Headlining the multi-site music festival this year are Russian agit-prop art collective Pussy Riot and they’re definitely one of the biggest draws, the faded grandeur of the Maryhill Community Halls proves an oddly apt venue for their relentless pummelling performance – a musical adaptation of Maria Alyokhina’s prison memoir Riot Days. It’s stark and bleak, spares no detail and is impossible to look away from.
It’s an appropriate way to close out a day full of inspiring acts – earlier in the day Brighton trio Lambrini Girls pack multiple stage dives, a circle pit and a ‘fuck the Tories’ chant into their combative punk thrash. A sarcastic wit and raised middle finger powering through new single ‘Help Me, I’m Gay’ and crowd favourite ‘Craig David’. Excellently named young Glaswegians Bin Juice have a naive shambling C86 charm behind their largely food-based set – opener ‘Chippy’ bringing a surprising extended Sonic Youth-y drone section to their split seven girl band sound.
Live favourites Los Bitchos’ multi-percussion cumbia attack takes the uplifting and dance-driven approach of ESG or Liquid Liquid through a big Tropicalia filter, to make for a joyous hour of funk that coincides with the bars starting to kick into full swing. A pure party of a set that inspires the first ‘one more tune’ chant of the day.
ǴENN are one of the early highlights of the day, a band that feel very suited to the sweaty brickwork basement of the Hug & Pint, singer Leona Farrugia pacing the small stage like a boxer warming up. They feel like the last gang in town, enjoying each other’s playing with a quietly skilled musicianship behind them; tight, sinewy bass and guitar lines weaving together.
There are gentler moments too – Scottish Jazz Awards Rising Star nominee Cara Rose has a delicate power in the hushed surroundings of the Mackintosh Church and Núria Graham has an idiosyncratic alien charm, but it’s the unflinching stare and the uncompromising honesty of the exiled Russian headliners that will stay in the mind long after the bars close tonight.