By Aaron Sheridan
Friday night at King Tut’s on St. Vincent Street is always a pleasure. It’s a great venue, bustling and friendly and full of music lovers of all shapes and sizes and the joint is welcoming to both regulars and first timers. The soundtrack in the downstairs bar is consistently a head and shoulders above what most in town offer with a wide variety of tunes to suit all tastes. It’s hosted big names from Britain, Europe and across the Atlantic since it’s opening in 1990, boasting names like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Beck – even the Mighty Boosh. The club has also sought to provide an outlet for and to promote local up and coming bands, a tradition which has continued to the present day. If you’re into alternative music then King Tut’s is the place to be.
On the 16th of December it hosted three wild Glaswegian groups – the nascent Fat Black Cats, St. Johns Ambience and Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers. The venue was heaving with punters – flannel jackets and big loose jumpers rubbing shoulders in sweaty anticipation. All around the atmosphere was positively buzzing. I grabbed myself a cold beer and set foot upstairs toward the action. The dark and sweaty attic was just as packed – the gig had been promoted well (flyers had appeared in near enough every venue I’d been in for the past month) and the you could chew on the air it was so thick.
Kicking it all of were the Fat Black Cats – sharp, penetrating surf guitar riffs laid over absolutely grimy bass and topped off with some manic vocal work. With raw energy and a hateful drive the boys laid down track after track absolutely dripping with dissonance and with effects turned up to 11. The place was absolutely shaking. Fans of recent Californian acts like Ty Segal, Guantanamo Baywatch or Together Pangea should enjoy these fellas. My personal favourite track had to be Conversations.
Next up were St. John’s Ambience. The tone shifted away from harsher noises and into deep watery basslines and melodic vocals. The pace drifted back and the tone became melancholic. These guys had the room filled up with some spacey grunge vibes, a throwback to the moody late-eighties/early-nineties alternative scene – a breath of fresh air for Scottish independent music. For my first time hearing these guys they really impressed and the crowd seemed to agree. I hope to see more of them in the future.
The cherry on top of the night was Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers. Now this group has perhaps the most eclectically influenced sound of all three. There were elements of Gospel, Blues, a little bit of crooning and a whole lot of Gothic overtones. A unique take on Rock and Roll, to try and describe the sound or the genre of this group would always fall short. Fans of dark, sorrowful acts like Tom Waits will rejoice when giving these guys a listen – they even covered ‘Down in the Hole’. The piano carried most of the tunes that night thought there were periodic flashes of Rockabilly and Punk. The track ‘The Grace of God’, a sad yarn about a school teacher, really exhibited the bands song writing talents. Truly masterful music from a great local talent.
Overall another brilliant night for the Glasgow music scene and for King Tuts. Three great performances by truly original acts. If you’re looking for some new music to lose yourself in this holiday season then I’d recommend St. John’s Ambience’s self titled effort (available on their bandcamp) and Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers second album ‘Goths!!!’ on Vinyl or CD. Also make sure to check out Fat Black Cats soundcloud for some seriously messed up Rock n Roll.