Iteration four of the Pop! South Weekender brought together a bill well balanced between rising stars of the indie scene and those well established within it.
Friday night was a particularly ‘young’ night involving lots of uni-related chatter about essays and disappointing lovelifes. Local trio Joyce Delaney were a good choice to kick off the event (it’s hard to find any fault with a band that references one of your favourite, obscure authors) although in between such songs as ‘Ding, Ding, It’s Me Motherfucker’ the set did take on the appearance of a spoken word confessional. Still, they had probably the best bass of the weekend and a lot of good audience interaction. Jutland Songs came along next with fairly standard indie rock fare, followed by the ever exuberant Breakfast MUFF (last seen on The Spook School’s album launch bill). The usual instrument swaps and thrashed out tunes went down well & by the end of it one third of them didn’t seem too worse the wear for this being his second gig of the night. Bringing things to a close came London’s The Tuts. Despite being a little thin in the vocal department they can certainly hold their own musically as they pounded and thrashed their way through a decent 30 minute set.
Saturday was distinctly a game of two halves due to the practicality of there being a dinner hour built in to proceedings. First off came long-serving troopers Milky Wimpshake. Numbers such as ‘Cherry Pop’ & ‘Without You’ are ageless though and it’s safe to take it as read that such C86 spirit as displayed here & elsewhere during the festival was appreciated as much by the up and coming bands as by the fans. M.J. Hibbett & The Validators maintained the higher average age with an enjoyable and anecdote-filled set including ‘The Lesson Of The Smiths’. Like a musical Robin Ince, Hibbett onstage has a very engaging and self-deprecating manner. Last to go on before tea were trio Mammoth Penguins, who had the misfortune to suffer the first of the weekend’s technical faults & so play the bulk of their set with no distortion on the bass. Spirits undampened they powered through to a suitably entertaining climax.
In the evening current darlings of the scene Chorusgirl (with the second best bass of the weekend) were obviously a big draw and put on a flawless performance of their own material (‘Girls Of 1926’, 'Oh, To Be A Defector') as well as a cover of Bill Callaghan’s ‘This Song Kills’. Not a bad way to start off their tour with Tigercats. Who happened to be next on the bill. M.J. Hibbett was overheard to not think much of the bass player’s haircut and, personally, it was a bit odd to discover the band come from London given the accent Duncan chooses to sing in but that aside theirs was another fun set, punctuated by a good amount of laughter when an audience wit decided the drummer now looked like he was from Glasgow upon the chap in question stripping down to a simmet. Closing out Saturday fell to Trust Fund who unfortunately also had to stumble through their set a bit due to technical issues. Having got their drummer sacked from his job earlier in the day when driving past his workplace in Leeds they were though intent on celebrating no matter what came their way & so the likes of ‘Essay To Write’ and ‘Big Asda’ were performed with gusto & a great deal of humour.
Sunday evening, as befitted the day, was a more sedate affair. First on was Bill Botting, erstwhile bass player with Allo Darlin’. Personable & as happy to share personal information as performers had been right across the three days it was however a minor let down to hear fewer of his own compositions in favour of one’s by Little Feat & Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. Amelia Fletcher & Rob Pursey need no introduction really. Currently they perform together as the Catenary Wires, forgetting the odd bits of song & wondering whether they’re still indie or not. Having not been sponsored by a beer or soft drink & sold out arenas I’d say they’ve no worries on that score. Their downbeat songs of the tortured course of love (‘Intravenous’, ‘When You Walk Away’) are easily as good as their earlier work. Gordon McIntyre was an unknown quantity for me although his Ballboy moniker is one I’ve a vague awareness of. He’s quite the wit on stage though, easily getting past forgetting even whole songs (& proving Darren Hayman right in the process) by such methods as deriding the day’s burning car at Glasgow’s airport (no staff booting terrorists this time around) and such compositions as he did remember – ‘Let’s Start A Riot In the Halls Of The Infirmary’, ‘I Lost You But I Found Country Music’ – were very pleasurable to hear.
Following the raffle (featuring Duglas T. Stewart as compere) I nipped off to the strains of Stewart’s ‘Old Age Is Killing Me’ only to discover that Scotrail had a later train available & so Pete Astor need have been the only act I missed (along with Two White Cranes, The Occasional Flickers and The School for various reasons) but by that point it was too late. Still, an exceptionally well put together event & excellent value for money and one you should definitely pencil in for 2017.