The Bradford-based quartet Glass Mountain took up residence in the small, barn-like room at Rough Trade on the fifth night of their ‘Wow and Flutter’ UK tour. Following an impressive set from Starwheel, the band showed off their talent to a room which was fairly empty of both people and appreciation.
When the doors opened at 8:30pm the upstairs room of Rough Trade was already buzzing with people having a drink and socialising before the gig kicked off. It was as soon as Starwheel hit the first note that the atmosphere in the venue changed from that of a late night at the pub to that of a concert filled with energised fans.
“Matthew Willis gave their set a beautiful and unique quality”
The synchronicity of the instruments and the complementary voice of the only girl in the band, Amelia Cripps, with the lead male vocalist, Matthew Willis, gave their set a beautiful and unique quality. The band were relaxed and even laughing on stage; they created such a rapport with the audience which seemed to be full of their friends and family supporting the group from Derby.
Every song was well-executed and it was hard not to tap your foot along, especially with the majority of the crowd singing and dancing energetically, loving their song ‘Broken Glass’ and jumping crazily to ‘Veins’, ending up with everyone stamping their feet in unison to the slick performance and even asking for an encore when it was over. Willis was continually apologetic but there was nothing to be sorry for with Starwheel acing their set and leaving the crowd buzzing, stealing the show before the main act of the night had set up.
When Starwheel had finished playing, the majority of people cleared out from the stage area back into the bar and this set Glass Mountain up for a lack lustre beginning to their performance. With the smattering of people spread across the room, it was a hard feat riling up a crowd which was mostly made up of people unfamiliar with the band who were taking advantage of the free gig and the band themselves didn’t do much to gain their support.
Nevertheless, Glass Mountain got straight into it, kicking off their set with a video played on a screen behind them featuring the repeated phrase ‘He shall overcome’ followed by a strong introduction to their alt-rock, electronic music – a genre inkeeping with Hide & Seek Records’ artists. The overall impression of their performance was that they were a band in their own world, helped by the ever-changing animations behind them on the screen and the green alien mascot which accompanied them.
“They were professional and slick”
The psychedelic side of their music along with the lack of interaction with the audience reinstated their isolated, other-worldly stage presence which never really improved throughout their set. But that being said, the band were talented and managed to convey this despite the fairly awkward atmosphere in the room. They were professional and slick, clearly absorbed in their love of music with the drummer Jonny’s energy and delight in playing being obvious. The songs they played from their recently released EP ‘Wow and Flutter’ were up to scratch; Harry’s voice as adept as on the recordings.
As the set went on, the room slowly filled up but there was never enough of a crowd to improve the lifeless atmosphere. The seriousness of the band members was so different to the relaxed demeanour of Starwheel and the crowd wasn’t up for much engagement with them, the words “thanks for sticking around” being said too many times by the lead singer Harry.
Despite the stagnant mood, Glass Mountain played some of their more recognised songs incredibly well with ’Cowboy Song’ being the first to raise the tempo and energy in the room and ‘Gin Flows Through My Veins’ and ‘Glacial’ being the highlights of the set, showing off their talent both in song writing and performing. Their ability to create such meaningful lyrics and songs in this psychedelic, rock style is impressive but this wasn’t necessarily celebrated in their live performance due to the vocalist being fairly overpowered by the instruments and electronic underlay.
Glass Mountain may not have excelled themselves in this gig at Rough Trade due to the nature of the audience and the comparison of the atmosphere throughout their performance to that of Starwheel’s set, but they showed off their talent as musicians and conveyed their distinctive style through their songs which are worthy of high appraisal. With two dates left on their UK tour, they are sure to make a lasting impression on the crowds at Sheffield and Leeds and are certainly a band to watch.
Images Courtesy of Katie Moncur