There has always been a musical division in Scotland between Glasgow and the rest of Scotland. Or that is how I experience it as a non-Scot and having played in an Edinburgh based band myself for years. Glasgow gets a lot of the touring bands, has better venues, later gigs, more bands, bigger crowds etc. So, when a band such as Die! Die! Die! come over from New Zealand to play on a Friday night in Edinburgh you don’t think twice to come along. Especially when the support bands are United Fruit (from Glasgow) and local post-punkers Black International. You don’t care that it’s a Good Friday and you have family over from the Netherlands for the weekend, as was the case for myself.
The night kicked off early at 7.45pm on the dot with Black International, who helped organising tonight’s gig. Most Edinburgh venues have a 10pm curfew, so people need to show up early and luckily for Stewart on guitars and vocals and Craig on the drums, there was already a reasonable crowd to witness their 2-piece assault on the eardrums. It always surprises me how much noise a 2-piece band can make, and Black International are no exception. Aside from some technical guitar issues and at times a visibly unhappy Stewart they played a solid set. Craig’s infamous drum face is always a pleasure to observe. He’s a brilliant drummer, providing a very jazzy style to the overall post-punk sound of Black International. Their set was a short one, but we were treated to 2 new songs ‘The Sky Is Falling In’ and ‘A Gilded Palace’, which will be released as a 7” single through Electric Company Records later this year. They also played ‘A Million Mouths’, which is the opening track of their great album In Debt and 2 more unreleased tracks ‘In The Sun’ and ‘Shining Swords’, after which Stewart angrily chucked his guitar on the floor as the Wee Red Bar doesn’t have a stage. It wasn’t his best night, but I still thoroughly enjoyed them!
Next up were United Fruit, which are one of my favourite alternative noise rock bands in Scotland. I’ve seen them live a few times now and you know you are always treated to a dynamic and extremely tight set. United Fruit’s rhythm section with Marco on bass and Ross on drums is a solid machine pounding away through the set, and guitarists Iskandar and Stuart share the vocal duties while working themselves in a sweaty state by some intense guitar playing, singing and moving uncontrollably at the same time. Their set mainly consisted of songs from their last album Fault Lines, such as album and set opener ‘Kamikaze’, ‘Liar’, ‘Go Away, Don’t Leave Me Alone’, ‘Confuse Her Now’, ‘Dust To Light’ and final song of the set ‘Red Letter’. Beside these songs they played crowd favourite ‘Push It’ of their first EP Mistress, Reptile Mistress! and a brand new track called ‘Nightmare, Recovery’, which is a brilliant track and just makes me wish for them to release a new album again! Apparently they’re working on it and I can’t wait to hear it as the this new song sets some high standards.
Lastly on the bill were the New Zealanders Die! Die! Die!, whose musical style can be described as post-punk alternative guitar noise, and thereby fitting in just perfectly after Black International and United Fruit. They played with a lot of energy, and great catchy guitar hooks, snarling vocals and most importantly an amazingly steady rhythm section. Drummer Michael Prain seemed to be in his own rhythmic zone throughout the gig and bass player Michael Logie steadily plugged away on his bass guitar. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Wilson was something else all together though. He seemed to have troubles standing still and continuously danced around his little area between the mic stand and the amps. More than once he created a feedback loop by placing his guitar against his amp and grabs his mic to then go into the crowd, whilst Michael and Henry continued to play a repeated thumping rhythmic loop. Besides songs of the new album Harmony, such as ‘Trinity’, they played older songs ‘Sideways Here We Come’, ‘Blinding’, ‘A.T.T.I.T.U.D.’ (all from their album Promises, Promises), ‘Wasted Lands’ (from their album Form) and a new song called ‘Trigger’. I’m not even sure if I have all these songs right as there wasn’t a setlist for me to take home.
All in all it was a brilliant gig with 3 blinding sets from 3 amazing bands. They all showed that it is possible to have a great gig in Edinburgh and the good-sized crowd certainly helped. What made it even more memorable was the random Australian bloke I bumped into at the merchandise table. I forgot his name, but let's call him Bruce or Shane. I initially thought he was with one of the bands but he told me he was in Edinburgh for work and he picked up a copy of The List magazine to see what was on that night and he ended up at the Wee Red Bar. Well, he couldn’t have picked a better night in Edinburgh! Rock on!
Credits: video footage by Bruce Cowie.