On Monday 7th February, two Glasgow Uni Expedition teams organized a Band Night at the infamous Captain’s Rest. The event was a fundraiser to send the teams out to Peru and Bolivia this coming summer, conducting scientific research on the ecology of two the most far flung and fascinating regions in the world. Alex Embiricos delved deep into the basement of the ‘Rest to soak in the musical talents, the electric atmosphere, and learn more about these daring student adventurers.
The Manu area of the Peruvian Amazon is a biologists dream come true, boasting 1,300 species of butterflies (15% of the world total), 800 species of birds (9%) and 160 species of mammals (4%). It is one of the most bio diverse region on the planet. Yet logging destroys this rainforest faster than it can regenerate, and although the Manu area is now protected, its history can not be forgotten. Six students are organising, funding, and executing an expedition deep into previously unexplored Amazon, adding new data to world wide information resources on the flaura and fauna proving just how invaluable the region is. This band night is only one rung on the ladder to raise the funds required to send the team hurtling half way across the world, and they need your help- after all, the devil is in the details.
The cause was kicked off by an acoustic set by Merchant. Lead singer Andrew crooned into the mic more persuasively than his young appearance would suggest. They showed a charming potential with some slide guitar being pulled out and a member of the audience shouting “sounds better without the drums!” Although lacking confidence at times they finished their set with a perfectly melancholic rendition of Lou Reeds ‘Perfect Day’, complete with energy and soaring vocals.
Next to plunder the stage were the Glasgow based 5-piece rockers, Jury. Describing their songs as “Pish music” their bawdy stage presence revved the night up a notch with thumping drums, like a sprinters heartbeat, thrusting the audience into their first song. Along with growling guitars and the lead singers nonchalant, Liam Gallagher-esque charm, one couldn’t help jerking their knee to the melee of influences and styles jostling together on the stage. One couldn’t help notice that ‘judge’ was a pretty accurate name to chose, so in your face was the attitude, with just the right dose of asshole, to make tunes like ‘Black Cat’ steam.
The influences of Room 039 reads like a late 60’s/early 70’s wet dream, yet the stage seems sparse with only the bare minimum of guitar (Ian O’Donnell), drums (Mark Hinds) and bass (Kenny Campbell). The trio give off an almost uncanny air, and like an unusual taste on the tongue. the beat started up purposefully stiff joined by O’Donnell’s warbling vocals. Like an acquired taste, the warbling seemed to rise to an Alice Cooper-esque snarl, and the band launched into an extended guitar solo ringing with technical ability. O’Donnell masterfully played with the voice and tone of his Fender, swinging his arm jauntily, singing “I could play this guitar four and a half times behind my back.” The mentality of their music is addictive, like a Spaghetti Western which has done too many drugs, this is music for the thinking guitar man. By the time they finish their set with a stunning rendition of Purple Haze, laden with wah and reverb, Ian’s quirky charisma makes perfect sense.
Next up were Perth music students Me and Mr. Groove who effortlessly jived through their first Glasgow gig, oozing street savvy charm and cool. Soulful front man Jay Cameron twanged off some riffs off his vintage fender telecaster, and slid into ‘Poker in Harlem’ like a character out of American Gangster. The band would have been completely at home in an old underground speakeasy. A night for Hendrix, ‘Little Wing’ was introduced saying: “you’ve heard the heavier side, now let’s make it more mellow”. Leading on from this ‘The Knowing’ had the crowd were well and truly seduced. Their set ended with the candid ‘Caffeine, Coffee and Carrot Cake’ about “a really skinny girl’, and the first keyboard solo GUM has heard in ages. Look out for their EP being recorded now.
Finally Dundee based Kings and Cowards stepped on, with the drummer immediately stripping his shirt off in the expectation of sweat. An instrumental intro built up to their Swedish born vocalist, Isabella Melking, exploding on stage and launching her deep vocals into the depths of their classic rock roots. Lead guitarist Gavin Holloway was the perfect finger tapping foil to founder and guitarist Chris Simmons. ‘Fever Dog’ was played in a truly Almost Famous moment, with Melking bouncing around like a pogo stick, before launching into their own excellent take Zeppelin’s ‘Bring It On Home’. Look out for their EP ‘American Beauty Bag’ being released this month.