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A vegan café on a Saturday night in Glasgow is a sight to behold, full of hipsters, hippies, and those strange, older folks who could be neither or both. The seats are sparse, the beer is pricey, the jeans are rolled up past the ankle; it’s a happening spot. Yet a couple of floors below, in the dimly lit basement, the doors are only just open, and the crowds are still thin.

In the gloom, Glasgow locals Breakfast Muff take quietly to the stage. The trio’s bandcamp tags list them as “alternative glitter trash sparkle punk”. It’s hard to agree or disagree with a description like that; elements of punk, indie, garage rock and dream pop are all there in the mix, but none quite comes to the fore. Add to that some firmly feminist lyrics and a distinctly raw, lo-fi energy and you’re almost close to what Breakfast Muff sound like. Over the course of their set each member takes a turn at every instrument, rotating from guitar to bass to drums and back to bass again without any clear motivation. Weird as the music is, it’s largely well received, and like it or not it’s obvious the band are enjoying themselves.

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Hot on the heels of Breakfast Muff are Crying, yet another trio doing a similar amount of genre-spanning. Hailing from Purchase, New York, the band seem to take as much influence from Van Halen as they do from the Sega Genesis. In a live setting, the use of chiptune synth becomes less obnoxious, upgrading their no doubt polarising sound from mildly irritating to enjoyably catchy. With the soft vocals and eighties-infused guitar allowed space to breath, they’ve no problems winning over the crowd, and leave the room suitably warmed up for the main event.

The by now packed basement buzzes with excitement as The Hotelier appear onstage, and the drums of opener ‘Goodness Pt. 2’ roll over the crowd. The setlist is near-perfect, managing to blend seamlessly between new album ‘Goodness’ and 2014’s seminal ‘Home, Like Noplace is There’ without tripping on the changes in tone between the two. Overwrought fan favourites ‘Your Deep Rest’ and ‘Discomfort Revisited’ sit comfortably alongside the more hopeful tracks from goodness, the Massachusetts quartet glowingly demonstrating their range with triumphant renditions of ‘Soft Animal’ and ‘Piano Player’.

Those close to the front shuffle expectantly as the set approaches its close, knowing full well what’s coming, and right on cue vocalist/bassist Christian Holden steps towards the mic to deliver the first lines of the soaring ‘An Introduction to the Album’. “Open the curtains!”, he bellows, and the room roars along.

It’s truly a powerful spectacle, seeing a room erupt with such aching catharsis that only bands like The Hotelier really know how to deliver – chills are hard to suppress when a basement full of people chant in unison: “the pills that you gave didn’t do anything, I just slept for years on end.” It’s testament to The Hotelier’s skill as a band in translating the kind of heartbreaking and deeply personal narrative that runs through much of their music, into something universally relatable and powerfully uplifting. Voices are lost in screaming along to the anthemic ‘Dendron’, before final ballad ‘Opening Letters for my Grandmother’ acts as a much needed cool down after an emotionally exhausting performance for band and audience alike. This is only the third time The Hotelier have played in Scotland, and each visit has been more memorable than the last. Here’s to the next one.

Lead Photo Credit : www.GreslePhotography.com

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