Posts Tagged ‘pivo pivo’

[Continued from previous entry…]

With the groundwork for the more established portion of the evening having been set, the consistently fantastic Rose Parade follow the furore of The Hostiles with a slightly more mellow approach to music.

The inclusion of this eclectic collective in any sort of Ayrshire Showcase is an absolute given and their placement on the bill is such that they serve as a welcome breather from the more chaotic and riotous recitals which lead up to their spot.

As Ari, Ed and Stuart meander through an anthemic setlist that necessitates the use of banjos, harmonicas and glockenspiels – as well as the more standard guitars and drums – their folk-tinged indie pulls the crowd together into a cheerfully beery sort of mutual consciousness, as feet tap and heads nod to the calm but emotive soundscape they create.

Rose Parade are an undeniably unusual act but the beauty of it is that this impression is conveyed without ever seeming contrived. There is no great emphasis put on their set’s incorporation of the unconventional; It is merely a part of what makes Rose Parade who they are – purveyors of fantastic and quirky music which succeeds in not insisting upon itself.

And, of course, there are a smattering of more tradtionally mainstream rock moments when the foot tappers become foot stampers. The aptly-titled Grace proves a particular crowd favourite, due in no small part to its simple but ridiculously infectious ‘da da da, da da da’-style chorus, and their recent run of plugging new track Midnight Wine online pays off when its live rendition goes down an absolute storm.

By the time the applause has subsided, Bellow Below appear to kick things back up a notch with their set which succeeds in maintaining the standard set by their recent Bar Bloc performance.

The boys are possibly even more self-assured this time around, with everyone on the stage looking like they absolutely belong there, as Richard establishes the set’s tone by instigating a back-and-forth chant of “waayyyy” with his audience before the band charge through a technically-impressive set which seems to delight in presenting those watching with grave potential for neck injury.

Jamie visibly relishes his position of frontman, for this gig, as he seizes every opportunity to stride out on As In Bear’s makeshift guitar/drum platform, which has now found its way to the front of the stage and undergone a transformation into a catwalk of sorts, and thrusting his face into those in the front row as the band pick, strum and shout up a euphoric racket.

Although all of the members have enjoyed fairly lengthy tenures in the Ayrshire and Glasgow live music scenes, the group’s current incarnation, as Bellow Below, is a relatively youthful one. It is therefore all the more remarkable that they find themselves so high up on a bill littered with pretty prestigious acts and fail to look even remotely out of place.

Bellow Below - Photograph by Kenny Bates

Filling the two headlining slots are thisfamiliarsmile and The Darien Venture who are very much the crowning glory of the event, both being signed to indie labels and enjoying hugely positive levels of recognition. There will be a more appropriate time to take an in-depth look at their impressive live output in future and, for today, it will suffice to say that they placed the cherry firmly on top of a spectacular occasion.

As much as the artists are a veritable credit to the Ayrshire Showcase and manage to do themselves, the organisers and their fans – old and new – proud, it is impossible to overlook the fact that an astounding amount of thought and planning has also gone into this event, yielding equally fruitful rewards for all involved.

Throughout the day, there is a merch stand set up in the corner which, as well as giving everyone playing the opportunity to ply their various wares, provides a high-profile sort of feel. The provision of the option to go and browse demos and t-shirts afterwards is a definite stroke of minor genius which makes each performance seem just that little bit more authentic and meaningful.

The organisers’ shrewd utilisation of networking skills and well-maintained personal relationships with band members mean that all acts are present and correct for the duration of the showcase, happily sipping on complimentary beer and wolfing down pizza as they show support for their peers. This has the desired effect of ensuring that, at no point in the day’s proceedings, the place feels empty or half-full and crowds of people arrive at various times to an ever-more-burgeoning venue.

For today at least, Pivo Pivo feels like the hub of the Ayrshire music scene as the different bands and their respective entourages and hangers-on make the place their own for the evening. The Hostiles tourbus sits proudly in front of the venue as they are interviewed for local radio inside it, familiar faces from As In Bear’s previous gigs join them in scoping out the rest of the talent and the Bellow Below boys hold merry but boisterous court in the smoking area between acts.

Where the performers are concerned, Sunday 5th September is a day of simple considerations and gestures that are lapped up by a willing crowd. For organiser-in-chief Kenny Bates, sound aficionado Michael Butler and the rest of the Pivo Pivo staff, however, it is the successful culmination of months of hard work, not only in the creation of this event but in the tireless pursuit of making their venue the go-to place for unsigned talent in the West of Scotland.

Perhaps the single most telling indication of today’s success is the difficulty it presents those who are present with the intention of documenting and reviewing. Such is the energetic, passionate and ultimately involving vibe throughout the event that it is nigh on impossible to remain just an impartial observer. A difficult person to imagine is the one who would be able to remain in the background watching this spectacle unfold without their enthusiasm and shared passion for local and unsigned music get the best of them and take on the role of yet another ecstatic participant.

Pivo Pivo on Facebook

Rose Parade on Facebook

Bellow Below on Facebook

—–

[N.B. It is indeed regrettable that some bands received less in-depth coverage in this review than others. However, where the Ayrshire Showcase has excelled has been in the presentation of several acts greatly deserving of recognition and worthy of coverage, who will be the subject of full features in Sixteen Sixteen Six in the very near future.]

[Continued from previous entry…]

This is the point in the evening where the profile of the artists raises dramatically. The Hostiles are the definitive Ayrshire ska punk outfit, having been plugging away at building a reputation and fanbase for somewhere around the ten year mark, and are now at a stage in their musical career where they’re more accustomed to high-profile support slots and European tours than humble hometown shows.

It is the presence of bands like this on the bill that makes it impossible not to marvel at  just how much effort and networking lies behind today’s showcase.

Just long enough is spent setting up to build ample anticipation amongst those who have come along especially for the ragtag assortment of brass-assisted punk rockers and, at the same time, show the soon-to-be-converted that they mean business.

As the beginning of what transpires to be a bouncy ska onslaught ups the tempo of the event, there almost immediately emerges a much more racuous vibe as the pints start flowing a little more freely and musicians and crowd begin to feed off each other’s excitement. Frontman Josh, dreadlocks a-swinging, leads a band at the top of their game through an upbeat set that seems to dare anyone in the room not to move around, with this being authoritatively reinforced by his confident instructions to the crowd to move forward and get involved.

In what serves as a distinct indication of their instantaneous and effortless command of the room, the crowd do as they are instructed and the performance is rendered all the more impressive as a result. The five characters onstage are positively bursting with energy and enthusiasm and seemingly simple requests like this, handled in a way that suggests the expectation of nothing less than complete compliance, are what succeeds in setting a new standard for the remainder of the day. It is as though the event is maturing as it works its way into the evening and the more experienced bands begin to exert their influence.

In saying that, no variation of the word mature really has any place near the childlike energy and capacity for merriment on display here. Banter is hurled back and forth between short, punky numbers during which the rhythmic contingent move in such a way that suggests some covert switch of the stage with a large trampoline and the brass section, when not offering up enthusiastic servings of ska, busy themselves with the task of bouncing off the walls.

As for the music itself, it’s ska punk by numbers. There’s nothing innovative about The Hostiles’ sound but, to their credit, they make absolutely no pretence that there is. The guys give the impression that they’re playing the music they love and having a blast while they do so and, although their delivery is consistently tight, their chosen style really relies more on a fun-loving attitude and the desire and ability to get everyone involved in the party. In this, the quintet are impressively accomplished and it is plain to see that their wealth of gigging experience has by no means gone to waste.

Now, involving more established bands in a showcase like this can be a hit or miss move . While the inclusion of higher profile acts will undoubtedly draw in a larger audience and thus result in greater success in terms of the promotion of the lesser-known talent on display, it is also possible that the true aim of the showcase will be diluted if the divide between the established and the newcomers creates an air of entitlement or aura of superiority amongst the acts at the higher end of the scale.

At one point during The Hostiles’ set, it looks terrifyingly as though the latter could be the case, when bassist Chris lets slip that he doesnt “really know who else is playing” which seems to err a little too much on the diva front as, after all, the occasion is supposed to be about raising awareness of unsigned Ayrshire talent. As a result, it would seem only logical that before accepting a slot in such an event, and consequently putting their implicit stamp of approval on all of the talent being showcased, a band would make a point of checking said talent out for themselves first.

Thankfully, the tenor of the rest of the performance succeeds in allaying any such initial fears and encouraging the notion that this gap in knowledge is more absent-mindedness than arrogance.

A particularly reassuring display of unity between band and crowd comes when Josh’s guitar strap comes undone during a positively frenzied chorus and, within seconds, a member of the audience is up on the stage providing assistance and re-attaching the strap to the instrument which is still very much in play.

If any doubt remains about the band’s suitability for the showcase by the time the last song rolls around, it is swiftly obliterated by what proves to be the crowning moment of The Hostiles’ set and a perfect snapshot of the air of mischief that permeates their output. During the last bars of their finale, Josh calls for a ‘wall of death’ – the revered practice of a crowd splitting into two halves before running towards the centre of the room and colliding in a whirlwind of bodies, most often encountered at hardcore punk and metal gigs – and no sooner are the words “I mean it” out of his mouth than a gulf opens at the front of the room and the more adventurous and able-bodied in the audience set about good-naturedly beating hell out of their friends, creating a health and safety nightmare in the process.

With a grasp on the crowd like this and a set that strives to involve everyone, there can be no debate as to whether or not the inclusion of The Hostiles on the bill had a positive effect on today’s Ayrshire Showcase.

There are bruised ribs that will attest to this!

The Hostiles - Photograph by Kenny Bates

The Hostiles on Facebook

[Section 3 of 3 available tomorrow night…]

All is fairly quiet during the descent of the Pivo Pivo staircase to where the Kitchen Sessions stage is functioning as the platform for the provision of a chilled out acoustic start to the proceedings. Leisurely afternoon drinks wash down free pizza, as those assembled mill around sharing greetings and discussing the talent already on display. All in all, a pleasantly subdued start to the Ayrshire Showcase.

Of course, as soothing and enjoyable as this display may be, it’s not an experience remotely out of the ordinary for anyone in attendance. So, by the time 5pm rolls around and the attention of those assembled begins to wander to the A Series of Controlled Explosions stage due to open in the venue’s adjacent section, there is a tangible air of expectation as the collective consciousness ruminates on exactly how important a moment in time this showcase will prove itself to be.

The crowd are promptly ushered through the two arched doorways into the room where all such musings come to an abrupt halt as As In Bear set about offering up ample justification for the use of any of the plethora of potential puns that can be derived from the name of this second of the two stages.

Upon entry, it becomes immediately apparent that the duo – never one in favour of the preservation of the divide between artist and audience – have completely rejected the idea of performing on the stage they are opening. There exists standing room only, as seats and tables have been removed in order to accomodate Grant, his drum kit and a worryingly unsteady looking makeshift platform upon which stands David, replete with guitar and a look of steely intent.

For the duration of this first slot on the bill, the room is engulfed in a more frenzied affair than even As In Bear generally provide, as the swelling crowd forces bodies closer into the middle where instruments and performers alike are flung around with complete abandon and waves of unforgiving sound are thrashed out in every direction.

An all-too-brief setlist is punctuated with some well-placed dedications and then, in what feels like an acknowledgement of the gig’s significance, the boys unleash a finale even more delightfully chaotic than usual, as Grant’s drums are speedily assembled atop the aforementioned platform and he proceeds to leather his way through a display of sticksmanship which could not be accurately described as anything less than an attack. It is a testament to the appreciation the pair inspire in their audience that the drummer is rescued from several near falls by the willing hands of the crowd who keep him on balance until the crescendo proves too much, the drum stool is discarded and the final crashes are played out – without any noticeable missing of a beat – by a percussionist with one foot on the ground and the other on a pedal raised three feet in the air and attached to a falling kit.

The phrase reverberating around the room is “holy shit!”

As In Bear - Photograph by Kenny Bates

With the audience still reeling from As In Bear’s visceral onslaught, In:Auters return proceedings to the stage for their debut live performance. The four-piece’s first two songs bookend a fairly lengthy period of fiddling with their equipment and nary an acknowledgement that they are in front of an audience until the end of the second number when a brief mumble informs of their name and newcomer status. Musically, In:Auteurs’ set proves a treat, awash as it is with ambient buzzing, droning guitars, understated vocals and a cool retro shoegaze sort of feel.

Unfortunately, this has to be offset against a disappointingly low level of enthusiasm and a lack of any real performance to speak of. Even during the heavier moments of their set, every member appears rooted to the spot with eyes thoroughly averted from the crowd. Being that this is the band’s first gig, some ambiguity does exist as to whether this is the result of genuine apathy, nerves or a misguided attempt at hipster posturing. Whatever it is though, the problem it presents is that their first offering doesn’t serve as much of an unveiling. It is hard to imagine that anyone who watched the set came away from it feeling like they knew any more about In:Auteurs than they did before.

Nonetheless, for tonight at least, their musical performance proves strong enough to maintain the attention and appreciation of the crowd and, when there is no warning before their last song and just another cursory expression of thanks, the idea of this ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude as design rather than accident begins to warrant consideration. After all, the conveyance of such a slacker image is undeniably well suited to their musical style and any effort of a band to present themselves as a package – no matter how lifeless – is always admirable.

In:Auteurs - Photograph by Kenny Bates

A welcome return to a world where artists introduce themselves with confidence and self-assurance comes courtesy of Brown Bear and the Bandits, a three-piece with the uncommon allure of a female drummer who recently erupted onto the Ayrshire scene seemingly out of nowhere.

The first song sets a momentum that endures throughout a set that has the room captivated, as traditional rock ‘n’ roll sensibility melds with strained grungey vocals, inescapable charisma and an unshakably upbeat delivery. Perhaps most worthy of note though, as much for its simplicity as for its effectiveness, is how happy each member of the band appears throughout the set, the drummer clearly having real problems keeping a grin from spreading across her face which appears to inspire similar difficulties in much of the audience.

Brown Bear and the Bandits emit a vibe that wouldn’t seem out of place in a blue collar New Jersey bar and the only real surprises come with a fairly confrontational segment of a song entitled Destiny Dancing and a rendition of the opening verse of Sugarhill Gang’s classic Rapper’s Delight.

Of course, well documented is the procedure for something that ain’t broke and the confessional nature of lyrics like “It’s not that I don’t love you; It’s just that I don’t care” have a timeless appeal that ties in perfectly with the ballsy and emphatic performance to ensure that the trio’s name resides on the lips of those present until well after their set draws to a close.

Brown Bear and the Bandits - Photograph by Kenny Bates

As In Bear on Facebook

In:Auteurs on Facebook

Brown Bear and the Bandits on Facebook

[Section 2 of 3 available tomorrow night…]

In an unsigned music context, it’s nigh on impossible to utter the word “showcase” without throwing everyone in earshot into ecstatic conniptions. The term smacks of raw talent and passion and conjures up the fanciful scenario where the most worthy of the bands on display shatters rules, throws the Vs to convention and creates a spectacle serving as their triumphant breakthrough and setting them firmly on an upwards trajectory, the likes of which their initial fanbase never dreamed.

Of course, as much as this is a very possible outcome, it isn’t the most common or realistic one. Combine this with the fact that local promoters toss the word around with sheer abandon and you have the very real danger of the word losing all original meaning and significance.

A showcase should be about more than just a tenuously linked selection of bands taking it in turns to dribble out a few of their staple numbers, all the while keeping their metaphorical begging hands out for publicity, recognition or record deals.

A showcase should be a carefully planned event, featuring a well thought out and hand-picked bill, comprising acts who are not only known to the promoters but who have made a significant impression upon them.

A showcase should aim to display the talent the organisers feel to be deserving of immediate attention and, as a result, should be based on nothing more than passion; It should be one of those musical endeavours which are brought about by nothing other than the ‘love of the game.’

In the interest of the retention of this meaning, the term certainly should not be used lightly…

With this in mind, Sixteen Sixteen Six are proud to align ourselves with the forthcoming Ayrshire Showcase at Pivo Pivo. The free event will run all day and feature two separate stages: An acoustic stage sponsored by The Kitchen Sessions and another sponsored by A Series of Controlled Explosions which will cater to the ‘turned up to 11’ end of the Ayrshire music spectrum.

Those involved in the organisation of the showcase are Ayrshire music stalwarts who genuinely know their stuff, so it looks set to be a truly worthwhile milestone in the progression of a scene that, a few years ago, seemed little more than a ripple in the pond.

It’s a truly exciting time to be a local music fan and this is your chance to make sure you’re a part of it all!

The event takes place on Sunday 4th September and in-depth coverage from Sixteen Sixteen Six is a given so, if you can’t be there on the day, make sure you read about it here.

That way you can at least pretend you were there!

Pivo Pivo Ayrshire Showcase on Facebook

A Series of Controlled Explosions on Facebook

The Kitchen Sessions on Facebook

Tonight’s gig is billed as serving a dual purpose; A birthday party for Traffic Cone Records which also serves as a rally to promote the Tragic O’Hara is Innocent campaign, with the man himself headlining.

Post-watershed Pivo Pivo is in near darkness as the audience wait for Tragic O’Hara to take the stage and his arrival, when it comes, is punctuated by raucous cheers and sees him chaperoned by drummer and Jump On video co-conspirator Colin Hunter and a traffic cone.

Tragic, standing side-on and facing the right of the stage, offers no introduction as the lights remain dimmed and his eminently powerful voice, wrought with emotion and accompanied only by his own clapping, captivates those assembled and leads them up to the midpoint of his first song. It is here, dead on cue, where stage lights and drums flare and the tone of tonight’s performance is set.

As this first offering draws to a close and the audience takes a second to register what they’ve just experienced, Tragic introduces himself before picking up his guitar and kicking into the next number.

As the evening continues, the crowd are treated to Tragic O’Hara’s distinctive blues rock, backed up by lashings of electric guitar gain and crashing drums. This is the blues, turned up to 11 and filtered through the mind of a pissed off Scotsman.

Not long into the proceedings comes a humorous aside, wherein Tragic suggests that songs are being made up as he and Colin “go along” but, if there is any improvisation at play tonight, it certainly doesn’t show. The two friends form a formidable duo as they peel through a set much more intense than Tragic’s usual live output, with both volume and distortion in absolute abundance.

This is shown to be the result of a conscious decision, on O’Hara’s part, when he apologises to his fans who are used to hearing him play acoustic sets, explaining that he “just feels like rockin out tonight.” For the most part, Tragic’s voice proves a worthy match for the increased aggression of the music, except in one or two places where guitarmanship threatens to drown out vocal prowess. However, this is easy to forgive when taking into account the fact the gig is intended to serve as an outlet for the frustrations, of both artist and fans, resulting from the controversy surrounding the bluesman’s latest music video. As a result, the pugnacity of the pairing’s output seems entirely appropriate.

These aggressive uptempo renditions combine with the low-key nature of the lighting and cavernous aesthetics of Pivo Pivo to make tonight feel exactly like what it has been hyped up to be – an underground, grassroots movement against what the Tragic O’Hara fanbase are accepting as a grave injustice. There is a beery but convivial atmosphere and all present appear to be having a ball, with constant shouts of encouragement, waving of homemade banners and demands for “another tune.”

Dressed in a black suit and two-tone wingtip shoes, Tragic captures perfectly the traditional air of a travelling musician and displays an easy and relaxed propensity for banter, joking back and forth with the crowd. However, underneath this is a tangible air of introspection which seems to tie in with, and possibly explain, his decision not to directly face his audience. Consequently, the Tragic O’Hara live experience feels a bit deeper than those where the average happy-go-lucky frontman ticks the boxes with cocky comments and macho posturing and this, coupled with his confessional song-writing style, sees that the musician does well in coming across as the ‘everyman,’ giving the audience someone to relate to.

Aside from the inspired moment where a member of the audience takes to the stage wielding a Tragic O’Hara is Innocent banner during Jump On – the song behind the contoversy – the highlight of the evening is a notably heavy cover of New Order’s Blue Monday. Those in attendance who evidently remember the original are moved to their feet and numerous lone dancers become as much a part of the show as the man onstage. Interestingly, although it goes down an absolute storm with the crowd, this is the place in the set where the performance is at its loosest, having the feel of two pals jamming together for the fun of it. Certainly an endearing moment, reminiscent of the ‘bromance’ on display between the pair in the video.

Said ‘bromance’ comes to an abrupt halt at the end of the penultimate song, however, when a seemingly heated exchanging of words between the performers sees Colin storming offstage and leaving the venue. There does exist, in performance, the responsibility of professionalism and such tantrums, whatever the reason behind them, are unfair to fellow performers, event organisers and audiences. Whereas the Liam Gallaghers and Axl Roses of this world may be able to get away with palming this sort of thing off as another facet of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, in this drastically smaller scale local context, it just comes across as petty and immature.

To give the frontman his due though, despite being visibly vexed by the outburst – speculating that his accomplice “obviously canny take a fuckin joke” – he finishes the set with a final song and a few well-placed thank yous.

Every aspect of tonight’s performance can be seen to show a part of Tragic O’Hara’s endearing appeal: Songs with meaning, glimpses of an intriguing personality, a touch of style and the ability to cause trouble everywhere he goes.

Definitely a spectacle worth witnessing!

EDIT: Since the time of going to press, Colin Hunter has posted a YouTube video which gives his views on the disagreement. This can be found via the link at the bottom.

Tragic O’Hara on Facebook

Tragic O’Hara is Innocent Facebook campaign

Colin Hunter’s YouTube video response

The decision to cover this month’s Sneak was made the morning after the last one. The decision to focus solely on the first band on the bill came a little later.

Sitting in the pub the weekend before, with a few Sneak regulars, the subject of the Bloodlunch preview had come up and resulted in a highly enthusiastic discussion about how “insane” the performance was and how excited everyone was to see if they would live up to it that Thursday. Cue the decision to review Bloodlunch alone.

The temptation to watch the preview was resisted, which led to several days filled with anticipation of the sort that only comes from the prospect of a totally fresh live experience courtesy of a band of whom you have no existing knowledge.

Finally, the night arrives, the journey to Glasgow is negotiated, entry is paid and seats are taken.

As Bloodlunch take to the stage, they look to be a typical metal band, with bassist and vocalist forming a ragtag arrangement of rolled up sleeves, long hair and piercings.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult not to judge a book by its cover when you have absolutely nothing else to go on. Thus, having setttled in for what looks set to be a fairly run-of-the-mill testosterone-driven metal performance, there is a near transition from seat to floor when the vocalist opens his mouth just long enough to utter “get it right up all of ye” before his band crash into a set which is far from run-of-the-mill.

Stagelights blare and Bloodlunch’s distinctly heavy sound pummels the audience as the vocalist Michael Wiseman leans into a traditional rock ‘n’ roll stance and bellows frantically into his vintage-style microphone. The intricacies of this moment could be easily missed and this would be a genuinely sad oversight, because the way in which Wiseman invokes the spirit of Elvis Presley and then proceeds to shit all over it with his gloriously gruff and vulgar songmanship and ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude ties in magnificently with their hilariously crass approach.

It takes a couple of minutes for the room to come out of its stupor and, when this transition is complete, all appear captivated by the singer’s manic stare and frenetic energy as the band piledrive their way through song after song.

The music itself suggests a dominant southern metal influence with something approaching rockabilly scratching away under the surface. Although none of the songs showcased tonight could be described as foot-tappers in the traditional sense, there is definitely an infectious rhythm driving the set (infectious being perhaps a worrying pun, given the nature of some of the lyrics.) Switching between fast and slow but always with a distinct air of menace and vulgarity, it’s really a style to be heard rather than described.

The performance is undeniably chaotic but the band don’t seem too bothered. It seems there is no setlist, as the band “don’t write it doon,” and the predominant sound between songs is a bizarre ruckus somewhere between arguing and incomprehensible banter. Essentially, Scottish humour at its crude best.

A few songs in, the audience is curtly informed that “this next tune’s about gettin a blowjob while you’re havin a shite.”

The lyrics that follow are not complex, appropriate or intelligent. What they are however, when combined with the unique persona the frontman has moulded and the aggressive but fun nature of the music,  is genuinely amusing in the crudest way imaginable. A chorus of “Holy moly! Holy moly! Suckin on me while I’m havin a toley!” sees a room full of faces registering shock then turning to check the reactions of their companions before disintegrating into fits of laughter.

Occasional goading of the audience for their lack of enthusiasm (although this may have been a misinterpretation of their shock and awe at the performance in front of them) and throwaway comments about their early spot on the bill are tinged perfectly with that aforementioned Scottish humour, so as to make it all seem more like part of an inside joke than genuine complaints. At one point, the guitarist comments that all present are probably just waiting for the headliners to play and then, without missing a beat, the vocalist chimes in with “this next one is a 31 minute…” before cutting off mid-sentence, as Bloodlunch smash back to life, seemingly without the slightest regard for how they are perceived.

The more cynical could dismiss such a performance as contrived, but to do this would be to overlook the most important part: the sheer fun of it all. Setting aside the music for a second, this is a band worth watching because they are immensely entertaining and there is the distinct impression that they would be having a great time with or without an audience.

The only complaint, with regards to tonight, is that the band seem to have been misplaced on the bill. The Bloodlunch experience positively reeks of pint-soaked debauchery and it seems an opportunity for an even more electric performance was missed tonight, due to their early stageslot. Had this lot been put onstage at eleven o’ clock, in front of a rowdier crowd, the place would have erupted!

Nonetheless, the performance was magnificent. The musical proficiency of all concerned was clear to see and, perhaps ironically, the apparent disdain for the idea of playing to please the audience ended up being immensely entertaining. The boys seem self-assured in their own ability; happy with what they’re doing and content that they’re doing it well.

Is that not what it’s all about, after all?

Bloodlunch on Facebook

Logo by Ross Love

This matching of ambition and location is ripe with possibilities. Facebook tells of “a monthly night of live music where the artists commandeer the venue and steer it with gleeful abandon into the sunset/toward some rocks.” What this equates to is the people of Glasgow and outlying areas being afforded the chance to experience up and coming bands in a context that outstretches that of the typical gig.

And the name of this transcendent night of innovation and opportunity? Sneak. This one syllable conjures up all that is immediately exciting about the night, with its connotations of secrecy and concealment from the mainstream. It whispers of an inner circle of people passionate enough to do some digging and make some discoveries and teases with the ever-appealing prospect of being in on something early on.

When trying to ascertain what sets Sneak apart from every other amateur music night in every other music venue in every other city, it makes sense to begin with the venue itself.

Leave Central Station, walk for a minute, descend some stairs and open a door. You’re in a pub, much like any other in the city. Not to worry though! Visit the bar, pay your entry fee (more on this later) and head through to the area partitioned off for use as the music venue. Now that you’ve reached the epicentre, it’s time to take stock of your surroundings.

You’re in a reasonably small rectangular room, with a mixing desk behind you, stage at the far end, open space in the middle and tables lining either side. The venue is dimly lit and the decor black except for a Pivo Pivo mural adorning the wall behind the stage. Painted in an old school tattoo style, complete with nautical star and swallows, this helps ensure that the time spent waiting for the bands is filled with thoughts of pin up girls, rum and sailor-esque debauchery.

The most important elements of the venue’s layout, however, are the stage height of less than a metre and the lack of anything separating it from the standing space. This serves as the first indication that the Sneak vision hinges on the audience’s will to get inolved.

And it works. With the sleazy, grass-roots vibe and layout, it’s difficult to avoid the overwhelming feeling of being in your space. There is the distinct impression that this is the type of venue just itching to lend itself to passionate outbursts of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism; the perfect setting for the right moment when the right band with the right attitude comes along and takes the local music scene by storm.

If all goes according to plan, artists and fans alike will take the advent of Sneak as a call to arms; the monthly opportunity  to forge something a little bit different.

Playing tonight? Well, by all means, dazzle all and sundry with your musical stylings but make sure not to neglect this chance to show off a bit and help create a memorable evening. Invoke the Townshend spirit and smash your guitar! Cause a spectacle! Abandon the stage and get in amongst your audience! Leave them reeling!

If you’re watching tonight, you share this responsibility. Leave the seats for the jackets and head down to the front! Get moving! Create an atmosphere! Make sure you’re heard!

Sneak has been created for the enjoyment of both auidence and performers but the twist lies in the scope that both have been given to facilitate this enjoyment. To put it simply, this will be what those involved make it.

When considering the Sneak ethos, what really stands out is the promise of the artists being allowed to “commandeer the venue.” This is the part where the onus is truly on the bands themselves. These nights do not have to be occasions where the input of those on the bill is limited to a designated stage slot. The freedom to innovate is there for the taking and the performers that are headed for big things are the ones who will understand, and take full advantage of, the wealth of possibilities available to them here.

Also helping to set Sneak apart is the care and effort that has gone into ensuring the occasions have a bit of a hype around them. Of course, there is an eye-catching logo and, yes, each of the events is preceded by relentless postering campaigns across Glasgow, but efforts do not stop there.

From the night’s inception, ‘sneak’ previews (clever, eh?) of each gig have been made available a week in advance. These take the form of videos and are created in partnership with the bands scheduled to perform, thus providing a channel through which the prospective audience are afforded a glimpse of what’s in store. This links back to the concept of creating an experience outwith the realms of the average gig and carries forward the bands’ unrestricted influence upon proceedings.

In addition to this, regular attendees of the nights can get themselves a decidedly suave Sneak button badge which cuts the normal £5 entry down to £3. A nice touch which, as well as being worthy of inclusion in money saving and fashion columns alike, shows an admirable willingness to reward loyalty.

So there you have the Sneak vision: a fitting venue, free creative reign for performers, ample reward for loyalty and people running the show who not only know their stuff but care about going the extra mile to deliver a richer, more involved experience.

All the elements are in place for this to be the start of something. Now it’s up to the music lovers of Glasgow to build their own scene around it.

Sneak on Facebook

The Sneak previews