Tag Archives: Calva Louise

Tenement Trail 2017

Down early for 2017’s edition of Tenement Trail and Edinburgh’s CHEAP TEETH play to a busy but relatively relaxed Broadcast basement.

At points their music lends itself to the restrained atmosphere with subdued alt rock vibes, at others they move to gruffly sneered indie chant alongs.

There’s glimpses of the band blowing you away with powerful flourishes, however for the most part it’s lackadaisical, stoner tinged rock with a hint of lad generation about it, nice start to what promises to be a busy day.

Tenement Trail is synonymous with mad dashes to get to see as much as possible and with the forewarning that entry will depend on capacity of venues and with fifteen minute walks between some venues you have to time your journeys accordingly.

Early in the day the mad dashes aren’t so much of a problem, but the basements of Broadcast and Sleazy’s do reach capacity a few times before the bigger venues open their doors.

Fauves are next door and keep the chilled vibes to a packed basement theme going, but add a touch more sunshine to proceedings with their warming dream pop back drops, casual presence and off kilter charismatic vocal delivery.

It’s a set full of charming passages and uplifting highs, as the keys force you into a woozy sway, the guitar licks some tropical heat in and the vocals range, from high hooky sections to soulful dream filled beauty, has you engrossed.

In Broadcast Savage Mansion take the stage to Kurt Angle’s theme music, and before the urge to chant “you suck” becomes unmanageable they are off, upping the ante with their churning pop sound.

At points it’s proper hooky power pop as Craig Angus’ drawl journalistic lyrics sets them apart from their peers.

The delivery may be thick and fast, but Savage Mansion deliver the kind of set you can easily imagine crowds bigger than this chanting along to before losing it to super fun chorus hooks.

The first major movement of the day finds us down in Flat 0/1, and the tight squeeze of a venue hosts Tamzene, whose haunting vocals are backed only by gentle piano chords and a touch of backing vocal creating a mesmerising misery that entrances the crowd.

The Highlander, now based in Leeds, has the kind of voice that could pack a real punch and blast an arena, but here she uses it to caress and distil that power and deliver some truly beautiful ballads and lullabies that leaves the room silenced.

Sam Fender has a cheeky lad Geordie presence about him and as he croons “I’m a millennial” over an overly prominent bass drum, you get the impression he could be playing to packed venues bigger than Sleazy’s basement before long, the fact last time he was in Glasgow someone said he looked like Justin Bieber is enlightening, as it’s pretty difficult to make him out in the rammed pub, but gives the impression he has the image to go with tunes.

His vocal range is displayed emphatically here, even touching on his lookalike’s pop chops at points, while he can do edgy indie rock blasts and huge festival sing-alongs too; musically there’s an overriding glitchy electronic vibe that carries Fender’s sound further than your average rock band, while they are perfectly capable of going full on rock band or stripping it back too.

Three spaces of The Garage are used today, and each one of their spaces, while ideal for viewing the stage, sound a bit sparse and baron, while their policy of pat downs at 5pm at a communal fun festival is a bit intrusive.

Regardless this doesn’t deter Van Ives, who we forgo the temptations of Stevie Parker for as more the festival starts to spread out a bit; the duo fronted by former Bella and the Bear man Stuart Ramage, who were formed out of playing around with old video tapes, utilise clever samples, keys ranging from gentle to twinkling with a heavy hit of bass, all topped by passionate soulful vocal delivery and subtle guitars.

Ranging from grand, orchestral sounds to glitchy experimental organic beauty, with the occasional soaring section of pure pounding glory, the band do plenty to keep us excited.

As they close on ‘Pyramid’ with just a soft rhythm behind Ramage’s vocal it’s enough to have you shivering, before a soaring scape comes in the bass shudders the room and you’re left with a sense of something special just round the corner.

Wuh Oh is a different vibe completely as the whole set, minus a minor sound mix up, has a fluidity the emits through the man onstage; shimmering funk pop samples move freely into seemingly improvised key movements before the samples kick back in.

This is the kind of music that could so easily be played straight through a laptop, after the painstaking crafting process that is, however its credit to Pete Ferguson that he’s introduced his own live elements and all the while remaining an endless focal point of hyperactive sleaze filled dance moves.

The music hits apocalyptic heights, introducing elements of hip hop and a shuddering bass, all the while keeping a haunting refrain and of course never losing that level of liquid flow that emanates through the whole set.

After a break that unfortunately means missing Tongues and Emme Woods, we find ourselves back on it for the end of Anteros’ energetic pop rock set in a busy ABC2.

From the short burst we get a hit of high octane pop fun and a singer that possess an old school punk presence, strutting about the stage sneering and purring out tracks that emit as much attitude as they do pop chops.

ST.MARTiiNS start off on a quiet haunting number before upping the pace with warm soaring guitar lines; the vocal delivery exudes a dark pop glory, hooky yet shrouded in a sultry gothic shadow that lingers throughout their sound.

Still despite this dark element, their sound is full of bouncy rhythms and shimmery licks that are a lot of fun creating an almost oxymoronic feeling to their sound, it’s like being out in the sunshine but without the daylight and they’re all the more intriguing for it.

As they grow into their set they engulf the basement, and while we may try to categorise their sound they’re just bloody good.

As I arrive upstairs in The Garage’s Attic Bar, minus any pat downs this time, I find a whispering, shuddering wonky sound hit me as Edwin Organ’s soulful delivery comes backed by a cacophony of electronic touches and emerges basked in quality.

This is the kind of act that you can never predict and as he runs off stage to find his Mac charger mid set he hits us with surprising bravado before slipping back into a luscious maximal beauty of another track, the set continues with some trippy lounge feels, more dance floor teasing flurries and that smooth vocal; this deserves more than just the smattering of people gathered in this small room.

To my surprise/disappointment I get into The Priory’s tiny space for Calva Louise (disappointment as this place should be overflowing), but even with the small amount of people gathered in front me catching a glimpse of the band proves a task.

Sadly the volume levels in the basement aren’t up to full so the band’s hooky gothic garage pop isn’t as powerful sounding as it should, this is in no way down to the band who play through bouncing pop tracks and haunting fast screeching numbers with much more confidence than most bands would with only one track in the public domain.

With an addictive singer who delivers on chirpy pop to gritty garage delivery just as well, and a sound that just transmits energy into their audience, Calva Louise is a band that will make packed out basement shows their irresistible staple.

The Big Moon take the honour of being the biggest acts I see today, well in the biggest space anyway, and play to a sizeable crowd in The Garage’s main venue, and grasp people in with an attitude drenched pop rock sound that, woos with a charming presence and holds on with some finely crafted, bombastic tracks.

I only catch the last few numbers, but as the singer prowls the front of the crowd on ‘Bonfire’ you can see why they have gathered such a crowd – delightful sun touched stuff.

Arriving in Broadcast for The Great Albatross you’re hit by how sparse the basement is, but as the set progresses a few more filter in.

Unfortunately you can’t talk about this set without mentioning the outright disrespect for both band and audience from those gathered on the side bench, who shout over the band and drunkenly chant football songs when asked to quieten down, the band try their best to ignore this but it leaves a lingering awkwardness that’s hard to ignore.

That aside when the band are in full stride they produce tracks of unabashed beauty that are drowned in the sadness their recorded work possess in abundance, their live sound feels just as special, as once those causing the noise are dispensed the tracks soar through the basement like a cosy alt rock cushion, melting you down and charming you back to life.

Next door there’s a bigger crowd, but it’s saddening to see Sleazy’s not packed to the brim for Spinning Coin, who ounce for ounce are one of the best bands on the bill.

They’re one of those bands the just exude warm fussy vibes, it’s all lo-if pop sunshine, whether sneered and fast or slow jangly and sun kissed its all just coated in an addictive drizzle that keeps you swaying and hooked in for more.

They’re such a joy that whoever takes the lead vocal duties, whether it be Sean Armstrong’s dulcet indie pop tones, Jack Mellin’s gravely garagey pop delivery or Cal Donnely’s shouty attitude drenched vocals, it’s all got the same pull.

The band go past their allotted time slot, but after a chant of “one more tune” and them closing the venue for the night they get the go ahead for one more and recent single ‘Raining on Hope Street’ makes for a more than welcome encore.

Following that we’re left with a small gap as the venues start closing their doors meaning getting into the final few places becomes more and more difficult, but the time we get to Tut’s there’s already one-in-one-out for Catholic Action’s set, which is still more than 10-minutes off starting.

Still, it’s no surprise as this is a band that have been slowly garnering attention and acclaim for a while now, and with their debut album just a around the corner what better way to introduce it than a closing slot at Tenement Trail.

The four-piece take the stage to Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ and from then on it seems like single after single as the band roll through glammed up indie rock tracks that prove bigger earworms that we expected from a few recorded listens.

We have said in the past that Catholic Action are “the only guitar band in Glasgow who are doing anything at the moment” and more recently suggested they may be the saviours of the British guitar group, and while the former was 18-months ago, and bit of a knowing extreme, with the later they may well still be – they have all the pop chops to be huge, while lack all the dross laddish vibes that have dominated the mainstream guitar band for too long.

Catholic Action produce fun, well crafted tracks that have everything right, with a bit of luck for them and some for ourselves this will just be the end the beginning and the start of something big.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

Ten acts to check out at Tenement Trail 2017

Tenement Trail is back for another year and as they spread a ridiculous amount of bands over 10 venues and over nine hours we made some hard choices for who we think you should go see:

Catholic Action
King Tut’s, 11.15-11.45

This one promises to be a packed one so get yourself along early, not only cos Catholic Action are the last band at the whole festival and have a whole time slot to themselves, but also cos they’re one of the hottest property’s in the UK just now. The Glasgow four-piece are less than a month away from releasing their debut album and from the exuberant, glam tinged guitar pop the have unleashed to date the full could be the thing that ushers them to the huge audiences that have been edging to for a while.

Shredd
Flat 0/1, 9.45-10.15

With a live set that goes from Ty Seagall channeling garage pop to full on heavy riffage Shredd have carved out a reputation for themselves as one of the best live acts in Scotland just now. Expect to see the band being surfed over your head at some point; expect to have the time of your life.

Spinning Coin
Nice N Sleazy, 9.30-10

Spinning Coin’s DIY pop aesthetic has you falling in love with it from the instant you hear it. From luscious melodies to hazy garage, the somewhat Glasgow indie supergroup adds to the right amount of nostalgia and nods to their home town to have you flustered and the lovingly crafted songwriting does the rest.

The Great Albatross
Broadcast, 9-9.30

Wesley Chung’s subtle and beautiful acoustic tracks have been brought to real life as a full five-piece band now puts together The Great Albatross. His recorded material is a transfixing road trip of coherent splendor, however live there’s something vital about the tracks that give them a true glory.

Calva Louise
The Priory, 8.15-8.45

Based in London, but hailing from France, Venezuela and New Zealand, Calva Louise is a band with a high octane, punk attitude of a live show. They may only have a limited amount of music available online, however their surfy shredding, garage rock riffs and squealing guitars make them a live prospect not to be missed.

Edwin Organ
The Garage Attic Bar, 7.45-8.15

Variation is key to Edwin Organ’s sound, still everything he touches comes out golden, his slick, but not unbearably polished production gives his head nodding organic left-field electronica a real desirable sheen. At points it’s super catchy at others a welcoming hug that fuses soul and jazz elements with obvious dance knowledge.

ST. MARTiiNS
Nice N Sleazy, 7.30-8

I’ve not had the opportunity to see ST. MARTiiNS in a live setting as of yet, but their luscious dreamy pop sound has me more than looking to change this this weekend. From our previous reports you could see a set of tropical sunshine or sultry wonder, but either way this duo are definitely ones to keep your eyes peeled for.

Emme Woods
The Garage, 6.30-7

Emme Woods is a talented and witty songwriter with an addictively gruff vocal that transforms her live show from a punk show to a pink swilling blues-rock powerhouse. She also has her wee dog on stage with at all times, you had us at Bubbles!

Wuh Oh
Nice N Sleazy, 5.30-6

While Pete Ferguson aka Wuh Oh’s recorded material is a headily eclectic array of catchy samples, glitchy synths and a peculiar yet entrancing set of time signatures, his live performance takes up a notch both musically and in his bewitching presence; it’s playful, infectious and will get you dancing well worth catching.

Stevie Parker
Broadcast, 5-5.30

Reports would suggest that Stevie Parker’s live show is an immersive, mesmeric experience and that’s what we fully expect from her recorded material, a delicately crafted emotional repertoire powered by Parker’s rich haunted tones that soar with enviable ethereal qualities.

Stag & Dagger, 30/4/17

Perhaps the most highly anticipated annual event on Glasgow’s musical calendar, Stag & Dagger heralds in the start of the festival season and once again floods Sauchiehall Street’s venues with an array of excellent talent.

Over the years, the festival has put on up-and-coming acts in intimate venues before they have exploded, with the likes of Royal Blood and Catfish & The Bottlemen having played pre-stardom sets at the festival in recent years.

As the festival takes place over six venues and eight stages, we take on reviewing tasks as a duo in an aim to cover all of the best offerings Stag & Dagger has to offer

An early stage time at an all-day festival can be a hindrance to artists who often are subjected to empty venues as audiences try to pace themselves – not here.

As LUCIA takes the stage for her early afternoon set (14.45), the Broadcast basement is packed to the rafters, and her brand of catchy punk sets a high standard from the off.

Her raspy vocals shine on the swaggering ‘What Am I’ before ending her short and sweet set on the riotous ‘Saturday Is Dead’.

The venue stays equally as mobbed as Shredd follow her and it’s Shredd by name, shred by nature as the three-piece make an absolute racket, making noise that sounds at least twice the sum of their parts.

Their set peaks on the excellent ‘I’ll Leave It’, sounding like The Vines in their heyday.

With more venues starting to open as we draw into the later portion of the afternoon, there’s more competition to attract crowds, however absolutely no one gives up their coveted spot in Broadcast for Rascalton.

One of the most hotly-tipped acts in Scotland at the moment, they are greeted with frenzied “RAS-CAL-TON! RAS-CAL-TON!” chants as they come onstage, and they haven’t even finished their first song by the time crowd surfers appear overhead.

The four-piece sound like Terry Hall fronting The Clash and the likes of ‘Hey Hottie’ and set closer ‘This Is It’ (where they are joined by Baby Strange frontman Johnny Madden) are indie anthems in waiting.

Immediately following them next door a cacophony of noise has another packed crowd witnessing a band that certainly has us excited in Edinburgh’s Bluebirds.

Regardless of the volume, and there definitely is volume, there is a real melody to them that runs through the four-piece, while pounding rhythm’s and Daniel Telford’s snarled vocals come up front and centre giving a punk edge to their heavier end of post rock sound.

Bluebirds carry a real confidence in their presence, and with their debut single, ‘Subcultural Love’ just out they could be onto a winner with Telford’s vocals at times taking a haunting reverberated spoken word format, akin to what we’ve come to expect from Dale Barclay in both Amazing Snakeheads and more recently in And Yet It Moves, before diving head first into powerful sections, backed by rhythms that stay clearly in place and keep their urgent tracks from tipping over the edge.

There is a massive queue outside the ABC as the excitement builds for The Vegan Leather, granted the venue isn’t quite open yet.

The band specialise in finely crafted effervescent electro-pop, and have everyone in the ABC2 dancing from the off.

In fact, the only person enjoying themselves more than the crowd, is frontman Gianluca Bernacchi, who has a smile plastered on his face throughout.

The Vegan Leather is The 1975 that it’s cool to like; fun, smart and accessible, their set is just one big party, and this is them just getting started – they play a midnight set at Broadcast later this evening.

It is then up the hill to the Vic Bar at The Art School for Roxy Agogo.

Fresh from being on lead guitar duties for LUCIA earlier this afternoon, Agogo and his two-piece backing band, featuring Christopher Ballantyne of The Lapelles, immerse themselves into their set of avant-garde performance art.

Agogo wishes the packed crowd luck early on, and his indulgent set is often a difficult listen; he does manage to sound refreshingly original as a result though.

‘When You Dress Up’ is a sleazy romp, before the immense ‘Crocod!les’ shocks everyone into submission as Agogo shrieks “I NEED SOME ATTENTION!” with the urgency of a man demanding his audience’s full undivided focus.

Meanwhile back down at Broadcast Berlin duo, touring as four-piece, Gurr become one of the highlights of the festival with a sparky dose of 60s girl group wonder that comes with a heavy dose of the 90s thrown in.

The fronting duo, Andreya and Laura Lee, are dripping with an addictive attitude as they tear through fast paced numbers even throwing in a chorus of ‘Hollaback Girl’ before launching into another charmer.

Gurr are fast, fun and completely endearing, the duo give a real engaging presence complete with welcoming smiles, cemented at the moment they request the crowd move forward and the crowd take the cue without a beat of hesitation.

Their surf tinged pop is just the dose for the early evening, as we start to move into regular gig times, and even if some mid song banter seems to get a little lost, the girl’s likeability wins through and we’re left with a truly rewarding set.

After making the dash up the hill to The Art School only to find that Shogun’s set has been canceled, there isn’t a better alternative than Artificial Pleasure down in The Priory’s dark, dingy basement.

If The Vegan Leather are The 1975 it’s cool to like, then Artificial Pleasure could become what The 1975 wish they were; their groove laden electro-artpop, complete with Phil McDonnell’s warbling falsetto are much grander than the setting forgives, indeed the frontman challenges people to dance with “if you dare”, in the tightly packed space.

Their sound packs all the indie dancefloor filling vibes you could wish for and McDonnell’s heavily accented banter is engaging in its crowd praising, which results in heckles of “fuck Newcastle” echoing around the venue.

Gang Of Youths are one of the surprise of the day; playing their brand of anthemic indie-rock, the Australian’s absolutely smash it.

They use their time onstage as a platform for some politically inspired rants, with frontman David Le’aupepe preaching “if you’re scared, I’m scared too”.

There’s a feeling of unanimous uplift in the atmosphere, also in the literal sense as Le’aupepe dives into the crowd and lifts people in the air as they end on single ‘Magnolia’, and the cacophonous ‘Vital Signs’.

The floorspace isn’t heaving by the time Marnie takes the stage in The Art School’s Assembly Room space, but it should be as the Ladytron singer’s set is shimmering in all the right ways; on point drumming from Jonny Scott, ethereal synths courtesy of Sarah J Stanley aka HQFU, and those dream glossed vocals that allow everything to soar in this space.

Marnie’s second solo outing, Strange Words and Weird Wars, is due very soon and given the chance to breathe there’s no reason why this collection of up-tempo dream pop won’t be as successful as her full band’s material; Marnie and her sound is effortlessly cool feeling in this space and leave those that have made it up the hill in a tranced daze.

Back at Broadcast and we have a distinctly less upbeat vibe from London trio Girl Ray, still Poppy Hankin’s distinctive Nico tinged vocals and the band’s lo-fi pop sound is a real warmer, possessing a timeless feel that’s hard to achieve.

Their sound draws a lot from the heartbreak hits of C86 indie pop; the twinkling keys, bouncy rhythmns and high lovelorn vocal passages, however it is when the slightly accented vocals dip into Hankin’s enriched deeper range that lift them beyond just an indie pop band to something a bit special.

A jump next door and Calva Louise start their set to a sadly sparse crowd, but the London based trio, who hail from Venezuela, France and New Zealand, and only have one track available online to date do not let this phase them, blasting though high octane garage rock riffs, crashing cymbals and squealing guitars that keep anyone that does wanders in firmly staying there.

Frontwoman Jess Allanic’s manic facial expressions almost match her vocal delivery and her on point surfy guitar shredding is seriously impressive, there’s plenty of reasons why Calva Louise have been hotly tipped for 2017 and it’s plain to see from their set today.

Calva Louise presented the one big clash of the festival with them taking the stage the same time as 2015 SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph, lucky there’s two of us ay?

There are very few singer-songwriters on this year’s bill, and Joseph’s diversity to the rest of the lineup and clashes with some of the festival’s bigger names means that the CCA is barely half full, however this just adds to the beauty and intimacy that makes the Aberdonian so great.

Joseph is still surprised at how many people have turned up, and she can’t contain her excitement at playing a Wurlitzer piano for the first time live.

The natural reverb from her instrument adds depth to the likes of a hauntingly beautiful rendition of ‘The Bird’ and stark ‘The Blood’.

The venue is deathly silent throughout her performance, people scared to even take a breath so as not to interrupt the ambience, emanating from the songstress’ gazely stare.

Kathryn Joseph is easily one of the highlights of the festival, and to be lucky enough to witness her perform in such an intimate setting is a privilege.

Talking of highlights, up in the Vic Let’s Eat Grandma are about to take the stage, and the incredibly young duo, who met aged four, started making music together at 13 and now, just four years later are on a mission to transform pop music, sure create a sound that simmers the room to a hush.

Whether the crowd don’t know quite what to make of the girls or are just dumbstruck by the talent on show is debatable, however one thing is for sure, Let’s Eat Grandma produce music that is way beyond their years as delicate and haunting ethereal electronics, match with subtle guitars and laptop beats allowing the girl’s vocals to shimmer.

Bizarrely both girls disappear off stage after the first song, but after sorting/locating what they needed they return with a xylophone opened track that is linked up with sharp keyboard chords, giving way to a pounding beat, cue dancing as the teenagers set a real swagger before breaking out a ukulele and then a clarinet, neither of which break the vibe of the track instead creating an interesting instrumental dynamic to the duo’s set.

Still, as much as their multi-instrumental forays work and are impressive, it’s in their more straight forward moments that this duo shine most, that said when they introduce a saxophone you can’t help be impressed again, however in moments when it’s just them with a beat, keys and dual vocals that come across as the most impressive.

There’s something wonderfully eclectic about these girl’s, they’ve been accused of being too dead-pan in their delivery and indeed they don’t utter a word to the audience until the very end of the set, but things like starting songs laid flat on their backs, engaging in handclapping routines mid track and posing in sitting positions simply staring at the audience come across more as an interesting curio that standoffish.

You do get the impression it would come across as annoying if the music doesn’t work, but it does, and if these girls can harness the special talents they have at the tender age of 17 there could be very, very big things to come.

Entering the mix upstairs one of the festival’s big hitters has already started his set, still probably three hours earlier than would be prime for a Gold Panda set, yet he already has the room drenched in powerful beats as he bobs away seemingly entranced by the creation of his intricate sound.

Club atmosphere’s can’t really be expected pre-11pm but this is as close as we’re going to get here and Gold Panda doesn’t let the illusion go as soaring electronics are enhanced by bleeps and beats that get every part of you moving, while engaging visuals keep a focal point behind, his hunched busy presence.

In terms of music this year’s Stag & Dagger is another success, with Scottish music lovers being spoiled with a plethora of excellent sets over the course of the twelve-hour extravaganza; the countdown has already begun to Stag & Dagger 2018.

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Words: Graham McCusker/Iain Dawson
Photos: Allan Lewis/Stewart Fullerton