Hinterland 2009: Rated!
United Kingdom | 05 May 2009
Despite a lack of numbers, Hinterland showed great potential argues Ruth Saxelby...
Overall – 7/10
On paper, Hinterland had everything going for it: a beautifully gritty city, a glut of quality venues and a rough and ready line-up featuring some genuinely exciting new music acts. However, the best thing about multi-venue events is also the most challenging: lots of music to explore and floor space to fill. Frustratingly, Glasgow didn’t seem to know there was a festival right on its doorstep. Whether the uneven turnout was due to poor promotion, the ticket price or lack of local interest was the stuff of late night debate. That aside, there was still plenty to enjoy and Hinterland definitely has one thing in abundance: potential. It just needs to shout louder next year.
Getting There and Back – 8/10
Being one of Scotland's major cities, traveling to Glasgow is a breeze with a major train station, bus station and good road links. Those making the trip up north had three choices: a 400-mile drive, paying through the nose to sit next to someone smelly for four and a half hours on the train or abandoning ethics for 15 quid return flight courtesy of Ryanair. Yes, we’re going straight to hell.
The Site – 8/10
Glasgow is easy to fall in love with. Steep hills facilitated pattern-filled views of stunning sandstone townhouses, gothic touches and circling seagulls. People in the street stopped to offer friendly, unasked for assistance with directions (peppered with “y’alright, hen?”) no less than three times. Even huddles of smokers outside office doorways held a certain bleak charm. The venues themselves ranged from the impressively immaculate Arches to former art deco cinema ABC, and the awesome stone-floored Old Fruitmarket to celebrated disco den Sub Club. The city’s grid system made it easy to navigate from gig to gig, although with fares at £3 a pop jumping in a black cab proved hard to resist. Oh dear, eco-credentials down the pan once again.
Atmosphere – 7/10
Trying to sustain a buzzy atmosphere across an entire city is something that all multi-venue festivals face but Hinterland battled with it more than most. Depending where you found yourself, the tone of the festival lurched from tumbleweed despondency to jump-up-and-down good feeling. Pockets of excitement included Glasgow collective Lucky Me’s party at Sub Club with Rustie and Co playing rave classics to a hyped up mob including members of Metronomy (who’d earlier played a blinding set with their new 4-piece line-up), thecocknbullkid and Primary 1. The 50 Bones hosted night at the ABC was another highlight, with Plugs and Your Twenties both playing impressively tight sets but it was local heroes We Were Promised Jetpacks who drew the biggest crowd, all of whom sang along with visible passion.
Slow Club – 8/10
Distracting from a heavy cold by “doing funnies” on stage, the Sheffield-based guitar/percussion duo entertained in the Arches with their quirky folk pop harmonies. Unflustered by a dodgy amp connection, they improvised by moving down to audience level for an impromptu acoustic performance of ‘Wild Blue Milk’. A thoroughly charmed audience lapped it up.
The Invisible – 7/10
One of the few London acts that Glasgow turned out in force to see, The Invisible had everyone in The Admiral straining to take in pedal changes in an intense, riff-building showcase of superior musicianship. While the sound engineer could have done with getting his ears checked (the levels weren’t quite right), tracks like the gorgeously pervasive ‘London Girl’ had shoulders happily jiggling for the duration.
RememberRemember – 7/10
With eight band members wielding everything from violin to saxophone crammed onto the Arches’ smallest stage, it could have gone horribly wrong for Glasgow’s cinematic instrumentalists. Instead they skilfully built up, layer by layer, a mesmerising soundscape that held the room in a temporary trance.
Two Door Cinema Club – 7/10
Confusingly playing to backing track (their fourth member is a Mac apparently), this fresh-faced guitars-n-bass trio from Northern Ireland had the Arches jumping up and down like excited teenagers. Oh okay, the audience were excited teenagers. With hook-laden songs and boy band looks, they’re a dead cert for big things.
We Have Band – 8/10
Despite drawing a criminally small audience, We Have Band were on blistering form with a noticeably rockier edge to their irresistible synth-pop anthems. Dark and moody new track ‘Love, What You Doing’ was a real standout.
Held in the stately Old Fruitmarket, the official Hinterland after party was headlined by Simian Mobile Disco doing their DJ thing. Unfortunately that meant banging them out with little care for building atmosphere. They did, however, redeem themselves with a that’s-more-like-it up-tempo remix of Frankie Valli's ‘Beggin’ for the closer. A little of that energy earlier on would have worked wonders.
Trundling along Sauchiehall Street at about 11pm, a woman proffers an empty fag packet with a request to pop it into the nearest bin. Love her commitment to not littering but still, very random.