By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)
To go to a gig where the bands playing have names such as the headlining act Space Olive, it should have been expected that the night’s proceedings would be peculiar, to say the least. Stereo is consistently solid at giving acts that aren’t deemed as the “norm” in the Scottish music scene a platform, as well as give those adventurous enough to delve into the intimate, boiler room looking venue a treat: being so underground feels like the equivalent of sailing a boat across international waters in order to celebrate what some deem as taboo and outright weird.
Last night’s performance was no different. Opening the night with Psychedelic Tezza, an experienced solo acoustic musician, the bar for oddness was already set high. Yes, you can walk into any bar or venue and find yourself a musician wielding a guitar and playing some four chord track but Tezza’s music is simply an outlet for his eccentricity which is the man’s main draw: near the end of his performance, the man himself went into a speech about how Christmas was the day that, sadly, James Brown died though no one tends to remember him on that day due to the Christian significance, despite the fact Jesus wasn’t even born on that day. Besides his storytelling, Tezza showed great appreciation for the audience and love for what he does. He may not be the youngest but he undoubtedly has more heart than anyone else in the scene and knows how to strike a chord, both literally and figuratively.
Up next were Milktoast, a literal embodiment of the “don’t judge a book by its cover” fable. Their name may be odd but as soon as the bad were up on stage, delivering intricate, almost American Football-esque tunes, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The indie/math vibes radiated by their music were absolutely enthralling and the vocals that were on display weren’t left as an afterthought: the broody vocals of frontman Alex immediately become reminiscent of Paul Banks of Interpol fame with a great sense of eerie, atmosphere being further backed up by the beautiful bass playing on display. Their claim of becoming one of the greatest bands of all time is just a wee joke but the reality of their music means that they need to be put firmly on everyone’s radar.
Finally, the main act of the band came on and boy, were they worth the wait. Despite not having a vocalist as of yet, Space Olive somehow managed to get the aforementioned Tezza to join them on the stage for their set. If his solo set didn’t manage to show how peculiar the man is then the kickboxing attire and pint of milk he would go to drink at random intervals did the job: even if he didn’t know some of the lyrics, he was an utter joy and adapted to the role almost effortlessly.
Don’t think that this distracted from Space Olive though as they gave the audience a funk induced apocalypse: bassist Harry slapped his instrument constantly in typical Red Hot Chili Peppers fashion while covering some of their greatest hits, weaving in and amongst all the wires and his band members with a sleek grace. It was definitely infectious with most of the venue dancing along, cheering on as they tried valiantly to boogie down in the claustrophobic environment. Space Olive ain’t just some cover band as shown by their original material which felt like a solid fusion of their love of good old funk with a firm injection of punk. The instrumentals alone warrant the band a listen but once they get themselves a vocalist, Space Olive will be getting set into first gear to blast off into the stratosphere with their funky, psychedelic craftings.
Better yet, an even bigger venue.