Meet Bratakus, recent graduates of Glasgow’s Rock n’ Roll Summer School for Girls and the opening act of tonight’s three band line-up. Hailing from Tomintoul (look it up) they hit the stage early and deliver a sonic slap in the face to the healthy crowd already gathered. There’s only the two of them, Breagha on guitar and screaming, Onnagh on bass (I’m not sure if their drum machine has a name), and they create a stomping buzzsaw punk racket. They race through ten or so short, catchy, jagged and altogether ace songs, one of which Breagha wrote when she was 13 which for all I know could’ve been last week. I’m reminded of legendary 90s Glasgow punk outfit Pink Kross and that can only ever be a good thing. I’ve no idea how the sounds of riot grrrl made it to Tomintoul but clearly they have and we’re all the better for it.
The Hug and Pint is pretty much packed out by the time self-proclaimed ‘Dream Pop’ band Life Model flow straight into top gear. This is dream pop with a crunch, mainly delivered by Chris Smith’s guitar which delivers a satisfying distorted edge to their sound . Life Model’s songs are beautifully crafted, full of melody, filled with sweetness and joy, especially through the beautiful vocals of Sophie Evans. The aforementioned guitar sound keeps it all grounded, a bit of scuzz to go with the sweetness, providing a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. They’re reminiscent of The Cure if they only ever got together on Fridays and turned the volume up. I’ve no idea what they’re singing about or what their songs are called and right now I don’t care, I’ll investigate further later. Right now I’m happy to just be part of the moment they’ve created.
After a jaunt around the UK and a trip to Iceland’s Airwaves Festival it’s homecoming time for Tuff Love (read our recent interview with them). Tonight they’re launching their excellent new Dregs EP which unfortunately has been delayed at the pressing plant. A shame since everyone in attendance would have snapped one up after witnessing the band on top form. Tonight there’s something in the water (or lager) that’s making everything rock. Tuff Love are sounding LOUD, Julie’s guitar is fizzing, Suse’s bass pounding. There’s a massive spring in their step and even their quieter moments pack more of a punch than usual.
Despite the volume, the gentle dual voices and endless creative floating melodies stand out across all of their songs, and what great songs they are. Full of variety and invention, the main point of reference is 90’s indie fizz but there’s more to it than that. There’s a perfect simplicity to their sound despite there being very little that’s simple about the harmonies and the craft that goes into their playing. The sum of their parts just fits together perfectly. ‘Duke’ and ‘Crocodile’ stand out from the new EP and mix with songs from the first two of their three EPs. ‘That’s Right’ is a punk blast and my highlight of the set along with a fiercely delivered ‘Sweet Discontent’.
The whole evening feels like a celebration, three bands and three thrilling performances. Tuff Love’s year has been a constant upward curve and on tonight’s evidence there’ll be no danger of that stopping in 2016. Be excited, I know I am.
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