Mugdock Country Park
WE ARE CURRENTLY UPDATING THE VIDEOS – THEY WILL BE BACK UP SOON
The weekend before Mugstock I was playing with my band at Audio Soup, after which gig I was jumping around like a mad head with the wife. Four days of recovery ensued, the light at the end of the tunnel being the return – dare I say it – the annual return, to Mugdock Country Park, & its fledgling family festival. Carrying nothing but a couple of white wine spritzers, me & the wife were ready for a calmer, yet equally as cool festival, & as we reached the gorgeous green swathescapes to the north of Glasgow, so were the kids – its all they’d been talking about for the previous two weeks.
Where Kublai Khan had to recreate Eden in Xanadu, Mugstock just needs to move in. Its just, like, reyt nice up there, a verdant slice of the Scotland that lives in all our dreams – the rush of nature which fills the lungs on arrival testament to the fact that, we’re all out of our cities & their grime. Mugstock is a poetic festival – color & arts mingle seamlessly with nature – the pan-pipes of Terpsichore filtering through the herbage all around. On first arriving, I realised the Mugstock collective had been thinking on its feet. Last year wasn’t perfect, but just as a young John Keats jumped into the composition of Endymion head-first, creating a thing of beauty in the process, however flawed, so too had Mugstock I designed its festival like a bull in a china shop. Yet, as Keats went on to write his Hyperion & the immortal odes, so too is Mugstock evolving into a finer occasion. The aircraft hanger that had been the Corrie Stage last year had been replaced by a smaller, more open air & organic affair, with more seating & spaces for people to mingle freely. We also noticed ‘The Glade,’ an electronic-music area with a campfire, the missing piece of the jigsaw one expects.
Mugstock is a good, safe space for the kids to run wild & learn how to party alongside the parents who need a party – which all equals a really good party. Down at the family camp-site, the kids had soon rejoined the gang that they had formed at last year’s festival – a truly nice moment that kinda sealed the deal for us – we’re gonna be back every year, now, we are guessing. There’s also a really strong teamwork ethic among the parents. On the Friday, our 9-year old begged to be left to stay with her pals instead of coming back to the tent with us, something the wife initially baulked at. ‘Let her do it’ I said, ‘its well safe round here’ & after gaining assurances from the parents of the other kids we let the lassie go. A couple of hours later, she rolls in to the tent high on life & flops into her bed & passes out. I’m like ‘in a few years time she’ll be puking up before she passes out,’ which gained a bemused look of appreciation at my attempt to be funny (which failed miserably BTW).
Mugstock is not just about families, however, it is a multi-generational, multi-generic organism that would be one of the main draws in any alien civilisation’s Natural History section of stuffed festival mammals. The thing about Mugstock is that its unpretentious & supports both quality music from far afield & quality music from the local area. They must have realised that good local bands will draw a good following, just as much as a big name draw – in fact more so, for this kind of line-up brings out the tribal nature in us all. Weegies are the most tribal of the lot… but when they’re brought together in an environment such as this, they’re nothing but chilled out & peaceful.
For this year’s Mugstock we had – in Scottish terms – phenomenal weather, & with it being in late July & a good few weeks into the holidays, the normal Caledonia pastiness had been replaced by a rough rouge on the bare skins of the folk. The only guy on the site not happy with this was the proprietor of the Chunky Monkey coffee shop, who makes a killing when its raining. However, he did tell the Mumble he’d done as well as last year, despite the sun, which is testament to how much busier Mugstock has got.
Entertainment-wise, on the Friday we loved Dohnut & their ravenous disco punk, plus ex-Delgados’ singer, Emma Pollock, the ‘Dusty Springfield of cerebral pop’ who could belt them out & lilt them out in equal measure. There was also the Girobabies delivering a stonking set, the mercurial & never-weary Mark McGhee somehow staying in the same place long enough to rampage like a bull who’d recently killed a matador through our music-receptors. The Saturday began with a musically-tongue tingling chi, a veritable spicy rejuvenation potion to set up the day at Tchai Ovna. By the refreshments was a small green tent which had an eclectic mix of music & poetry on all weekend, including the fabulous ‘Well Happy Band’ who got everyone involved with shaker-makers & addictively melodic tunes. Then back up at Chunky Monkey’s for my bacon bagel & cappuccino I found a wee card on a courtyard table of this fellow, whose bangin tunes I’m listening to as I type.
One of the most appealing things about Mugstock, is that one finds oneself so close to one of Europe’s most culturally ravishing cities – the cute & calculated conurbation that is Glasgow. International artists pout & pour into its arenas on a daily basis in order to perform at the city’s many venues; for the Mugstocker there is no harm in taking a couple of hours out of the weekend to avail themselves of the opportunity to catch some of the global muses which wander into the true capital of Caledonian culture… Edinburgh might have its festival, but Glasgow does it all year round. So, looking through my ‘what’s on’ list for the Saturday, I was absolutely delighted to discover that one of the planet’s most wonderful football teams, famed for their free-flowing passing game, their mysteriously-brilliant full-tempo pressing patterns & the physical beauty of its passionate fans, was in Govan. Yes, it was indeed a great experience to see Burnley Football Club beat the Glasgow Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox Park, a true testament to the city’s constant ability to attract the very top performers in their field. The second goal of Andre Gray’s hat-trick, especially, was the most beautiful piece of poetry to have been performed in the city all year.
Back at the site I found Mugstock the busiest I’d ever seen it – folk camped on the ground as if the sun was oot oer Kelvingrove Park – or dancing at the stage or mingling round the stalls & bars. Tonight’s music began for us with with the pulsing beats, lovely melodies, driving guitars & lyrical masterworks of the Young Aviators. Meanwhile, in the tree-lined pagan clearing of the Chameleon Stage Jamie & Shoony were bouncing about on hippy crack, their infectious energy ramming jazz bolts of fun into each & every funky orifice of an uninhibited crowd & their constant want for more. From here we found ourselves at the Beltane Fire Society stunning performance of some reyt cool fire tricks ‘n’ that, before we hit the cinema by Chunky Monkey – ran by the uber-smooth & infinitely patient Conor Finn – where Glasgow’s West End poetic posse were sharing their keenly-felt, passionately-wrought observations on society.
Saturday night was finished with the big, canary yellow, family mash-up that is Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5, followed by headline act, Edinburgh’s Stanley Odd, a volatlie mix of high-octane hip-hop & mermaidian female vocals – the siren on the shore who summons us into the cathartic yet acutely sardonic wit-spitting of Solareye – AKA Dave Hook. After this, me, the wife & the kids all went for a proper good boogie down at the Glade to Rebecca Vasmant, a damn-funky DJ & a conduit between us & the gods of funk. ‘She’s not as good as Little Mix’ said the kids, but what do they know?
So as Sunday dawned, it was time to go, fully life-refreshed & happy to have been at the 2nd Mugstock. As we passed Chunky Monkeys, the proprietor was doing a rain dance, but I’m sure no amount of dodgy weather would have been able to dampen the spirits of the Mugstockers, & I’m also sure the acts were as awesome as the first two days. The last of these, Greg from Theramin Hero, I met in the bar the previous night, & would actually close the entire festival on the Corrie Stage on the Sunday night. Here’s what we missed…
Hats off to the MugStock Festival crew for putting together such a great weekend of music and merriment. They massively raised their game compared to last year which was also good but this was so much better. The site looked amazing and the atmosphere was sweet. Shouts also to all the poets and musicians who joined in with the MugJam and the Overheard in the Westend (Mark McGhee)
The well happy band had a fantastic mugstock festival! All 3 of our gigs (Chameleon stage, and twice at Tchai ovna) were so much fun! Highlights of the festival were meeting and playing to so many lovely people, as well as having a guest appearance from the Colonel (Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5) and playing a few of the Dijon 5 tunes to a very excited crowd! We’ll never forget Mugstock, it was a Well Happy experience for us all. Thanks go to everyone involved in creating a wonderful festival (Alaine Allison Walls)
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen