Live review: Wooden Shjips, Helicon at SWG3, 12/12/13

wooden_swg32Those with perpetually fantastic musical preferences within the Buckfast capital of Glasgow are spoilt for choice tonight, in one corner we have current chart topping indie babes Haim charming the pants off a sold out crowd in the ABC.

If however, saccharine and Michael Jackson teased harmonic squabbles is not what you prefer to soak your coco pops in, then it looks like a trip west of the city for some lo-fi ambience and sludgery distorted rhythms could be just the ticket tonight.

Wooden Shjips bring an elegance of eerie psychedelic grooves to the carnivorous warehouse, having just released latest LP Back to Land to a lauding of critical acclaim, there is a real intrigue and curiosity as to how the new material will transgress and evolve within the realms of a live setting.

Before all that, though, we have local lads Helicon providing their own slice of spacey and gritty psychedelic rock, in contrast to Wooden Shjips, Helicon produce a far more visceral and angsty take on the genre, dismantling the very nucleus of their sound into a meddling of dialectical Glaswegian rants.

Surprisingly, it works well, with the bass bulging and interloping mechanically over a transcending and progressively angry wee fella squelching his lungs out almost incoherently over the microphone; don’t worry pal, I’m sure your friends eventually found you locked inside a toilet of the Arches hallucinating and counting sheep.

By the time Wooden Shjips grace the stage, to a backdrop of watermarked television fuzz visuals, SWG3 is absolutely crammed.

Opening with a chaotic fusion of double distorted rubble in the form of ‘Black Smoke Rise’ the San Francisco quartet allow for very little give in a set which cements the bands position as one of the most innovative acts to arrive in the past twelve months.


At times the guitars slay so heavy, it begs the monitors and PA system to collapse into a shrine of debris, instead, though, the harmonics multiply into a magnitude of fabulously intertwined hazy nostalgic noise.

Despite releasing arguably their heaviest and most endowed material in the form of Back to Land last month, the band interestingly choose to play the more blues-psychy and Velvet Underground inspired ‘Ruins’ from the record as a segment of isolation from what is across the board an incredibly heavy and industrious set full of minesweeping guitars and stylistically ferocious bass swoons.

On the evidence of tonight, Wooden Shjips have really upped their game, while it remains to be seen whether the quartet can maintain momentum and stake a place among the psychedelic gaze heavy weights, this tour has shown they at least have the songs to stake a lofty attempt.

More photos

Words: Chris Kelman

Photos: Michael Gallacher


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