Friday night at King Tut’s for a sold out show featuring four young bands with it all to play for is always a good way to kick off the weekend.
The show got underway with a great new band from Edinburgh. Swim School have only been going for a year but are already making waves with their chilled, melodic indie-pop sound. The bass was nicely up in the mix to make the most of precise playing and some really effective fills, crowned by chiming guitars and Alice Johnson’s dynamic vocals ranging from haunting to powerful. Touring with the Xcerts through December has left them apparently undaunted by the prospect of a sell-out King Tut’s crowd - Swim School paced themselves well in their slow tunes and easily upped the tempo for their rockier numbers and rounded off their set with their latest single “Too Young To Know”. With an opening act this strong, you knew you were in for a good night.
Not many of us could have guessed how that night would go next. Two vampires in capes and face makeup exploded onto the stage like a fight at a Halloween party. The Bleeders (Jackson Harvey and Daniel McGuigan, fae Pollok apparently) were here, and we were going to be entertained. Daniel postulated that if Lewis Capaldi is Scotland’s Beyoncé, then the Bleeders are Scotland’s Proclaimers, and the crowd dutifully started singing “I’m on my way”. It was one of those gigs! Their only cover in the set was Robbie Williams’ “Kids”, done the way Robbie probably wishes he could - hard and fast. Jackson hit a couple of unbelievable vocal notes during “Vampire”, showing off a range that doesn’t get stretched in much of their material. He occasionally lay down to play but mostly ran around like a man possessed and mashed the life out of his long-suffering Gibson SG while Daniel supported the vocal effort from behind the kit, and bantered with his partner-in-crime between songs.
The Roly Mo have been making videos with TTV recently and started their set with “Fooled By You” from that session. A great fast punky riff which set the tone for their gig: a bit of the Jam with some old school rock and roll. Lady Ga Ga’s “Bad Romance” was an unexpected cover, rocked up to keep the tempo going: when you’ve got some of the crowd dancing, don’t let them stop. Other highlights were the new single, “Control Yourself”, featuring a great rhythm guitar riff and sound, and the final tune “I’ll Be Happy When You Die”. It’s actually pretty upbeat, despite the Morrissey-esque title, which leaves me wondering which poor soul have we lost to make them so cheerful?
The anticipation before Crystal came on stage was palpable. The smoke came on the stage, the audience pushed up to the stage barrier, the lights went down and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” built the tension… Up came the lights and there was Anna on a rocking horse launching into the first tune. I didn’t see that one coming! That was their only surprise and they quickly went to work validating their Friday night sold out top billing. Starting off with some new songs, staccato guitar jabbing the air and Anna leering and leaning into the crowd, challenging us to try and look away, then moving through their much loved repertoire. The crowd sang along with “Speak of the Devil” and danced to crowd pleasers “Heaven” and “Sugar Sweet” (what an intro!) before the gig finished on a high with a triumphant rendition of “Sex Rich”. The band were tight as a drum and Anna led from the front, dancing and getting in among the crowd while she belted out her lyrics. Crystal look like a band who have reached critical mass, with an enthusiastic core following that can fill King Tut’s, and I look forward to seeing where they take it from here.
Gig Review by Trevor