St. Luke’s, Gallowgate, Glasgow. I am surrounded by pinstriped, tartaned and beret-topped beautiful young people. A pair of underwear is thrown from behind me and lazily flutters down to land on my friend, who brushes them off with a yelp. This is the kind of frenzied passion that Walt Disco conjures up from the stage
After some supremely crazed weather before the show – struggling through an actual snowstorm that melts into a delicately pink sunset, seemingly perfectly encapsulating a night so full of dizzying contradictions visually and sonically. There is much expectation in the air as the crowd waits for Glasgow’s sweethearts, Walt Disco, to take the stage at St. Luke’s. This energy mounts with the terrific support acts. Priestgate offer up a writhing performance as enthralling as they come: an exorcism in the subversive – a fitting performance for the holiest of venues.
I take the break to observe the gender-bending, genre-spanning crowd. I see trad goths, punks, fashion students, and all manner of outlandish looks. Walt Disco certainly has a stylistic following to them, and it is easy to see why. Their dramatic, flamboyant, almost scandalous reputation has long since earned them a name at the pinnacle of alternative: cool, creative, and curious people are typically drawn to them like magnets
The show begins as each member takes to the stage, so vividly cutting edge, to loud cheers. Framed by the huge organ and stained-glass windows, it feels eucharistic, with the crowd hungry to take part in the ceremony. The sermon eventually comes with the materialization of the Disco themselves, freshly back from their American tour and grinning ear-to-ear to be back on home turf. James Potter, the lead singer, is notably ecstatic, with a heartfelt comment halfway through the set: “we used to frown at all our gigs, but what’s the point? We’re so happy to be playing with you lot.”
They perform formidably, showcasing the songs from their new album Unlearning, a propellant step in their new musical direction. This is interspersed with some crowd favourites like “Cut your Hair” and “Pop Sensibilities”. I’ve heard the argument that their sensationalist vocals are in danger of detracting from the music created by the group but, in a live setting, James’ crooning slots perfectly into place, portraying their melodramatically witty preaching in a way that consistently harmonic vocals could never. Their message is heard: they’re unlike the rest, and they have no interest in subscribing to the status quo.
I’m supremely impressed by James’ ability to maintain their lurid tenor onstage: it takes a lot of effort to sound so deliciously showy. But if there is one thing that Walt disco does right, it’s pouring out almost boundless amounts of glittering exuberance. For the entire duration of the performance, they’re in constant movement. Much like their musical development, they refuse to be tied down. They are likewise untethered to the bounds of the stage, drifting back and forth along the barriers, choosing a different person each time to communicate with directly. Momentarily, James and Charlie leave their bubble and creep into the audience, crouching together like fauns, continuing the spellbinding presence they have held for the performance. This should have had more of a reception, but the crowd is a bit stiff, something that I wouldn’t have expected from a Walt Disco gig, famed for their compelling vitality. It seems rather self-consciously awkward. Eventually, they do get going, with the encore leading up to a small but passionate pit. Then with a flash, a bang, and the promise of a chat by the merch stand, they’re gone.
This assurance they stick to, wandering round the bar after the show and greeting people. It’s clear they have a huge love for the community they facilitate. What more could you look for in a band?
Read Rosie’s interview with Walt Disco here.
[Rosie Lowndes – she/her – @rosie.lowndes]
[Image credit: diymag.com]