I’m rather fond of The Attic in Glasgow. I’ve seen Thunder play an intimate acoustic set in there and I’ve witnessed Evil Scarecrow in all their glory on a Friday night in there. Tonight, it hosts The Red Paintings, a band I know precisely jack shit about, other than my friend recommended I check them out. And she’s a fan of The Virginmarys so her judgement can’t be too bad.
For stuff like this, I enjoy going in without any pre-conceived notions. So as I get blinded by some bright, shiny thing in the sky (I think it’s called the sun), I wander up the stairs just in time to catch first on the bill, Louise Distras. It’s just after 19:00 and the tiny venue is relatively quiet – the norm. Distras lays out her stall of social commentary to the backdrop of a singer-songwriter style; just her and an acoustic guitar. Her soft voice blends well with her strumming and holds myself captive, even if some of the others are rude enough to chat through her set. Then, during points of most songs, she let rip with harsh, guttural screams, tearing into the lyrics and biting massive chunks out of them before spitting out the remains. Over the course of the night, the lyrical content made a great fit for supporting The Red Paintings and an acoustic set wasn’t too strange for the theme of the night. I’ve since checked out on YouTube a couple of songs she was singing on the night and it’s certainly no fluke, she’s the real deal.
Next up were Yuma Sun. The Norwegians brought with them a weird brand of indie rock, much akin to the kind Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs were playing a decade ago (that makes me feel old) but with the funky swagger raised to eleven. There’s clearly some people in the crowd tonight for this lot and their energetic set proves why. Stage attire aside, they certainly leave an impression on the mind, mainly in the form of the bass guitarist. Wait, did I say bass guitarist? I mean bass player. As in upright, belongs-in-a-symphony bass. Plus he looked like Brienne of Tarth. Having three albums under their belt shows as they’re a tight live act, perhaps a bit niche for my tastes but there’s a raw, undeniable passion as they hammer through their set, ignoring the lukewarm response.
Manhandled onto the stage (read: floor with monitors), main man Trash McSweeney leads The Red Paintings through an hour of rock infused with various influences and moods. Opening with Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” perfectly summarises the original lyric content of the band, it’s a brilliant way to set the mood. Performed with more angst and venom with an orchestral twist thanks to Alix Kol supplying violin parts, it brings something fresh to table.
Their (what I presume is usual) elaborate stage show was by and large absent, opting for a straightforward setlist, letting the music do the talking. Honestly, I can’t knock that as most bands I’ve seen use theatrics and it’s been to cover the fact they’re a mediocre live band (Rammstein and Muse). Here, it benefits them as the music can fully shine. With the early song of “It Is As It Was” following the Michael Jackson interpretation, I’m covered in goosebumps and a stupid grin plays on my lips. It’s a great reminder of why I love live music so damn much, that a band I have no opinion on can swiftly grab me and convert me into a fan. Partly due to how great the music is but also because of how tight they are and their professionalism. Playing to a less than half-full tiny room must be disheartening but they give it their all regardless.
It’s a sad state of affairs when there’s cheap tickets going for a genuine band an no one can be bothered to show their face. Admittedly, the music isn’t your straightforward rock which is my bread and butter but there’s still a lot of greatness in it. It challenges your perceptions of what rock can be and it’s what is needed if it is to thrive in 2016. Between all four bandmates, there’s a cool air of camaraderie and a desire to deliver the best show they’ve ever given. The passion and energy is a reflection of their music: genuine. Self-described as “orchestral art rock”, it doesn’t hold much of the usual pretentiousness of the “art” side of things, presumably that falls into their live show itself. Instead there’s a lot of indie and punk attitude to their playing and sound, bringing in an alternative twist.
“The Revolution is Never Coming” closes the set, complete with a thought-provoking and at times, humorous breakdown before hitting a massive finale and the same person who escorted Trash onstage grabs him as he ends the song and drags him away. Where he was taken, I’m not sure, I just know he’s been able to perform the remainder of their UK tour, so he’s alive (and hopefully well). As I said before, The Red Paintings isn’t something I’d normally choose to listen to but having watched them and discovering their music, it’s a stark reminder of the power of music.