Wednesday night at Stereo (Glasgow)
Quite spontaneously deciding to go out on a Wednesday night, I headed to Stereo, Glasgow. Having arrived there rather late, as it was sometime before 10 o'clock, I still managed to see two amazing bands - Invisible Republic supporting Kitty the Lion.
Now, I secretly will tell you, that I have never been to that venue before, and was rather baffled by the endless flight of stairs and corridors leading to basement club, which resembled dungeons, or as one of the members of Kitty the Lion observed quite cleverly - a sewer inhabited by Ninja Turtles. I will admit that my first thoughts about the interior was that it needed at least a lick of paint,as the stripping paint off bare bricks and virtually no lighting at all meant the stage and actually the whole club overall looked as if it was taken out from a strange, dark alley from an impoverished part of town.
Maybe, just maybe, the "decor" was in fact a peculiar metaphor of bringing indie, unsigned bands to regular punters from all kinds of backgrounds, or the interior was supposed to add more "street creed" to acts performing on stage, or really my deliberations are too far fetched as the venue just doesn't want to invest in refurbishment, which would mean raising lots of money and closing the club for time of works. Also, closing this train of thoughts, I need to add that some extra seats would be nice, as the ones put against the walls were crammed with people, their belongings and stacks of dirty, empty glasses.
On entering the club I was enchanted by mesmerizing music, magically lulling and soothing the audience, who were listening in half awe to the five piece Invisible Republic - J.C.Hamilton (lead vocalist and guitarist), Andy Aitken (backing vocals, bass), Gav Hodge (backing vocals, guitar), Paul McCully (pedal steel guitar) and Nick Roan (backing vocals, drums).
Quite dichotomically to their name, the musicians forming the band were definitely not invisible on stage, as their clever, Dire Straits-like guitar riffs and Beatles-like harmonies were surely difficult to miss. I would not want to classify rigidly the music which created such an incredible ambience, but for those who are not familiar with the band, I would describe it as a cross genre of indie folk and country.
The delivered a brilliant set of both up-beat and slower songs, which made the audience consisting of 16 (some looking rather 13) up to 40+ year olds at times cheery and chatty, then quite thoughtful and mesmerized... Their numbers easily brought a spectrum of different emotions, as it was played to punters' ears - J.C.'s sandy, sultry voice and Paul's pedal steel guitar enhanced the beautiful spectacle of sound.
My personal favourite was "Eiderdown", starting off with a psychedelic riff just to burst into a very lullaby-like song, with hypnotizing melodies of guitars intertwined with husky vocal harmonies and rhythmic, almost heart beat like drums... I can still hear: "By my side love, it's you... You define love, it's true...". Hats off!
Next up was Kitty the Lion who, I observed, attracted a rather younger crowd than Invisible Republic, be it maybe to more up beat music, or the fact the kids were lingering at the bar trying to buy a pint of lager the whole night... But really, there was a smell of anticipation in the air as band was setting up for performance, and more and more punters were crowding closer the stage.
Band fronted by female vocalist and guitarist Anna Meldrum gifted with a very innocent, sweet voice, included also Callum Wiseman (backing vocals, mandolin, guitar), Joe Rattray (on upright bass), Soreen Maclean (guitar)and surprisingly drummer Nick Roan (of Invisible Republic). Anna jokingly said Kitty the Lion is a dirty mistress borrowing Nick of rightful wife, which was a first sign the band will be a rather laid back, humourous and entertaining one.
Though they were definitely trying to interact with the audience much more than the previous band on the bill, it was rather difficult for the first half of their set, as the quality of vocal sound was poor, and was rectified after a band member intervened. Apart that, Kitty the Lion did pretty well, engaging punters in their song-stories, like "Lion in the Bed", which the vocalist said is available for download for a symbolic pound, Split Ends or Catalytic Converter. Though the lyrics of their songs might appear quite straight forward, one should listen more carefully as there is a second, metaphoric layer behind trivial or amusing texts, talking about life struggles, various everyday problems touching listeners. Their music itself was very entertaining and band performed their showmanship skills brilliantly, for example Joe was twirling around his upright bass, or Callum was rocking out riffs on his mandolin.
Overall, the night at the Stereo was fun, and although I preferred Invisible Republic, both them and Lion the Kitty were superb. It was well worth to go out on a Wednesday night to find out about such musical gems. They are both on different sides of independent Glasgow scenes, but apart from sharing the same drummer, they also have something in common - a dedicated local audience. I wish both bands all the best on their paths to success and ever growing fan base. Keep up the good music!