Blochestra, Bar Bloc, Glasgow, Mon 24 Oct
Bar Bloc has became well known in the central belt of late for many music related experiences; they put on free gigs every night, it's a base for the Detour lads (Ally McCrae and David Weaver) and it's home to Bloc Jam, one of Glasgow's best open mic nights.
Blochestra was introduced in May last year by Louis Abbot and Craig Grant. The idea of this ever-evolving orchestra of people is to turn the conventional music experience on its head. Anyone that has, and can vaguely play, an instrument can come along and join in – and the more diverse the collection of instruments that show up on the night, the better.
It's apparent early on that this night comes with a very relaxed, soothing atmosphere, which comes in handy when there are 18 people cramped into a section of the bar all tuning different instruments. Despite the good turn-out of musicians, there's a slight lack of audience to begin with, but luckily it soon picks up.
At the helm tonight is Louis, who provides a run-over of the night and throws in regular sarcastic jokes. After a warm-up – where a simple drum beat and guitar riff begin, and are soon joined by rest of the group thundering in with trumpet, flute and cello – the first song to be played is a cover of Foals' 'What Remains'. Having prefaced it with a short lesson from the group to the two new recruits on the night, the result is a very impressive cover, and a great song for Blochestra to give a go, given that the original involves trumpets, trombones and cellos.
The next song performed is a cover of former Bon Iver drummer, S. Carey's 'Into the Dirt', involving an intro of clapping – hard to resist joining in on – and some lovely harmonising. A punchy cover of Jackie Wilson's 'Higher and Higher' follows; a catchy, if near-identical take on Queens of the Stone Age's 'Make It Wit Chu' left not a motionless foot in the house, and the meaningful vocals and dense sound of Radiohead's 'Letdown' also go down well.
A stripped back cover of Bon Iver's 'For Emma' is another treat . A group clap around the bar turns into joint backing vocals of 'didada, didada, didada' echoing round the venue before guitars and trumpets help out. The night rounds off with a brilliant performance of Sufjan Stevens' 'Chicago', showing of all elements of the orchestra with piano, trumpet, violin and harmonising to great effect.
All in all, Blochestra makes for a very enjoyable show, whether or not you own a banjo or flute. As a spectator, it's also a must-see.
Blochestra are performing a final Christmas special on Monday 12th December with Christmas songs. Free entry.