Thankfully, the heatfest that was Friday dissipated and Saturday was a much cooler affair. Hangover free, we made our way early doors back to Solus and goNorth.
Saturday’s first band was Cutty’s Gym. They were also one of, if not the best act of the festival for me. The duo made up of Craig McIntyre and Iain Stewart launched immediately into an instrumental onslaught and it was the perfect wake up remedy for many. I could see the wide-eyed stares and shaking heads of people witnessing this sonic cavalcade in disbelief. Musically seamless and exquisitely fucked up, Cutty’s Gym build their set on ad-libs. There are moments where you feel you are almost in an alternative jazz club, tiny drum revelations appear and aggressive guitar undertones take this band into new musical territory.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Thin Privilege waltz in dressed in black. For any band playing in these tents, it can be quite unnerving as they can be pretty empty until people hear music from outside. If you grab peoples’ attention though, you will end up with a packed tent and Thin Privilege did just that. Drummer Sean Campbell is the absolute backbone of this group. His drumming is incredible and he has such a magnificent strength that no matter what theatrics are happening around him, he maintains a brutal yet commandeering tenacity. Side of stage, David Scott thrusts his guitar into the air as if it is an animal to sacrifice. Paul McArthur and Hamish Black have a affecting onstage relationship, it is eccentric, yet they provide a presence that requires attention. This band made me dizzy with their bleak yet decadent performance.
Moving onto something completely different, Ella The Bird (Siobhan Wilson) illuminated the goNorth stage next door. There is always this wonderful hush whenever I see her play, her delicacy resonates with the audience and they just seem to fall under her power. Accompanied by Tommy Reilly, Wilson gave a faultless performance which was underpinned by her infectious charm.
Tuff Love are going to start thinking I am stalking them. Their confidence has augmented immeasurably since touring. Favourites such as ‘Sweet Discontent’ and ‘Copper’ satisfied my teenage yearnings. Incidentally, ‘Copper’ was one of my tracks of the festival. The familiar fuzz driven beat that kicks in when the track breaks down is something that I could listen to on a loop for hours. Overall a supercharged performance that maintains they are a band that are one step ahead.
I believe that Deathcats frontman had done an all-nighter prior to performing which in itself was impressive. Aside from priceless stage banter, Deathcats delivered a vibrant set. My track of the half hour was the sublime ‘Dreamz’, with its beautiful pop sheen it truly shows how cerebral they are as a band and I sincerely hope their audience widens to the point of sold out venues.
So let me publicly apologise for my previous statements about Pronto Mama playing very few shows. I have since been informed if has been well over 100. Moving on… this band are like no one else in Scotland at the moment. There is something very soulful about Pronto Mama’s live performance, aside from being completely absorbing, there is a sincerity that makes no room for any pretentiousness. They are a band way ahead of their years and with lucid vocal harmonies bathed with the ultimate musical backing, these boys showed Wickerman why Glasgow is so lucky.
The Amazing Snakeheads were next up and with a noticeably packed tent made turgid by the swells of a large audience, it was ‘taps aff’ and amps up to 11. The band boldly plundered through an electric set and made it very clear why they were dominating the press of late. There was a brooding resoluteness about their performance and the ease of which they translate their howling passion to the audience is striking. Their camaraderie on stage was infectious and what makes them special is the fact they steer clear of parodies and simply create their own dimension.
And so onto the headliners. Hector Bizerk did everything they set out to do. The chants, the screams, the support for this collective was in every way deserved. Their set was a non-stop joyride and their self-determination leading up to this point channelled itself into a very proud moment. Louie and Audrey’s confidence now has taken them to the top of their game. There is this defiance when they take to the stage that makes them almost untouchable. Louie’s socially aware and thought-provoking lines stop you in your tracks, even amongst the happiness of the evening, but in the back of your head you are left thinking afterwards about the message being delivered. Audrey’s beats pulsate and put their structure firmly into practice. Hector Bizerk are one of the best to ever come out of Scotland and the sooner the rest of the world realises that, the more thankful they will be for discovering them.
What better way to end the night than with Roman Nose. They bared their crystal fangs and delivered their spine-tingling sonic templates to a heaving audience. At one point no one else could fit in the tent. The trio adorned in denim and wrestling masks delivered a formidable set. Aggressive beats and other worldly synths meant the audience was left trying to keep up physically with one hell of a show.
Huge thanks to Ricky Henderson for his photos. Also massive thanks to Chay and his Solus crew and Alex and his goNorth massif for their hospitality.