As part of Glasgow’s Tramway-based Take Me Somewhere festival, Panti Bliss – Ireland’s foremost drag queen and prominent gay rights activist – brings her acclaimed stand-up/monologue show High Heels in Low Places in front of a packed auditorium in the Pollokshields theatre. There’s little warning of what to expect, and the production – much like Panti herself – refuses to stick to any rigid format or convention. She breaks up the story-telling core with several departures in several different mediums: an immersive experience which reins itself in every so often, with frequent reflections on the very serious topics of Panti’s beginnings and rise to international fame.
A good thing about small but wide and open venues like Stereo on Renfield Lane is that they’re the anti-festival – three bands on the bill and more or less three different crowds, at least at the front. Not having to cram your way to the front and sit through the band before your favourite (with an inevitably clenched bladder) creates a relaxed atmosphere, freeing up more space to purely enjoy the music.
Network Rail, the owner of most of Scotland, England and Wales’ rail services, have recently pulled their display of an Amnesty International poster campaign which aims to increase nationwide public awareness of the ways in which the Human Rights Act has helped causes such as the Northern Ireland peace progress and families affected by the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The railway body cited the adverts’ being ‘too political’ as the reason for the last-minute decision.
Last year, a Japanese beagle named Purin set the Guinness World Record for the most (foot)balls caught in one minute. It’s clear that she’s achieved far more in her short 9 years than any of you lowlifes, so let’s have a look at five more dogs who are essentially just Better Than You.
Yuck have an important place in 2010s indie, but probably not the one they’d like. Their sound is heavily influenced by 90s alt-rock giants like Sonic Youth, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., and their eponymous debut album was a pastiche – albeit an extremely catchy an enjoyable – of those styles, and wasn’t really anything new. Although it was extremely popular in underground circles and treated favourably by indie music publications, its true unwitting purpose was arguably to act as a bridge for younger listeners to discover the originators of a fuzzy, lo-fi, alt-punky sound.
I could easily bore you with journalistic clichés (“5 Seconds of Summer, so called ‘cos that’s how long you can bear to listen to them” etc.), a Fantano-esque 400 word review consisting purely of the word ‘no’, or a confused puddle of prose desperately talking about anything but a 5 Seconds of Summer concert, but that simply wouldn’t do justice to what we were subjected to on Bicycle Day 2016. Bicycle Day, interestingly, is not a designated day for the appreciation of eco-friendly two-wheeled transport, but in fact a commemoration of the very first acid trip in 1943. The Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms (12.5x the threshold dose) of lysergic acid diethylamide to try to discover its true effects, five years after first synthesising it in Basel. Predictably he started experiencing “sudden and intense changes in perception” within the hour, and asked his lab assistant to escort him home. Since the Second World War was in full swing at this point, there were restrictions on motor vehicle use, so they were forced to use a bicycle. On the way back, Hofmann started having a bad trip, experiencing “feelings of anxiety, alternating in his beliefs that the next-door neighbour was a malevolent witch, that he was going insane, and that the LSD had poisoned him”. However, when the doctor called he found nothing wrong with him except for “a pair of incredibly dilated pupils”, and, feeling reassured, Hofmann began to enjoy being the first person ever to drop acid, and this significant scientific discovery is celebrated in psychedelic circles on every 19th o- perhaps due to some subconscious instinct to stay far, far away, we arrived at the Hydro more than halfway through 5SOS’s set. We can admit this freely and without shame. Having images of a literal horde of screaming tweens kept from collapsing by obviously terrified parents, it was a bit odd to be shuffled by a betorchèd usher into a dome filled with neat rows of screaming tweens, like a New World Order youth branch party conference spiralling violently out of control.
As The Coral move on to their latest studio album, their consistent sonic evolution moves with them. There’s now very little left of the band that stood alongside The Kinks and The Feeling in jaunty, floppy-haired indie pop circles and, frankly, it’s difficult to say whether they’re better off for it.