Pop!South Weekender with The Spook School, ballboy, BooHooHoo, Life Model, Wolf Girl, Soda Foundation Rag at The Glad Cafe, 11/2/17

For the fourth (and sadly final) year running, Glasgow promoters Pop!South curate a long weekend of DIY indie and punk from Southside staple, The Glad Cafe.

Unfortunately, trains and tardiness kept me from catching opening acts Marble Gods and Joyce Delaney but, having seen both tear it up live elsewhere, I can confirm they are totally infectious (in the good way) and well worth your time.

Soda Fountain Rag hail from Bergen, Norway – “from the rainiest city in the world, straight to warm your heart,” according to their website – and they are a joy to behold.

Singer Ragnhild Iveranna Hogstad Jordahl (who, I should mention in passing, is the only person I’ve seen sing, drum and play the kazoo during a single song) introduces the subtly melancholic ‘It Fell Apart’ with a story about a white house on a little island that once saved her life.

If that sounds unbearably twee on paper, blame this reviewer – in person, it feels very real, and one surmises that whatever sojourn Jordahl once took to that place, it had a profound effect on her which shines through powerfully in her music.

London garage punk four-piece Wolf Girl bring waves of positivity and generally do everything right on blistering numbers like ‘Sourpuss’ (special props to drummer Christabel, whose style is perfectly weighted between the energetic and the delicate).

Glasgow’s Life Model may not be quite as immediate, but guitarist Chris Smith’s pedal loops and gradual swells give their tunes a gorgeous phosphorescence which, alongside Sophie Evans’ vocals, evokes the best work of post-rock luminaries Slowdive.

Then come BooHooHoo; their name an apt evocation of the tears the indie purists in the crowd are no doubt fighting back in the face of their hyperactive, neon-billboard electropop (“there’s only so much keyboard I can take,” mumbles a punter to my right).

But tunes like ‘Mould Me’ are so well assembled, each hook delivered with such surgical precision that, that if you’ve any respect for the art of songcraft (or inappropriate flute solos) then you have to give them an enthusiastic pass.

The penultimate act is the incomparable Ballboy, Scottish indie darlings par excellence.

Vocalist and guitarist Gordon McIntyre, an old hand by the youthful standards of the Pop!South bill, exudes an irresistible confidence and gratitude, winning the whole room over in seconds.

Tracks from debut album A Guide For The Daylight Hours hit as hard as they did in 2002, and by the end of their set, you can almost run your hand through the warm glow in the air.

The mighty The Spook School finally bring the pot boiling over with a barnstorming set of modern classics like ‘Burn Masculinity’.

I can think of no other British indie band today who combine dance-like-the-world’s-ending energy with right-f*cking-on lyrical positivity as powerfully as The Spook School do: by the end of the night, heads are stimulated, hearts are overflowing, and feet are exhausted.

A side note: drummer Niall McCamley progressively sheds his clothing throughout the performance, which should come as no surprise to those familiar with his provocative calendar work (a pair of Irish cloverleaf nipple tassels are revealed halfway, only one of which clings on until the end).

As is always the way with these Glasgow all-dayers, there’s too much to see, and not enough space to sing its praises – this was a fine, fine show indeed.

Words: Graham Neil Gillespie
Photos: Pop!South

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