A nice of fun, games and japes was promised at the smaller of the two stages at the Classic Grand tonight with no fewer than four slightly unhinged bands on the bill. Courtesy of an understanding venue and some swift crew work to swap the sets around quickly, all four bands actually had a reasonable set length to ply their nutty trade.
The first of two local openers was Mantis Toboggan, a band that seemed to get its name from one of those websites that tries to help you create a secure password. Dressed in worryingly snug pyjama bottoms (I swear I have a pair at home just like the guitarist’s) and with a great line in synchronised twists, turns and jumps the band managed to get the surprisingly large early crowd laughing and banging their heads. Local support means local fans coming to cheer their friends on, and that’s a great way to get things going at a gig.
Playing songs like “A Weekend in Amsterdam” with it’s catchy hooks, “shimmy shaking, spinning, legs and can can after solo” (those notes pinched from their set list!) and the audience-guest-starring “The Spaceman Spiff Exercise Program” they were a bundle of sweating energy from start to finish. Great party-starters.
After a nice short break, we got the second bunch of local idiots – Monkey Puzzle, a band we have heard from before. Owners of the best EP title of all time, Suck Macaque, they dialled down the mental just a bit but ramped up the rap, hammering out some great head-banging nu-metal/hardcore-esque numbers. Like Mantis Toboggan, they brought their own fans (all three of them) who helped get the dancefloor warmed up.
Many rap vocalled acts like to pretend they’re American despite where they may actually come from. Not so Monkey Puzzle. Lead singer Conor’s Weegie tones come through loud and proud as he rattled his way through “Crushbra”, “Killjester” and the absolutely crowd-flooring “Boomslang”. The latter track channels everything good about bands such as Body Count while also preaching the good message of kicking snakes to death.
More heat, more sweat and some impressive applause by the end. Proof positive from these two bands alone that Glasgow’s got a great music scene going on.
The first foreign band of the night were to get a little over half an hour for their brand of mad thrash bonkers-ness. Footprints in the Custard hail from the misty wastelands of Manchester and were added to the bill when Green Jelly unfortunately had to drop out due to ill health. After tonight’s performance I’m not sure if they’ll be invited back, scaring the crowd as they did with naked arse-cheeks and green/purple clad moobs.
Actually, they’d lucked out and landed the right crowd who latched onto the likes of “Wankclaw”, “Wasted” and “Party Metal” and only threw up in their mouths a little bit when the band revealed far too much pimpled flesh. “Bouncy Bouncy” had the audience jumping up and down to the point where I could feel the floor bending underfoot – really. By the time Footprints closed their set with their somewhat heavier-than-the-original cover of “Raining Men”, the audience were in the hairy palms of their hands. The cheer as they ended definitely wasn’t one of relief and I have a feeling they converted quite a few people to the way of the Custard.
In fairness, given that they were supporting Psychostick they had a leg up as people were here for just that brand of muppetry and madness. The headliners themselves took to the stage, bedecked in trademark ridiculous headgear with over an hour to fill with japes, crap songs and audience-related frippery. And, my, did they fill that time well.
Focussing a fair bit on their most recent release, Revenge of the Vengeance, they didn’t skimp on older material either and had the crowd rocking a level higher than the Custardy fellows did. In fact, at one point I was genuinely concerned that the speaker stack was going to fall on me! That would have made for an interesting insurance claim.
Throwing songs around about beards, beer and boobs (there’s an idea of a compilation EP there), the Classic Grand was jumping and laughing for the whole show. Something I picked up on in my review of the recent album is that this is a band that’s not just fun, but they’re also well-practised and rehearsed. The choreographed dance moves and the way they filled their stage time to the brim shows how experienced that are. More importantly, they’re naturally funny.
With the addition of a sombrero-shredding competition and a song lottery to fill in some gaps in the set (we were rewarded with “Jagermeister Love Song”, “Dangerzone” and “Jolly Old Sadist” being pulled out of the fancy-schmancy metal… erm.. tupperware pot of scrumpled paper), Psychostick didn’t so much play a gig as host a party. Other bands may think they can get a giggle by swearing a bit or insulting the fairer sex’s ability to give directions, but Psychostick somehow manage it better than anyone else. Add to this their brilliant “Bruce Campbell” anthem and the simply superb “So Heavy” and you’ve got a great night out wrapped up in a setlist.
Ably assisted by a very small roadie who did an impressive job of stopping too many people falling onto the 2-inch high stage during some more active moments, they ensured that everyone in the room ended the gig both sweaty and smiling.
I talked to Matty from Psychostick and Ian from Footprints after the gig and both are already looking forward to return visits. Fingers crossed we could see Manchester’s loopiest back here as early as March next year… I think I can be confident in saying that they’d be made most welcome!
All photos (c) Iain Purdie for Moshville Times