Pop South Festival Glasgow – Saturday 13th February 2016

Occasional Flickers, a band name to make every poster maker think carefully about the fonts used to advertise their gigs, had a stand-up drummer and beards-a-go-go, although they paid the price of being first on as there were barely more people watching than performing. Veering from vaguely akin to Veronica Falls to something altogether more jangly, they reinforced the unwritten rule that every band first on each day mustn’t be too challenging for any lurking hungover souls. The disappointing sight of what appeared to be a “man-bun”, lost them a couple of points but there were extremely considerate regarding time management, as they were keen not to run out of songs before their slot was up, something they managed admirably.

Milky Wimpshake - (c) Robin Halls
Milky Wimpshake - (c) Robin Halls

Thirty minutes spent in the company of Milky Wimpshake will always be a worthwhile investment.

They were utterly professional throughout and rattled off a selection of new and old songs, accompanied by Sophie on vocals for the newer ones – something that works rather well. It might just be me, but I always take delight in listening out for mentions of Gormenghast in the lyrics and it makes me smile when it does. One day, I’ll get round to asking Pete just how many there are.

I’d always been meaning to explore MJ Hibbert and the Validators, as I’ve liked what I’ve heard and in our house the Christmas album gets dug out each year, to add that year’s new track to and to brighten up a generally over-rated time of year.

I really enjoyed them. Having one band member standing at the side of the stage with a pile of cardboard sheets to use as props bode well for later on and so it proved, guiding us through things to do before you’re thirty. Sadly, I

seem to have missed a fair few and am too late to catch up. As many of the songs were, appropriately enough, about getting older, I did allow myself an ironic smirk that I was watching them while drinking a mug of tea and celebrating reaching my half-century.

Mammoth Penguins finished off the first half of the day in fine style, allowing us to catch up with what Emma’s been up to lately. There’s a harder edge here, compared to other recent outings I’ve witnessed and her voice shows

no sign of losing either its distinctive qualities or its power. This lot had been on the list to dive further into for far too long and, on this evidence, would repay the effort. The CD has now been ordered, although quite why I didn’t just buy it up there I don’t know…

Considerately, they were careful not to run over time, as there was an hour break for grub after them, before the eagerly anticipated evening session got underway.

A very swift curry later and we were back in position for what was expected to be a pretty cracking evening line-up, kicking off with the ever wonderful The School. I’d been wondering how all eight of them were going to fit onto what certainly wasn’t an overly large stage but, as they were two light, it was just a cosy fit rather than a major problem.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had the pleasure of their company now but it’s always an absolute blast and, in an ideal world, I’d have them play a gig locally every month or two and I’d genuinely not tire of it. All three albums are a joy and they consistently give me a great deal of pleasure.

While I’m more than happy to traipse around the country watching bands like this in the company of like-minded people, why aren’t these bands getting more back for their efforts? I was persuaded to watch some of the Brit Awards this week and, apart from having Sleaford Mods lyrics running round my head throughout, contrasting that artificial world of false camaraderie, hype and lack of any real talent or soul against the genuine thing in Glasgow was striking, if ultimately depressing.

Hot on their numerous collective heels, were Chorusgirl, another band I was particularly looking forward to seeing. To heighten my enjoyment, I’d also managed to secure a highly desirable position to watch them from, being about six feet from both bar and stage. You don’t get that at the O2.

Bedecked in matching T-Shirts, they lived up to pre-festival expectations and then some. Glorious songs delivered beautifully. You can’t really ask for much more.

One point struck me around now; the use of digital tuners. Is it me or do they encourage constant checking? It’s not a criticism, more an observation. Were things less in tune when they didn’t exist? Surely modern guitars hold their tune just as well or better than older kit? Anyone care to shed any light on this?

Tigercats. The wonderful, wonderful Tigercats. A band that just seem to keep getting better. Now with extra Paul Rains on guitar, surely they must be pretty much touching 11 on everyone’s personal scale of all that is good and wholesome in the world?

On this evidence that certainly are and they had the whole crowd in their hands from the moment they stepped onto the stage, bathed as it was in some rather unexpected red lights. We were treated to a scattering of new songs which hints that, after the more subtle approach of Mysteries, they intend to rocking out a bit more. Frankly, it doesn’t much matter what style or avenues they choose, if they continue to produce stuff of this quality.

Isle of Dogs was an instant attention grabbing album whereas Mysteries took time to bed in before narrowly edging ahead, in my book. Can they beat that standard with their third album? I hope so but the world may just explode with pleasure if they do. I certainly will.

They were as close to perfect here as I’ve experienced from any half-hour of my life.

Trust Fund closed the day and had a pretty short straw in having to follow Duncan and crew. However, the crowd were in a suitably good frame of mind to see past the various technical issues that they suffered and they gave an almighty performance, as befits a headline act.

Veering from noisy as hell to gentle and subtle, often in the same song, Ellis’ excellent vocals and arrangements gave us exactly what was needed. “Make it bleed!”

And so to the end of a superb day’s entertainment. Home to bed and the chance to do it all again the following day. Why isn’t every weekend like this?

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