I’ve just passed the 100,000 words mark. That’s the most I’ve ever written of anything, and I thought it deserved its own post. A few years ago, I completed Nanowrimo, an exercise to see if you can write 50,000 words in a month. I did, but it wasn’t exactly Ulysses, so I wanted to see what I came up when I allowed myself a lot more time. Whether or not I ever let it see the light of day is another matter entirely: it’s as much about the process as the result.

And while we’re here, have a couple of live reviews I’ve done for The Fly recently:

Idlewild at the ABC

Delays at Cabaret Voltaire

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