Tuesday, 29 April 2008


The curtain on Triptych came down on a non-Bank Holiday Sunday night with a service from Detroit wizard Theo Parrish. Not the biggest crowd you’ve ever seen but from the moment the Parrish Priest hit the turntables around 1 you could see they meant business. A motley crew of Parrish obsessives, shandy-drinking Houseboys, sleazy grope monkeys, party casualties and some old heads in obscure Detroit t-shirts all started getting down to Parrish’s mindbending selection of jazz, disco, funk, techno, hip hop and house. Late on during a particularly intriguing jazzy funky section as Parrish’s hands fluttered around the EQ building drama and grinning merrily as the crowd went politely bananas a guy beside me asked me if I knew what record he was playing. I couldn’t quite place anything (apart from the hefty selection of Parrish’s own productions) in the set- it was like that Billy Connolly sketch about someone saying a comedian’s performance was hilarious despite being unable to recall any of the jokes.

This was a serious trip into a music lovers mind and the majority of the crowd seemed happy to allow for fuckups that would have ruined most other big name guest sets. About an hour into the set a mystery power failure knocked out the mixer- this was resolved within five minutes where the crowd decided to create their own erratic little Sound Signature drum loops by stamping their feet and a couple of particularly lubricated fans struck up a halfhearted chorus of “Young Hearts, Run Free” (they looked like they’d been out on the town since Candi Staton’s gig at the Bongo on Friday). The music returned and off we went again through spacey UR-ey techno before a trademark tempo drop into some beautiful jazzy/discoey numbers. Parrish was rummaging around under the decks at one stage when the record he was playing just ran out. Ironic cheers but no real animosity as a sheepish Parrish blithely popped up from behind the decks and just put the track back on. Other DJ’s would have been pilloried for this little faux-pas but you get the feeling that no-one was that upset. There were a number of mixing disasters but again you got the sense that none of this really mattered all that much.

Parrish is a DJ in the old style, playing a range of tracks and tempos to bring people on a journey. You do suspect that some punters did feel a bit let down by the lack of showstopping tricks on display as the crowd thinned from 3am. The final hour was a complete masterclass in building expectation using music that you doesn’t scream “dancefloor” with a load of spacey jazz music and a couple of Parrish favourites (people were actually singing along to drum loops at this stage!!) before a beautiful 15 minute version of what sounded like an Erykah Badu track followed by a sweet soulful a capella at the end. Most other DJ’s end with a bang, Parrish’s stubborn allegiance to his sound made for an extended and emotional goodbye both to Parrish and to a festival that has brought such luminaries as David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Kenny Dixon and Parrish to Scotland for the last year and this was an apposite if low-key end to proceedings.

As I walked home I was reminded of a party in Dublin years ago at which myself and a pal of mine were DJing. Early on we were playing a Moodymann record. We were approached by a woman who stormed up to us and roared “Play us something we can fucking come up on”. This struck us as both tragic and hilarious at the time and it’s become a sort of in-joke whenever we hear a DJ rapidly change tempo after losing the floor. Parrish’s selections mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, the music might be too “deep”, too reverential, too connected to an obscure and personal musical history, the mixing might be offhand and varied in quality but the man knows how to play the shit out of his record collection. He’s playing these records because he loves them and that was more than enough to make the evening memorable.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Smack my 'tych up.

So goodbye then Triptych. Since I first saw your natty posters and groovy lineups I've enjoyed your all too brief appearances on the schedules. Sure, your publicity did consistently and hilariously overegg the pudding, your tickets were pricey, you never brought in the weekend ticket I desperately craved and the Weejies kept all the good gigs but hey, it was fun while it lasted.

The world and its ma is doing a Triptych "memories" feature so I thought why don't I.

Best 5 gigs:

1. Wire/Liars/Pan Sonic all on the same bill? The best Wednesday night I've ever attended. Despite the hour and a half wait for Wire to start. Pan Sonic lay the bedrock for an evening of scary madness with juddering sub bass, Liars in full-on Blair Witch mode clatter and moan and squeal, then Wire lead a singalong in a room full of misty eyed drunk old men. All for 14 quid.

2. Animal Collective. Miles down a bill which included Explosions in the Sky (or as a wag in the crowd called them "I can't believe they're no Mogwai") and Four Tet, Animal Collective breezed through Sung Tongs and I fell in love with them. One of those moments when a band you've never heard of before suddenly gives you flowers. Also notable for the experience of seeing a very earnest drunken man give someone from Explosions in the Sky a bollocking for being "middle class white music" and that the "real shit" was downstairs where the Soul Jazz Soundsystem were playing. I'm not a fan of EITS but his response to this lord of irony("Hey, fuck you buddy, nobody's making you listen") made me love them a just a tiny bit.

3. LCD Soundsystem/Hot Chip- A fantastic night at the late lamented Venue. Hot Chip seemed like the cutest thing I'd ever seen- like a cross between Belle and Sebastian and the Happy Mondays. A few hours later the place was rammed, the busiest I'd ever seen the venue and James Murphy and Co were tearing the roof off with their version of "Throw".

4. John Peel playing Teenage Kicks to a mixed crowd of techno nutters and reggae fiends a few months before his untimely death. Knifehandchop melting heads upstairs, Dr Alimantado being the Best Dressed Chicken in Town.

5. Maher Shalal Hash Baz. 2 days before I got married, my last weekend of "freedom" was a weekend to myself with a fistful of tickets to Triptych gigs. Watching this band, like the gentlest version of the Fall ever, you got a sense of the joy of discovery, of learning and friendship. If you get the opportunity to see this band drop everything and go!

Best memories:
1. Dancing with my pals when Optimo's DJ Twitch played their track just after LCD went off stage and the whole crowd went absolutely mental.

2. The hilarious publicity hyperbole. The 'Knee is right, pick ANY band- a veritable smorgasboard of superlatives!

3. Getting to see Madlib and Jaydee rip it up in the Venue.

4. Having a shite after Pan Sonic had rearranged my bowels.

5. Seeing Bob Moog and Jean Jacques Perry in conversation in the Queens Hall.

Biggest disappointments:
1. No shows. Danger Mouse, Matthew Herbert, Juan Atkins, Cannibal Ox. For shame!

2. Greedy Weejies: For keeping ESG, Model 500, Rhythm & Sound, Aphex, Derrick May, DJ Pierre, David Mancuso and countless others.

3. That Madlib and Dilla never got on the decks despite their constant reminding of the crowd that "we're just DJ's". And that Quasimoto turned out to be the "Very Special Guest".

4. The overreliance of a shallow pool of Glaswegian band talent. Triptych didn't really do anything for emerging Scottish artists over the lifetime of the festival.

5. The absence of a "Festival Ticket" that would have enabled festival goers to go to everything without having to pay for tickets and booking fee for every gig.

This weekend I'm off to see Jah Shaka, Theo Parrish and hopefully the RZA.

Goodbye Triptych, here's hoping we come up with some other way of luring maverick geniuses to Central Scotland!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Acting the maggot

In keeping with the acting the maggot theme I've decided to start a semi-regular photography series. The photos were taken at times when the photographer was too intoxicated to reasonably be expected to be in charge of a camera but through a massive stroke of luck and/or drunken inspiration managed to take something that might actually be interesting.

So... on we go.

No, just a mad looking tissue opposite the Capel Street Flats on the walk home after a very, very, very long night in Dublin. Thought long and hard about bringing it home.

My pals Mer n' Kat looking deeply disturbing at ATP the year before last. I have no memory of this photo being taken. This may have had something to do with Wolf Eyes.

Found object. Spider. Jaggy Plastic. Location: On the floor of a club.

A photo of our Christmas tree ornament and the sun setting over Lochend. Taken by me at about 2pm after getting home about 10 minutes earlier in a condition which can only be described as guttered.

All submissions of mystery/baffling/beautiful/drunken photos gratefully accepted.
Criteria: Must have been taken in either error or flash of intoxicated "genius".

Time, like an ever rolling stream bears all its sons away

"I used to be 'with it', but then they changed what 'it' was. Now what I'm with isn't 'it', and what's 'it' seems weird and scary."

The feeling of getting older is never pleasant. And the onset seems to be happening earlier and earlier what with "it" changing every 15 minutes.

It's crushing when it happens, when you go on a night out thinking you're the big hepcat around town and all of a sudden your favourite venue is overrun with madourravih teenagers wearing clothes that seem more suited to, well, high concept TV drama about impossibly cool and beautiful young people than a dingy booze-sodden kip in a condemned building in the Old Town.

This happened to me years ago, when I moved to Edinburgh and the crowds at gigs and clubs seemed younger, cooler and way, way, way more connected than I did. A lot of that had to do with the fact that in reality I was never particularly cool to begin with. Unfortunately my own sense of self is often completely out of step with reality so trying to settle into a country with amazing clubs and a much wider variety of gigs than where I was used to was a tough transition. It played on my mind, wasI just the old fucker in the corner? Are those women dancing with me because they're flirting or ripping the piss? As it turns out, no more or less than they used to which is predominantly the latter. Are there ways in which you can cocoon yourself from this?

I found the best way was by having a few drinks and not caring. I was there for the music to start with so why let a few hyper-confident drug pumped infants ruin it for me. You can also do so by acting your age. This is difficult for someone with a personality that is half infantile and half grouchy sanctimonious pensioner.

Anyway, on the bus home today I heard a song that put me in mind of this. It was on a mix and being completely out of the loop I thought it was a lost 80's pop classic. It turns out it was Chromeo and it's a fantastic way to take the edge off that "are they dancing to flirt/take the piss" paranoia.

Cheer up everyone! It doesn't matter. It's all good and that. And when you look closer at the crowd around you you'll probably realise that it's actually full of old gits and gitini too, you've just been distracted by all the neon sunnies.

And chances are you'll look back on the gig as the night when you realised that the world is moving faster than you ever thought possible and will smile at how upset it made you.

Ireland's funny in a way, there's a suspicion of trendies that is nowhere near as pronounced as it is elsewhere. The summer before last I went back to Dublin for a weekend. At the time as a lengthy and ill-considered shaving experiment I was sporting what I thought to be a raffish 'tache. I'd had it for a few months in Scotland (which, as a society is no slouch when it comes to the slagging people for affectation stakes) with nary a comment on it. You'd swear I was wearing fur the way some people reacted. Including a couple of randoms at a gig I was at who seemed to think that this gave them the right to rip the shit out of me for it despite not having spent the time to even bother speaking to me.

Anyways, have a listen to the Chromeo, although everyone's probably seen it about a million times ago thus proving my point as to the futility of trying to keep up with everything.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Gosh! Pow! Go! Now!

A new project from Gosh Wow/Blackcape comics illustration overlord Iain Laurie!


Just go right and have a shufty right?

First episode features sad sack comic goof being assassinated by shadowy alien demon secret service punters. Magical stuff really. The "Next" page at the end is a masterwork of restrained menace and foreboding. Well, it's like pure scary and that eh.

Myself and Mr Laurie "worked" on a very short lived fanzine in times of yore.

Even then it was abundantly clear that his talent lay in circles far more elevated than a rabble of surly drunks being artlessly cruel about the patrons of the truly detestable Edinburgh festival.

If you haven't already seen his work with Fraser Campbell and Derek Dow (along with a whole raft of other talented loons) on Blackcape you should give that a wee shot as well. They've just celebrated their 50th edition! Happy Birthday!

Speaking of Edwyn Collins we're off to see him in the Queens Hall on Monday. I suspect it will be a love-in of quite nauseating proportions considering it's his first gig in Scotland since he was taken really quite frighteningly ill a few years ago. He's one of my all time heroes so I don't feel like too much of a ghoul for going to welcome him back to the stage.

If he doesn't play Falling and Laughing I'm going to get up and lamp him though.
If he does I'll probably bawl like a big Mandy.

Friday, 4 April 2008


Just about recovered from a weeks holiday which featured a lot of driving on tight South-Western and Welsh roads.

Visited my brother in Bristol which is The Nicest English City I've Ever Been To so far.
A nice laid back town with lots of relaxing things to do. Tons of green space too. As well as a really amazing variety of street art in some sections.

Everyone goes on about the Banksy bits around the town but there's loads of other stuff.

Here are some photos.

Stokes Croft is a vague little area with its own agenda and spirit. It reminds me a bit of Leith in the fierce pride the denizens take in their area. It's by no means trendy being a bit too louche for many but I really enjoyed the vibe here.

The PRSC (Lots of People's Republics on the internet) is the epitome of some of the spirit here, calling on people to use street art to brighten up their neighbourhood. By identifying sites around the area, many of them hoardings or derelict buildings they encourage people to paint on them. Permissions are sought and advised upon although in some cases they haven't but say "it would be difficult to make the site worse".

I'd be inclined to believe them.

They've also put up noticeboards for community information, tags, stickers etc.

Went to some lovely boozers too, the Beaufort in Montpelier was a lovely old mans pub with a great wee jukie full of lovers rock and ska 7"s. Went to the Bank as well where I got completely floored by some crazy cloudy cask cider and went out to Tape. Saw Jay Le Surgeon and Bass Clef but had to head before Peverelist was on. Grr. Thanks to Richard and all the rest of the Tape crew who gave me a great welcome, the club had a lovely relaxed vibe and the folk were very friendly. I ended up being dragged home early after drinking some evil fruity cidery thing that had me forgetting to look at the time. There's something to be said for just going to clubs you want to by yourself rather than drag people who aren't necessarily into it along and then moan when they've had enough. Anyways I had had enough of drinking at that point as I was slurring incoherently yet enthusiastically about the tunes and the nice wee club.

On my birthday I went to Bordeaux Quay which is a beautiful big brasserie and then strolled along by the water for a bit. There was a guy playing a Kora which took our minds off the cold and the rain for a minute or two. Then off to the Rummer which is a nice old school cocktail bar and drank Negroni in front of a huge fireplace. Sweeeet.

Didn't manage to get to any record shops which was disappointing, I think my travelling companions managed to steer me away from them. In hindsight it was probably a good idea, I'm broke enough as it is.

Went to my pal's wedding and DJ'd which was a great success despite being shackled to a request list as cheesy as it was long. Still, who knew that A-Ha and Five(?!) could cause such dancefloor mayhem. It was on in Wells which is absolutely gorgeous if a little genteel. We saw a terrace of houses that was built in the 1350's! Who knew!? Huge cathedral, Bishops Palace surrounded by a moat that's crystal clear because it's fed by a well which overflows and sluices water through the town. Serious hobbit action going on there.

Back through Hay-On-Wye (Bookish, bank machine out of order, frustrated at not having bought more!), Shrewsbury (Busy, baffling and boooring) and Manchester (Flash, stayed in posh hotel, nearly got battered in a 24 shop queue for juice at midnight).