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flag Scotland - Full Moon 32 - 05/30/99

Low + Smackvan,Snow Patrol,PilotCan
Attic, Glasgow, May 20th 1999

SSSHHH! It's oh so quiet. Well, onstage at least... in fact, headliners Low like their peace so much that the other 3 acts on the bill have resolved to play laid-back sets to fit in with the relaxed mood of the evening. Well, that's the plan...

Smackvan, in fact, are a kinda ambient lot, they sometimes are three guitars and a Scottish bloke mumbling over the top though occasionally they do go for trumpet, sax and melodica. It's a controlled racket though; you get the impression that rather than being a noisy Throbbing Gristle for the '90's, they are completely in control of the wall of noise. Not much sign of them toning their act down mind you... hang on, do you think this was them being QUIET? Scary thought. I'd hate to see them when they're roused.

concertpic Snow Patrol have decided to do an acoustic set, the singer is even barefoot (not sure what that signifies). Instead of scratching, Tom is playing xylophone. They open with a Guns and Roses cover, which I assume is supposed to be ironic, and play a few oldies like Balsemic Vinegar and Velocity Girl, which work pretty well stripped down. Must be a sign of a good song if it works acoustically, right? Snow Patrol have got good songs to spare.

concertpic PilotCan are tonight's noisy brutes; they do start with a quiet song but with the audience chatter not descending to less than a mumble this leaves chief Pilot a bit disgruntled. As if by way of revenge they crank up the volume. They are truly kings of the distortion pedal, and reports that they'd gone soft on the new album are perhaps exaggerated - they still have that Sonic Youth vibe, all the way down to their accents.

concertpic Low not so much enter the rock arena as tiptoe onto the Attic's tiny stage, singer Alan's first words are "there's another bar downstairs" implying that the ever-present chatters might like to bugger off right now, though politely, of course, as befits a band who exude an air of calmness at all times. The profanities are left for the die-hard Low fans in the audience, who (between songs, obviously) rant "is there any chance we could hear one song in silence?" "Shush!" "I'll shush you in a minute..." The band are struggling to make themselves heard above the rabble, though the fact that their amps only go up to 1 isn't helping. And yet, they are despite this producing a beautiful, well, noise would be pushing it a bit, but the overall wash of sound draws the listener in, the hardened fans concentrating cross-legged on the floor. The opener, with slightly off-kilter keyboard, is particularly lovely, they settle into a nice groove, sort of like Codeine meets Helium (though a stand-up female drummer plus bassist facing away from the audience may have led to that comparison). Don't take this the wrong way, but you know they're from America. They mainly play tracks from the new Secret Name album, though they eventually run out and start to take requests. Before they start Don't Understand?, they warn us that they're going to crank up the amps, and indeed they turn it up to, oh, 1.1, and rock out in a crescendo of noise towards the end. Well, relatively speaking. The audience applause easily drowns the final strains in their call for an encore and they do indeed come back to do a version of Venus which silences the baying mob. So, quiet is indeed the new loud. And Duluth, Minnesota is the new Seattle. Prick up your ears, then remember where you heard it first.

Copyright © 1999 Stuart McHugh e-mail address

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