Live review: CRY PARROT 4th Birthday at SWG3 14/05/11

Forgive me but I need to work with an odious analogy for a bit – Cry Parrot has reached that difficult age where it can’t sit still for too long, or go a day without asking where babies come from. Tonight it’s keen to show off a mixture of acts from a country it has spent four years playing and getting into scrapes in, and by this point has made plenty of friends to show them off to. This last bit shouldn’t strike anyone as a surprise – if you’d been putting on outstanding, non-profit shows featuring both local and international talent since 2007, you’d probably have a lot fans too. Tonight’s a celebration not just for Fielding Hope and Co.’s favorite child, but for another incarnation in a line of many that has fostered the most healthy musical ethos a city can hope to have – one that’s D.I.Y, and one that treats both it’s bands and gig-goers with respect.

Moon Unit followed by Ben Butler & Mousepad was always going to be a heady mixture. The galaxy-faring Glasgow trio huddles up in the corner at floor level, drawing in the crowd around it, and gradually unleashes two exceptionally rich passages of ecstatic, effect-heavy noise, designed to wrench open those flood-gates holding back the rivers of creation. The trio expertly guide us through that chaotic, joyous, wailing territory they have summoned, not least with the help of Peter Kelly’s superb free-form drumming. Moon Unit are the standout act tonight, for despite all the grand language used here, they manage to foster an intense intimacy that tonight’s headline act just misses.

Having said that, a one-man Ben Butler clearly had an impossible amount of fun tonight up on SWG3’s stage, melting an amorphous funk over a crowd that had come back down to Earth and finally started dancing. Apart from an initially gratingly loud Korg, quickly corrected, it’s surprising how easy it is to listen to Ben Butler & Mousepad. The playful synth-heavy beats often go out of the way to mess with your pattern-recognition – if it wasn’t for that seamless, liquid flow, this would be a disorientating experience and in severe danger of sounding a bit IDM. And I suspect nobody wants that tonight (it is a party after all), but then again looking at Cry Parrot’s usual clientele I’m probably completely wrong. Four more years anyone?

Words: Xavier Boucherat
Poster: Julian Dicken

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