Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas knows that nothing there is done in moderation and everything is to excess.

So it would make sense that Glasvegas, a relatively new rock band from Scotland whose name combines Glasgow and Las Vegas, treats each song as an epic anthem. Every musician I’ve interviewed has told me that they don’t set out to write hit songs, fair enough, but Glasvegas writes songs to be big. Maybe not radio hits, but songs that just sound big.

Glasvegas’ debut, self-titled album was just released domestically last Tuesday but they’ve amassed quite a following as of late. Their single “Daddy Gone” was released in 2007 and another, “Geraldine” was featured in a Rhapsody commercial. Judging by the crowd at their sold out, Saturday night show at Chop Suey, they have many, many passionate fans; some may say “unruly”. Before their 45 minute set, I met a perfectly lovely couple from Washington DC who scheduled their vacation to Seattle around this show. My TIG colleague and plus one, Cory Banks, put it best, though, when he said the band “turned the crowd into a bunch of soccer hooligans.” There were a lot of “soccer hooligans” in the crowd – a small group of people pouring beer on one another and loudly trying to sing along (albeit out of tune and time). That wasn’t the largest group, just the most aggressive and vocal.

Opening the show was Carl Barat, formerly of The Libertines (his fantastic, garage punk band with Pete Doherty) and Dirty Pretty Things. He had his own fan club in the packed club, many of whom sung along to his solo versions of Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things songs. He sounded very good through the Chop Suey PA and held the attention of the crowd although it was just him and his guitar on stage (a nice juxtaposition with Glasvegas, whose sound is huge). Barat played for only about 25 minutes but he was captivating throughout his time on stage. He closed his brief set with The Libertines’ minor classic “Can’t Stand Me Now.”

After Barat, the wait for Glasvegas was a long 35 minutes. I was growing impatient and more and more cramped in the crowd and twittered a couple of bitchy comments about the delay while waiting. When Glasvegas finally did come on stage, they opened with “Flowers and Football Tops” and proceeded to rock the hell out. The “soccer hooligans” in the crowd were chanting the chorus to “Go Square Go” as the band was getting ready to come on stage – and throughout most of the set. “Here we, here we, here we fucking go.”

Singer James Allan looks like a lot like Joe Strummer and his vocal delivery is somewhere between Strummer and Bruce Springsteen. The whole band has a fondness for black clothing. Live, they sound like Jesus and Mary Chain meets Muse. They had a Phil Spector-like Wall of Sound, built mostly around Rab Allan’s guitar parts. Nearly each song had a slow buildup into something larger. They definitely project to be a band whose sound fills up larger venues better than smaller ones; there’s little intimacy in Glasvegas’ sound.

Aside from one false start (before the song “Please Come Back Home” – which James Allan apologized for by saying “sorry, our drummer just fucked up”), the band was tight and focused on their set. They sounded like a competent, well-polished rock band. They don’t have a lot of songs in their catalogue – yet, so the set seemed short (only about ten minutes longer than the time between Carl Barat finished and Glasvegas began) but it wasn’t disappointing. They did get to all (or nearly all) of the songs on Glasvegas and they sounded especially good when closing with “Daddy Gone”.

Glasvegas could become a very, very big rock band. They have an accessible sound and with a big guitar parts and catchy choruses that the crowds chant along to. I am curious to hear what direction the band takes next. Although their potential is limitless, the huge buildups on every song can seem excessive. I just don’t want to tell that to a bunch of soccer hooligans.