Tenement Trail 2022: A Journey into the Belly of Scotland’s Music Scene
Taking a sabbatical since 2019, Tenement Trail 2022 festival returned to Glasgow’s East End this year to once again show off the strength of Scotland’s music scene. Seeing as I’ve only lived in Glasgow since January, I thought I should head along and get to know a few of the bands.
The day started perfectly with drinking Tennent’s in a tenement kitchen. The man I’d entrusted as my musical tour guide, Jaimie, drank with me as we planned the day’s activities; my only condition being to make the day as loud as possible. I wanted to see the fringes, the edges of the local music scene. We made a plan, written down on Jamie’s phone, and finished our cans.
The walk to collect our wrist bands took us through the Barras market and into the heart of Glasgow’s East End. This, across eight separate venues, including the iconic Barrowland Ballroom, is where the festival would take place. I love this format for a festival. With no need to hire stages or PA’s the prices are kept low and these savings get passed on to the punter. £30 is really very reasonable when you can see up to ten bands on the day.
With time to spare, we sat and sank another pint before heading the first band of the afternoon, SHE. Playing in the tiny bourbon bar Van Winkle, by the time they pushed a Eurythmics cover through their triple guitar fuzz wall, the crowd were more than happy they started their day there. Stylistically cool and a real song writing talent, expect to see them higher up festival bills in the future.
Next for us, and a departure from my brief, was the ethereal Siv Jakobsen, in the equally ethereal St Luke’s. This might just have been the perfect setting for Jakobsen, who’s acoustic guitar and edge-of-a-cliff voice were framed perfectly by the repurposed church’s high ceilings and church organ. Unfortunately for Siv, the crowd were less than respectful and, despite her polite attempts to ask for quiet, insisted on talking the whole way through her show.
Then we travelled deep, right in the belly of the Barrowland Ballroom, to Barrowland 2. Normally set up as an overflow bar for gigs in the main room, Barras 2 feels like a cave. The roof is low, the walls are black, and there isn’t a single window. Its hands down one of the weirdest, seediest, and diviest band venues you’ll go into, and absolutely one of my favourites. It’s a real shame there aren’t more shows put on in there.
Playing was Essex band, She’s in Parties who, similar to the track which likely inspired their name, played a washed-out shoegazey goth-pop set which was wide and full of groove. They both perfectly suited the venue and managed to take you far, far away from it. Somewhere spacious, like a smooth green hill on a drizzly day.
Jamie and I were a few pints deep now, but it was that time in the afternoon of a festival where there’s always someone around to make you feel more sober than you are. It was also the point of the afternoon where the quality and professionalism of the shows started to kick up a gear. We headed to BAAD, a giant, glasshouse like venue.
On the above balcony level, a significant crowd of people wearing AAA passes gathered to watch what was about to be a set from local group Spyres. Their songs were catchy and well written, their performance clean and professional. They did absolutely nothing wrong, except maybe that they didn’t. You could understand why industry types would be excited by this band, but for me, the set was missing the punch in the face I was expecting after hearing them recorded. It was all a bit polite, if I may say so.
Unfortunately, similar things could be said for the next group, Dead Pony. I was probably most excited to see this band out of any on the day. They play an edgy post-punk rock style and have some really seriously good tracks, but live, on a bigger stage they played like a band with something to lose. I would want to see again though. You get the feeling that maybe, on a smaller stage, where there’s less lost in the space between the band and the crowd, they would be a lot more exciting.
It’s definitely worth mentioning, that up until this point, every band that we had been to see had at least a woman singing. This is fucking amazing. Five to ten years ago, there wouldn’t have been a festival heard of with this level of equal representation. It is an absolute credit to all the hard-working bands who made themselves impossible for bookers to continue to ignore.
Now it was nearing the end of the night, and I hadn’t really seen what I’d wanted yet: carnage. We decided then, to skip the headline act, Vistas, in Barrowlands and stick around BAAD to see local punk group Gallus. Roughly translating from Scots, gallus means bold or reckless, and it was no misnomer. They were cocky and fun and interactive with the crowd who repaid them with a non-stop mosh pit that had bodies flying in every direction. Well deserving of their stage closing slot, Gallus owned the room and didn’t give anyone the option of boredom. And with that, my night was over. I was done.
Listen to the Tenement Trail 2022 Playlist on Spotify
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