The Saturday of the Glasgow Pop! South Weekender sees a whole host of indie DIY bands gather at The Glad Cafe in what is the event’s second outing in as many years.
The multiple uses of The Glad Cafe make it a fitting space for this quasi-mini-festival.
Milky Wimpshake is the first band I’m able to see, a band that delights in contrasting the intentionally naff and twee with a frantic nerve and angst.
Pete Dale, the band’s longstanding frontman, plays the part of the overbearing older gentleman, with Sophie Evans a recent addition to the group, taking the place of the younger lady who puts him in his proper place.
‘Ping Pong Lovers’ has some great tradeoffs between Dale and Evans, such as “you’ve got magnetic power/ you need a proper shower”, “you’ve got me watching your back/yes dear I don’t doubt that”, or “you make me think of Scotland/is that the best you’ve got, man”.
An older song from the band’s catalogue, ‘Noam Chomsky Versus the Ramones’, which makes the case for the validity of both lowbrow and highbrow pleasures, might serve as a sort of mission statement for the band, with the line “I wanna read about media distortion of US foreign policy, but I also need dumb stuff, like Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee”.
The band takes real pleasure in this “dumb stuff”, as in the fun schoolboy-French of ‘La Revolution Politique’ (‘c’est un problem pour la bourgeoisie’, etc.).
Next band MJ Hibbett & the Validators make a neat follow-on from Milky Wimpshake; like Pete Dale, Hibbett writes songs from the perspective of an older man feeling himself losing his edge, with literal, specific lyrics commenting on the banal and everyday.
And similarly like Dale, Hibbett delivers half-sung, self-deprecating and funny lines that contrast the ordinary and the shocking.
In ‘That Guy’, Hibbett fantasises about what he could become: “and suddenly I saw myself watching Top Gear/eating English breakfast from a tin/and I don’t wanna be that guy, I don’t wanna be him”.
MJ Hibbett apologises to the audience, and to the children in the audience for language in ‘That Guy’, but the offending line about doing something private in a skip is shouted with real glee.
It’s a clash with the younger generation that Hibbett remarks upon in a song entitled ‘My Boss was in an Indie Band Once’, a song whose title speaks for itself.
Mammoth Penguins are similarly self-effacing; “these people really want their dinners! I really want my dinner! No, not really, we’re gonna play for hours” announces Kupa part way through the set.
The contrast between Emma Kupa’s powerful voice and the two soft male vocalists is a similar effect to what PJ Harvey attained on Let England Shake.
Kupa recalls (and redeems) out-of-fashion noughties indie rockers like Jack Penate as much as Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano or Tom Verlaine.
Fantastically scattered three part harmonies come out of nowhere, with the drummer’s high tenor in the call and response of “play me all day” a particular highlight.
‘Won’t You Show Us Some Weakness’ gets quieter and quieter, then rises up again into a powerpop finish.
The three bands are a snippet of a festival of a thriving music scene in a thriving area of Glasgow.
Words: Tony Boardman