This Hector Bizerk article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Sam Forsdick
Over the past year, Hector Bizerk have built up a reputation for being one of Scotland’s most exciting live acts and it is easy to see why after this gig at Oran Mor. Celebrating the release of their new EP ‘The Tree That Never Grew’, the band continue to show innovation, progression and complexity in their music, but it is in the live environment where they really shine.
From the moment frontman Louie swaggers onto the stage, he has the crowd hanging onto his every word; his cheeky grin shows that he knows this is going to be a good night. The frantic pace of the gig kicks off with ‘Party at A+E’, which cleverly samples KRS-One, and describes a night out gone wrong, “a good night out must come at a price”. There doesn’t seem to be any risk of that happening tonight though as MC Louie dives into the receptive crowd; why not start as you mean to go on?
The band fire through ‘Festival Boy’, a character portrait which brilliantly captures the hedonistic lifestyle experienced at a festival, and personal favourite ‘Welcome to Nowhere’, a track which works particularly well in a live setting. Its stop-start structure is effective, punctuated by Audrey Tait on the drums who is on fine form tonight, and Louie’s spurts of wordplay which provide a dystopian vision of urban life. This is accompanied by a brilliant brass section on the chorus, who bring the song up a notch, as the crowd shout back every word.
Of course, it goes without saying that Hector Bizerk are not just simply a hip-hop outfit; they are a multi-faceted band, textured with genres, and this is what makes them such an exciting prospect. They refuse to be restricted by generic boundaries, even offering moments of pure rock ’n’ roll; they cover and remix Blur’s Song 2, allowing Louie to share his own commentary about the Britpop era, and sending the crowd into frenzy. It becomes clear that the frontman is a true wordsmith whose social commentary is abrasive and thought-provoking all at once.
Meanwhile, Audrey Tait is a master of the drums, always on the mark and intelligently dictating proceedings from the background. She takes her deserved moment in the limelight on ‘Columbus’, providing cooling vocals to Louie’s challenging, ‘Who the fuck are you, Christopher Columbus?’. Of course, the musicianship of Fraser Sneddon and David Calder on bass and synths should also not go unrecognised, and particularly impressive on ‘Rust Cohle’, a song laden with pop-culture references which builds up to a formidable synth-heavy chorus, as the crowd scream back ‘It’s not my problem’.
The highlight of the night comes from a new track called ‘Empty Jackets’, during which they are joined by Be Charlotte, a young musician from Dundee, whose inclusion proves to be an inspired choice. Her soulful voice on the upbeat chorus compliments Louie’s delivery on the verses, as he rather humorously takes on a London accent and ridicules the corporate figures from major labels; ‘Louie, bruv, you’re like a Scottish N’Dubz’, ‘Shut the fuck up and have a word with your headrush’. Brilliant.
Scottish hip-hop is something that many would consider a niche market. However, it has gone through something of a renaissance recently, with groups such as Young Fathers and Hector Bizerk leading the way. They are a band full of creativity, ready to push new and exciting boundaries, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by the crowd in Oran Mor, who lap up every second. Confirming that a new album will be released next year, surely it will only be a matter of time until Hector Bizerk are released onto the masses.