1000 punters milling around a Glasgow piazza in the August sunshine, with the tempting smell of vegan outdoor cooking, cool beers to take the edge off the summer heat, and nine slices of left-field, feelgood independent music including a ‘wow’ inducing special guest. That was the theory. Waking up from my reverie, I realised I was still standing in the pouring rain, feeling achey and drenched, attempting to encourage anyone who would listen by saying “at least there’s no mud”.
Despite conditions more suited to November than even Glasgow’s mercurial summer climate, and the fact that there were probably only around 500 people who showed up, Hey You Get Off My Pavement wasn’t a complete disaster. True, it needed a certain amount of stoicism to get through, and there were periods when most people would have traded where they were for a warm duvet or a hot bath, but there were enjoyable moments.
Singer-songwriter John B McKenna provided a low-key opening. Few people were around to watch, though, and all of those hung back under cover leaving a vast expanse of empty pavement between the stage and the audience, as if they were taking the festival title a little too literally. Mother And the Addicts at least managed to attract a few hardy souls to the stage front. I’m not a fan, finding them a but too quirky for their own good, but I was impressed by their energy and undimmed enthusiasm.
The One Ensemble, led by Volcano The Bear man Daniel Padden (who now lives in Glasgow), are normally a quartet, but violist Aby Vulliamy was absent leaving a trio of Padden on guitar, vocals and clarinet, Peter Nicholson on cello and vocals, and Chris Hladowski on bouzouki and clarinet. The band delivered half an hour of what I would describe as avant-kletzmer (probably to howls of derision by their fans). Whatever you call it, it was probably my favourite set of the day, even if it was more suited to Mediterranean sunshine than dreich Glasgow.
Dananananaykroyd are a dual-drummer punk-spirited hard rock group who have a lot of fun but don’t really have much substance musically. The Twilight Sad were disappointing. They were noisy. Too noisy – all of the musical subtlety that they have was bludgeoned out, and guitar, bass and drums just seemed cacophonous. James Graham’s vocals were certainly audible, but he obviously couldn’t hear himself, so he might as well have been singing different songs to what they others were playing. It was all a bit of a mess. I’ve forgotten the name of the act that came in for cancellations Part Chimp. They were like Slipknot for the over nines, with thrashcore-by-numbers enlivened only by the lead singer – a big tattoed bloke wearing a rubber apron and pig snout who spent more time bawling at bemused audience members than on stage. After attempting to scare the living shit out of everyone (who all, it has to be said, remained wryly amused by proceedings), he said his polite thankyous and goodbyes and was gone.
The ‘Very Special Guests’ who’d been kept tightly under wraps and had kept everyone guessing were no less than Scots indie kings Franz Ferdinand. It’ll have been a long time since they played on a stage this small, and I doubt whether Alex Kapranos has ever had to politely request that people take down their umbrellas so that people behind could see. The group’s appearance coincided with one of the heaviest spells of rain throughout the entire day. It also highlighted the fact that the stage was far too low. Even with umbrellas furled, only the front two or three rows could really see what was going on. I’m not overly familiar with the group’s ouevre, but it seemed that the set was largely comprised of new material – most of which was the spiky disco-influenced guitar pop that helped established their reputation. They were enjoyable, but it didn’t really feel that you were watching a stadium band slumming it – rather a proficient and promising local act. Which I guess shows something, although I’m not sure what.
As darkness descended, people began to drift away, or stay in the warm and dry confines of Mono. The Errors’ instrumental kraut-pop would have been better suited to somewhere with a roof, even though they are a band I rate quite highly. Headliners the Aliens’ form of Beatley prog-pop isn’t really my cup of tea. Even so, I was impressed by their enthusiastic energy, and that of the sixty or so hardy souls who gleefully danced around the stage in the downpour.
It could have been a lot different if the sun had shined, and I was glad to get home and dry out. But Hey You Get Off My Pavement was still a reasonably fun way to spend a Sunday. I would rather have been there than have been one of the poor sods at Loch Lomond just thirty miles up the road, some of whom I saw drifting into the city on my way home, looking like the ghosts of Passchendaele.