Tenement Trail 2017: The Review

One day, more than 50 bands and a whole lot of fun; we recap this year's Tenement Trail festival

Live Review by Donald Shields | 17 Oct 2017

The inner-city festival has been growing in popularity over the years, and 2017's Tenement Trail, now in its fifth year, is sold-out for the first time. The festival is a flagship for new music and the venues used today range from basement dive bars like The Priory to grand music halls like the O2 ABC, via world famous talent-finding spots such as King Tut’s. All the venues are in and around Sauchiehall Street which is busy enough on most Saturday nights so the term 'heaving' accurately describes today's scene. Blessed with a warm evening and a beautiful auburn sunset, indie kids, rockers, mods and hipsters all pass each other, weaving their way to the next act on their itinerary.

After an impressive set at Electric Fields earlier this year, Wuh Oh doesn’t disappoint with a mix of tracks produced with a hazy electronic, trip-hop and breakbeat sound with house-y chords; playing live over backing tracks, Wuh Oh's music has epic danceability. Furthermore, Wuh Oh's onstage performance is one of seductive passion which holds the attention of the packed crowd in Nice N Sleazy's.

A short saunter up the street to probably the smallest venue on the bill; The Priory plays host to Mothers Love, a talented band with an 80s sound akin to The Cure or Joy Division. Emotive lyrics are delivered full volume from an enigmatic frontman who jumps around the stage, staring down punters as he pushes through the crowd, shoeless with mic in hand. Continuing topless, frequently gyrating and intermittently swigging Buckfast, Mothers Love play an unforgettable short, sweaty and punchy set.

Next up is Declan Welsh and The Decadent West in G2, the medium-sized stage in the basement of The Garage. An enthralling performance at King Tut’s Summer Nights back in July was a good precursor to a performance of well-packaged, grungy-indie rock. Welsh holds court front and centre looking very much the rock star, with the backing to match in the form of a talented band. During their set, Welsh treats the crowd to some unaccompanied spoken word depicting a night out, perhaps for himself or for any young person in Glasgow, with tales of Sub Club and kebabs, loves that could’ve been and a 'fuck it all' attitude of getting on the sesh. A roar from the crowd affirms the love of Welsh's anti-establishment poetry to party to.

Another hotly-tipped band on the up are Neon Waltz. Hailing from John O’Groats, the most northerly village on these isles, the band look right at home on the larger stage of the main room in The Garage. The venue is befitting with an impressive light show to coincide with the band's anthemic rock sounds, looking and sounding like they've just been teleported right out of the 60s. With their danceable indie music, symbiotic harmonies and catchy choruses, Neon Waltz are surely radio-ready.

Searching for some variation, The Skinny takes a short trip back to Sleazy’s to see hip-hop act Niko. A bare stage and a bare venue means this performance feels far more personal than the previous. Standing there in his large sweater and oversized glasses, the rapper waxes lyrical around first world problems such as iPhone charger issues, along with topical and emotional issues considered by most. His flow is impressive as he flawlessly intertwines his topics into a mix of London grime, American trap and old school hip-hop.

Back at G2, it's time for the very cool The Ninth Wave, a band that could be plucked straight out of the 80s with their synth-led, emo-rock music. The smoke-filled stage and lighting coupled with their music creates an atmosphere which envelopes the listener and transports them to The Ninth Wave’s heart-stricken world. Upstairs in The Garage's Attic space resides a small stage – we stumble upon Edinburgh band Vistas, who as well as having an impressively tight drummer, also appear to have a loyal following, as the crowd sing along wherever possible.

We then head to King Tut’s to catch Catholic Action, a band really on the up with their debut album finally set to drop at the end of October. Watching them live, we can't help but see a young Bobby Gillespie in frontman Chris McCrory, standing centre stage in his white dungarees. It should also be noted that bass was fucking rocking throughout. We leave before the end of their set, however, and make a mad dash to Flat 0/1 for Rascalton. Sadly, the venue is already at capacity when we arrive so we head home and the only real disappointment of the day, is that it was impossible to see everyone on Tenement Trail's outstanding bill.