Live Review: Glasvegas – Emo’s – 08.03.2009

Crappy cell phone pic of Glasvegas performing at Emo's

So Carol, Fandon the Fun Marshal, and I attended the Glasvegas show at Emo’s last night (Gordon had to bail due to work-related concerns), and it was a good time.  Emo’s has done a little redecorating in the inside bar area and in the outer courtyard, and it’s looking pretty good.  Tons of laminated (read: weatherproofed) concert posters all around the courtyard add a nice bit of rock ambience without taking away from the venue’s trademark grunge.  There were no bands playing inside, unfortunately, so it was a short night of rock, but good times nonetheless.  I was kind of shocked that the show did not sell out, to my knowledge.  The crowd was decent, but fairly sparse compared to some recent Emo’s shows I have attended.  I don’t know if that’s to be blamed on a Monday night rock show or the fact that maybe Glasvegas have not yet made as much of a splash here in the States as I had imagined.

Opening act Ida Maria is led by Norwegian rock chick Ida Maria Børli Siversten.  Ida Maria has a gravelly, Joplin-esque voice that, along with her energetic stage presence, is the main selling point of the band.  The music is jaunty and upbeat for the most part,  sometimes bordering a little too close to novelty with songs like “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”.  The sound guy for the majority of their set had the bass turned up way too high, so much so that Ida Maria’s voice and the bass were all that could be heard, and the electric guitars were almost completely drowned out.  This worried me a lot for Glasvegas, since an Okkervil River show I attended at Emo’s last year was completely ruined by poor sound.  Ida Maria got the worst of the sound problems, though.  Fortunate for Glasvegas, but unfortunate for Ida Maria.

Ida Maria – “Oh My God”

Next up was the headliner, Glasgow band Glasvegas.  As has been reported here before, Glasvegas has been hailed as the “saviours of British guitar rock” by a fawning UK press, although I never really bought into that hype after several spins of their self-titled debut album.  After seeing them live, however, I may be having a change of heart.  On record, their songs are typically anthemic if a bit morose, but the true power of the songs is certainly brought out in a live setting.  The whole noise rock  aesthetic that they have cribbed from My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain plays a lot better outside of the confines of their slickly produced major label record, and the songs come off as huge, arena-ready rockers.  Opening with “Geraldine”, the band immediately launched into a barrage of noise, and they didn’t really quit for the whole set, aside from a few dirty interludes by frontman James Allan (apparently their female drummer likes well-endowed men.  Who’da thunk it?).  The full brunt of their sound was best displayed in their song “Polmont On My Mind”, a grandiose but sad ballad about a reflective inmate locked away in a Scottish prison.  Show closer “Daddy’s Gone” was another massive highlight of their set that included nearly every track from their debut record.

This show made me re-evaluate my initial take on Glasvegas.  While their album may not showcase what they are fully capable of as a band, their live show has proven that this band is tailor made to rock spaces much, much larger than the relatively small stage at Emo’s.  Later this month, Glasvegas will begin supporting U2 on their UK tour, and I have no doubt that the band will have no problem filling those stadiums with a massive noise that will live up to bands like U2 and Oasis.

Glasvegas – “Polmont On My Mind”


2 Responses to Live Review: Glasvegas – Emo’s – 08.03.2009

  1. Nathan says:

    Thanks for the review. I became a quick fan of the album, and was really pleased with the show.

  2. Carol says:

    the joint: Jason left out a key component of Emo’s revamped back courtyard- a fair portion of said weatherproofed concert posters featured boobies. Perhaps these are the all-weather answer to Jackalope’s velvet paintings.

    the crowd: I was mildly disappointed by the lack of kilts. The band’s from Scotland- and a number of hooligans were in the crowd- but nary a pleat to be seen.

    the music: Emo’s does its best to host bands with big, sweeping sound. While I felt the sound was slightly off target- especially after listening to the studio versions of the songs- I agree with Jason that they’d fare well in the bigger arenas. In fact, I think La Zona Rosa or even the Parish might have been a better venue for them sound-wise.
    At one point during the show, I felt the set suffered a bit from tempo drag. Some of Glasvegas’ songs lean toward being almost ambient at times and more than 2-3 in a row will lose me- because I have the brain of a 7th grade boy. I found myself thinking about the fact that I’m out of peanut butter. Crap.
    They drew me back in quickly, though. The crowd responded very well- lots of crowd participation. Overall, a very satisfying show for me.

%d bloggers like this: