For a week in May Glasgow’s East End was taken over by the Restless Natives Festival I’m reviewing just a tiny fraction of it. The festival brings a huge dose of cultural events to an area of the city that perhaps doesn’t receive it’s fair share. There was music, film, food & drink as well as other completely unique events, all with an independent slant. We’ll focus on the music since that’s our raison d’etre.
Circumstances mean the festival is half done by the time I get involved. I’ve missed the likes of Into It Over It, The Hotelier, Le Thug etc. etc. I get going eventually though and so I’m in the 13th Note on a Friday night to catch Spinning Coin and the Breakfast Muff, part of a lineup curated by Glasgow’s wonderful Fuzzkill Records.
There’s a seriously positive vibe around Spinning Coin at the moment and understandably so. They sit somewhere around The Pastels and Pavement with a bit of added crunch. Vocal duties are swapped between members which keeps things fresh and the songs cram in melodies above the fuzz, a perfect blend of off-kilter intensity but flimsy around the edges. They’re a must see band.
Breakfast Muff fall into the same must-see bracket. Theirs is a thrilling punk racket full of fun and humour, ear piercing screams and enough screamalongability (if that’s not a word it should be) to make the most miserable punk’s tongue piercing rattle. This band will make you grin like an idiot, especially when a barefooted Eilidh starts jumping up and down before each song has even started.
On Saturday night we’re off to the St Lukes, a new and pretty stunning gig venue beside Glasgow’s famous Barrowland Ballroom. Poor time management means I miss Chrissy Barnacle (recurring theme, I miss her ace band Joyce Delaney on Sunday night too but I’m reliably informed she, and they, were excellent and I have no reason to doubt that). United Fruit are loud, almost deafeningly so. They give it their all and do a pretty great job but some of the subtleties of their songs are drowned out by sheer noise. I still thoroughly enjoy them though.
I’m a little lost watching Rolo Tomassi, they’re certainly putting a lot into it and their mix of screamcore with melodic breakdowns is attention grabbing but doesn’t quite do it for me. For every bewildered face in the crowd there’s another loving it and I like it when bands can generate that sort of reaction so let’s stick to the positives.
Future of the Left are tonight’s headliners but are entirely new to me, I’m here on the recommendation of some trusted friends and I’m not disappointed. They provide a lot of laughs, Falco’s personality shines over their performance and the songs easily provide the quality to back up their sort of punk rock swagger. They crunch their way through a crowd pleasing set of new and old, including covers of McCluskey, their previous incarnation. I’m hooked and clearly those that know the band a lot better than I do are fully satisfied if their air punching and enthusiastic dancing is anything to go by.
Restless Natives closes on Sunday night and I find myself wanting to be at two gigs simultaneously but I decide on seeing Killer Bangs, American Clay and perennial Overblown favourites Tuff Love, a bill curated by Gold Flake Paint and Detour Scotland. Killer Bangs are definitely worth keeping a close ear on. They launch into a Babes in Toyland-esque riff to kick things off but as well as delivering on the rock they also know how to slow it down to a fine fuzzed out groove. Fluoxitine Dreams closes the set and is a highlight of the night.
Another entirely new band to me are American Clay and they provide an entirely pleasant surprise to my evening. This is the realm of 90s indie rock, loud and brash Fugazi-like squalls interlaced with moments of beautifully soft guitar melodies a-la American Football. Consider me impressed.
Tuff Love do what they always do, beautiful songs with inventive guitars and vocal melodies that glide effortlessly from their skilled fingers and mouths. All songs are taken from their debut album Resort and I can’t wait to hear what they’ll follow this all up with. That’s it, gig over….except it isn’t quite. A quick shuffle round to the 13th Note means I’m in time to catch Jutland Songs who’re closing out the Struggletown Records night and it’s well worth the extra effort. Driving indie rock delivered with style and confidence and benefiting from a really great sound wins the night. Sharp guitars lead the way and the band sound as tight as I’ve ever heard them. It’s very much in the vein of any influential 90s American indie rock band you care to mention and it’s as thoroughly enjoyable as any of them.
What each night has had in common is the feeling of being part of something a little bigger than normal, something to glue it all together and cover it in magic dust. I might only have caught a tiny amount of the attractions of the Restless Natives festival but I’ve loved it and am gutted I couldn’t squeeze in more. Here’s to next year and better personal planning.