Glasgow: A Truly Incredible 6 Music Festival Host City
“This is us. This is our alternative spirit…” Why is it that Glaswegian accents tend to take on more than a wee touch of Janette Krankie when you hear them on the radio? Is it just down to our self-effacing nature? Or maybe we’re just not used to hearing our accent reflected back at us from the national, London-based media. The radio soundbites promoting the 6Music Festival in the run up to last weekend were a little bit twee, yes. Though, the sentiment hit the nail smack bang on the head.
Glasgow is a city that grows ever more assured and capable of showing off its unique attributes. We’ve always been a must-play music city. We’re the city with the ‘mental’ crowds who sing their hearts out to every song, but Glasgow music fans are also a discerning bunch and can suss out when a band is the real deal. All weekend long, fans were treated to the kind of diverse musical gems that only 6Music could bring to town. It was a glorious success and another belter of a feather in both Glasgow’s and 6Music’s caps. Alternative spirit, indeed! And the sunshine didn’t hurt either, did it?
Goldfrapp topped the bill at Friday night’s O2 Academy show. Though, much like the rest of the festival, the show had more of an every man or woman for themselves type vibe about it than a pecking order. The 6 Music Festival featured early starts for opening bands at each of the evening venues and Future Islands coped admirably. With no shortage of conviction and feeling, heavy rotation 6Music favourites like Seasons went down a storm. Sparks followed, with expected levels of theatrics, wit and style. However, the tight, beefed-up rock sound, along with a fresh crop of quality songs, was a very pleasant surprise. Goldfrapp capped off the night with a set of crowd pleasers, yet somehow after the exertions of the two bands before them, the performance felt as relaxed as you can be when faced with a crowd of over-excited Glaswegians.
The newbie venue of the festival, St. Luke’s, featured a host of bands that have been touted as the future of alternative music. On Saturday night, after the sun ducked down, The Lemon Twigs treated the converted church to a memorable performance; due partly to Michael D’Addario’s splendid leopard-print catsuit but, also thanks to the finely crafted melodies that back up the madness. Likewise, Car Seat Headrest, are a band to be experienced live, with the kind of chaotic energy and DIY approach that a Glasgow crowd love. Welcomed onto the stage by a rapturous ovation, they delivered a really dynamic show. I’m fairly certain the crowd’s reaction to ‘Fill in the Blank’ could be felt half way down the Gallowgate. Great things await!
The Tramway day sessions featured a strong smattering of Scottish talent, ranging from a talk with Ian Rankin, an appearance from the mighty Limmy and an extremely moving conversation and performance by Edwyn Collins (the latter is available to listen back to via the 6Music radio app and if it doesn’t make your heart soar then you’re dead inside.) Also playing at Tramway over the weekend was a true maverick, Father John Misty. A man who, at this point, is pretty much the moustached, poetry-spewing, awkward interview-giving, epitome of a 6Music artist. His piano accompanied performance of Pure Comedy from his forthcoming album, had the crowd transfixed.
The Scottish troops were out in force elsewhere at the festival too, with the inclusion of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Honeyblood and Optimo showing just how wide 6Music are able to cast their net.
SWG3’s mammoth Saturday night lineup culminated in a hometown set from Optimo, with DJs performing in all three rooms of the warehouse venue and Glasgow’s late night ravers dancing away to the wee hours. Dusky, Simian Mobile Disco and Jungle all took their turn on the downstairs decks with many more playing in rooms throughout the evening.
However, the band that brought the festival to a close weren’t from Glasgow. Though, the city most definitely belonged to them on Sunday night at the Barrowlands! The tickets for Depeche Mode’s show sold out in two minutes, which is no surprise given the fans I spied queueing in the afternoon sun and their relentless singing in between songs.
“You know you’re on telly?”
Dave Gahan asked, clearly amused. The songs sound as strong as ever, with Gahan stomping, chest out, in time to the grinding synthpop rhythms. The trusty leather waistcoat and gelled hair might date him a little, but tonight’s final tracks, Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence, are timeless. The single Where’s the Revolution? found them sounding pleasingly vital and on form. (BBC’s iPlayer is your best pal for the next 30 days and will let you check out Depeche Mode’s set, along with a host of others (Wee personal reccie – Thundercat’s set should not be missed!)
With a range of fringe appearances and community events popping up around the city in the lead-up to the festival, it made the whole experience feel like a beautiful celebration of Glasgow rather than a music festival. Unsigned bands, art exhibitions, film screenings, spoken word, book launches and fashion shows were only some of the events coordinated to shine a fine light on the city.
“In our city, we saw idols and music lovers. We heard the words of dreamers. The proudest roar. But most of all I found you. This is our city.”
Those damn radio soundbites, again. I’m okay. There’s just something in my eye… What a weekend!
Make sure you catch up or relive all the best bits with BBC 6Music – a whole treasure trove of goodies are waiting to be discovered and keep you going until festival season starts up again.
Did we mention it was sunny?
Cover Image: The Songhoy Blues (Image courtesy of BBC)
***Words By Clare Mac***