Walking into an entirely deserted basement at the Hug and Pint tonight is more than a little disconcerting.
As tumbleweed rolls past, and we beat a hasty retreat back upstairs to the bar, one can’t help but feel for this evening’s bands.
Happily, the place eventually busies up enough to make it worth everyone’s while, and the near palpable tension in the room begins to dissipate.
Kicking off festivities is Inverness indie-noir four-piece Lional; the band recently left the frozen North to perform at MUSEXPO’s industry showcase in Los Angeles.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing if the promise shown on 2015 debut EP My Design will translate live, and I’m not disappointed.
Setting this band apart is frontman Joshua Mackenzie’s singular lead vocal, eliciting comparisons to Franz Ferdinand and the Fratellis, Mackenzie’s deep, bassy drawl sits perfectly alongside masses of reverb and Strokes worthy riffs.
Underscoring the band’s technical and songwriting capabilities, EP title track ‘My Design’ is a percussion driven and reverb heavy noughties inspired rampage. Punctuated with syncopated, near disjointed verse vocals, and with a monster hook of a chorus, the track swells to fill the diminutive, and still fairly quiet venue with noise.
Tonight’s set also includes Lional’s rather lovely new track ‘Lonely So Long’, which is built around a series of lush, incrementally ascending guitar riffs from Mackenzie.
Closing with debut single ‘Seasons of Salt’, Lional’s first release under independent label IMOUT Records, Mackenzie then exits the stage abruptly with dramatic flourish; a gesture marred only slightly by him having to navigate the world’s smallest stage door.
The remaining feedback lingers for so long that the lads have time to grab a pint before it eventually fully dissipates.
Next up is Glasgow veterans Calacas, who are back after a lengthy hiatus with brand new material.
Forthcoming single ‘Ten Tiger Trax’ is available as a free cassette tonight, a novelty that pleases my mate (who would now have to purchase an exorbitantly priced cassette player in order to play said freebie).
Calacas begin with a riotous blast of lo-fi sound, which resonates and vibrates during opening track ‘Local Rivals’.
As the band rattle through their set at speed, it is only during a midway lull that I realise their multi-talented bassist is not only helping out on percussion (and who doesn’t love two band members playing one drum kit at the same time?) but is also playing his bass upside down and back to front.
The band draws their set to a close with penultimate ‘Ten Tiger Trax’ and this piece of scuzzy indie rock, featuring screeching guitar and gloriously discordant vocals, pleases the remaining, if sadly thinning crowd.
The gig is plagued with sound problems throughout, and given the somewhat wobbly start to the evening; it is testament to both bands that the night can be branded an overall success.
Words/Photos: Kat McNicol