SATURDAY 20 MAY : THE GOON SAX
I was desperate to catch The Goon Sax having missed out on their previous appearance in Glasgow last year. The fact that Raith Rovers had contrived to miss out on the final of the play-offs meant I could get along; if they had made it through the previous Saturday then I might have enjoyed Luke Haines a bit more but on the other hand the scheduled 5.15pm kick off in Kirkcaldy for this particular Saturday would in all likelihood have meant I’d have really struggled to get back by the time the threesome from Brisbane, Australia took to the stage. Small mercies then for supporting such a duff football team.
The band consists of Riley Jones, Louis Forster and James Harrison. Riley plays drums and sings backing vocals; Louis and James take their turns on lead vocals and also consistently swap bass and acoustic guitar with each other. They formed in 2013 and last year released their debut LP, Up to Anything, a rather marvellous 12-song collection of lo-fi but perfectly structured indie-pop songs that capture perfectly just how exciting, scary, zany and confusing life is when you’re in your late teens.
At this point I should mention that the collective age of the trio is around that of your humble scribe who is less than a month away from hitting 54. They only left school at the end of 2016. In other words, they are composing songs about their everyday lives.
They are also not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. This is a trio who would have been incredibly at home when Postcard Records came into being. The tunes are a perfect blend of the very best of Orange Juice, The Modern Lovers and Velvet Underground, along with the most revered band ever to previously emerge out of Brisbane. Think about it – the very fact that two male guitarists take turns on lead vocals alone will draw comparisons with The Go Betweens; throw in that they have a female drummer who is an integral part of their look and sound, and who contributes wonderfully to the self-deprecating tales of awkwardness, geekiness and being lovelorn and you can’t but avoid the obvious.
Oh and of course, Louis Forster has a famous dad from whom he has inherited his looks, talent, charisma and incredible but justified air of confidence.
The thing is, it’s all very well sounding the part on record and looking amazing in all the promo videos and clips that populate the internet. It’s another thing to carry it off in the live setting where so many young bands have a sad tendency to fall short.
I’m going to steal the next few sentences from Comrade Colin’s observations on Facebook; not only does he captures it way better than I’m capable of, but I’m with him all the way on this one:-
This time next year, The Goon Sax will take over the world with nothing but catchy choruses and delicious harmonies, in a slightly shambolic and disorganised manner, most likely. They are, quite literally, the best pop band out there right now (certainly the best pop band under the age of 21). You can’t help but smile, tap your foot and adore them.
I was blown away by the trio, and I cannot emphasise enough that they are a trio and not simply a vehicle for their best-known member. All three are ridiculously talented albeit there were a few, not unexpectedly, rough edges on show with a couple of duff notes, missed beats and messed up intros. Most of the songs from the debut LP got an airing but there were also around six or seven brand new tunes played for a captivated and very appreciative audience of maybe around 250 souls.
The band was given the accolade of an encore which seemed to catch them by surprise somewhat with Louis going off stage in the direction of the make shift dressing rooms (which are highly visible from the main standing area) while Riley and James headed in the direction of the bar (which is part of the main standing area!). But one new song and one old song later, a highly enjoyable and at times magical night came to an end.
The band is in Manchester, Birmingham and London in early June. You should try to get along if you can. You won’t regret it.