Fighting our way down Sauchiehall Street on a typical Glasgow Saturday night (umbrella inside out, face scrunched in annoyance), my companion and I breathe a sigh of relief when we are allowed into the cosy, grungy venue. Swiftly shaking off the cold, we move into the happy crowd that is already abuzz – the support is on.
Loki’s set is basic – just himself and his female guitar-wielding companion, Becci Wallace. This simplicity allows his passion to shine through, and he has bags of it. His fast-paced rap is full of pop culture references that have this friendly audience laughing and cheering. Of course, he is full of banter too, and by the last song, Smile, the people are nicely warmed up and raring to go.
After a hearty, grateful bout of clapping we are left waiting for the main event. The room fills up quickly now and we are stuck in place, amidst the hubbub of excited murmurings and eager faces. Everyone knows they are in for a treat. Stanley Odd’s newest contribution to the Scottish hip-hop scene is their third album, entitled A Thing Brand New. Over the years hip-hop collective have built up a dedicated following, and it’s clear to see they are here tonight to dance.
The lights go down and a substantial cheer begins, spotlights and siren sounds precede the main event. Stanley Odd frontman Solareye arrives on stage alone, his energy infectious as he raps alone with a charming confidence. Slowly the rest of the six-piece band appears, taking up their instruments to provide the jazzy opening to the first track on their new record, Get Back in the Basement.
The effect of the full band is electric; as people start to do the classic hip-hop upper body bob. Female vocalist Veronika Electronika is mesmeric; her deep voice full of soul, complementing Solareye's swift slick words. He rallies the crowd with chants of ‘I say Stanley, you say Odd!’ as the band smile at the close of an crowd favourite Chase Yirsel.
One of the most striking things about Solareye is his undeniable charm, as he laughs and smiles with his fans he is aglow with genuine happiness. Nothing gets you in the mood more than an artist who genuinely loves what he does.
For me, one of the best things about music is its power to bring people together. When you’re watching Stanley Odd you feel like you are among friends, you are in the club. And what a cool club it is. The crowd belt out Pastime; lovingly described as a ‘classic blues campfire sing-along’. Unfailingly solid bass, provided by AdMac, heightens the quality of the sound. I seriously love that bass.
Quieter, more subdued numbers reveal Solareye's massive talent as a wordsmith. Draw Yir Own Conclusions is a remarkably eloquent sad story told powerfully. It is aptly described by a fan nearby as a ‘heavy tune but heavy sad story’. I must say I agree.
There's some flexing of freestyle skills in a brief bout of impressively fast rap that gets the people perked up. Catchy, jazzy and energetic sound fills the room as fun tracks Get Out Ma Headspace and Her Name was Hip-Hop breeze by - made courtesy of the stellar band.
Samson the Snake keeps the drums and electronics tight, whilst Scruff Le is tireless on guitars and T Lo on the keys is having a ball. The subject matters of the songs are wonderfully diverse, and Solareye is eager to explain his thought processes.
Monsoon Season – a song about inexplicable rage - captures this terrifically whilst also being an oasis of calm. At the break the crowd are feverish and hungry for more, with chants of ‘One more tune!’ I find myself joining in as my companion and I smile.
They return with massive grins and an even bigger tune, Son I Voted Yes. Almost every person in the audience can recite the touching words by heart. There is a tangible surge of unity as people sway, arm in arm. Think of a Number is the perfect cool finish to this dynamite set, as the crowd spend the last of their energy in exulted jumping. So an hour and fifteen minutes after his entrance, The band take their leave, managing to deliver the full package: utterly engaging and entertaining performance packed with passion and intelligent words that get you thinking.
This truly feels like a new experience. The fans are a testament to the band: true and unfaltering. Go and see what the fuss is about. You will be welcomed with open arms into the amazing Odd family…
- Maura Keane