The weather forecasters threatened a repeat of 2007’s drizzle-fest, and it was lashing down when the gates opened an hour late. In the end, the elements were relatively benign, although nobody was going to go home with a tan. Hey You Get Off My Pavement is Mono’s annual mini-festival held outside the vegan restaurant-cum-bar-cum-record emporium on its large triangular courtyard with further acts playing inside. It has the atmosphere of a summer fète, with outdoor bars and a barbecue. No bouncy castle, though.
Thirteen bands over ten hours for eighteen quids is not a bad return – although not according to one woman who threw a wobbly at the gate when told the price. Did she just fall through a crack in the space-time continuum from 1974 or something? Proceedings were kicked off by the Sparkling Shadazz who mocked the leaden skies with a great set of surf-beat instrumentals straight out of the Dick Dale school. Although all the songs sounded like they could have beamed in from 1963, the only one I recognised as a definite cover was “The Munsters” theme. They were great, although I thought they would have been better off playing a bit later when people’s reserve had worn off a bit. They definitely get my prize for the most ironic band in the UK – a surf combo from Glasgow!
Pictish Trail is one of the Fence Collective and was accompanied by others like King Creosote. It was a set fairly typical of the collective’s collective folkish-pop. He seems to be the only member to eschew face-fuzz, though. Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock-Pickers are a spin-off of Glasgow semi-legends Uncle John and Whitelock. They reminded me of those Ron Johnson type bands that Peel used to play in the late eighties – a bit Dave Howard Singers, a bit Shock Headed Peters too. They were OK.
European Union are alt-rock refugees from the era when Dinosaur Jr ruled the earth. They opened proceedings indoors, before the horror that was Stevie Jackson (from Belle and Sebastian) did his thing outside. I’ve always had an allergic reaction to B&S’s winsome wimp-pop, and I lasted two songs of Jackson’s set before going into an insulin-shock through a surfeit of sugar. The first sounded like something Brian Cant would sing on Playschool, and the second was full of references to rhyming Parisians (Juliet Greco / Victor Hugo – please make him stop!)
As palate cleansers go, the Gummy Stumps couldn’t have been better. A guitar/drums/vocals trio, they sound like a cross between the Fall and Lightning Bolt. Actually, they don’t really sound like anyone. The vocals are bellowed out in a seldom-wavering monotone, whilst the drums thunder and Rob-from-Park Attack twists some pretty amazing noise from his abused guitar. Noisy shouty punk is easy to do – noisy shouty punk that sounds like nothing on earth is a lot harder. Probably my band of the day.
Foxface are like a parallel universe Sons and Daughters who had been brought up on Dick Gaughan rather than Johnny Cash. They share a penchant for fierce pop tunes, but have a folky side. Indeed, I think it’s their slower tunes that are the more effective. They are a great live band, although they seemed to suffer from some equipment problems that led to a bit of a stop-start set that didn’t flow as it should. The Week That Was and School of Language were both fairly mainstream indie acts which went in one ear and out the other to the extent that I remember little about either.
Hamburg’s Felix Kubin is an oddball – a chain-smoking geek dressed like a 1970s catalogue model, he was cursed with a wonky synth that made some of his off-kilter technopop sound even more bizarre. His music has hints of Yello and DAF: at times quirky, but at times going into full-on Tresor techno mode. He was followed by Plaaydoh. My friend pulled a face like she’d just swallowed a lemon, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Their thrashy, dada-ist pop sounds like the Ting Tings jamming with Melt-Banana. Shambolic, shouty, simplistic, but a whole bundle of fun. Their mash-up of Springsteen’s “Born To Run” was plain mental. But in a good way.
John B McKenna’s singer-songwriter stuff was ill-suited to the hour he was on, and few were inclined to listen. Headliners Camera Obscura closed out the festival with a set that was shortened due to the whole thing over-running. By the time they came on, temperatures had plunged, as had most people’s energy levels. Both times I’ve seen them previously was in brilliant sunshine – something they are perfectly suited to. Cold gloom is not really their ideal environment. Even so, they managed to lift the spirits of the (somewhat depleted) crowd with a selection of tunes old and new. They are a great pop band, with the same ear for a tune as the Delgados had, but with a much more upbeat and optimistic air.
All in all, it was a pretty good day. I think that both the weather and the general standard of the music was an improvement on last year. Maybe next year’s will be lucky enough to coincide with Glasgow’s seven-day summer.