The Electric Frog Festival, Glasgow, 10th and 11th September

With a line-up on a September Sunday evening festival featuring Errors, The Fall, Wild Beasts and headliners Mogwai, this event was a true gem for Glasgow this year. Prior to that Sunday, I also attended the Saturday evening. The event was split into two parts – Saturday seemed to be dance/house music – Sunday was given over to the more guitar-based bands. I took it all in…

Saturday night’s Frankie Knuckles set shook the warehouse and made it possible to forget about the ‚token for a drink‘ issue which plagued so many. By the time Jeff Mills arrived and also tried to actually bring the warehouse down (and by the look of it, that may not have been so difficult) with his thumping dance tunes, Glaswegians were in their element. Of course, leaving that evening, knowing the next day’s line up was so strong, there was still a real sense of anticipation in the air.

Glasgow band Simon Ward (Guitars, Keys, Programming), Greg Paterson (guitars), Stephen Livingstone (Guitars, Keys, Programming) and James Hamilton (drums), A.K.A Errors, took to the stage on a rainy, cloudy Glasgow day and did their best to enliven the spirits of the festival crowd. Criticised recently for second LP ‚Come Down With Me‚ after their well-received debut LP „It’s Not Like Something But It’s Like Whatever‘, the band seemed intent to really play hard and fast, through a collection of their old and new songs. For all the fast-paced manic electro-dance, the band seemed to be statues, almost motionless for most of the show apart from a few bobbing heads. However, despite this the sound was excellent, and the crowd seemed in the mood to welcome a local band.

The Fall – a band going for over 19 years, after a slow set up suddenly burst onto the stage. They formed in 1976, and in that time they have released countless albums (some say 25, some say 35). They band have gone through numerous line-up changes, (around 27 ), and many consider the band to have ‚many imitators and no equal‘. Neville Wilding played a loud guitar racket ably assisted by exciting, pounding drums from Tom Head, with keys by Julia Nagle laced all over it for about 5 minutes before bassist Adam Halal then joined in.  This was just the intro the crowd wanted. Mark E. Smith then appeared on the stage – loosely kind of falling on stage from the back (in his nice suit) to grab and snarl at the mic. It was clear a lot of people were excited about seeing this band, and the crowd began to sing along with Mark as he barked out his lyrics, old and young alike. Having known nothing of this band before, I was left feeling torn – was the best time to see them was a long while ago, or was it just special to see them now? Either way, they did a pretty good job of re-hashing the old glory days of their success. Mark seemed absolutely at home on the stage, playing the keys sometimes, taking a break and stomping around the stage, eye-balling the rest of the band and some of the crowd. It was exciting. A moment of togetherness, almost unity, fell over the Glasgow crowd as they burst into track ‚White Lightening‘, before going off to thunderous applause and appreciation. The lyrics were indecipherable and the music was classic rock and roll – they were screamed at for an encore. That’s how to win over a Glasgow crowd…

With Kendal’s Wild Beasts next, I have to admit, I did fear for them. Critically, the band achieved success from second LP ‚Two Dancers‚ and latest effort ‚Smother‚; debut ‚Limbo Panto‚ was praised and ridiculed (or should that be loved and met with stark confusion) in equal measure. Certainly the band are a superb example of British rock and roll with a twist – with a real sense of Kate Bush and The Smiths rolled into one act. They have a brave almost unique sound, with a baritone and falsetto echoing and shimmering through most of their honeyed, jaunty, strange take on indie-rock. But how would they fare just after The Fall, and just before Mogwai?!

Well, it’s clear Glasgow loves Wild Beasts. The band were superbly confident, and with their vocals drenched in reverb for effect, they came out of the traps immediately with some new material from ‚Smother‚, which sounded notably better in a live setting than on the record. Hayden’s Thorpe’s (guitar, bass, vocals) vocal was absolutely spot on, and with the lyrics clever and mysterious backed up by a perfect live band sound, the crowd took only till the end of the first song to begin to chant – the popular chant seemed to be ‚Wild Beasts‘ in a squeaky Glaswegian voice, which amused most of the crowd and the band.

Popular songs from ‚Two Dancers‚:  ‚All The Kings Men‘ and ‚Hooting and Howling‚ were played, as well as new tracks ‚Albatross‚ and ‚Bed Of Nails‚. It’s clear the band have a real sense of how to create atmosphere with a live show, and they seem to exist in their own bubble, but they’re clearly adept at referencing such good music in their own sound. With Tom Fleming (bass, vocals) taking the mantle a few times and singing the lead vocals, the crowd reaction was, amazingly, even louder than The Fall’s triumphant set previously. They bounced to closure with fantastic track ‚Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants‘ from their debut. A total triumph, and the second in a row.

Mogwai, scheduled for 9pm, were playing a homecoming show after their new LP ‚Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will‚ was released recently this year. A lot of people came here just for Mogwai…and there was an almost impossibly huge crowd squeezed into the downstairs indoor stage of the warehouse to watch their set. Of course, being around since 1995 and releasing over 8 records doesn’t go unnoticed, and certainly not by their adoring Glaswegian crowd.

Photo taken from the bands Facebook profile

Fantastic tracks from the newest LP ‚Rano Pano‚ and ‚How To Be A Werewolf‚ had an airing, as did ‚I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead‚ from new LP ‚The Hawk Is Howling‚ – and with their huge assault of sound echoing through the warehouse, they did as good a job for these hoardes of people as Frankie Knuckles and his friends had done the night prior. Playing ‚Mogwai Fear Satan‚ (in all it’s 15 minutes of quiet / loud dynamism) was a real highlight. When this band explode into fury, they know how to make themselves heard. Not to be ignored is their ability to craft beautiful melodies also, for example in new LP track ‚Death Rays‚, which cascades with genuine prettiness on the mid-section of the track – this is not a moment of isolation. Simply put – Mogwai are a superb and justifiably well-loved band, and there was a sense present that watching them here, in a small warehouse setting, rendered you very lucky (they play mostly amphitheatres now). On the new record, as with previous albums ‚The Hawk Is Howling‚ Stuart thanked the crowd for coming along, and said that Mogwai would see them again sometime soon. ‚Glasgow Mega Snake‘ was played furiously to close things. People wandered around afterwards, hugging.

The rustic pizza ‚tent‘ (mainly a car with a rustic pizza oven glued haphazardly onto the rear of it) was closed. The Sushi tent was sold out. Cue sadness for myself and many other festival goers. The only real dampener on a great Saturday at The Electric Frog. Well, the weather was Glaswegian, lest we forget…


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