It’s no secret that Glasgow is a thriving hotbed for underground music, art and activism, but Stewart Smith finds that DIY Festival is the perfect synergy of all three
Without wishing to play down the significance of Franz Ferdinand’s commercial breakthrough, arguably the real story of Glasgow rock in the ’00s has been the rise of the DIY gig scene. Nuts & Seeds got the ball rolling by booking weird, noisy and fun bands from Europe and America, all the while nurturing home-grown talent, and a number of DIY promoters have emerged in their wake, maintaining the independent, non-profit ethos. This has culminated in Glasgow’s DIY Festival, a week-long celebration of alternative lifestyle and art practices.
‘The festival is the result of conversations between members of a creative community that exists here in Glasgow,’ explains organiser Liam Casey. ‘We realised that we share similar methods for creating work. Through self-organisation and a DIY approach, we hope to offer sustainable and communal alternatives to dominant forms of culture.’
The music programme of the festival is a glorious stramash of punk rock, indie, noise, folk, electronica and inspired weirdness, taking place over two nights at Yorkshill art space the Studio Warehouse. Fielding Hope of promoters Cry Parrot says, ‘For me, DIY shows that sustainable cultural choices exist in opposition to commercial ones. With a capitalistic approach to arts and culture, morals are thrown away and soulless greed can seep in, affecting everyone involved. This is why DIY is so important. It not only encourages a more ethical approach, it also brings people together. I hope that with this festival people enjoy all the different activities and events, but also learn something from them and consider them as something they too would be interested in partaking in.’ Regarding the music programme, Hope adds, ‘Over the two and a half years of being involved in non-profit gigs, I still get a really warm feeling, encouraging me to continue what I’m doing. This feeling is from the sense of community at the gigs. Everyone is there to enjoy and support the music, but also for the atmosphere and to have a good time. By keeping door prices low and letting people know that all proceeds are going to the bands, it adds to the non-elitist and unsuspicious gig atmosphere.’
Headlining Friday’s show are Upset the Rhythm label’s psychedelic improv troupe Helhesten and Leeds-based post-hardcore duo That Fucking Tank. Heaviness abounds with Vom’s mighty cosmic doom, Hey Enemy’s tuneful hardcore and Ultimate Thrush’s gonzo splatter rock. Nack Insecten and Do-neimage-in push proceedings in a more experimental direction, with spaced-out synth drones and unsettling cut-ups that recall the work of the Los Angeles Free Music Society respectively. Last, but certainly not least, Animals And War create a patchwork of exotic percussion samples and charming folk.
A Canadian double-bill tops Saturday’s event, with Julie Doiron of ’90’s Sub Pop favourites Eric’s Trip bringing her gorgeous melancholia, and Construction & Destruction serving up ragged indie rock. Swedish chanteuse Natalie Stern loops her voice into tranced-out folk epics, while London-based one-man-band Former Utopia delivers blackly humorous alt-folk. Then there’s oddball pop from Glasgow DIY super-group Fur Hood, graceful chamber-folk from Trees and drone wizard Noma building soundscapes from hairdryers, vibrators, saxophone and whatever else he has at hand. Glasgow’s alternative clubbing scene is represented by krautrock and cosmic disco travellers Huntley & Palmers and Slabs Of The Tabernacle spinning their Detroit house, techno and hi-tech soul vinyl.
The Studio Warehouse, Glasgow, Mon 21 – Sun 27 Sep.