You have to take your hat off to those wonderful people at Tenement TV, the concept of the Tenement Trail isn’t new by any means – 5 venues providing a day of great music and all within walking distance of each other in Glasgow – it’s been done before for sure. So what is the difference? The difference is the sheer quality of Scottish talent on show, and all for only £14 entry fee. The key difficulty becomes immediately obvious when you look at the line-up. Who can you bear to miss out on?
My day started early with The Rockalls. And what a way to kick off the day. With the darkness of the basement at Nice 'N' Sleazy’s contrasting the sunshine outside on this Saturday afternoon, as did the mood, you would be forgiven for thinking that midnight had arrived as The Rockalls – grown by one from a standard five to a six piece for the gig – burst the Tenement Trail into life. With an explosion of accomplished garage/punk noise, one could be forgiven for feeling that The Cramps and The Damned were having a set-to on the stage. Encouraging the crowd to squat down and to explode onto their feet at their very command, signalling a refreshing arrogance and command for the first band of the day, they romped through their set with No Comin' Back a particular standout. The band also included a cover of Kraftwerk's A Model which had both a familiarity and new edge at the same time.
Next up were Acrylic who painted a more familiar sound, drawn from the Glasgow indie/pop pedigree, but none the less captivating for it. Having recently received justified praise from Hector Bizerk, the five piece ensemble delivered their very own brand of sailing close to the edge indie pop, in the well-trodden footsteps on Franz Ferdinand and Dogs Die in Hot Cars.
With the shortest journey of the day between Broadcast and Sleazy’s, once Acrylic finished I found myself next door in no time, watching Vladimir storm the space with their Dundonian brand of near anthemic punk thumping rock. With an already impressive list of support slots including the magnificent Fall, and a sound reminiscent of Deerhunter and Radiohead, and an eerie cover version of Born Slippy, the foreboding and sinister sound hung well in our small collective cell. The set ended with a reverberating chant of "We are Vladimir" as the band left the stage, and even as the crowd filtered out, we were left in no doubt who we had just seen. Headline slots are in the wings and deservedly so.
Back to Sleazy’s for the last in the venue's hat-trick of openers. Deathcats suffered slightly due to a crossover of start times, however the venue soon filled and the band had the crowd dancing with their own brand of pulsing pop and latchkey lad lyrics. The form and sound is both convincing and compelling and all that was missing was a few 'Gabba Gabba Hey's' and their cover would have been blown.
Back across in Broadcast, and next band TeenCanteen are just too lovely for words. A set of simple soaring soft centred pop perfections see the girls enter even the toughest heart in the room. Beautiful melodies and kissing harmonies delivered in a pleading local lilt make TeenCanteen one of the gems in the Scottish-pop jewellery box. Each time they take to the stage, they seem to add shine that little bit brighter, and from an array of tracks, the pick of this set was Vagabond. Having recently performed at Wickerman, T in the Park and on our very own Scottish Fiction Sessions, they are now commanding the attention of a larger fan base and the wider media.
Advertised as 'The Birth of Roxy Agogo' on their Facebook page, it was with baited breath and stellar recommendations that I dropped by to catch the band's first ever gig. I was not to be disappointed. Such freshness from such obvious musical references and a star quality which shines like a beacon, Roxy Agogo delivered a mesmerising short set of 5 songs: Crocodiles, Saturday is Dead, Pink Performer, Fake Forever and When You Dress Up, and in doing so both reignited the flame of Bowie/Pop/Murphy/Numan in a new age, and touched down effortlessly on the stage which has been lit and waiting for some time. Rozy Agogo are the real deal and it was a delight to watch them take first breath.
Tiujana Bibles are the complete rock band in every sense of the word. Touring hard and performances at both Wickerman and Belladrum were the foundations on which this gig at the O2 ABC 2 would prove to be a showcase for just how accomplished they are, and with a set list of infectious tunes, this environment was bound to be a triumphant arena for them. From back to front they nailed every track, each individual member commanding their space as an individual and collective force alike. The crammed playlist began with the single Crucifixion, and the momentum continued through Toledo, Last of the Go Getters, 6 2 Midnight, Runnin' Red Fruit and finishing on Wild River. When it comes to live music, they are a 'must see'
So, with the end of the night approaching came the real difficult decision of the day, how to end it? With Hector Bizerk, Friends in America, Randolph’s Leap and Campfires In Winter all justifiably demanding attention, it was a given that someone would miss out.
In the end I opted for Randolph’s Leap at King Tut's, or as Adam indicated during a brief interlude “It’s only old folk that call it King Tuts Wah Wah Hut isn’t it?” Aye that’ll be me then. Randolph’s Leap are a delight to behold. Lyrically endearing and musically sweet, their previous album/EP releases The Curse of the Haunted Headphones, As Fast As A Man, Real Anymore and Introducing… were all beautiful collections of angst ridden humour. Earlier this year the band released Clumsy Knot on Lost Map Records and they have delivered one of the albums of the year. Three songs in, and having delivered Goodbye, Foolishness of Youth and Nature to an enthralled crowd, a broken bass guitar proved a potential stumbling block until, as if by magic, a replacement was offered and after some tuning, we were back on course again, partying with Microcosm, as if you could do anything else to such a tune! Following older singles News and Hermit, the now iconic and trademark I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore had the swelling crowd in sympathetic voice as we swayed and gazed into our emptying plastic glasses and contemplating journey home. Light of the Moon finished the set as each member took it in turns to reduce the stage presence by an eighth and downed instruments and walked off to a building applause.
And so we all followed suit, a wonderful end to a wonderful day of the best of Scottish talent. Tenement Trail is the best thing to happen to the Glasgow music live scene in many years, and I should know, I’ve seen many years.
- Words by Bobby Motherwell, pictures by Hannah McMillan