Photography provided exclusively for NHC by Foxoza Media
“There are words, there’s music, there’s silence, there’s gesture…” ~ T.M
Down The Rabbit Hole We Go…
NHC Gonzo Division reporting from the frontlines and frontiers of the Yellow Movement, with their latest glorious event; Musicians Against Homelessness at the legendary Barrowlands Ballroom. The Barras is built of memories and experience and feeling. Everyone in Glasgow has special moments which happened there and needless to say pretty much anybody who is anybody in popular music worldwide has graced that stage.
When you enter the Barras, you can feel all that, all that energy of the past, coming together in one long fine flash. Can a building retain a memory? It’s often said of hospitals, places where lives are born into being, but also where souls shuffle off the Shakespearian mortal coil. Some say that buildings retaining memory are the reason for ghost sightings. It’s also been said that mental impressions during emotional and traumatic events can be projected in the form of energy and “recorded” onto rocks or walls or other objects and even be replayed under certain conditions!
The idea that environmental elements are capable of storing traces of human thoughts and emotions was first introduced by multiple 19th century scholars and philosophers. Some even speculated that spoken words leave permanent impressions in the air, even though they become inaudible after time. It was suggested that it was possible due to transfer of motion between particles.
After the 19th century came the belief in psychometry, (that it is possible to obtain knowledge about history associated with an object through physical contact with it). In the 20th century the idea was re-popularised by speculation of scientists about the “psychic ether” (an intermediate medium between physical and spiritual reality) which can enable objects to carry traces of emotions or experiences from the past. Archaeologist Lethbridge also said that past events were stored in a field of energy that surrounds mountains, or large stone objects, think, the pyramids, but let’s not open that Pandora ’s Box in this already far too loquacious article…
Stones can certainly store memories if the information is carried on light; light entering a crystal is slowed all the way to a stop, where it remains until we let it go. When we do let it go we get out essentially everything that went in as a three-dimensional hologram, accurate right down to the last photon. Nature has shown us that information from the past can be stored for very long periods of time in the form of fossils, ice cores, and in magnetic particles in rocks that record the history of magnetic reversals of the Earth’s poles.
In the modern age we store information on all sorts of substances, from polymers in the form of magnetic tape, to new types of optical discs which etch information onto a ceramic substrate rather than the conventional plastic. And then there’s the silicon chip, which is information stored on what is essentially sand, sand which is fundamentally stone and rock. And in more primitive times; sticks, hair, tablets, bones, and shells were all used to convey information by way of painting or scraping on them.
Back to the Barras; and “It’s almost impossible to conceive of the hopes and the fantasies and the ecstasy and the dreams that have been generated by and are centred on this venue, and this ballroom, the surroundings reflect the internal cosmology of the men and women who have passed through them.
This building is a distillery of emotions, the prima materia is love, hope, joy, passion, heated within its walls and brought to a high temperature; in a fevered, caloric state it then rises into the higher empyrean, and once there, rarefied, it condenses, liquefies, and flows down the walls as sweat, into the cooler domain of the memory, here, in the limbic system of the brain, the essence is collected in the form of reminiscences, and always the hope is the next experiment, the next combination of energies, will yield the elixir vitae, the lapis philosophorum. All the people we see around us at these events, and all the instruments of music that are used, are used in the service of channelling spirit out of matter, and into the higher realms where it then can be refluxed and recondensed, and the stone of the philosopher’s, the central mystery, can be brought to completion. The transformation of matter into a universal panacea for the redemption of mankind. The alchemy of music and matter!”
OUT THE RABBIT HOLE WE COME…
Wow, I really followed the white rabbit there! Sorry about that, back to the Barras, which is making some new memories in its walls, by hosting some of the best talent Scotland has to offer, for multiple charitable causes. And kicking things off nicely were Dead Man Fall with their powerful and intoxicating concoction of pop, indie, electronic, rock and tribal beats, a very percussive band that enthral the senses! Band member Vincent Brownlow said of the gig on the band’s page;
“The Barras has been a big part of my life, my mum and dad first met there back when it was a proper ballroom, I was never out the place in the 90’s, my first ever proper gig was there, I remember the unbelievable atmosphere, getting drenched in sweat and thinking ‘this needs to be my life now!’ Massive thanks to everyone who came along [that] night. It’s safe to say it was a bucketlist moment for me!”
One of my favourite artists Jackal Trades absolutely fucking smashed it at the Barras for the album launch of ‘Trip Hazard Advisor’ which you can buy here https://jackaltrades.bandcamp.com/album/trip-hazard-advisor and by the time you read this my review of it should have been published too. Mark and his cohorts put in a lot of work to have the album ready for the gig in less than two weeks! Every single time I see Jackal Trades they pull something out the bag and completely surprise me! Mark came out to the intro track for the new record ‘Checking In Where We Left Off’ he was all gangster in a full suit and shades and looking cool as fuck, but also like a slight anachronism. Before Mark’s appearance, Ciaran Mac intro’d Jackal Trades with his verse from ‘Jack The Lad’ (which acts as a prequel song to the new album). Mark then kicked off the show with tracks from the his new brainchild including ‘House That Jack’ (joined by Ashtronomik), ‘One Star From The Gutter’ and ‘Note to Self-Destruct’, flanked by the brilliant Andy Martin on the decks and the talented Gordy Duncan Jr. on the skins, as well as appearances from guest vocalists Josephine Sillars, Sev Ka and Becca Starr!
What really blew me away though, was when they wheeled out Martin Windebank and Murray McGrinder to add a proper full-band live-feel and played tracks from my fave album of 2016 (Need The Characters), but punked up, twice the speed, (a’la The Ramones, a band who have also shared that stage!) and with a full backing band - that was a real treat for me, and I was buzzing like a chainsaw after that! I was treated to rocked up versions of ‘Charlie Brooker Sketch’ and ‘Shortcut to Longevity’ and you can find the video for one here;
and they topped it all off with an atmospheric rendering of the magnificent ‘Bill Hicks Fans’. Perfect.
I’d never seen The Hollows before, or maybe I did but I was really drunk, possibly the latter, but they fucking smashed it at the Barras gig! They hit us hard and fast with some rollicking hyperspeed punk rock and they galvanised the whole crowd into a loose wire of sparking energy that kept combusting. With songs like ‘Lucifer’s Eyes’, ‘Acquiesce’ and a fucking phenomenal cover of ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld, live and amped up tenfold, which hit at just the right time, in just the right moment, at just the right place, in this small corner of the universe. Some members of the band were overcome with the emotion of it all and so were we; the resonance of that moment will saturate those hallowed walls forever. Find some videos of the set and of The Hollows talking about their Barras experience on their Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/hollowsthe/
If you haven’t heard of Loki in Scotland you’ve been living under a rock; after conquering the local rap scene many years ago and achieving a fair amount of fame from doing so, he went on to become a political activist of sorts, and a chosen voice for the proletariat. Publishing a best-selling book in the form of ‘Poverty Safari’ and scooping the Orwell Prize in doing so. Doing talks, doing spoken word, writing, but all the while maintaining his edge and presence on the hip hop circuit. At the Barras, he took to the stage with the talented Becci Wallace and they delivered a blistering and intense set together. His latest tune is the powerful ‘Don’t Jump’ which can be found right here https://soundcloud.com/mista-loki/loki-the-scottish-rapper-dont-jump and catch Poverty Safari on the road in December https://www.facebook.com/events/200536973923055/ Loki said of the Barras gig on his page;
“Me and Becci put yer maws on the map at the Barrowlands the night bro. Shout out to everyone involved. What a buzz! Also an honour to share a stage with Steg G and Freestyle Master in that venue as they were the first Scottish rappers I seen and it was on that very stage many moons ago.”
From my top album of 2016 (Jackal Trades) earlier in the show, to my top album of 2017 Steg G & The Freestyle Master’s ‘Freedom Frequency’, which plugs right into the collective consciousness. Two bona fide legends of Scottish music, live at the Barras no less! Steg had been expertly providing DJ interludes all night alongside Junior Lazarou but now it was time for him to team up with The Freestyle Master and carpet-bomb the shit out the place (complete with camouflage gear, balaclavas and a couple of mystery henchmen) by dropping songs on the crowd like they were nukes! They intro’d with an explosive rendition of ‘Balance of Power’ and kept the missiles firing throughout an outstanding set, culminating in a poignant version of ‘Song for the Unsung’. For a hip hop duo that are pushing the boundaries of their genre check out the record here https://steg-gandthefreestylemaster.bandcamp.com/album/the-freedom-frequency and find out why it was the best album of 2017! And of course they played ‘Barra Land’, and hearing that song live at the Barrowlands was another one of those perfect moments of universal synchronicity. Check out the video for that awesome tune here;
Most the performances had blown me away already, and some of the best were yet to come! The Mickey 9s are one of the best bands in Glasgow… Scratch that, in Scotland… Nay, in Britain… Fuck it, the world! And they proved it once again, inserting a vein of gold into the proceedings, and taking to the stage with their trademark vigour and aplomb. A weird intergalactic funk/punk crossover with extreme undertones of electronica and 90’s indie, all rolled into one molten lump of gold ore. And they leave us in awe, as they blast us with storming executions of ‘Shark in the Water’, ‘Superman’, ‘Psycho Control’ (with added crowdsurfing and extra oomph!), and ‘Mickey 999’ among other selections from their galactic hitlist. At the end of the set, a huge wave of adoration washed over the crowd, bathed in an aurelian light, for the shear showmanship and powerful vibes that the band were dishing out. Consistently one of the best live experiences around! Check out their incredible music here https://mickey9s.bandcamp.com/
The night could have ended there and it still would have been the gig of the year, the decade, maybe the century (in Scottish music history), but the main event was still to come, in the form of some scintillating ska from the “U.K’s best part-time band” Bombskare! Who offer a startling slice of retro ska madness and bonhomie. Making certain everybody left the gig with a smile on their face and a spring in their step. Skanking circles sprung up everywhere and the band were a ball of alacrity and focused energy. Gonzo Div. cohort and Native-American-For-Hire Kemosabe materialised during their Britney Spears’ cover to hold up a sign saying “this is not ska”, then disappeared again in a wisp of smoke and a flicker of lights !?
What I see happening at events like this is what Terence always envisioned… The birth of a new kind of humanity, one that is not afraid of the unconscious, the psychonauts and the musicians and the spiritual thrill-seekers. A community of artists singing a song we can move in concert to, with moral courage and a true compass. As the species pushes itself towards planetary toxification and extinction it is the artists who are articulating a vision, opening our eyes, and reconnecting us with the intent of the living planet through music. Each artist is an antenna to the transcendental Other. We go with our own history into the Thing and create a confluence of our individuality with its uniqueness. A pairing that will collectively create an arrow out of History, out of Time, perhaps out of Matter itself, which will then, eventually, redeem the idea that man is good…
Beneath that eye-catching ceiling in the Barras, many great moments have unfolded into the fabric of spacetime and been recorded in stone, and last Saturday was no exception. Massive shout out to Dijancer for putting it all together, (Dijancer delivered a stunning version of ‘Killing in the Name Of’ during an interlude, which fairly got the crowd moshing!) Massive respect to each and every artist, who all brought their A-game, and a special mention for comperes Gavin Mitchell and Darren Connell for their brilliant interludes, Gav had a witty comeback to every heckle and a great presence on the stage.
Large crowds coming together for times like this are the remedy to toxic society. Research shows 20mins at a gig can increase your well-being by 21%! More research suggests that going to a concert directly links high levels of well-being with a lifespan increase of nine years. Whether or not that’s true, music in general increases happiness, we all know that! Gatherings of like-minded people resonate with positive frequency and a harmonious collective consciousness; it’s good for the soul, you can feel it right?
“The overcoming of neurosis, of unhappiness, of toxic lifestyles, is the felt presence of immediate experience, in the body, in the moment. Music, song, dance, psychedelics, these are the things which put you in the felt presence of the moment, and that’s really all you ever possess - your memories are eroding away, the futures you anticipate will mostly not come to pass. The real richness is in the domain of feeling, which is primary. Language is not primary, ideology is not primary, the propagation of future and past vectors is not primary, what’s primary is the felt presence of experience, and that is the source of love, that is the source of community. Through the building of community, through the music, and the dissolution of boundaries, the shamans are showing how you create an archaic-style culture after 5,000 years of human history. We can’t abandon technology as there are billions of people on this planet, but the shamans, and the rave culture, and musical movements, are showing us what is best. Creating a community of intelligent caring people that have their heart connected to their head, and their head connected to their feet so that they dance. Feeling, philosophy, sexuality, art, we manifest the creativity that is necessary for us to save ourselves. This is the key, if the expansion of consciousness does not play a major role in the human future, what kind of future would it be!? We need a feeling of unity, feeling is primary.”
Many people were dumping money in buckets all night, because this was, remember, for a charitable cause, and at the time of writing I can report that over £3,500 was raised that night for the charities of Simon Community Scotland and Crisis. If you’d like to donate to those charities find the links for their pages here https://www.facebook.com/SimonCommScot and here https://www.facebook.com/crisis.homeless/ Yet another legend laid to rest at the Barras; until next time, seeya’ in the pit!
C.T. Herron (…and Terence McKenna)