When a band comes to Glasgow from Dublin, via mainland Europe and that England, the least you can do is turn up for them. Gurriers didn’t have the time to sample fine Glaswegian cuisine or what passes for nightlife on a Monday before hitting the road back down south. All they had time for was pints, and a set in McChuills. They made the most of both opportunities.
Starting with a new song isn’t a massive risk when most of the audience are unfamiliar with your set, but well before the end of the track, you got the sense the crowd were on board.
Perhaps they were waiting for front man Dan Hoff to usher them forward to the stage, but by the time previous single ‘Boy’ kicked in, there were folk ready to kick off. This is a spiky one, all angular guitars, ensuring the band fits with the popular post-rock bracket so prevalent for Irish bands these days. It’s a great song, but it’s worth it for the howled pay-off line at the end of the verses alone.
When a new band only has a couple of songs on Spotify or Bandcamp, YouTube is often the saviour when it comes to hearing fresh tunes. A clip of ‘Sign of The Times’ from their set in Rotterdam last week ensured that I knew something good was looming when it was introduced, and it didn’t disappoint.
There were a few songs where the group cut loose, and while many bands speak of a dance element to their music, Gurriers walk the walk, or dance the dance, if you will. The interesting thing here is it’s not just the standard indie boys making music for the art school girls to dance to (although, let’s be honest, there is nothing wrong with that), there are proper grooves on show here. Even tracks like ‘Top of the Bill’ and ‘Come and See’ which are slower in pace are not lacking in drive and determination. There are peaks and troughs, but no matter the track, there was something going on to keep you moving.
As has been said, it does a man good to cut loose once in a while, and that of course goes for everyone.
Closer ‘Approachable’ is familiar to those who listen to the band on streaming services, and with new recordings of previously familiar tracks coming soon, there will likely be sharper versions to follow, if the live version is anything to go by.
As Dan said, it was the one last chance to have it, and no one was standing on the side-lines idling by. The forbearing lull before the final flurry was ideally placed for one last push, and long before 9pm on a Monday night.
Throughout the set, the drums and piercing guitar lines were a highlight, part of the measured energy displacement which saw the show fly by fast. Gurriers will be back, no doubt better equipped to see what Glasgow has to offer, let’s be ready for them.
Headliners Chappaqua Wrestling were pretty clean and polished, unlike that pint of Brooklyn Brewery lager I had nearly ten years ago [Ed: not holding that grudge too long then] in the same venue. The haters might say it was the presence of eight pints before the dodgy one that was the issue, but as simpletons on social media are prone to saying, ‘when you know, you know’. Anyways, it’s not as if that has stopped me from going back to the great venue on the High Street, and with shows of this calibre, it should be recognised as more of a gig destination, alongside its fantastic club and DJ events.
The dual vocals of Charlie Woods and Jake Mac on many of the choruses gave the impression of a huge band, one accustomed to much larger venues than this. There’s an assuredness about Chappaqua Wrestling which suggests they’ll go further.
From pop-punk sneers to shoegaze daydreams, the variety on offer made a moderate set seem much longer, and not in a bad way. It’s great when you can’t pigeonhole a band on first listen, as it means lazy writers need to do a bit of thinking before spilling their thoughts out to the world.
The band are a few lengths further down the road than their support compadres, with crowd interaction and builds coming more naturally, paying off with an audience that was already won over. When you can adlib to cover a singer nipping backstage mid-set, to a Glaswegian audience, you know you’ve paid your dues.
A great evening out for any day of the week, let alone a grim October Monday, and two bands on different paths with distinct styles, but both with plenty of opportunities ahead. The future looks brighter than the night upon funnelling back into the foot of the city centre, and sometimes, that’s all you need from up-and-coming acts. It might be the hope that kills you in the end, but you’d rather have the lift it brings on the way than nothing at all.
Photos: Andy Reilly