Hinterland: Sounds and the City

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Sons and Daughters

A ticket to Hinterland works out at less than 40p per band, but it’s the music in Glasgow’s new city music festival that David Pollock is looking forward to

Just because it’s a brand new festival doesn’t mean Hinterland is free from pressure. The weight of expectation building up behind Glasgow’s two-day music bonanza is considerable. Partly this is because the one-ticket, multiple-venue format hasn’t been tried on this scale in Scotland before and partly because the new event has a hard act to follow. Two hard acts, in fact.

The first is London’s Camden Crawl, which pioneered the format of programming every venue within a couple of square miles and selling unlimited access on a single ticket (subject to capacity). Given that the distance from the Arches to the Art School is little further than the walk between stages at T in the Park, this will be as true to the term ‘city festival’ as possible.

The second festival is Triptych, which ended in 2008 after eight years. A similarly city-based event – held in Edinburgh and Aberdeen as well as Glasgow – Triptych was highly respected for its intelligent, forward-thinking programming. By scheduling itself before the old Triptych weekend, Hinterland is setting itself up for comparison.

‘Triptych is a good example of what we’re trying to do,’ says Hinterland’s organiser Mike Oman. ‘The real difference is that you buy just the one ticket for our whole festival. Someone figured it out that at Hinterland the average cost is something like 40p per band.’

Actually it’s not even 38p. Of course, with five or six bands playing simultaneously in venues enclosed by the boundary of the M8 and the River Clyde, it will be a physical impossibility to see every one of the 112 acts. Still, at £23.50 for a day and £42 for both days, anyone should be able to eke out a very economical couple of days. Between them, the 14 venues, including the ABC, Nice’n’Sleazy, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and the Sub Club, will provide a combined capacity of 5000 per evening.

Oman has split the bill roughly between local bands and visitors. ‘I know people are passionate about home-grown bands in Glasgow and that the local scene is so vibrant we don’t need to bring in a large amount of artists from outside,’ says the London-based Scot. ‘For everyone, though, this format should be a benefit. A lot of people might not go and see the bands here if they were playing King Tut’s on their own on a Wednesday night, but scheduling them alongside four or five others on the same bill will expose them to a wider audience.’

BBC Radio Scotland DJ Jim Gellatly is part of Hinterland’s committee of musical advisors, which includes local and national promoters Deadly People/This Is Not London, Diverse and Tam Coyle, and stylish indie labels Domino, 1965, Moshi Moshi and 50 Bones. ‘I agree that some of the smaller bands on the list might make you take a step back if they were charging even a fiver for their own show,’ says Gellatly. ‘But mixing in a bunch of breakthrough names with bigger acts really makes for a strong line-up.’ He points to Copy Haho, Come On Gang!, Fangs, Manda Rin and The Xcerts, who are all playing on a single evening. ‘Then there’s Drums of Death, who’s getting lots of plaudits, Sons and Daughters (pictured, right), and Two Door Cinema Club, who are one of the non-Scottish acts I’m looking forward to the most,’ he says. ‘Then, of course, there’s The Fall. I’ve seen them four times – twice they were incredible, twice they were terrible, but each time I was glad I was there.’

As someone who spent years living, DJing and making music in Glasgow before moving to London and gaining recognition as Drums of Death, Colin Bailey has a better view than most of Hinterland’s aspirations and potential. ‘I think it’ll work perfectly. The Camden Crawl is a little bit contrived, there’s always talk of which tiny pub Amy Winehouse is going to show up in and play a set, and everyone wants to say they were there – it’s very much an industry thing.

‘It’s unfair to compare Glasgow and London, though, because they’re two wholly different societies. London’s almost too big to be described as a scene; it’s countless people doing lots of things that you only hear about on the internet, whereas in Glasgow it’s more personal. When a new band starts up, it’s someone’s mate and your old flatmate who started it. That’s partly why Triptych had such an indelible impact.’

This first Glasgow gig for Bailey as Drums of Death will be as part of a label showcase for Greco-Roman at the Flying Duck on the Friday, alongside labelmates Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Half Nelson and The Boston Crab. Other label showcases include the late-night Thursday Sub Club session that focuses on Glasgow music and art collective LuckyMe.

‘LuckyMe came together at the Glasgow School of Art, so we’ll be tying in our show with an exhibition of work by the Art School’s VisCom department,’ says LuckyMe’s co-director Dominic Flannigan. ‘I’ll also be bringing Dante’s Fried Chicken over from New York. Dante’s a chef who does a YouTube TV show with new musicians like Santigold and MIA, so he’ll be cooking some real soul food upstairs at MacSorley’s and then bringing it down to the Sub Club.’

He has also programmed a live show from an up-and-coming Brooklyn MC Theophilus London and DJ sets from LuckyMe regulars Rustie, Éclair FiFi and The Blessings. ‘It’s great, we’ve been given a lot of freedom to try something different,’ he says.

And that, no doubt, is the first step towards ensuring this inaugural Hinterland leaves just as much of an impression as the festival it is inadvertently replacing. Here’s looking forward to an encore in 2010.

Hinterland, various venues, Glasgow, Thu 30 Apr & Fri 1 May.
See www.list.co.uk/hinterland for band profiles and tracks.

Hinterland

  • 4 stars

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