It’s a typically miserable, wet night in Glasgow for the launch party of Tuff Love’s latest release, ‘Resort’, but nothing will keep the crowds away from a good party on a Friday night in this city.
Lost Map Records and TYCI, a non-profit feminist collective in Glasgow, have organised the event and there’s certainly a celebratory atmosphere around Stereo; it doesn’t feel like your normal gig. As you go in the door, TYCI are collecting donations for Glasgow Women’s Aid, there is a raffle competition organised for midway through the gig and everyone is handed a party popper upon entry. On top of this, in case you forget what the night is for, there is some hand-made ‘Resort’ bunting hanging above the stage: “we made this just to remind you all to buy a copy”, Tuff Love’s Suse Bear jokes. All of this gives the gig a feelgood, house party atmosphere.
There’s an impressive couple of acts on the bill aswell, including Frances McKee from Glasgow cult band The Vaselines and soul-pop group Bossy Love who will be supporting the headline act. The running order at first seems unconventional, but works brilliantly. Frances McKee is on first before headline act, Tuff Love, take to the stage, allowing Bossy Love to perform the closing set. They say this is so they can come and enjoy the party with the crowd, and it works well, allowing Bossy Love to follow the duo’s signature dreamy, summery melodies with some lively pop anthems to get the crowd jumping.
However, it’s clear that it is Tuff Love who the crowd are here to see. The duo have been the talk of many blogs since the release of their EP ‘Junk’ in May 2014, and have been regularly playing venues around Glasgow while notching up some impressive support slots with the likes of Ride and Paolo Nutini. The release of ‘Resort’ marks the end of this period, however. It is a compilation of the duo’s three EPs, ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’, with the tracks placed in chronological order. With this in mind, the LP therefore becomes a narrative for the duo’s progression since May 2014, and it is particularly evident tonight that we are seeing a band who are becoming increasingly confident, having taken the time to perfect their craft.
Tuff Love’s simplicity is their greatest strength in many ways; their sweet vocal harmonies and fuzzy guitars have given them a signature sound which sits somewhere between shoegaze and grunge, while they also possess the ability to knock up some great catchy pop choruses. When this is brought to life, however, everything sounds louder and heavier. Indeed, Suse Bear‘s bass has never sounded so prominent, particularly on ‘Duke’. Meanwhile, ‘That’s Right’ brings out a short blast of punk, sounding all the more ferocious live than on record. And ‘Threads’ is full of fizzing guitar riffs, reminiscent of The Smiths.
It’s refreshing to see a band not take themselves too seriously, allowing for a laid-back, fun atmosphere befitting of their sound. Let’s just say, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a “wall of death” at a Tuff Love gig, as Suse Bear suggests. Their unassuming but compelling presence on stage is underlined by their angelic harmonies, which are just as good live as they are on the LP. You might not always be able to make out what they’re singing, but it’s hard not to bop your head along to catchy choruses on songs such as ‘Crocodile’ and ‘Cum’.
The main set finishes with an extended version of ‘Carbon’ – easily their best song to date and the very last on ‘Resort’. It exemplifies everything that makes the duo so great: a lumbering bass and some jangly guitars with deft riff work and more mesmerising vocals.
Following Tuff Love are their Bossy counterparts. Sonically, Bossy Love are a far cry from the shoegaze grunge of the headline act, but the crowd love their set and lap up every second. Led by Amandah Wilkinson, formerly of Operator Please, and John Baillie Jnr, formerly of Dananananakroyd, the group have been making a reputation for themselves around Glasgow for their spell-binding live performances, and it’s easy to see why.
They come armed with a completely refreshing electro pop, R&B-infused sound led by Wilkinson’s sweet vocals and backed by some very tight live instrumentation. Baillie Jnr plays a blinder on the drums, effectively dictating the pace of the set. Meanwhile, it’s very clear that Wilkinson possesses real star power as the frontwoman with the ability to hold the crowd in the palm of her hands. With some real pop gems like ‘Sweat It Out’ and ‘Tell You What’ under their belt, this is definitely a group to look out for. Even without any previous knowledge of their material, it’s hard not to get swept up by their gripping live performance, as seen by the crowd’s vocal disappointment when they reach their curfew.
More than anything, it’s nights like these that remind you why Glasgow is one of the most exciting places to be in the UK when it comes to music.