Drawn out early in horrendous rain storms in order to watch the afternoon Scottish Cup Final, it’s almost by chance that we start our day of musical delights with a dose of homegrown talent in the shape of Glasgow’s Blue Sky Archives. Containing former members of Dance Lazarus Dance, Dead Or American, Boyfriend/Girlfriend and Holy Mountain, they prove a revelation, combining brooding textures with a pop sensibility that sets them apart from their Glasgow peers. I expect we’ll hear great things from them in months to come.
Later, with a musical itch to scratch we make sure we attend Clinic, and are treated to a set that is a joy to behold. Dressed in their usual surgeon suits and masks, they are a perfect antidote to turgid landscape of identikit indie bands, showcasing more imagination and talent in a half hour set than many bands cram into a whole career.
Part of the Blessing Force collective, Chad Valley is part of a new breed of talent pushing the Oxford scene to new heights. His stripped down, fucked up R&B cuts have caused a stir online and an appearance at Glasgow’s Art School is greeted by an inquisitive crowd. Real name Hugo Manuel, the producer cuts an unassuming figure behind his kit. That is, until the music begins to pour out of the sound system. Rough around the edges, Chad Valley’s glorious hymns to lost love are like a chopped, screwed, deeply British incarnation of R Kelly. Allowing the beats to spiral out across the crowd, the atmosphere quickly gathers pace and the young producer leaves to huge cheers from the Glasgow audience.
In the space of just two singles Veronica Falls have established themselves as one of the most potent young voices in British guitar music. No mean feat, but the band are determined not to get ahead of themselves – particularly when re-visiting their former Art School stomping ground. Two members once studied here, and a few familiar faces are in the packed crowd when the band emerge onstage. Rushing through their set, all accusations of twee are set aside as Veronica Falls seem to really gel. Draped in reverb, for sure, but the band’s material has an edge which many indie pop groups lack. ‘Beachy Head’ has a driving garage rock rhythm, pushed further and further as the band seem to rejoice on visiting ‘home’ soil. A hymn to a popular suicide spot, it seems to capture the band’s sweet / sour aesthetic. Many more gigs like this and Veronica Falls will struggle to remain a secret.
Warpaint headline the ABC, and while it’s refreshing to see four women onstage, to concentrate on that fact would be to do the music itself an injustice. Their hypnotic rhythms and layered approach provide a psychedelic soundtrack, undulating and flowing with all the grace and majesty of an early Cure. Majestic, beautiful and enthralling, they prove to be one of the highlights of this packed calendar.
Ghostpoet’s debut album seemed to come from nowhere. Gilles Peterson kindly helped spread the word via his Brownswood imprint, and the rapper arrives to a healthy crowd at Stag & Dagger. Drawing on his widely acclaimed debut, the material has a far grittier edge live than on record. The live set up allows the MC to twist his material in new directions, triggering samples to decorate his rhymes. The guitarist adds a jazz edge to the tracks, throwing in a few unexpected chords changes and playing off against the drummer’s tumbling beats. At ease with the crowd, Ghostpoet asks for a deep fried pizza before leaving to the strains of recent single ‘Survive It’ – hopefully he survives the trip to a nearby fast food bar…
Words by Mark Millar and Robin Murray