A night of shades: punk, doom, thrash and groove at the 13th Note - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #146

RL Huppert is pure punk
Another miraculous confluence of art-house forces saw fit to place Los Tentakills and the Kosmik Deed on the same bill, as well as a patchwork quilt of Glasgow art scene and a combination of sonic diversity so extreme as to render the event akin to a single vicious fire extinguisher upsides the head that will leave one moaning and bleating in the corner begging for it to stop even as we beg for it to continue. It was the sort of thee decibel arrangement frequently used to effectively prove the existence of a benevolent and all-powerful deity. Speculation about a rumoured ‘secret special guest’ was rife, though to those with the inside track it was not a secret. Quite how good secret and indeed very special and precious RM Huppert turned out to be was still a special surprise. Cranking out the kind of uber talented ur-punk to consistently and readily match Soul of the January Hills levels of acoustic ferment, and whipping the crowd into appropriate levels of atavistic heathenism not through energetic performance or sheer revolutionary terror (that would come later) but through honed skill and a disarming self-deprication. It was this sincerity that made me dig out my camera instead of going for another drink. By the time his set was finished it had rung every bell in the room. Before he finished he warned “the volume is going to jump once I get off”.

Skullwizard, within doom.
Time to be selfish for a minute and talk about photographs. Today’s images taken by my good self are the same retro high-contrast black/white stuff I do at a Bannerman’s gig because of poor lighting. There’s a conflict between the venues and the photogs on this. We’d all prefer fully spot-lit gigs which are kind to our lenses. We’d prefer a lot of things but lighting isn’t too much to ask for. We’d prefer white lighting, if you’re taking notes, none of this coloured shit. While you’re at it, hang a black sheet, or paint yer back wall black. And make sure your lights are in front of the musicians so their faces are lit. At 13th Note there’s but one light bulb, which highlights the back wall. Most of my photos were discarded because they were a real nice image of a white brick wall with some annoying silhouettes in the way. I dig you like the basement atmosphere, I do too, the whole place was mobbed which was super-great. I ask this because I’m a considerate non-flash user and realise awesome images (of the sort I sometimes accidentally capture while snapping away shite) are half the battle for up-and-comers; and the flash is really off-putting to a lot of you zoned-in types, and it leads to awful colourised washed-out photos of people squinting. I prefer to do a little better than that. So I won’t use my flash and you’ll put in some little white LEDs and paint yer walls black. It makes everything look supa-sweet. ‘Kay? Though the pitch darkness of the 13th Note Glasgae basement was appropriate for Skullwizard. Their contempt for us so utter that during their length-variable jams the singer keeps her back to us. All the while (Kosmik) James (in his first of three appearances of the night in his various guises as Shred Master of Skullwizard, Hoots and Hollers of Los Tentakills and Innerspace String Communication Officer for the Kosmik Deed) keeps his motion spasmodic but constant. The performance is all Sleep ‘twixt-Holy Mountain and Dopesmoker-era riffs pounded out between geeeeee-tar funkytime and secures the same tenuous Sleep turf of being at once groovy and punishing. So you can get beat to a soundtrack.

Clocked Out's existential thrash.
Everything kicks into high gear when Clocked Out take to the stage. Debuted as ‘Nuvelle vague thrash’, the stage almost seems too small to contain the energy pouring out of the stage, and that energy quantum leaps into the heads, and like fire and ice, the jumping front man is met head-on by the jumping crowd. Songs are belted out at a land-speed-record rate. Reputedly the band are heavy into Existentialism (you can just tell, they’re punks) so on my way back to Edinburgh I was trying to compose an epitaph, to piece together what I’d seen and make sense of it, while on a train amongst a cadre of simpletons, and all I could think of to summate their raucous, zealous, punchy performance was “if at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that, twisting in dark passions, produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything, what would life be but despair?” Kierkegaard’s last words were “sweep me up”.

Are you ready to testify? Groove with Los Tentakills on the mountain
Grab a beer and your baby and limber up yer hips for some serious swaying because Los Tentakills are going to take over the world one basement at a time. No expense spared in stage garb as all turn up as the good, the bad and the groovy as men with no name MC5 Al and Grant go through full head-to-head sonic war with the rawkin’ 13th Floor Elevators bass freakouts of Celina; all presided over by voodoo chieftain (Kosmik) James providing tambourine backup and up-front crowd gee-ing. His services won’t be needed to gee up a crowd as long as Los Tentakills keep pumping out feel-good Americana this absorbing. Dancing commences, at first awkward gig dancing where you’re trying not to spill anyone else’s pint but before the first song fades out you’re in a full-on sweaty atavistic freakout rampage, without any knowledge of where or how, you’re just going with it. Yet more evidence of the sustaining ability of rock and roll to transport us, launched on a ship aboard waves of groove lapping at the hull with a crest of foamy sonic yawp and the sweet sweet travelling medicine show of Los Tentakills. There’s a definite sense of the sweeping realisation that rock and roll, for all its backsliding and imprecise talk, is still the cure for what ails us and full-on local basement freakouts are still the shortest and most direct way to post-meditative bliss.

(Kosmik) Mountain man James sings about life on the mountain while looking like Che
The remainder of this review has been cancelled, and the replacement review bus service has been implemented. I would dearly love to give my considered unspellchecked opinion on the sets of Vakunoht and the esteemed Kosmik Deed; but let me explain a little of my reality. I live in Edinburgh, as indicated by my constant pining over Edinbugger bands, Edinburgh is not Glasgow, and is not very far away at all. Glasgow is where it all goes down. The last train to Edinburgh (i.e. Home) from Glasgow (i.e. where it all goes down) on a Saturday night is at 11:30pm, and there are no all-night coffee shops in Glasgow anymore so staying out all night and catching the first train home on Sunday morning with eyes on stalks is a very cold option. Scotrail, your trains are overcrowded and understaffed. Your prices are overinflated while you’re your service is underfunded. Your trains are sweaty, uncomfortable, old and slow. You pretend as if you are an option in a market when really you are a local monopoly. I take all this with good grace, really I do. But when I pay an obscene price for my ticket, and sit on a cramped, sweaty train for too long, I might be a bit less inclined to exsanguinate my fellow commuters if my money were going to a frequent and useful service. A service is meant to serve, hence the term. If you take people’s money and give nothing back that would be defined as a robbery. When you force me to miss the Kosmik Dead to sit on the train of the dunces, it fills me with murder frenzy. If you have a review of the Vakunoht and Kosmik Deed portions of last night’s spectacular. Please email me and your name and review will be dutifully added under this remark. Until then. I love you Los Tentakills, and fuck you Scotrail.

Celina in full bass warrior mode
Los Tentakills have a superbly priced (free) bandcamp collection, as do Clocked Out (streaming only), I am advised Skullwizard recordings will be forthcoming, and if they capture the live essence of the show they’ll be in with a real shout, and RM Huppert just released a new album. Go seek!

Written under duress by Steven.

UPDATE – Chief dancing queen at 13th Note (Kosmik) James has agreed to paint the back wall of the 13th Note as long as we photogs stump up the cash for the paint and the LEDs. One trip to the hardware shop and a coupla coats later and we’re golden. Fans, bands, journalists, photographers, bloggers! Email the blog winewomenandasongortwo@live.co.uk if you’re in for some prettying up of 13th Note for the benefit of all!

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