Today's Letter is 'M'
Mugstock has been kind to me, it has introduced me to many great new friends, allowed me to hear some excellent new music, and offered some of the highlights of my year over the past two. If you look at the flyer picture this year I'm even on it from last year, in cartoon form, standing next to the Colonel. It is indeed a festival of music and merriment, but it's also a festival of meritorious magnality, a melomania full of mirth, mirabilia and maffick, made round a messuage on a myrtle mamelle in a maidan near Mugdock.
That alliteration required some esoteric words to complete, I'll lay off them for the rest of the article, don't worry.
Happy Anniversary Keverley
Last year I got really wasted and ended up in a random camper van, waking up with only vague recollections and the fear that I may have mortally offended someone in that state, in their camper van, in front of their kids.
Later that day a young child approached me and said 'Do you know where my dad is?'. I was really perplexed by this, I don't know any kids here and I certainly don't know any dads here, 'What you talking about? Go away', well I wasn't that nasty obviously, I probably just shook my head and looked confused. Turns out the child belonged to Kev and Bev Pearson AKA Keverly and we all realised that Kev didn't remember last night either, and was as clueless to who I was as I was to him! So we re-introduced ourselves and have now been friends for a year, with each Mugstock marking our anniversary. Keverly are now 6th Dijon legends, following the travelling circus of insanity that is Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 everywhere they go on tour, and eating up their merchandise like valium. Nowadays you can find Keverley in the Yellow Movement campsite with 6th Dijon emblazoned across their camper van and a grin as wide as the Clyde on their faces.
Another new friend I met last year was the dreadlocked Kami Minkrap, from the Kingdom of Fife, I met him under a tree on E (that's his fixed abode), we got to talking and we clicked, we had many mutual friends, and he's a former wrestler, as well as a rapper and a genius wordsmith. He entertained us all night through to about six in the morning, long after everyone else was asleep and the sun was coming up again, with his freestyle flows and clever verses, and I remember marveling at the speed, accuracy and sharp, intellectual wit with which he could spit entire album's worths of original lyrics, poems and raps, on the spot! It's one thing to be a wordsmith like me, carefully placing each word on the page as I type with an option to delete and go back, but to do it the way Kami does it, verbally and without stuttering or drawing a blank, is a whole other level of wordslinger! He tours the festivals doing his spoken word/rap set, so check him out if you can find him...
The Night Of The Short Knives
On the Sunday I woke up in a bleary-eyed daze, in my tent, with the early morning sun baking the tarpaulin and my bladder screaming out in agony to micturate, sorry I said I wouldn't do that, urinate. I scrambled from my sleeping compartment and it seemed like the tent was upside down and back to front, maybe it was, or maybe it was the fact I was still half-drugged and semi-drunk, but either way, I could not find the exit. After about a minute of frantic attempts to locate the zip that would free me from this bladder-bursting, hot, sweltering prison of plastic. I didn't find it, I was very confused, and as I was just about to give up and consign myself to wetting my pants when something gleamed out the corner of my eye... No, not the zip, but the next best thing, it was the small steel wine-knife we had been using to open bottles of red, in a hasty decision influenced by the litres of piss swelling up against my bladder I grabbed the knife, pulled the blade end out and slashed my way to freedom...
...We were camped in the Yellow Movement campsite and what everybody outside the tent witnessed over their matutinal coffees that morning was an enraged Chris Herron slash his way out of his tent with a blade and run off into the bushes making funny noises, must have been quite a spectacle for them...
Colonel Mustard Part One
The highlight of last year's Mugstock for me, was of course, getting up on stage during their set so Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 could sing me happy birthday (it was my 31st) and I decided to do a stage dive into a crowdsurf (not an uncommon sight at a Mustard gig). Dijancer said "Do you want the dinghy, or the Gallowgator, the dinghy is easy, the Gallowgator is a beast". "Well," I said, "I've done a fair bit of this kind of thing throughout my years of punk gigs, I'll go for the Gallowgator...."
Not the wisest choice, the Gallowgator is a large inflatable green crocodile, and as soon as I dived with it beneath me, it took me down in a death-roll and I plummeted... Worst stage dive ever... Or it would have been, had members of Sambayabamba not been there to hoist me back up, inches before I hit the floor, and the next thing you know, I'm being carried off across the crowd clutching the inflatable crocodile and trying desperately not to get rolled again. Excellent photographer Martin J Windebank caught this moment perfectly in a glorious picture that remains my cover photo on Facebook to this day.
I lost a quarter of grass at this point, but as it was a yellow movement crowd it was kindly returned to me later on and the disaster of a weekend without weed was averted, cheers Tony!
Who You Gonna' Call?
Friday, 7.40pm, one hour until the Mickey 9s take to the stage and we're still in Ibrox! One hour to traverse the country roads to Mugdock in my girlfriend's Suzuki Jimny, find the Yellow Movement or Gonzo Division campsite (whichever came first), set up our tent and make it to the appropriate stage in time to see one of our favourite bands (bearing in mind you had to be ferried by a bus from the campsite to the main festival)... It was going to be tight.
Through screeching rubber, wrong turns, spilled Coronas and a lot of cursing from the driver, we made it to the festival at about quarter past eight, too late to set up tent, change of plan, we find the campsite, park our car, abandon setting up the tent and attempt it in the dark, after seeing the Mickey 9s, either that or spend the first night in the car.
We made it to the Chameleon Stage just in time, only problem with that, was the Mickeys were playing the Corrie Stage, damn. You'll be relieved to hear however, we made it to the stage just in time for me to kiss the bassist Dave's hand (don't know why I did that) and shake frontman Dougie's, just before they went up to find a thing and do a dance to it.
As you may have heard me say before, The Mickey 9s are arguably the best band in Glasgow right now, infectious music, attitude, punk, funk, electro, fucking amazing basslines, an awesome album, a mind-blowing live experience and all this fronted by the golden masked eccentric genius of Dougie. They played a good mix of old and new songs at Mugstock and one thing you notice about a Mickey 9s crowd is they just can't help but be swept up into the dancing, writhing mass it becomes, lose your inhibitions, let go, and dance, and Dougie will show you how if you need it. The Mickeys are still touring plenty, with a new album due for release 1st of October at their 'Galactic Radio Launch' in a secret location, we will also be treated that night to The Mickey 9s on vinyl for the first time! Looking forward to it.
The Rum Diaries
After a night of intense debauchery I woke up in my tent (which must have been erected at some point, somehow), I'm clutching a bottle of spiced rum like a baby as I slumber, and I wake up with intense dehydration, no need to slash my way out the tent this time as I locate the exit easily and go to crawl outside with a mouth that feels like its been chewing sandpaper all night.
Now, I'm not above skipping coffee and breakfast and going straight to alcohol on any morning, a nice cold bottle of Budweiser with condensation dripping from its neck, an ice cold ante-jentacular Scrumpy Jack, a fresh orange with ice and vodka, a coffee-laced cold, smooth White Russian... Not, however, straight, warm rum, even I'm not that much of an alcoholic, but I'm at a festival, so I'm not going to get any of the aforementioned desires, I will however, happily settle for a mixer, any mixer, and no sooner has the thought left my head and I crawl through the tentflaps than a golden beam of sunlight highlights a large carton sitting upright in the grass outside my tent...
...Now, I know what you're thinking and you're wrong. You're thinking I crawled out my tent, mixed the rum with the stuff in the carton and ended up drinking rum and piss, no, drinking piss is David Spence's job, it did not happen that morning, sorry to disappoint. What did happen however, was much better, for me. The thing that attracted my attention the most about the carton was that it was a carton of... Um Bongo!
"What the fuck? Um Bongo? That drink has been obsolete since the nineties? How is this here? Has this carton of Um Bongo (that they drink in the Congo) time-traveled to this festival through a wormhole in spacetime and collective consciousness that I opened while tripping on DMT last night? Wait a minute! Um Bongo... Um... Bongo... Rum... RUM BONGO!!"
It's a fucking sign! And it's a big 2 litre carton of the shit, goes nicely with my litre of rum! Well, you can't ignore the signs when they're there. First, I check the carton out, it's unopened, dry, doesn't smell of piss, and it's just sitting here in this field of tents with no discernible owner in sight!? Fuck it. I crack open the time-traveled, god-sent juice, pour a bit out, top it back up with rum and take a tentative sip...
...It's fucking amazing! The marriage of flavours betwixt the tropical congo drink and the spiced rum dances on my tongue like a party where everyone's invited! I immediately wake up my dazed girlfriend and make her try some, then I'm on a mission, going round the campsite and then the rest of the festival letting everyone share the joy of this discovery, and everybody who tries it, agrees, they fucking love it too!
About 2 hours later we're on our way to see music and the last of the Rum Bongo is just getting drained off as I meet Kami Minkrap coming down the path. One swig is left, it has to be mine, I was the messiah of this heavenly drink, I take the last mouthful and I'm savouring it, enjoying that beautiful taste one last time, when Garry Barstow says "Err, you're drinking the tooth plaque of every motherfucker you've passed that bottle to" BLEEEEEEEUUUUURGH!! I spat it out in disgust, that fucking bastard ruined my last taste of Rum Bongo!!
The last we heard of Mog he was going off on his travels, he played his penultimate final gig at the NHC shop itself and then off he went. One of Glasgow's greatest rappers. Off the radar for a while he now returns, and what's this? He's got a band with him now!? A rock band!? Sounds fucking awesome, what they called? Simmons Is Old!? And so we went to see them, to see Mog again and intrigued by this new project.
They took to the Corrie Stage about 7pm on the Saturday. A bearded Mog looking salubrious and flanked by a trio of alternative-looking musicians. This band is so hot off the press they haven't even got a Facebook page yet. I can't say if this is their very first gig but it's definitely one of their first. Not that you would know by the tight musicianship going on on stage. Punky, emo, rock interlaced with the band's soaring vocals and Mog's genius mike skills. I know Mog's a big fan of rock because of all the t-shirts I've seen him wearing when I've met him, so he's in his element with a rock band to rap over.
It's sort of like Scotland's answer to the Transplants, rap meets rock done well. We've got some rare footage here for you, from Mugstock filmed by Garry Barstow so check them out:
The Gonzo Division are huge fans of The Twistettes, and The Twistettes are big fans of the Gonzo Division and NHC in general, so there's a mutual love there, but behind that mutual love there is their music, which is simply brilliant. Their album 'Jilt The Jive' is a mainstay on my turntable and no matter how many times I see them I'm always blown away by them, and when you say blown away in reference to The Twistettes, you mean it literally. At the first Mugstock I was down the campsite and they alerted me to the fact they had started their set simply by playing. Miles away from the stage, and I can still hear that pounding drum and thumping bass, and I can hear it clearly! This gave rise to me christening them the second loudest band after Motorhead, and then Lemmy died, sooooo...
At this year's Mugstock I was milling about the stage and I said to the people I was with, 'I'm really surprised I haven't seen a Gonzo Division tee shirt this weekend, there's usually a few'. Within mere seconds of those words leaving my lips I hear The Twistettes starting up on stage behind me, turn, and once again there is Jo D'Arc with our tshirt on and making it look really good. Once again, they blew us away with their fantastic set, I grabbed a Twistettes tshirt, put it on and moshed about joyously right up to their amazing cover of 'What's Up?'* by the 4 Non Blondes (which, in my opinion, shits all over the original, which is rare in a cover). The rest of the Gonzo Division turned up for the Twistettes' brilliant set and afterwards, we sojourned to the Gonzo Campsite where we took magic mushrooms and Spence thought he was a giant spider and we were all his spider legs !?
* I always thought that song was called 'What's Going On', well there you go, mustn't have wanted to clash with Marvin Gaye
The Exodus From Ibrox To Equinox
The reason I said earlier The Mickey 9s were arguably the best band in Scotland, was because the Girobabies exist. Whenever we all get together from our various social circles that all create this music scene, it is like the end of a pilgrimage to a mecca each time we stand in front of the Girobabies, as they play, and their music washes over us and cleanses us and creates a euphoric state of collective being. It really is that good. I listen to the Giros all the time at home, and I still feel like everytime I see them live it's like the first time hearing them all over again, and that's a special trait for a band to have. Equinox is the anthem of the past two years, the hymn of our scene and the psalm of the summer.
The chemistry that creates the Girobabies is an alloying of various genius, with talented drummer Gordy flanked by brilliant guitarists Jo D'Arc and Robbie Gunn on bass and guitar respectively and Jess providing awesome psychedelic keyboard, as well as being fronted by Mark, who has all the skills a frontman needs and more. His ability to ad-lib, rap, articulate, improvise, and carry the whole thing along with a raconteur style is very impressive. There's never a Girobabies malfunction that effects them too much when Mark is at the helm because he can regale any crowd without even the aid of instruments.
Stoned At Henge
I saw Henge back at the Yellow Movement Club Night at Oran Mor at the beginning of June and it was truly an awe-inspiring spectacle, there's a handful of local bands out there today that are really pushing the boundaries of their art in the way that bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis did back in the seventies, and Henge is one of them. With dancing frogs, aliens, psychedelic light shows, and a frontman who is dressed like some sort of interplanetary shaman complete with a vandergraff for a hat, that's right, a vandergraff! Suffice to say, you don't need to drop acid at a Henge show to feel like you're on acid, and if you do drop acid at a Henge show well hold on tight, cos' you're in for a king hell bastard of a trip! It's not just the spectacle though, it's the music, a psychedelic mix of rock and electro and word music and jazz and, well, everything, to compliment perfectly the trippy stageshow.
So at Mugstock I took a seat at the bench to skin up and enjoy Henge again in all their demented genius. Next to me, a guy with no throat, you know, like one of those things you press to talk when you've literally lost your throat to smoking, was eating lumps of hash, he offered me some to put in my joint on top of the grass, even though he doesn't smoke it anymore, and he was a really nice, gregarious guy and we shared the Henge experience and his hash together, marveling stoned at the outlandish displays and sounds coming from the stage.
Henge finished off with their phenomenal song 'Demilitarize' which goes 'We demand, that the weapons of war, are manufactured no more, demilitarize, we demand that we have in its place, the means to unite, and colonize space' this is chanted over and over to a rising psychedelic sound and long after Henge finish their set the crowd have kept the chant up and the band and the fans alike are congo-ing around our joint-rolling table where we too are swept up in the craze, (I wish we could say we were congo-ing drinking Rum Bongo, but it was long drank by this point in the weekend) and Henge and the throatless man and the crowd and I, congoed off into the sunset and into a bright flash of white light and were never seen again...
Colonel Mustard Part Two
I didn't spend much time seeing bands for a change at this festival, I spent more time socialising with the crowd and tripping the Light Fantastic, usually at a festival I'm running around like a headless chicken on ketamine, trying to catch bands, interview folk, and review live performances to piece together an article, but this time I decided to take it easy and just mingle and get high. So I remember when Colonel Mustard were playing, but I remember when they were playing because I was nearby talking to a tree who had some very interesting things to say about how good they were, but I didn't have my dictaphone!
A couple of weeks ago I interviewed THE Lars Frederiksen, did I mention that? Can't remember if I did or not. And he was talking about how bands become bigger than their individual members, they cease to belong to the band and they start to belong to the fans and it proliferates profusely and prolifically from there. None more so than Colonel Mustard, their fanbase these days is tremendous and keeps growing. The reason is they have good music, they really know how to put on a show and bring the party to you, and they love their fans and view each and every one of them as a member of the band. If you haven't seen them you're in for a treat, so get out there and do that immediately as they are touring further and further afield.
On the last night I drank it away with Colin Syme and 'Chester Mortimer Winthrope' of Colonel Mustard, alongside my girlfriend and Garry Barstow we were literally the last men standing, albeit obliquely, I invented a stupid song that goes 'What does your girlfriend drive? She drives a Jimnyyyyyyyyy' and we sang it all night long as we drank enough booze to get the whole Yellow Movement drunk and fell through people's tents. A great end to a great weekend. And as far 'She Drives A Jimny', it's still stuck in people's heads now, I dunno' if the Dijons are struggling for new material on their next album but that's definitely worthy of a b-side, or a hidden track! Haha.
Kelburn is also a Gonzo Division favourite, in a professional capacity we covered it for 4 years running and in a personal one we attended it as punters since its inception. We flowered as the Gonzo Division alongside a flourishing Kelburn festival. So it's good now that I've moved back to Glasgow from Ayrshire that a similar-vibed event is just on our doorstep. Mugstock is in my top 5 festivals at the moment and it's only going to get better I think, so I'll see you there in 2017!
Seeya' in the stocks!