It’s been a somewhat transcendental day, with solar flares lighting up the night sky with the mystic Northern Lights, a solar eclipse darkening the morning sky and now ravechild finds themselves en route to a midnight gig that marks the homecoming of Glasgow’s very own Tijuana Bibles.
Fresh off the back of a UK wide tour the beguiling quartet waltz on stage just after ‘the witching hour’ to a room packed full of hedonistic voyeurs; the show is sold out, with many being turned away at the door upstairs.
There’s an energy to the crowd, somewhat feverish; it reminds me of the same ardour found at very early Libertines or Artic Monkeys gigs, and why not? Tijuana Bibles have established themselves on the Glasgow music scene in very much the same DIY spirit as their aforementioned predecessors.
They set up camp together in a southside tenement, where they rehearse often and recorded some early EP’s – the very same EP that they gave away for free to their fans at some of their original gigs.
This EP quickly exchanged hands among the music loving brethren and kin of the Glasgow live scene, earning them a plethora of live shows in strange locations – including a tattoo parlour.
They can be found having a beer at the bar prior to and after any live show and seem to love nothing more than having a bleather (and no doubt a whisky albeit) with their devout followers.
Thus gaining the Bibles a motley crew of eager enthusiasts who seem to have developed their very own micro-community; people show up to each and every show, as if it was their first.
Unsurprising then that the first words spat from lead singer Tony Costello’s pincer sharp mouth are “it’s great to be home Glasgow,” to which the audience scream back in appreciation.
The kids who have squeezed their way down to the front row, with an over zealous demeanour when it comes to defending their position as they’re wearing it as a badge on honour, seem so intent in guarding their spot that they don’t seem to care risking several concussions along the way, as the crowd bounce back and forth.
So what do they sound like? Set opener ‘Toledo’ is a chaotic bass laden giant, stomping through a playground that happens to have Band of Skulls playing on a merry-go-round.
Complete with howling chorus and filthy guitars it’s the kind of track would leave Serge Pizzorno gently weeping and licking his wounds quietly in a corner.
There’s a lot of on stage posturing and showmanship, but why not? This is good old-fashioned rock’n’roll in its full Technicolor glory.
Whether or not the lead singer is using his roadie as a footstool, or if guitarist James Brannigan is playing so close to the audience that he’s technically in the ‘belly of the beast’ – the Bibles come across as ‘put on a show kind of boys’ – and that is just what they do.
‘Runnin’ Red Fruit’ sounds like The Brian Jonestown Massacre riding the wave of death in an imminent fiery apocalypse.
Hepped up and with a fire in their belly the foursome seem to deliver this track with more adrenaline in their body than a kid on Ritalin.
Tony Costello’s vocals sound somewhat akin to Seasick Steve – howling into the night, after his local whiskey bar tells him they are out of his favourite bourbon.
The music is multi-layered, filled with reverb and intermittently pinched with the rattlesnake shuffle of a tambourine.
The band race through the set at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breathe – except to take copious swigs from a very large nondescript bottle of alcohol.
To the uninitiated the songs may seem somewhat formulaic, however for the hardcore fans each and every note is received with rigor.
Set closer ‘Crucifixion’ once again ups the pace with the noise and stomp of Judas Priest and the aural assault of Queens of the Stone Age this distorted behemoth, has the Glasgow crowed wailing back every lyric.
As the crowd disperse and emerge from the underground basement of Broadcast, looking puffy faced and somewhat dishevelled, there is only one thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind; when is the next gig? And are you going to be there?
Words/Photos: Ang Canavan