Tag Archives: music

My summer festival find – Glasgow’s WHITE

I stumbled upon Glaswegian five-piece White on day two of Portmeirion’s Festival No.6. Fifteen hours of rain meant that I was on my second change of clothes. The shorts I’d optimistically worn were peeled off and discarded back in the tent. I’d ingeniously repaired my burst welly by swaddling my foot in a binbag. We were trying to forget our crumpled tent, the casualty of a marauding jakey the night before.

Determined to make the best of the festival, we sought a venue with a roof. That’s how we found White – seeking somewhere NOT WET to eat some pizza and dry out.

At first glance, they look like a typical guitar outfit (albeit with a woman on drums), with obligatory fringe-tossing frontman. But these guys aren’t making wallpaper music – there’s serious talent here.

It’s hard to pin down their sound. Despite having two guitarists and a bassist, you can’t define them as a straightforward guitar/indie band. There’s an electro quality on some tracks that’s reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem. Lead singer Leo Condie’s vocals are ambitious and similarly hard to pigeonhole, switching from snarling to soaring.  The band released Future Pleasures last year, and I get the impression they’re proudest of this track. But I prefer I Liked You Better When You Needed Me, due for release this autumn. It kicks off with a meaty riff that revolves through the track, while there’s a nicely acerbic touch to lyrics. I’m not sure who takes the creative lead in the band, but someone is seriously good at writing bridges. There’s a big songwriting talent here.

In terms of performance, they sounded very tight. The risk (and reward) of smaller music festivals is the varying quality of the lesser-known acts. For every budding alt-j, there’s a dodgy counterpart (this festival also featured a scarf-waving warbler who thought she was a succubus). But for a band that hasn’t played a lot of gigs in their current guise, White are seriously slick. According to NME, this is because the band hid themselves away for most of last year, refining and rehearsing their material.

Leo Condie remarked that the band “wanted to have the songs in place, have an image and a sound in place, so that we’d be like a spaceship landing from out of nowhere.” Based on the set I heard at Portmerion, I’d say they’ve gained that point.

Image should always come second to sound, but they’ve got that nailed too. As a unit, they’re eminently watchable. Condie clutches the mikestand somewhat coyly, bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to Jarvis Cocker. But these aren’t borrowed feathers – there’s a charisma and joy in performing that’s all his own. On drums, Kirstin Lynn takes no prisoners, which is presumably why she’s known as ‘Glasgow’s hardest snare-hitter’. There are no passengers here: everyone is contributing to the sound.

Since Festival No.6, I’ve been hoarding and repeating the band’s few Spotify tracks. With more singles to come and a tour underway, I‘m rooting for them to get the success they deserve. As it is, I’m grateful to them for turning a soggy afternoon into a festival highlight.


Check out White on their current tour.


Cheering Lauren Mayberry, who socks it to the trolls

I love the band Chvrches for two reasons. Firstly, because I spent the tail end of 2013 living in London, blithely dodging traffic while listening to ‘The Bones of What You Believe’, and secondly because its lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, is bloody brilliant at calling out casual misogynists. She casually, caustically flicks them back to their swamp.

Back in September 2013, she penned this righteous rant for the Guardian. In fact, it’s doing it a disservice to call it a rant – it’s a perfectly reasoned article. It asks why women in the spotlight attract misogynistic abuse, and why they should be expected to put up with it.

Before reading Lauren’s essay, I already knew the first answer to the first question. To some men, women who have the temerity to hold powerful positions – or indeed, any position that isn’t submissive, quiet or subordinate – are threatening. Such men try to negate women’s achievements and views by taking them down a peg or two, usually by reducing them to their appearance, or focusing on their possession of a vagina. I’m thinking here of the opponents of Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister, who criticised her ‘big red box’ instead of her politics. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel, termed an “unfuckable lard ass” – by the Italian Prime Minister.  Just last week we had the Combover King Donald Trump, commenting that the Fox moderator who asked him tough questions “had blood coming of her….wherever”.

Back to today – when in typically fearless style, Lauren Mayberry posted a link to the misogynistic comments posted under the band’s new video. Leaving aside the most graphic and gross ones, the least sinister gist seems to be “you’re not allowed to call people sexists and then look nice in your video. Take yourself off and hide in a sack if you don’t want our abuse!” You see, if there’s one thing a misogynist hates more than an uppity woman who doesn’t know her place, it’s one who speaks about it publicly. The appearance of an articulate women – who happens to beautiful – having an opinion sends these misogynists into a rage.

Writing in 2013, Lauren wrote about the grotesque rape threats she had received – simply for being a woman, fronting a band. And, depressingly, she’s not the first – on an earlier blog, I compiled a not-so-nice list of women subjected to violence and rape threats for daring to have an opinion on stuff. These included Laura Bates, Lindy West, Lucy-Ann Holmes, and the Suffragettes.

Increasingly, rape threats and sexual violence have become the standard silencing techniques used to frighten women into submission. That’s why the “don’t feed the trolls” argument is invalid here – more women need to speak out, not less. It’s important to draw a distinction between men who don’t agree with a woman and can lucidly explain why (debate), and men who threaten to hurt and silence women for having an opinion (misogynists). I don’t think I’m exaggerating here when I call these silencing tactics an attack on free speech.

And that why it’s important to applaud the women like Lauren who do speak out. So these misogynists get the message – we are not going anywhere. To quote Lauren – bring it on, motherfuckers.