Nothing says going “full-hippy”, like naming your band after San Francisco’s 1960s counterculture centre.
Fortunately there is nothing “full-hippy” about the Glasgow trio Haight-Ashbury; nor is there any paganistic “handfasting” or any other symbolistic floral-esque vapidness.
Haight-Ashbury perform a humble and intimate set, that is perfect for their style of music; angelically folky, with Kirsty Reid and Jennifer Thompson’s haunting – yet captivating vocals, interchanging between unassuming duel melodies and stereo-like unison fare.
For a three-piece band, with a fairly frugal set-up, they utilise all at their disposal to compensate for any sound, that would otherwise, have been lost; with Thompson playing, what is essentially the fundamentals of a drum kit, standing up, tambourine in hand, with bass drum perennially pulsating away.
Scott plays an array of stringed instruments, including a beastly resonator; allowing for a lo-fi fuzzy distortion that sounds like it is freeing itself from the oppressive chains of a beautifully battered AC-30.
Scott, being a dab hand, also performs keys duties when the girls pull the tempo down during the somber, but moving, ‘Poster Children’.
Scott’s harsh, rough-around-the-edges carefree style makes for a lovely juxtapositional blanket that sits underneath the soft ghostly sounds of the girls’ sweet harmonies – with pop sensibilities being a by-product of the accessible sense of melody that is achieved throughout the set.
Single ‘Freeman Town’ is a particular highlight, with the lackadaisical and tawdry quasi-vocal-esque-chants hanging off the tail-end of the melodious choruses; ambiguously risqué lyrics, and the kitsch undertones expertly extracted – taunting “we got songs to go, make it flow from fast to slow, you won’t see me smile, you can only make me last a while”.
Other highlights include: ‘Three Little Birds’, ‘Keep It On Ice’, ‘She’s So Groovy 86’ and ‘Sophomore’, with Scott’s guitar tone sounding like it is literally emanating from a dying Marshall 800, cranked, and hanging on for dear life on a precipitous peak; clinging from the mere depths of insanity, with feedback just barely being contained.
We are also treated to a fun rendition of The Waitresses holiday classic ‘Christmas Wrapping’, which adds to the festive spirit.
A great set from the three-piece that make more than enough noise to compensate from the Spartan set up, producing some great songs and beautiful vocal harmonies.
Words: Derek Robertson
Photos: Jayjay Robertson