Now in its second year garage, psych and rock festival Freakender has excitement blossoming around it as the trio behind Eyes Wide Open, El Rancho and Fuzzkill put together a killer weekend that is crammed full of talent that’s also lovingly curated into three unique days.
Day one has an overall an experimental vibe to it, featuring five local based acts whose sounds range from jazz touch dream pop to acid touched electronics to straight up gorgeous indie pop.
During an elongated introduction Max Syed-Tollan, performing as Horse Whisperer, explains he will play his greatest work to date, ‘Quintessential Horse Whisperer Part 1 Redux’, which is part of a hundred part piece he has been working on for a number of years and after some awkward hilarity as he dons a ceremonial robe to start things off for Freakender 2017.
A rattling beat starts the piece off, as the eclectic character drops bizarre kraut touching yet jarring keys creating an unnerving yet entrancing atmosphere, while strained vocals change to something more akin to a 60s psych folk group who got a hold of more kit and went wild with it.
In fact there’s such a genre defying array of sounds on offer, from touches of jazz to tripping psych, even a bit of ska, it’s hard to fathom what might come next; nevertheless it’s enchanting stuff that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who’ve arrived early he gets Freakender off to a great start.
Marble Gods are a delight, whether donning retro football tops or not, they’re also the most conventional act of the night, delivering straight up charming, sugar dripping indie pop that woos the crowd happily into nodding along.
It’s indie as it should be, fun well-written songs that are over before you know it and always leave you wanting more and as one song ends the trio duly deliver with another fast fun number to charm your socks off.
Throw in a ton of awkward chat and you’ve got the full-on genuine indie pop experience, cos it’s not really indie pop unless it’s performed by damn lovely awkward kids.
One of the trio responsible for the weekend, Ian Crawford makes his first of a couple of trips to the stage over the course of the weekend as Banana Oil demand an introduction, he announces them as “the hardest working band in the Southside of Glasgow” and the “hardest working waiters in Stereo” among other things, but the trio more than live up to the build up.
Decked in shirts, shorts, slicked back hair and pulled up socks the trio, consisting of Joe Howe (Ben Butler & Mousepad/Gay against You) on tenor saxophone, Niall Morris (Shame Gate/LYLO) on bass and Laurie Pitt (Golden Teacher/Modern Institute), blast off into a set of heady, funk and jazz enthused sounds that flows freely without losing any of their powerful energy through smooth and jarring sax sections.
The trio is well renowned for their other acts, but this free-flowing, part improvised performance takes all the nuances of jazz, adding a spark of energy to create something that gets your moving, and despite all its complexities somehow this feels super accessible.
Going from French spoken word introduction to pulsating beats Pleasure Pool get you going from the off, channelling somewhere between a crazy 90s acid house vibe and LCD Soundsystem at their most disco slick.
They’re set seems to be constantly building with a foot moving rhythms, as chanted vocals play over guitar, drums and an array of electronics that create a party vibe, while the lyric “I’m singing to a room of corpses” hits in at a quiet moment, perhaps intentionally, to put the tick in your head you’re not moving enough.
Their set evolves through dreamy yet energetic sparkling passages to churning dance floor fury, the crowd isn’t quite the flailing arms and legs you’d want, but this is day one, there’s a long way to go and judging by the Saturday line up a lot more chaos.
Closing day one is a band that if you’ve followed the site need no introduction, LYLO have such an effortlessly cool sound that incorporates sun touched keys with a dreamily crooned vocal that hooks you in, add to that a tight groove-laden rhythm section and ounces of smooth sax and you’ve got a sound that’s as refreshing as it is brilliant.
Persuasive tropical jazzy tones wash over the crowd getting feet moving, albeit not quite as much as they are on stage as vocalist/guitarist Mitch’s Stop Making Sense channelling dance moves more than sums up the power their sound holds, sadly you need some choice positioning in a rammed Old Hairdressers to see this, but the sound is so invigorating that it’s not completely necessary.
Night one proves a success, just one sleep to nine hours of garage pop madness for day two.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Neelam Khan Vela