What should we expect from the Music Language Festival? Well, the unexpected for starters. Now in its third year, the Glasgow mini-celebration of all things eclectic can promise if nothing else a varied selection of acts over its three days and even in the small sampler experienced on Saturday late afternoon.
Still, given all that, the reappearance of The Hector Collectors might come as a suprise. As it turns out, the noughties punks are a shambling delight – clearly not having rehearsed since their self-imposed musical exile, they somehow hold it together for selections from their 12-year-old (and now reissued) debut Straight Outta Comprehensive. As it turns out, Fielding (Music Language / Cry Parrot promoter) put the band on as one of the first shows he organised, so ‘The Day The Supernaturals Went To The 13th Note’, ‘Laurel Park School’ and ’Opposites’ would be very familar to him and much of the audience squeezed into The 78. Certainly it’s a paean to nostalgia with references to Saddam and BA Robertson, and, we’re advised, the first lyrical mention anywhere of Charlie Brooker, and perhaps (I‘m only speculating here) the finest ever pop cultural lyrical couplet outsde of the Wirral in “Every day is like Survival / stuck in a quarry with Sylvester McCoy”. Maybe you had to be there, and the Hectors most certainly were, even if they can’t remember it.
One of the joys of the three days is a regular field trip to a mystery outdoor venue – one punter believes finding the location may be rewarded with a Boy Scout badge. Certainly the lineup is prize itself as we head past SWG3 towards the sound of music, where Orzelda are on stage – well, in the corner of an abandoned, graffitied warehouse. Usually a solo project from Craig Orzel, formerly of The Twilight Sad, he’s aided and abetted by two fifths of The Yawns, aand (lazy racism alert!) an oriental bassist who I’ve seen in some band, somewhere. Orzeil’s Wee Shop Is Filled With Delights album was well reviewed around these parts, though this is quite different – less of the subtle nuances and sonic fragments, more a slew of fairly rocking numbers. It’s indie pop but not as we know it, the offbeat guitar-driven tunes not sounding like The Yawns until the last number, where the delicate guitar comes to the forefront.
Which is handy. The programme’s, er, ‘optimistic’, five minute changeover times are on this occasion just about achieved as two members don’t have to leave the stage at all. The’re swiftly joined by the other three including almost legendarily laid-back singer Sean – sporting a new haircut, he hasn’t had a reverse Samson on the road to Damascus experience (is this right? – Religious Affairs Ed) – his woeful lack of energy still almost a medical emergency, but this is as much The Yawns charm as the syncopated rhythms and meandering guitar lines. These don’t come until the fore later on in the set as the sound mix on the small PA is ironed out – they still have to compete with the trains, generator, acoustics of a bg shed open at both ends, and a revving fire engine arrived to investigate what smells like a nearby tyre fire.
Last arrival to the mini-urban wasteland is Hypno Coin. Less pop than their predecessors, the combo comprises one effect-soaked guitar and a live drummer. The experience is fascinating to start with as intricate patters turn to noise, like a post-punk Dick Dale, but the effect diminishes over time as the nuances are lost in the cavernous surroundings. Certainly one to check in on later.
Our last port of call is just round the corner, at SWG3 where P6 (former head chef of Desalvo) seems to be mimicking the Orb’s chess-playing Top of the Pops appearance, at least in my head. Only they’re playing samplers in the blue half light, and it’s, franky, not likely to trouble the charts. Any semblance of a tune develops into an earworm as P6 has some sort of taps aff epiphany, and stalks the audience, growling into his mic as his compadre Skitter remains fixed on the task of making his brand of music as unearthly as possible.
To be fair, we should have seen that coming.