It's been a few weeks since I've had the funds to attend a gig, and there's been a bit of a drought of good shows of late, so when I heard Black Tusk were coming to town there was no fucking way I was gonna miss them.
It's been a couple of years since I last saw them play the same venue with Howl to a largely uninterested and static crowd, but having seen them inspire chaos in the jam-packed smallest room at Roadburn last year, and inspire my own drunken chaos when I saw them a few months later in Prague, I hoped that Glasgow's rowdy stoner contingent would give those shows a run for their money.
While it was a bit livelier than last time, the crowd still didn't seem to wake up until the last few songs of the night, apart from those old dicks that insist on push-moshing at every show you see them at. Gie it a rest guys, eh?
First on the bill were Edinburgh's Dune. Having previously seen them supporting no less than Eyehategod, I was looking forward to their complex but catchy progressive sludge. For such a recently formed band, they bang through their set with a confidence even many seasoned road dogs lack, guitarist Victor's fleet-fingered solos intertwining with the relentless rhythm laid down by the rest of the band.
With vocal duties split between everyone but drummer Dudley, set highlights like 'When Planets Die' and the tri-vocal attack of 'Red Giant' have a variety lacking in so much modern sludge, and in a live setting you don't know who to keep your eye on, but Dudley's unbridled enthusiasm for hitting things really hard is a lot of fun to watch.
With their forthcoming album Progenitor due out in a matter of weeks, Dune are ones to watch. Keep your eyes to the stars. Or just Edinburgh.
Unfortunately that gives fellow locals Aye-Aye a hard act to follow, and their set of languid stoner grooves fails to keep the momentum going. It's through no fault of their own, they're just up against some of the most energetic, adrenaline-fuelled bands going today. Though they did come "all the way from Madagascar" to play, complete with bringing along some eerily accurate jungle sounds and some extra bongo work courtesy of Q-Ball from Bacchus Baracus / Co-Exist / Every Other Bloody Band In Scotland, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking them out on a bill where they're not quite so conspicuous.
Someone put them on with Skeleton Gong and Isak and I'm there!
Philadelphia/New Jersey's Fight Amp ramp the energy level back up with a set of tightly-wound, noise-tinged hardcore, tracks like the frenetic 'Lungs' from their debut Hungry For Nothing and 'Bad Listener' from their second record, sitting alongside cuts from their latest album, Birth Control. Before seeing them play I wasn't too familiar with them, but their aggressive, abrasive twisting of various Karp-isms has got me trawling their discography. Lovely stuff.
I've already mentioned the frenzy-whipping capabilities of Savannah's Black Tusk, but it bears repeating; if you've never seen this band live, you're fucking up. As much as I like their recorded stuff, I never get the urge to just throw on some Taste The Sin at home, because I'd fear for my furniture if I got too into it. The live setting is where this band really proves their worth, tracks like 'Bring Me Darkness' and 'The Ride' demonstrating the band's sheer unabashed love of playing, as well as just how goddamn tight they are. Guitarist Andrew and bassist Jonathan throw their guitars (and themselves) around with reckless abandon, while drummer James cements his reputation as one of the hardest hitters I've ever seen play, and none of them ever miss a beat. Mental.
For my first foray back into gig-going that'll continue with fellow Savannah... Savannans... Savannah-ites...? Anyway, I'm seeing Baroness in a couple of weeks, so don't sleep Glasgow, get out to the gig, and make it worthwhile for touring bands to venture north of the border!
All photos by Steff Vogeler.
All photos by Steff Vogeler.