It was no surprise that a bout of stormy weather was blowing folk off their feet in the late hours of Wednesday night in Glasgow. Well, not for me anyway. I’d just seen Red Fang brew up that very storm in the Classic Grand, a small cave of sound perfection. The set had an energy that got everyone in the crowded venue moving, whether that be the head-bopping folk at the back of the room or the full-on thrashing going on in the pit directly in front of the stage where the band were performing like they were possessed by gods-of-thundery-awesomeness.
I arrived just in time to see Red Fang emerge from the darkness and take their place, kicking off a set, that featured heavily from Murder the Mountains and the recent Whales and Leeches, with ‘Hank Is Dead’. From there on everything else was a bit of a blur. It seemed that every note was hit with perfection and the crowd, which had managed to harness that stormy energy reverberating around the room, were appreciating every minute of it, that much was obvious.
It’s fair to say that the band’s entrance was quite understated and I put that down to the fact that frontman Aaron Beam looks like he makes a living fixing PCs and David Sullivan, who played like a demon, could easily be mistaken for a Big Issue seller on George Square. What the band lacks in finesse, they more than make up for with catchy, downtuned riffage and outright hostility. Very rarely have I seen a crowd go so nuts for a band playing such a small venue, tonight was a massive exception. I’d seen Red Fang for the first time back in 2012 when they were first support for Mastodon and playing The Barras just didn’t do anything for them. The cavernous room of The Barras seemed to swallow them and the atmosphere up that night. This time around, a completely different setup and, maybe not performance, but definitely a more focused crowd who were there to see them headline made it a lot more fun and memorable.
When the intro to ‘DOEN’ rang out, the place kicked up a notch and as soon as the opening words were belted out there was an explosion of noise and limbs. Luckily I was a few feet away from the stramash so my pint wasn’t affected but that can’t be said for a few others in front of me who yelped a bit as they were drenched in discarded beer. Things were also about to get a whole lot sweatier from there. One track that’s stood out from the Red Fang catalogue is ‘Throw Up’ and I was pleased to hear that one on the night. I’d mentioned to my gig-buddies prior to heading in that I reckoned that would sound pretty sick. Right enough, it was as much of a standout live as it is on print, a definite highlight of the night with its gritty vocals, thundering guitar and a snare that just didn’t quit. It wouldn’t be too harsh to say that a lot of the set molded into one as there’s not a massive difference between a large chunk of the set but maybe it was just down to the fact that I was having so much fun I just couldn’t make the distinction between them but before I knew it, the band were downing tools and heading stage-left.
Red Fang re-emerged and with the encore of old favourites ‘Good To Die’ and ‘Prehistoric Dog’ I headed off into the pit, I couldn’t resist the melee any longer and I was swept back to my youth when I didn’t want to be anywhere other than in the middle as it all kicked off. I didn’t stay in for long, I’m a wee bit older and a lot more creaky now so I can’t keep the pace like I used to. On my way back to my safe vantage point about halfway back and to the side of the stage where I caught the look on one young reveller’s face and it summed up the night wonderfully for me. The girl wasn’t really dressed for a moshpit, in what looked like a painted-on black-and-white-check-plaid mini-dress and heels. She looked like she’d have been better placed anywhere else other than there but she was obviously caught up in the moment as much I was a few minutes earlier. It’s so easy to get caught up in the music when it’s that good!
Red Fang, we salute you, you were awesome.