Music review: Optimo 20

Optimo founders Jonnie Wilkes and Keith Twitch McIvor
Optimo founders Jonnie Wilkes and Keith Twitch McIvor
Share this article
0
Have your say

“I wanna see all my friends at once,” read the large sign hanging above the main dancefloor, and that’s what this unique one-day mini-festival represented. It wasn’t just a chance for Optimo (Espacio), arguably Glasgow’s most influential musical phenomenon of this century, to celebrate 20 years since it began as an obscure weekly Sunday-nighter at the Sub Club on Jamaica Street, but an opportunity for its army of loyal fans to return from elsewhere in the country or the world and relive what made Optimo so special.w

SWG3 Galvanizer’s Yard, Glasgow *****

Not that Optimo isn’t anything but urgent and alive, however, and that’s at least in part down to the eclecticism (although they hate that word) of its founders Keith ‘Twitch’ McIvor and Jonnie Wilkes, whose marrying of styles from disco to post-punk and techno to afrobeat has inspired famed Glaswegians like Franz Ferdinand and Hudson Mohawke, as well as international friends like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

This event – held over three rooms at converted industrial space SWG3, including a 1,000-capacity new gig space – represented that sonic diversity perfectly, with bands in one of the smaller rooms including the influential experimental group Nurse With Wound, reconvened for a cathartic set of head-flaying drone noise; electro-punks Adult, themselves celebrating 20 years to the day since their first gig; and the Ghanaian kologo player King Ayisoba, an artist with the perfect dancefloor-moving qualities for this gig.

In the smaller, sweat-packed Poetry Club there were DJ sets from Ben UFO and the sublime all-female trio from Copenhagen by way of Glasgow, Apeiron Crew, while the big hall gradually filled up over the day until a capacity sea of dancers greeted Twitch, Wilkes and their special guest, Chicago’s international DJ of the moment the Black Madonna, for a thundering finale. Like the musical legacy these innovators continue to create for Glasgow, this was a party filled with good feeling and raw, edgy euphoria.

DAVID POLLOCK