Us humans are inherently curious creatures. We live for the buzz and we rush to see what it’s all about no matter the circumstance. If people get excited about something, it is only natural to want a bit of the action. That is the main reason that led me to Glasgow’s SWG3 to watch Goat’s show.
I was pretty familiar with their music, but as they represent a scene that I am not particularly associated with, I couldn’t subscribe to the frantic reactions I was witnessing left, right and centre regarding their discography. I love the ethnic/world vibe their music oozes with it, but it’s something about the constantly high-pitched female vocals that puts me off after a few track listens. It’s no coincidence that I am more attracted to their instrumental offerings than anything else.
Anyway, about the gig.
SWG3 is a reasonably spacious venue, often serving other purposes than gigs (art exhibitions, etc.) It is less convenient than other Glaswegian venues that are more centrally located, but it’s ties with the 'classier' West End are obvious, which can also be said about a number of the peculiarly attired residents that night.
Glasgow locals, Trembling Bells, were the nights first opening act. They introduce themselves as an experimental folk-rock-psychedelic band and I have no reason to question that statement.
Their music was well-fitted to the occasion, but as I am not the biggest fan of the scene, I often found myself getting distracted, even though technically they were pretty much top-notch. A pace change where vocal duties were assigned to the drummer and some switch-arounds between instruments occurred was well-welcomed and probably a highlight of their set to me.
Next on the bill were Lay Llamas, who I just now realize hail from Sicily. These guys’ musical stylings were closer to my personal tastes, and I generally found their set to be very enjoyable. Utilizing psychedelia as a backbone for their music, they flooded the venue with their grandiose sound, sprinkled with electronic undertones, distorted yet atmospheric vocals, to-the-point, albeit restricted bass-lines, and very interesting drum parts.
It seemed to me that a lot of their music is based on repetition and build-ups which is a concept that clearly works for them. Certain other things – such as adding less mainstream instrumentation to the mix like flutes or maracas – gave a rather unique tone to their sound, which also came to terms with the overall theme of the evening.
If I had to say one bad thing about them, it would probably have to do with their general artistic approach. For example, if we were to read one of the blurbs in their Bandcamp profile, you would notice certain phrases such as “Brainmatic panorama”, “a slow march for psychedelic warriors on the unknown planet”, etc. I don’t know – it’s probably just my fault for having an issue with obscure, too-over-the-top statements like that. Oh well.
It was now time for the main course. Black, long tunics, masks, flip flops. Goat's 5 main musicians walked on stage and took their place relatively in the back, leaving the front free for what was yet to come. Two female figures appeared on stage. Garbed in peculiar loose clothing, barefoot, both hiding their faces behind intricately decorated masks with sequences and feathers. Each was sporting a large wooden staff, too feathered. That was precisely the time the madness started and this was no longer a gig, but a ritual, some sort of spiritual event. Pure madness. Goat’s two frontwomen danced, jumped around, and chanted like there was no tomorrow. I have no idea what they were doing. Whether it was African black magic, Haitian voodoo or something else, it didn’t matter, as the Glaswegians were under their spell.
As I mentioned before, their vocals tend to disagree with my musical taste, but that didn’t seem to be the case that night. First of all, I was surprised how consistently on mark they were. They were practically indistinguishable from the studio recordings. I reached the conclusion that Goat’s music is more of an experience rather than a casual listen. The intense visual aspect of their performance -in tandem with the truly great and inspiring musical one- really enhances the experience and creates a unique atmosphere that I haven’t witnessed during a live concert before.
To be honest, I was prepared to be completely underwhelmed, but the truth is there wasn’t a single dull moment in their performance. Tireless priestesses, great musicians and an overall mystic atmosphere summed up to be a great time. Plus, who can say that he looked in to the eyes of a frontwoman and consequently was scared shitless?
Setlist (with a pinch of salt):
Talk To God
Let It Bleed
Gathering Of Ancient Tribes
The Light Within
Run To Your Mama
Hide From The Sun
The Sun The Moon
Det Som Aldrig Forandras