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The War Against Intelligence

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July 2007

indian summer

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A review of the Indian Summer festival in Victoria Park, Glasgow. Not as strong as a line up as last year, but a great, convivial event nonetheless:

As the festival market has become increasingly saturated (in both senses) this summer, it is surely time to consider both the aesthetic and environmental impact of the huge events that dominate and then clutter t.v. schedules for the remainder of the summer with different angles of Kasabian and the Fratellis.


As a consequence, Indian Summer and its like would appear to have many advantages. No w
asted campers fueled by fortified wine, no fourteen mile traffic jams, no attempts to sell lifestyle products every few metres and very little in the way of festival tourism with the majority of the audience from within a forty mile radius of the site.


There is also a unique feel to the line up, with the majority of the acts in questions not hawking themselves around every festival that will take them, and the potential to cover a reasonable variety of genres, even if white, male guitar bands dominate the main arena and 6 Music Hub tent this year.
Of Saturday’s main stage acts, it takes Midlak
e, with their pristine melodic rock that seems to draw on seventies’ acts like Bread and Fleetwood Mac, to raise both the quality threshold and interest level from the attentive but subdued audience. If ‘Roscoe’ and ‘Van Occupanther’ are the songs of the day, then credit also to The Rapture for being one of the few outdoor acts of the weekend to get feet moving thanks to ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ and ‘Olio.’


Between the two, Idlewild appear incongruously bombastic, a problem of context rather than content, while the often concurrent running times mean only snatches of activity in the tents can be caught. Andrew Bird and Au Revoir Simone would have graced the larger arena, while Daniel Johnston clashed with headliners, Wilco.


The latter are far from typical festival headliner fare, but their low-key excellence seems p
erfect for Indian Summer. With songs of the calibre of ‘Shot in the Arm,’ ‘Via Chicago’ and ‘Impossible Germany’ their career has been one of quiet investigation, and though sometimes meandering, they always seem to return to the point – Jeff Tweedy’s excellent writing.


Sunday’s headliner, The Flaming Lips, could hardly be more of a contrast. Extroverted and theatrical compared to Wilco’s inward, non-flamboyant
approach. There are troops of dancers in Santa outfits, lasers, balloons and ticker tape to augment what is effectively a crowd-pleasing revisiting of their best known songs.


As a result, ‘Race for the Prize,’ ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,’ and ‘Free Radicals’ are as memorable for the spectacle as the tunes, yet Wayne Coyne seems to fully, and verbosely, embrace the concept of the festival. Such is their appeal that both Mouse on Mars and Wheat have to play to tiny audiences in the tents.


They also make for another welcome contrast with their immediate predecessors. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were also disappointingly underwhelming and Spiritualized make for the most tedious and unappealing hour of the weekend. With no audienc
e interaction, Jason Pierce’s accompanying strings and singers, drown the songs under the weight of their self-importance. Seriousness does not have to equate to joylessness, and along with the headliners, I’m From Barcelona and Loney, Dear both injected some welcome colour and levity to the proceedings.

It all leaves Indian Summer at something of a crossroads. With a fine location, an audience and infrastructure in place, it needs to both grow enough to increase the range and quality of what is on offer while retaining the local,friendly and considered dimensions so lacking in most of its competitors – but to have reached such a stage in two years is a sizeable achievement in itself.

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Fopp

The closure of the Fopp chain has been covered with varying degrees of accuracy by the press – and while the loss of what has consistently been one of the best and most forward looking music retailers is disappointing, it is hard to feel much sympathy for the management in the light of the over-zealous expansion, the outright lies (MD, Gordon Montgomery maintained a week ago that they were not going into administration) and the shoddy manner in which staff were made to (conveniently) work a full calendar month without pay before being told at 4.45p.m. the day before closure that the game was up.

It will be interesting to see if Ernst and Young manage to find any takers for the multitude of stores given the current climate for high street music retail (link – with Tower gone, Borders maybe going from the UK and HMV and Virgin struggling, it may require some very special selling indeed.

And while it may be borderline good taste to find humour in a situation that sees so many jobless, then this comment posted on the Herald website warrants a mention:

Not me mate I spent 12 years building and operating Arch Studios in Glasgow, recorded many thousands of various artistes for washers. Oasis, Primal Scream, The Wets, Travis, Texas, Public Enemy, Pat Kane, Edith and the Ladies, Capone and the Bullets, The Styng Rytes, The Bored Housewives, Abandon your Head, The Scottish Sex Pistols, Blind Alley, Tom Morton, Danny Thompson, The Soviet Tractors, Fractile Four, Shelley Blue, Drew Mulholland, The Hemingways, The Pastels, Fergus Manson, Cath, Ramsey McVicar, Stairheid Dynamite, The Electric Fits, John McCourt, Scheme, Vilidian, Torino Move, Stewart Simpson, The Bopsters, Mind Garden, High on Water, The Beulay Bros, Sudden Groove Machine, Robert Jones, Nighshift, Ten Tall Men, Colourframe, Four Past Midnight, Paradise Music, Cutting Edge, Eddie Baskeville, Basic Notes, Catos Cat, Ken, White Noise, Roche, Martin Keilte, Moroccan Coco, Anaconda, Slow to Anger, Fool Circle, Tarot, The Mixers, The Fear, Distorted Truth, Lunatic Fringe, Baby Lemonade, to name a few ( I no longer have my diaries from 1980-1990) so I’ve only mentioned a small percentage here. Sorry to all I’ve missed. I hope this doesn’t offend you expat but perhaps it was you in the pub for years and you missed it all. Where was your studios then? You could say we along with Berkeley St Studios, Centre City Sound, Park Lane, Cava, Paladium, Back Shop, Tower, Sing Sing, Castle Sound et al STARTED THE REVOLUTION and you MISSED IT cos YOU were perhaps in the pub wi’ your fellow bevi heads.

Apart from bringing back memories of bands and studios that most involved with had probably wished to forget (although I wonder what the Soviet Tractors sounded like. . ). . stand up Archie of Arch Studios, the man who single handedly started the revolution while the rest of us were in the pub.

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