Before any of the acts arrive on stage, there is a great sense of animation feeding from the crowd, some showing their support for the final gig of Sleazy’s birthday celebration month and most, no doubt, in attendance because three of the most vigorously hyped acts that Scotland has to offer are playing in the cosy serenity of the Sleazy’s basement.
From the steadily filling crowd, emerge French Wives, bottles of beer in hand, they take to the stage calmly, as if merely playing at a friend’s house and announce the unfortunate news that their violinist Siobhan Anderson couldn’t be with them on account of her being in China.
Lead singer Stuart Dougan playfully proclaims that due to this absence their songs will be played faster and that there will be a lot more swearing.
The crowd warm very quickly to Dougan’s relaxed approach before even a word was sung or a note played.
After a few sweary anecdotes they play and it’s wonderful, each track has an assured elegance surrounding it, with Dougan stooping over the mic with his impressively tall stature, rendering complex riffs, reminiscent of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox.
Unlike Cox however, there are no overwhelming washes of feedback or distortion, it is a clean, welcoming and ultimately warm sound that French Wives create.
Over the Wall follow a great Scottish tradition of dry witty song writing, with complimentary accompaniment of electronic experimentation.
They have done the rounds over the past few years, becoming familiar and loved faces around the Scottish music circuit.
“We only have tonight”, yells one of half of the affable duo on their track ‘Shifts’, showing off their multi instrumental talents as Ben Hillman plays the trumpet with equal doses of competency and enthusiasm.
It’s a rare treat to see a band create so many shifting dynamics to an ultimately minimal sound, as the clicks and beeps of Hillman’s laptop give this charming band a unique flavour.
Electronic experimentation of this ilk can often be distancing and clinical but they make their tracks feel warm, immediate and sincere.
The combination of the electronics and brutally honest lyrics gives a gentle nod (unconscious perhaps) to Arab Strap, the duo, however, showing the more upbeat half of the Scottish everyday psyche, as this is music to raise a beer to, not lower your glass of whisky.
If it was Over the Wall’s job to warm up Sleazy’s, then FOUND were given the easy task of keeping the glow from the crowd alight.
Brought in front of a crowd that is radiating energy and enthusiasm at them, looking for a finish that would round off a fantastic evening of music, they go about their business in admirable fashion.
Although they may have lacked the charm of the previous two acts, this is not a hindrance, as they receive deafening applause as they belt out their fantastic album opener ‘Anti Climb Paint’.
The harmonies don’t sound quite as pleasing to the ear as they do on the album, perhaps having some sound problems at various times.
This doesn’t detract much from the overall performance and they hit their stride as they play two of their more instantly recognisable tracks ‘Johnny, I Can’t Walk the Line’ and the amusingly titled ‘You’re No Vincent Gallo’ which has the lead singer opening with the line “we met, smoking cigarettes”, a lyrical and vocal delivery similar to Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott.
It is quite unfortunate for FOUND that Over The Wall completely mesmerised and beguiled the crowd beforehand.
Unfortunately, it is something that they struggle to match at times, and for this, they may not have be the band on everyone’s lips as the crowd ascend to the bar for one more round, still not entirely their fault.
Words: Alan Laidlaw
Photos: Gordon Ballantyne