Restless Natives: Happy Meals (EP launch), The Modern Institute, Pentecostal Party at Collective Studios, 14/5/16

Restless Natives has come in fast and with just a day to go I’m sad to say this is my first venture out east for the festivities.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t have liked to have seen more, just a case of a hectic time overlapping an exciting one; the one show I had earmarked to attend from the start is tonight’s Happy Meals show, and on a night where there are any number of shows that could be considered the stand out I’m fairly confident that what the duo deliver tonight is by far the best of the bunch.

Playing her first ever Scottish show Newcastle based, Paisley born Dawn Bothwell, aka Pentecostal Party, produces bass heavy beats that sit attractively atop organic atmospheric flourishes with a lackadaisical vocal that sways mesmerisingly towards pop territories.

Bothwell wears a focused expression as she fiddles with the electronics in front of her, looping vocals to build her precise yet decisive synth wave sound.

The Modern Institute, as a collective, house some of Glasgow’s best experimental electronic artists and tonight they create an unnervingly dark atmosphere cloaked only by a single onstage light, along with the daylight that leaks in from the back of the room; the trio’s main focal point comes in the form of a plaster-masked individual in what appears some kind of industrial sci-fi attire delivering vocals centre stage.

During the set the maniacal vocals don’t cut above the electronic mire to become distinguishable, but do add in to the whole dystopian nightmare of bleeps and sirens and relentless militaristic rhythms that makes their set unsettling and engrossing in equal measure.

Now I’ve been a Happy Meals convert since I first heard them and indeed was championing Apéro for last year’s SAY Award, they’ve been a real breathe of fresh air that has broke through the generic synth pop and folky dirge, that’s taking over Scotland just now, to produce something that is truly spellbinding.

Tonight, promoting their new EP Fruit Juice, the duo do their all to help the crowd give in to their inhibitions and succeed spectacularly moving from a building start before two songs in Suzanne Rodden burst from behind a translucent plastic sheet and a wall of smoke to inject her addictive pop tinged French tones to proceedings.

This event seemingly spirals the set into full on club vibe as the room explodes in cascade of 90s dance floor atmosphere as the duo blast the room with a full on assault that takes on as much acid house atmosphere as it does Italo disco tendencies.

The duo have clearly honed their talents in the last year and have returned with something brighter and more emphatic that before; as Rodden skips carelessly through the busy room you get the impression that Collective Studios might not just be the best choice tonight, but the best choice this year.

Words: Iain Dawson


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