Ranting with The Rotten Hill Gang (Big Audio Dynamite – Glasgow)

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Part way through the Rotten Hill Gang's set and it's obvious that very few people are interested. The talent that they display, and the patronage of Mick Jones, has no relevance to the majority of gig goers who have a season ticket for the nostalgia train. Most are probably bemoaning the fact that they mistimed leaving the local bar and are having to shout over the noise of some ruffians on stage to chat with their mates. If they had their way then the support would either be a less talented, but familiar to them, band from the era that Big Audio Dynamite enjoyed their initial success, or if not that, then no one at all.

It's a problem as old as time itself and it pisses me off for a number of reasons. One being that for all those who consider themselves missing in - bar room – action know, they could be passing on the best band they are ever likely to see for a pint of watered down lager. Every single act that goes on to either success, or critical acclaim, has to start somewhere, and this is where it is. All of them, without exception, will at some point slog up and down the country in a support slot playing to disinterested music fans. The disinterest being purely down to the band not having made a name for themselves at that point in time and no reflection on their talents. Some people seem to need an act or artist to have a seal of approval before they will lend them an ear. A mainstream magazine cover story will do, or a Jools Holland appearance at a push, but if the band haven't ticked those boxes then they will float under most peoples radar. It doesn't make any real sense does it? It also defies logic. I've actually had a woman question why I go and see bands in clubs, sometimes bands that I've never heard before, because to quote her “I just wait until they are famous”. My response was that she was lucky that others, like myself, do go and see bands and artists prior to the stadiums beckoning them. As without us they would have never reached the level of popularity that she keys into. Although her tastes tend to lean towards the chart toppers that I certainly didn't assist on the road to stardom. I could actually realistically presume that she considers bands form on a Monday, release a single on the Tuesday, an album on the Wednesday, and then play two nights in the local shed to a sold out and ecstatic group of fans before heading back into the studio on the weekend to record the latest six songs that have been written for them.........and the obligatory four covers. That's her thing. Snowball and hell comes to mind when I pair this woman with The Rotten Hill Gang. It's just never going to happen, but enough about her. Another thing is the level of disrespect shown by not giving the band at the very least five minutes to try and impress. A band like the Rotten Hill Gang didn't just magic their songs up out of the ether. They crafted them. Formed melodies, jammed with each other, added vocals, went back and tinkered with what they had come up with and then maybe added a bit here and took a bit out there. This process doesn't happen the once either, but for each song they write. Then there's the cost to what they do. Rehearsal rooms, upkeep of instruments, getting to and from gigs. Arranging things around shitty jobs. All of this has a cost. Financially and emotionally. There will be more to it than that, but that's a sort of overview, and what do they get in return? Very fuckin' little at this point it would seem. Mainly they want to entertain you, so does no one consider that based on a little respect for the process that they should maybe go and actually see them? Well of course some people do, as behind me there was a few woman whooping it up as the Rotten Hill Gang do their hip hop thing. If they were a street gang then these ladies would be called “the small mercies”. The band themselves have a real melting pot of styles being stirred. A heady brew of funk, soul, hip hop and street poetry drawn together with a punk attitude. The guitar is sharp, funky, and I'm not even sure if it works all the time juxtaposed with what the rest of the band are doing, but that's not to say that it sounds wrong. Just that maybe it's still a bit different sounding to my virgin ears and I'll have to wrap my head around it at my leisure. The soulful backing vocals from the two ladies, who also lend their individually unique voices in taking the lead are impressive, and work well weaving in and out between the rhymes that Red is laying down. I'm not going to say that I was swept away with what the band were playing, but the lack of response from the crowd is taking a good bit away from their performance. There's a whole different vibe shared with a room full of people that are into what a band are doing and a quarter empty hall of people that could care less. The band have very little to feed off of and regardless of how much effort they are putting into the performance, or how professional they are in providing the best level of entertainment they can, it's without a doubt an uphill struggle for them. They remind me of “Do me bad things”. Not so much in the sound of the band or direction they are taking, but in the ability to tear up preconceived ideas of what should be brought to the table for people to hear. It's got a superficial degree of familiarity to it all, but lurking somewhere underneath is a more challenging and interesting concept. To sum it up it would be fair to say that the Rotten Hill gang didn't let Glasgow down, but Glasgow certainly let them down. I hope in the future I can see them in a time and place that is more appreciative of what they are doing.