TIS THE season for alternative parties, so Glasgow’s Phantom Band, in collaboration with the 85a artists collective, have conceived this Phestive Phantomime, which transformed Stereo’s basement into a handcrafted haunted theatre.
It was propelled by a loose-linking narrative concerning an embittered janitor driven to arson after watching one too many pantomimes, but now condemned to relive Christmas shows past as punishment.
Ghostly ushers directed the audience to boo all of the acts and Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway played the festive folkloric demon, Krampus, as a malevolent master of ceremonies, introducing a succession of musical guests whose performances fitted remarkably well with the atmosphere and aesthetic of the event.
The Muscles of Joy’s weird sister folky incantations were mostly cast using percussion and overlapping voices raised in tribal ululation, guttural growls and haunting harmony, while Tut Vu Vu created a stealthy swampy soundtrack for the tormented souls of dead theatregoers, peppered with disjointed piano, distressed trumpet flurries and dread jazz fanfares.
Holy Mountain were more of an anomaly, being three hairy men in wife-beater vests playing hugely enjoyable, energetic and groove-laden stoner boogie.
Some members of the Phantom Band were more willing to get into the dress-up spirit than others – oh yes they were – by donning the spangly robes of a disco death cult, but as a performing troupe they stole the show with a celebratory, surging set combining a host of influences – rock, electro, indie, folk – with seamless audacity and hooks to spare.