With album number two (the excellent ‘Write In’) under their belt, London slacker-rock trio Happyness take to the stage in in the basement of Glasgow’s Hug and Pint tonight. Despite the meagre size of the venue, gig-goers have turned up in spades at this sold-out show to see all the bands on this bill, which is a testament to the appeal of smaller artists, be they local or otherwise.
It’s a local support band who start the night off. Glasgow’s Savage Mansion are an enjoyable opener, and their combination of jangle-pop melodies with punk sensibilities makes them a fitting warm-up for Happyness themselves. They play a tight and varied set, keeping things interesting by switching up tempos song-to-song; between more laid-back, slower pop songs and some spikier, more punk-infused efforts. Even in their more lethargic moments, they convey a level of energy that’s commendable, and throughout their set showcase the level of talent evident in Glasgow’s local scene right now. (3.5/5)
Happyness’ tourmates Her’s arguably surpass the headline band in the quality of their performance, although it could just be the shock and novelty of seeing something this bizarre. Musically, Her’s take the blueprint of an artist like Mac DeMarco and turn the weirdness factor up to 11, resulting in a thoroughly odd concoction of dulcet, soothing falsetto; psychedelic guitar tones; and out-of-this-world bass solos (yes, solos, plural).
As a two-piece, Her’s manage to sound like a full band with only the aforementioned guitar and bass, and a live drum machine. Despite their inherent weirdness, their sound is accessible and easily danceable for newcomers, which makes for an incredibly entertaining live show. The appeal of Her’s is the fact that both members are thoroughly invested in their music, and aren’t “out-there” for the sake of being “out-there” – this is just the way they play music. Happyness had a tough act to follow. (4/5)
Happyness play a fun set, albeit a fairly static one. The faster, jauntier songs in the trio’s repertoire work better tonight, having the advantage of immediacy. There are exceptions to this – Benji Compston’s guitar work on downbeat track ‘The C is a BAG’ is masterful – but for the most part the slower songs drag a little. It’s a bit disappointing given the strength of the new album, but it doesn’t ruin the show by any means.
There’s enough of the more upbeat tracks in the band’s setlist that the troughs in quality aren’t too noticeable, with songs such as ‘Anna, Lisa Calls’ being irresistible and making up for some of the more lacklustre parts of the set.
The set ends with a lovely, piano-led rendition of ‘Tunnel Vision on Your Part’, with a guest appearance from Her’s ever-eccentric bassist Audun Laading. Not only is this an accomplished translation from studio to stage, it also shows a camaraderie between the bands on the bill tonight that’s really sweet to see. Happyness’ set isn’t perfect, but it gives an honest depiction of the band, and moments like the ‘Tunnel Vision…’ finale make some of the less-interesting parts of the set worth it. (3.5/5)
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)