Gig review: Simple Things Festival, Glasgow

THE popularity of city festivals has risen in recent years, particularly in Glasgow where the supply of densely-packed venues is high and the logistics of floating from one to another between bands becomes so much easier.
Seminal English electronic label Warps old-stager Nightmares on Wax. Picture: GettySeminal English electronic label Warps old-stager Nightmares on Wax. Picture: Getty
Seminal English electronic label Warps old-stager Nightmares on Wax. Picture: Getty

Simple Things Festival

Various venues, Glasgow


The city has played host to Stag & Dagger, Hinterland and Tenement Trail in that time, and some have thrived while others have gone. Yet this first (and hopefully not last) instalment of Simple Things is singular amongst them all in that the focus is almost exclusively on electronic music.

In which case, it’s chosen the right city to come to. Originally established in Bristol in 2011, this Glasgow venture has been described as a “satellite” event to the original, but that makes it sound somehow second rate. Yet it definitely wasn’t, with some of the finest electronic musicians in the country populating a bill which spread itself across both rooms – upstairs hall and downstairs bar – in Sauchiehall Street’s ABC, the student union of the Art School just behind the ABC, and the small gig basement in Broadcast, just a short obstacle race through well-oiled Halloween casualties away.

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A 12-hour event which ran from three in the afternoon until three in the morning, the festival saw its theoretical headliners spread out across the whole timescale.

The work of seminal English electronic label Warp flourished here, with old-stager Nightmares On Wax appearing around teatime and pillar of the imprint Clark (the mononymic Chris Clark) taking the traditional concert headline slot in the upstairs room of the ABC, playing a set of pounding, intelligent techno from within a large, strobe-battered perspex cube.

Perhaps with some irony, Warp’s big two Glasgow-sourced signings (Rustie and Hudson Mohawke) weren’t here, but one of their defining acts was booked, with glitching experimentalists Autechre scheduled to appear late into the night.

Even with a couple of cancellations however, (illness-afflicted psych-rock explorers Hookworms and producer Actress were sadly missed), this was a show rich in stunning leftfield music: some of it bass-heavy and ripe for dancing; some of it richly mindbending; none of it steeped in the clichés of the genre’s commercial wing.

With DJs like Éclair Fifi and Vitamins and producers like Joe Howe (woefully under-attended and wonderfully eclectic at Broadcast) and Dalhous (thunderingly atmospheric in the darkness amidst his stage smoke and video projections) it was also a reminder of what everybody knows, that Scotland’s – and particularly Glasgow’s – contribution to the international electronic music scene is strong.

Hopefully Simple Things has found a permanent home to return to.