Mugdock Country Park
The kids have had a glitterball
Having recently fell for the amorous delights of a lady – I wont say new because that implies a rotational system – I thought what better way to bond with her & her two daughters than pay a visit to a new family friendly festival – Mugstock. Set in the delightful grounds of Mugdock Country Park, a few miles north of Glasgow near Milngavie (pronounved Milg-aye!?), we thought we’d take the slightly longer, but more scenic, route from Edinburgh. This took us salubriously to the northern skirt of the epic Campsie Fells; huge square blocks of greenery with deep, black, witch-nail gouges in their flanks. We also popped into the charming village shop of the equally charming village of Gargunnock – the prices were reasonable, & furnished us with most of our necessary needs for a weekend away.
On arrival at the site we encountered a slick little team who ushered us to our family friendly campsite about a half-mile from the main action. They also gave us kazoos in anticipation of the record-breaking kazoo-conga attempt later that weekend – as the kids proceeded to form impromptu kazoo bands, me & my Thursday night Edinburgh Fringe hangover were like, ‘Could you not have handed them out at the time as they’re doin’ my bloody nut in.’ But the kids were having a whale of a time. Down at the campsites there were a few stalls; such as an Indian head massage & Glasgow’s Tach-ovna – whose 80 teas from around the world would go on to be a great success at the festival. Being in the family section, the kids were soon mingling happily – for many it was their first, as the family-friendly theme of Mugstock drew local parents who like to party, but are afraid of the terrors of T-in-the-park, the region’s other festival
Music on Friday included the Gyrobabies, a punky outfit, with deep driving bass from Jo D’Arc, uptempo ninja vocals & some psychedelic swirling sound-maelstroms from their newest band member, the Victor Pope Band’s Jess Aslan. Her contribution fills in the live sound of the Gyrobabies, whose studio work is full of noisecraft, & listening to & watching this new line-up felt like their bubbling pan of water has just come to the boil. One song in particular – Equinox – had the whole place hand-clapping along on the good-times energy, especially when the anthemic chorus kicked in big time.
Other bands on that Friday were Mammo Hands, whose wild & primal jazz shrieked out of their trio, hooking my mind’s music on the incessant beauties of their sonic wayfaring. Later on came the Amorettes, a chic & young punk outfit, all classic rock leather, mascara & black t-shirts, like a nubile, girlpower Motorhead. A well cute bunch, I was digging the bass-player especially, whose head-flicks & barking backing vocal brought the sight & sound of the band to life.
There are two big marquee-stages at Mugstock – the main stage & the Yellow Movement Stage, both of which had friendly bars selling a range of tasty beverages; Thistly Cross Cider & all that. Sound comes from my mate Duncan’s excellent Pro-Sound acousticry, which gave every stage that extra audio oomph. It was in the main stage that I caught my last band of Friday – Turning Plates, Glasgow’s finest celtica-influenced band, an epic mix of sweeping cellos, rumbustuous rhythms & enchaunting meleodies.
On leaving their dream-world, me & the bird & the bairns felt like pixies as we made our way back to the tents, along paths lit up with twinkling lights. In our hands were food from the eateries, a pizza, noodles & chips… which at £11 were very reasonably priced indeed. A fine supper before the inevitable – & quiet – moonlight slumbers.
The next morning I was up at dawn, & beheld a beautiful scene of a quiet tented snooze-zone into which a gentle mist was slowly sweeping its phantom, silken sheets. It gave me a moment to reflect on this brand new festival – the latest addition to an already teeming summer canon. Belladrum up north is on the same weekend, but the difference is the blatant family element; there’s no dance tent to keep you up all night & no jakies at all… despite its extreme closeness to the jakey capital of Britain.
There’s also the fact you are strolling about a genuine scene of protected beauty, which Mugdock Country Park has in bounds. What it also has is the heavenly Chunky Monkey coffee shop, whose frothy cappuccinos & breakfast bagels, comfy couches & indoor heating completely negated the need for a campsite stove that takes ages. It also had a cinema playing films all day which kept the bairns happy while the adults caffinated themselves for the day’s child-rearing. I also got the chance later that afternoon to use Chunky Monkey’s wifi to watch the opening game of the English Championship season on my laptop – in which super Sammy Vokes scored a late equaliser for the Clarets against dirty Leeds – something you don’t get to do at any other festival in Scotland. Civilisation AND hippies – a nice mix – its like Mugstock is, metaphorically-speaking, the perfect trustafarian festival. So, after slight disjointedness at being among unusual surrounds, I had grown into the organisers’ vision & was looking forwards to a good Saturday.
On Saturday morning the festival’s family area opened up in Mugdock’s garden centre, complete with new music stage in a Victorianesque band-stand. There was children’s theatre on offer, along with lots of fun activities such as making stuff, face-painting, hula-hooping & the Glasgow Science festival – the kids were well happy. We also caught, that afternoon, the rollicking SambaYaBamba, a bunch of white folks in kilts, banging out tunes before a responsive audience to the uplifting flights of trumpteers.
The evening began with the real reason I was at Mugstock – to see seminal 90s band Dodgy. As a wide-eyed 18 year old back at my first Glasto in 1994, their infectious energy had helped propel me along the rock & roll river, & I was eager to see them again – to spend a moment reflecting on the two decades that had passed since those heady, halycon days. Taking the stage in a uniform of black, they looked like rock-stars – more grizzled these days, but still oozing cool. At that point the audience was mainly kids running round with balloons, but by their second song – So Let Me Go Far & its new Floydian introduction – the tent was well full.
They proceeded to fly through a set in which old classics were mixed seamlessly into new songs – the latter lot containing such reflective lyrics as, ‘I’m back together & I’ve found my voice‘ and ‘I wish I knew what I know now!‘ Joined by a new bass-player, the trio’s sweet harmonies still resonated as if they were the fresh-faced pups that exploded into our ears in the Britpop Age & the universality of their sound pleased every one of us in that marquee – a grand gig finished off by the Sex Pistol’s Pretty Vacant… you just had to be there! There was one track in particular that showed the new Dodgy & the old – where the crescendoing chorus of ‘Waiting for the Sun’ was a true treasure for the ears.
After Dodgy, we spent the next few hours in the Yellow Movement tent – in which that yellow t-shirted Weegie collective poured its excellent uptempo musical cauldron-mix. From Jamie & Shoony‘s bouncing, bonkers, crowd-pleasing, hand-waving madness through Micky 9‘s funkadelia to Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5‘s insanely energetic intensity – we all had a barry old time. Watching Colonel Mustard – a consummate ringmaster – & his team at work one felt a euphoric energy that in the past I could only have felt with a little pharmaceutical ‘assistance,’ so to speak. But that night, all familied up & only on the gin, I genuinely reached a lovely, lovely high. Saturday night was indeed a cracker, & though a great swathe of the Glasgow ‘scene’ wasn’t in attendance, I reckon word will spread & next year there’ll be that infusion of party magic that Mugstock needs to make it a bona fide deity of the Scottish Summer Festival pantheon. To finish this wee review, I’m gonna leave you in the hands of Dodgy’s definitely not-dodgy drummer, Mathew Priest, who told The Mumble;
“We weren’t sure when we first arrived. It was a beautiful location but everyone was being particularly nice, especially the organisers, that the whole thing had a slight sniff of Christian about it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind your Christians but we’ve played a few festivals where your Christians have organised it pretending that they haven’t and before you know it we’re at a prayer meeting. So, you know, I’ve got a nose for Christians now. Perhaps I was a lion in a previous life. Turns out, it was me being cynical and it was simply that everyone was actually THAT lovely and helpful. The 6% cider helped a wee bit. We had a fantastic gig, the best for a while and then we ended up in the Yellow tent watching two of the most mind-blowing bands we’ve seen in a long time – Mickey 9s and Colonel Mustard. Both local Glasgow bands and both UNBELIEVABLY unsigned. Check them out. See you at the Electric Circus in Edinburgh on Friday Oct 30th and the Hug and Pint in Glasgow the next night.”
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Action from the Sunday